Sylvester Chen

I have completed my master's degree in engineering at an East Coast university, and am now working for a major American manufacturing company. I am from the People's Republic of China.

I was raised in a family where my father was a very strong believer in communism. As I grew up, my father always wanted me to be a good student (for the good of the Communist Party). I was always told, at home an at school, that everything we did should be for the good of the Party. During my early childhood, I also accepted the communist idea that God does not exist and that the only reality in this world is material.

I never had a chance to attend church or even hold a Bible in my hand. I never met even one person whom I knew to be a Christian.

A few years ago, I came to America to study English, a first step toward a graduate degree in this country. Right away, I met several Chinese Christians. I was curious about Christianity because I knew nothing about it. I attended church with these friends three or four times, but I saw the people singing songs to God, and I felt that they were very silly. This reminded me of how the Chinese people worshipped Mao during the Cultural Revolution. I stopped going to church, and I had no more contact with Christianity for two years.

Then I met a young woman from Mainland China, a fellow student in my English class. When I talked with her, she always seemed different from the other students. Instead of complaining about other people or showing anger, she was happy and warm. One day I said to her, "Why do you always look happy? After all, you have the same pressures I do of studying, finances and adjusting to life in America. Why are you so different?" Her answer was simple, "I am a Christian." I was so shocked that my head jerked.

About six months later I saw another example of Christ being real in a person's life. Another friend of mind from Mainland China was abandoned by her husband. He had become interested in another woman, so one day he simply left a note in their apartment to tell her that he was leaving. He left no address or phone number, and he took their car and all their money except for $100. She had recently lost her part-time job, she was facing two final examinations in two weeks, and the rent payment of $350 was due in two weeks. I knew nothing of this situation at the time--she told me a month later. But when I heard her story, I asked her, "How did you handle all this? I think it would have crushed me." She told me that God helped her. She said that she didn't do anything for the first two days because of her depression, but then she went to church. She told her story to the pastor, and she prayed with him to trust in Jesus as her Savior. Right away, she felt less discouraged, and so she had the strength not only to take her final exams but to get the highest scores of any student. (If she had failed, she would have been forced out of school.) Then she met a Christian couple who invited her to live with them for free. Then she found a new job. By the time I heard her story, just a month after her husband left, I would never have guessed that she went through so much suffering. She told me God had taken the pain from her.

I began to think, "Maybe there is a god." At that time, I was applying to graduate schools at various universities. I was rejected by a small school I had been sure would accept me. At the urging of my Christian friends, I prayed that God would help me to be accepted at a school. You can imagine my joy when I was accepted by a much better university than the one that had turned me down.

Soon after I arrived at this university, I met a Korean Christian who began to study the Bible with me. I also met an American Christian worker. I told this American that I believed in the existence of God, but I began to ask him many questions about how God created the world and about the resurrection of Jesus. He answered my questions from the Bible, and he also took me to see some Chinese friends one night. That night, as this American and his two Chinese friends shared the gospel with me, I accepted Jesus as my Savior.

I have always been a person who worries about school and about money. But now I can always pray when I feel worried, and God gives me peace in my heart. In the months since I trusted in Jesus, I have been baptized and joined a nearby Chinese church.

back to Students Speak

back to ISR homepage