A Criminal redeemed by Christ to become God’s Servant

John endured years of bullying from his friends in high school while at home suffered beatings and scoldings from a cruel father. At age 16, he decided to take revenge by entering the criminal world. He engaged in serious crimes such as theft, robbery, drug trafficking, smuggling firearms and even murder.

On September 20th, 2014, after spending a decade in prison, he found hope in Jesus Christ through Operation Dawn. He was reborn in Christ and became a new creation that bore witness to God’s redemptive power. He was once despised, but now is used by God to serve others with humility, grace, and purpose.

My name is John Jia, and I am 66 years old. I live in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, and I am the youngest in my family. My life took a different path than that of others, why ? Because I lived in fear of bullying for about two years during my junior high school years. At that time in Taiwan, regional and provincial conflict was very serious and schools were no exception. In addition, I often took on the role of class captain in the class, so when local Taiwanese students got in trouble with the teacher, they often mistook me as the person who reported them. Therefore, I, a kid from other provinces, became the prey, even the plaything, of the local school gangs in school. Not only did I become the target of bullying by my classmates, but I also became the target of bullying by anyone in other classes who wanted to bully me.

I remember those days after school, I would always ask myself, “Which way should I take home today ? ” I remember that every time I was kidnapped by them, beaten, verbally insulted, spat on, wet with urine, forced to crawl under other’s pants and so on, the hatred and anger grew day after day in my heart which press my heart hardly. What makes me even more angry is my father ! Because my father was my only person who could save me from those misery at my age. When I told my father about my school life, instead of protecting me, he assumed it was because of my misbehaviour and he even beat me up. At the time, I told myself that this father was not someone on whom I could rely.

Therefore, after being bullied and humiliated for a long time, when I was 16 years old, I decided to become a gangster and join the underworld. I remember that my decision was a serious one and had made a plan for it. I even thought about how I could join a mafia organization somewhere ? How should I realize my revenge plan in the future ? It was very true.

All in all, the above is the beginning of my determination to give up my studies, my family’s expectations and love. After that, I joined a powerful gangster family as I wished, and from then on I started a life of stealing, robbing, abducting, cheating, killing, intimidating, abducting people for extortion, collecting protection fees, training in gangster camps, and going in and out of jail until the end. As I got older, the worse I became – taking drugs and buying drugs, smuggling firearms, and torturing others for my own pleasure, and I enjoyed doing them.

August 5, 2014 was the very last time I entered prison in my life; the day I was released from prison on parole which is the most memorable day for me. Because, after being released from prison on September 20, I went to the Operation Dawn and got to know Jesus. From then on, I am a child of God !

Thank you Lord for His unfailing love. He blessed me with a mother, my second older brother and sister-in-law who all devoutly love the Lord. I remember on September 20 when my second brother pressured me to join Operation Dawn in Tainan Village. At that time, I joined very reluctantly just to maintain family ties, especially with my brother. Because my brother said: “If I don’t follow their arrangements this time, and continue my bad habits like drug use and do evil things, the Jia family will completely cut off all ties with me, even if it means I die on the street.” And I really knew Jia family’s characters well and they meant what they said. However, given my history of repeatedly going in and out of jail, I wasn’t sure if I could change for the better and leave my criminal past behind. So, I decided to obey them temporarily and give it a try.

However, thank God, I have been in Operation Dawn for 9 years now. When I think back to the time when I started from a person whose body and mind were filled with rude thoughts and disapproval, filthy words, violent temper, underworld thinking, and prison culture. During three years of being stubborn and rebellious in the village, I engaged in numerous wrongful behaviours. However, God’s love is among my many sins that should not be forgiven, tolerated, or accepted by others. I firmly believe that God’s will requires me, Lord, to thoroughly see, accept, know, think about, and understand my own corruption and unworthiness; and then allows me to face it again and again as the servants sent and used by Him. His forgiveness, acceptance, gentleness, and encouragement really touched my heart. What’s more, the wonderful lives of the pastors, preachers, and teachers I have pastored have made my heart as full and longing for God’s love and the Lord’s saving grace as the sea, and as firm and stable as a mountain.

Today, I believe in God’s love because of the Lord’s redemption, and the Holy Spirit’s inspiration hits me like a wave. Every day, I believe that God’s loving Spirit inspires me, and I strive to pursue His anointing, presence, breaking and building, discipline and love, and will and perfection. I thank God that even when I was a mess and looked like a worm, He still loved, cherished, saved, and resurrected me from the dead. I thank God that I have been blessed and blessed to become a child of God through the salvation of the Lord Jesus, the cleansing of the recious blood, and the mercy and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Now I thank God for allowing me to become a new creation in Christ, a person who has been changed, moulded, and reborn by the Lord, from a corrupt, filthy, sinful person who was originally despised by the world and regarded as garbage. I can receive the Lord’s mercy and be perfected before I die, becoming a person who loves the Lord, fears the Lord, loves God, and loves others.

Today, I am even more grateful for the Lord’s grace, which allows me, an unworthy person, to learn the work of serving the brothers in the midst of His provision and grace. Especially serving in the United States and Canada which has kept my loving heart burning. My heart says : “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those who please him!” Peace be with you all.

Grace from the Lord
John Jia