One Huge Second Chance
If there was ever a time in my life when I needed a word from the Lord, it was in 1995. I was in deep, deep trouble. My business was failing, I had lost the trust of my family, and I had moved away from the Lord—like Lot who gradually moved his tent to the sin-filled city of Sodom.
The Bible tells us we should “not make light of the Lord’s discipline, nor lose heart when He rebukes us, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and chastises everyone He accepts as a son.” I had just come through eight long years of trial. I had been disciplined, but even as the Lord “opposes the proud, He gives grace to the humble.”
Grace: God’s Choice for Me
Looking back at age 61, I see God’s intervention in my life at many times and places. I had my first experience with God when I, a non-Christian, married Grace, a Christian—whose family was among the first generation of Christians in Taiwan. Based on the Bible’s teachings, Christians should not marry non-Christians. And in the traditional, ancestor and idol-worshiping Taiwanese family, children are not to marry Christians either.
But my father checked out Grace’s background and found out that she was a school teacher. She had a good family, good education, and a good personality. Having concern over the religion issue, he asked my grandfather for his opinion. His answer was, “You have five sons. If one doesn’t worship the ancestors, that’s okay.” My parents assured Grace’s parents that if they let Grace marry me, they would not force her to worship our ancestors, and they would not be against my joining their church. So I married Grace—and became a “Sunday” Christian.
I know my marriage to Grace was God’s arrangement. God is a mighty God, and he uses many ways to bring His sheep into His kingdom.
Crossing the Sea and Into the Desert
At this time there was a war between China and Taiwan, and the situation in Taiwan was tense. Grace’s older brother, who was living in America, came back to Taiwan to apply for emigration for the whole family to move to the U.S. It normally would take years to get a visa, but because of the war, within a few months our visas had been approved. It was very difficult for me to tell my parents about my emigration to the U.S. They asked me why I wanted to give up my comfortable life and job in and go to a strange country to start all over again. I explained that I just wanted one year’s time to try it out. If we couldn’t find jobs and could not survive in the U.S., we would return to Taiwan. Finally, they accepted our decision.
I know our move to the U.S. was God’s arrangement. God knew I needed to leave my country in order to know Christ and become a true Christian.
In June 1978, Grace and I, with our four-year-old son Andy, carrying six pieces of luggage and a few thousand dollars cash, arrived on U.S. soil. Grace’s family graciously helped us during those first months of adjustment and settling in. Grace found a job in a Chinese restaurant making minimum pay, and though I sent out many resumes for jobs, I got very few responses. During the first ten months in the U.S., Grace experienced two miscarriages, probably due to her working so hard. My parents were continually calling from Taiwan asking us to come home rather than suffer in the U.S.
Learning to Trust
One Sunday as I attended church with Grace, the Elder said something that got my attention: “When you run into difficulty in your life, you can reach out your hand to God in faith, and ask Him for help.” I went home that day and prayed my first sincere prayer to God: “God, please help me find a job. I am not asking to become rich; I’m just asking Your help in taking care of my family.”
A couple of weeks later I received a phone call from a man asking if I was still looking for work. He invited me to his office the next day for an interview. At this time I was still attending school to improve my English, so I asked a friend to counsel me on how to respond to questions in an interview. He told me to act very confident—not humble like the old Chinese way.
The job I was interviewing for was a bookkeeping job, so I took my abacus with me to the interview. I quickly learned that the company used adding machines—something I had never used in Taiwan. Though I felt totally inadequate for the job, I offered to work one week for free—as a trial—assuring the interviewer that the accounting terminology was the same. Before I arrived home, the owner had called and talked to my wife, and asked if I could begin work the following day.
I know getting my first job was God’s arrangement. I needed my faith to grow. God answered my prayer and helped me trust Him more.
During the eight years I worked for this company, I faced many tests, but I also learned to lean on the Lord for daily strength. Because of my poor English and communication skills, many co-workers looked down on me and often gave me a hard time. Many days as I drove home from work, I would be in tears and complain to God: “My burden is too heavy; please help lighten the load.” That’s when God showed me the verse in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Little by little I began to rely on God to remove the difficulties for me.
In 1981 I had the opportunity to start my own business. My brother had started a PC manufacturing and exporting business in Taiwan and asked me to open a sales and distribution office in the U.S. for him. After much encouragement from my family, and knowing that I had learned a lot of business practice from the company where I was working, I agreed. I gave my boss three months’ notice. He said, “David, I can hire a CPA to replace you, but I cannot hire anyone to replace the trust I have in you.” With this affirmation, I felt rewarded for the hard work I had given this company.
My business grew very rapidly. Our largest customer was PC Limited, which eventually became Dell Computer Company. In five years, our business grew fifteen times its original size. In 1992, Inc. magazine named our company the 9th fastest growing private company in the U.S. Suddenly, we became a very well-known company in the PC industry. We opened distribution centers in New Jersey, Florida, and San Jose, bought a mail order company in Phoenix, and partnered with a company in Dallas. The group revenue grew to $120 million a year.
At that time, many companies in the PC industry were going public and making a fortune, so I began to dream about making a fortune, too. Our company had 140 employees and more than 30 of them were church brothers and sisters. Grace and I served in the church diligently, and Grace even went twice to China to serve in remote villages with the underground church. From all appearances on the outside, I was very humble, but my inner man was becoming more and more proud. My heart was looking for financial gain more than anything else.
Since my business ventures had always been successful, I decided to pursue taking my company public. After consulting with a brokerage firm that specialized in IPO, I was told that my business revenue was not enough—it needed to be at least $250 million per year to qualify. It was not easy to double the business in such a short time, so I figured that the only way to reach the target revenue was to merge with another company.
One day when I was in San Jose to collect a past-due payment from one of our customers, “M” Company, I met with the owner’s wife, Mrs. “H.” She told me that, due to her husband being in the last stage of cancer, their company was terribly mismanaged and she was looking for help. We chatted a while and she asked me if I would be willing to provide financial support and help her run their company. She agreed to give up one half of the company’s interest to me. I thought, What a coincidence! Here I am looking for a company to merge with, and suddenly there’s a company that has revenue of about $120 million per year, asking me for help.
In my misguided pride, I thought this was another arrangement from God—that God had given me a magic hand that would turn everything I touched into gold! So without hesitation I told her I would help her—even against some people’s warnings. I met with their banker and signed a personal guaranty for “M” company. I also provided products for the company to sell, and every week I began visiting “M” company to try to clean up their books and push some sales. Over time, I began to be attracted to Mrs. “H.” She was an attractive person who wore expensive clothes and jewelry—a contrast to my wife who is very conservative. It didn’t even bother me that Mrs. “H” was an idol worshipper who frequented fortune tellers. I was blinded by pride, and I sinned against God.
Broke and Broken
After three months of trying to turn around “M” company, I found it was impossible. Their books were a mess! I had invested a significant amount of money into the company, but after serious consideration, I decided to cut my losses and quit supporting “M” company. I informed Mrs. “H” and her banker about my decision, and the company ultimately was forced into bankruptcy.
Within three months I lost xxxxxx dollars, and it shocked my family in Taiwan. They wondered how I had changed so much—from a very conservative person into a high risk gambler! This was the beginning of eight years of trial for me. Not only did I lose the money I had invested in “M” company, but I had to deal with their bank about my personal guaranty—and the company’s creditor committee attempted to come after me for preference payment. When I look back, it was a long, long eight years.
I know that the years of my trial were years that God arranged for me. I learned a very valuable lesson called “humility.”I went to God and repented of all my sins. I asked for and received God’s forgiveness. Psalms 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Many brothers and sisters in the church were praying for me.
In 1995, I attended a Pentecostal conference, and during one service I asked prayer from the pastor. He told me that he saw God telling me, “Because you have helped many people, I will remember you, and will help pull you out of your trouble.” What words of comfort! I asked God to release my burden. Within a month, I was able to shut down the Miami office, sell the Phoenix company, and terminate the partnership with the Dallas company. My brother took over the New Jersey and San Jose offices, and I sold my 50,000 sq. ft. office building. I was able to sublease an industrial building at a very low price with just enough space to meet the needs of my now down-sized company of 15 employees.
Prophetic pastors continued to give me the message that God would give me a second chance. I believed— even in face of circumstances that looked dire. In 2003, our small company got an order from a business we had worked with in previous years, and in 2004 and 2005, God blessed so much that we earned back all the money we had lost.
My testimony, based on my life experiences, is that God is a living God, full of mercy and love. He arranges circumstances in our lives, even miracles to happen, when we walk in His ways. He gives second chance— even when we’ve sinned—if we repent and ask His forgiveness. God is worthy of our devotion, and I will serve Him the rest of my life.