This week, I had the great pleasure of putting together a short testimony video for my friend Samuel to send to the Baptist Youth World Conference in Singapore.
This video combines the following testimony that Samuel wrote and read, and an interview where he gave more information about his journey from Myanmar to Malaysia. Because I couldn’t include the entire testimony in the 5-minute video, I would like to share it here. These are the words of Samuel Lian:
Good evening brothers and sisters in Christ. I thank God that I get to share my testimony with you. My name is Samuel Uk Ceu Lian, and I’m originally from Burma, that now is called Myanmar. To be more specific I’m from Hakha, Chin State, one of the seven states in Myanmar. As Myanmar is a poor country, my father went to Malaysia when I was six to work in order to support my family. My mother also went there in 2011.
After my parents left Myanmar for Malaysia, grandparents and aunts raised my brother and I. Many people say grandparents spoil their grandchildren, but I do not really believe it. Perhaps it is true in some cases. There were times I missed my parents very much, despite my grandparents’ love. I learned to deal with this though because of the love and support of my grandparents. As I grew older, I could not even recall what my parents looked like. Now I miss my grandparents very much.
I was born in a strong Christian family, and I’m grateful that God gave them to me. When I was a kid, going to church was not a choice at first. Later on I loved going to church. My grandparents have shown me how to be faithful to God more than my parents when I was in my country. My grandparents have always taught me about God, his love, and how he’s reaching out to us. Never have I realized the true meaning of what they taught me until I was on a journey. A journey of how God has reached out to me and changed my life upside down completely. A journey of leaving my hometown.
In 2007 my parents wanted my brother and I to come to Malaysia so we could all go to another country. We left the country in April of that year. The day we left our hometown was the saddest day in my life, because we saw the tears running down from faces, including my grandparents’, aunts’ and friends’. I did not let my tears fall down in front of them; I waited till we were on the train
I pray for those I left behind and those I will meet again. When my brother and I went to Malaysia, we didn’t know anything except we were leaving our home country, families and friends. My parents were already in Malaysia but they prayed to God that we would go there. I also trusted in God and lean onto him.
One day on the way, I woke up from a nap in the middle of the day at an inn, because the warm hand of my brother held my hand as he cried. ‘Brother, I miss my grandparents, let’s go back home.’ Being a 14-year-old, I didn’t know what to tell him. I cried along with him and prayed to God for help. We endured hardships on the way to Malaysia: licking drops of seawater from my face to fight thirst, yet they only made me thirstier, drinking water from the restroom that people put in there for the toilet, spicy food that caused the thirst to be worse.
I blame God for those times and I don’t think I was wrong blaming God. And yet I also believe that our lives were in his hands and that he would guide us. I pray to God to arrive safely in Malaysia. He guided our paths and stayed with us all the way
My brother and I arrived in Malaysia in May 2007. We were finally reunited with my parents. I had not seen my dad for about 9 years. I believe living in Malaysia illegally was another way that I saw God reach out to me. The Malaysian police could have caught us and put us in jail anytime. My parents were in jail before we went there. Despite the fear of being caught, we had a church; Chin Christian Fellowship, that God provided us; a church where I learned how to sing, and how to be a follower. And God provided us safety, grace and peace in our lives. My family always prayed to God to send us wherever he wanted us to be. It turns out that he wanted us to live in Richmond, Virginia, and we arrived there in February 2009. He reached out and sent us where he wanted us.
Not only that, he gave me a church, Tabernacle Baptist Church, that has the most diverse kinds of members possibly in the world, the church I proudly call home, the church where I accepted God as my savior messiah and got baptized. Despite the fact that I’m a sinner, God has neither forgotten nor turned his back on me. Instead he is always reaching out to and pursuing me everywhere I go. I have made plenty of wrong decisions in my life but he still loves and looks after me.
God sees something in me that neither me nor anyone else can see. That’s why he always reaches out to me. He’s not yet finished creating me, his job is not yet done. Wherever I am, from the valley to the mountain, he always pursues me. He was with me in the past, now and also with me in the future. Now I find myself grateful for my family, especially my grandparents, who I left behind, friends, and church members even though they are not here, who have reminded me that God is always reaching out and what it means to be a Christian. I would like to share a verse with you. Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5-8. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.