The God of Second Chance

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To me, a good spiritual book is one that challenges and causes me, while reading it, to put it down often so that I could pray and get right with God. A powerful spiritual book is a manuscript of conviction that forces one to confront one’s own sins and flaws. Gordon MacDonald’s book, “Rebuilding Your Broken World” is one such book. Though it was published in 1988, it still offers rich nuggets of truth and marvelous words of encouragement.

MacDonald speaks candidly about broken-world people because he is one himself. He writes, “After years of dreaming, preparing, conditioning, and fighting their way to a particular point, they have (usually by their own initiative) fallen. This ‘world’ they have constructed is suddenly shattered.”

I can identify with that because I was one of these broken-world people. In 1992, during the peak of my ministry, my world collapsed into sins. To punish myself, I exiled myself in the remote kingdom of Cambodia. The Lord did not leave me alone. In fact, it was when I hit bottom that I found God was waiting for me there. When old friends no longer wanted my acquaintance and fellow ministers were disappointed by my failure, I have found God to be a true friend. During those warm lonely Cambodian nights, when my prayers seemed to rise no further than the ceiling, I realized that God was there in my room. He did not need my prayers to reach heaven because He had brought heaven down 心理輔導員 to brighten the life of this wretched humiliated sinner.

Exiled To Cambodia

As Phnom Penh was not safe back in the early part of the 1990s, I had a loaded Chinese type-64 pistol in my desk drawer and an M-16 in the cupboard. Satan would come regularly and tempt me to use these weapons to kill myself. His cruel voice would mock and taunt at my failure. In the middle of the night, I would suddenly wake up and stare emptily into the darkness. A voice in my head would tell me that God was through with me and had no need for my ministry anymore.

Like a man in a trance, I would walk and sit at my desk, turn on the table lamp, open the drawer and stare at the pistol. The voice would then suggest that it would only take one bullet in the mouth to end my misery. Night after night, that evil voice persisted even in the midst of my prayer. The temptation to end it all was so great that one night, I took out the Chinese pistol and put it to my head. A voice said that it would be better to end it all. I felt that not only the whole Christian community had condemned me… and worse than that, I felt that even God did not want me any more.

I had messed up and deserved to die! That voice kept ringing in my ears, pestering and pushing me into the deep darkness of that terrible night. Before I could pull the trigger, another louder voice suddenly thundered through the sound of my sobbing. That voice was loud but gentle. That voice said that God had not given up on me if I were not to give up on God.

For six years, I put much effort into building my supermarket and restaurant business. It was not all business for me. On the side, I used the money earned and founded an orphanage with my wife and some friends. (Today this orphanage is one of the largest in Cambodia. Two other orphanages were to be established later). I had become a legal Cambodian resident and had planned to live out my earthly life in Cambodia. Like Moses, I was ready to rough it out in this wilderness. However, deep within my heart, I still held closely to the pastoral call of God. Then one day, six years after getting used to being a “Cambodian”, God decided to call me back into “civilization”.

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