By Xiuhan, Thailand Editor’s Note: Gatherings provide the best opportunity to draw close to God and obtain the truth, and yet we, as Christians, are often disrupted by the people, events and things around us, which prevent us from regularly attending gatherings and cause us to lose our normal relationship with God. These things appear to just happen by accident, but what is concealed behind them? How exactly should we deal with these people, events and things so that they do not interfere with our attendance at gatherings? I am a Christian. In early 2017, by chance I came to know several brothers and sisters, and by reading God’s words and attending gatherings with them, I discovered that the Lord had returned already, and was expressing many truths and performing His work to judge and cleanse mankind. Normally, whenever I had the time, I would gather with my brothers and sisters and fellowship God’s words. Because I was very vain and self-regarding, I would very seldom be open with my brothers and sisters if I had a difficulty or if there was something in God’s words that I didn’t understand, as I was always afraid that they would laugh at me. The brothers and sisters then fellowshiped with me about how God loves those who are pure, open and honest, and so I began to train to be an honest person. While at gatherings, I would be open with my brothers and sisters and tell them about any difficulty I was having, and we would seek the truth to resolve it. After some time had gone by, I began to feel more and more liberated, my heart was filled with joy, and I enjoyed gathering with my brothers and sisters more and more. Later, I began working in a coffee shop. This job was more laid back, I didn’t have to work many hours, and I found more time to attend gatherings with my brothers and sisters. I felt that God was being so kind to me! Before long, however, I encountered some issues that prevented me from regularly attending gatherings … One day, a gathering was just about to begin when the manager at work suddenly sent me a message on LINE saying that something had come up for one of my colleagues and that they’d had to take the day off, and he asked me if I could fill in. Looking at the message, I felt a little uneasy: If I filled in for my colleague, I wouldn’t be able to attend this gathering and I would miss out on understanding some truths. What was more, I’d already agreed to attend a gathering at this time with my brothers and sisters. If I didn’t go, would they think that I’d gone back on my word? But then I thought that this was a last-minute thing that no one could have predicted, and so I told the manager that I would fill in for my colleague. Although I was at work, whenever I thought about the fact that I hadn’t attended my gathering, I would feel like I owed them an apology and I reproached myself. That evening, when I got online, I told one of the sisters about what had happened that day and I apologized to her. The sister said not to worry, and we arranged a time for our next gathering. The day of our next meeting arrived and, after breakfast, I cheerfully looked forward to the gathering. Seeing that there was still some time before it was due to begin, I went into work to help my colleagues for a while. Just then, the owner of the coffee shop suddenly came in. I looked at him in surprise and thought: “I’ve been working here over two months and I’ve never seen him come into the shop. Why has he come in today, all of a sudden?” Seeing me, the owner said, “Ying, you haven’t been working here long and you’re not yet familiar with how to brew the coffee. If you worked every day of the week, you’d not only be able to learn how to brew coffee, but you’d earn more money too—wouldn’t you then have the best of both worlds? Go get changed into your work clothes and get to work! I’ll sort out your wages.” Hearing him say this, a part of me was happy. “Yes,” I thought, “if I work an extra day then I’ll make a bit more money.” But then I thought: “But then I won’t have time to attend gatherings with my brothers and sisters. But what will the owner think of me if I refuse his offer? Will he think that, being a newbie, I don’t respect him because I’ve refused his offer the very first time we’ve met?” My thoughts struggled back and forth for a while, and in the end, I decided to accept his offer. After having abandoned yet another gathering, I really felt like I’d broken my word and I was too ashamed to face my brothers and sisters. I therefore chose to avoid them and to cut all contact with them. Over time, I gradually became more and more distant from God. In order to fit in with social trends, I began to drink alcohol and to spend time on my appearance and on using makeup. When I was bored, I would watch the fashion channel, watch Thai soap operas and play computer games, and so on. But my heart felt very empty, and I would frequently lose my temper. Seeing myself living without any semblance of a Christian, I felt a great sense of guilt. I later thought that only God could change man, and I wanted to rejoin my brothers and sisters in attending gatherings and fellowshiping God’s words. But when I thought of how I’d twice backed out of attending gatherings, I couldn’t move past my shame, and I lacked the courage to get in touch with them….
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