Hi! My name is Terry Phong. I am taking biblically-based training for free online at the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about Studying the Bible, Click Here).
For as long as I can remember, I longed to know my real identity. Here is a quick little background of me. I am one of those Amerasian babies born during the Vietnam war. I never knew my father. My mother told me he was an African American soldier that took advantage of her. My mother’s and my relationship has always been somewhat strained since we both hold a lot of resentment towards each other.
Being half Black and growing up in an all Asian family that is Buddhist is also quite interesting, to say the least. I was literally the black sheep of the family. I am not going to lie. Trying to fit in was kind of tough, so I did not bother trying to do so.
Searching for Identity
Once adolescence came around, I did not want anything to do with my family. I have no father, my mother is a hypocrite, and I had an older brother who was gay (he died of AIDS in 1994). With no positive role models in my life, I hung out with the wrong crowd and started doing drugs to escape.
I had my first toke of marijuana at the age of twelve, which was the beginning of the end. My newfound identity and motto were sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Just as King Solomon tried to fill his life with excess, I tried to fill mine. I quickly discovered it is all meaningless, and the only place it got me was in and out of jail.
However, unlike King Solomon, I did not have the resources to feed my hedonist lifestyle. So I turned to crime to support my habits. Long story short, I was constantly putting myself in harm’s way because of the lifestyle I chose. It was only a matter of time till I hit rock bottom.
There is no doubt in my mind that God always had His hands on my life. He protected me and saved me from the poor choices I made in my life. I will not detail the many drug-filled adventures I had but let say that it is nothing short of a miracle that I am still alive today.
The truth is the sex, drugs, and rock and roll were all a welcome distraction in my life. However, it also got me into a lot of trouble and a life of addiction. When I finally realized my lifestyle was not edifying for me or anyone else, I decided I needed a different kind of distraction in my life.
I decided to give love a try. I fell in love and had my heartbroken, the absolute worst feeling in the world. The drugs did not kill me, but my broken heart almost did. Rock bottom was finally hit. I was nearing 30, a drug addict, and my life was going nowhere. Finally, I was fully broken and ready to surrender it all to God.
I was first exposed to the gospel from a youth pastor grounded in biblically-based training. It was during the time I lived with my aunt for a year at age 13. She took me to church with her because she did not trust me to leave me by myself at her house. I was also exposed to the gospel through prison ministry. Some call it “jailhouse religion”, but I did not care. Going to church in jail means getting out of your cell for an hour.
No matter how I got exposed to the gospel, I am forever grateful that I was exposed to it. Isaiah 55:11 says – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Found What I Was Looking For
After 16 years of wandering in the wilderness doing drugs, searching for my identity, and looking for love in all the wrong places, I was ready to receive God’s gift of salvation and real love. I called on God in my brokenness, and He answered me. He helped to heal my broken heart and began to fill me with His Love.
At age 28, I began my walk with Christ. He immediately began to transform me from the inside out. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.” I finally found my identity in Christ. However, I didn’t realize that I needed biblically-based training to ground me.
Spiritual Warfare is Real
Luke 4:13 – “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” Sadly, old habits die hard and can reappear in our lives if we neglect to put on the full armor of God. After 6 months of being sober, I began to backslide and went back to my first love of smoking weed. I convinced myself that it would be alright for me to have just one vice. After all, every man has at least one vice, right?
It is a lot easier to convince oneself, but to try and convince God is a different story. The Holy Spirit was not going for the “one vice” thing. Indeed, God was working on my behalf to replace that bad habit with a much better one.
For the next year or so, I struggled on and off with my pot-smoking habit. That is until I met my wife. God’s grace showed up once again! It was love at first sight. The first thing my soon-to-be wife said to me was that she could not marry a smoker. I immediately said I would quit, and I did!
Fast forward, my wife Chris and I have been married for 20 years now, and we have four wonderful daughters together. Of course, everything was not perfect. Although my focus and priorities changed since my drug-filled days, I then chased after the other things of this world, like money and success.
Once again, I convinced myself that my focus needed to be on money instead of God. Especially with a wife, four girls, and an aging mother to care for. You see, our adversary, the devil, knows our weaknesses and how to lure us back into his world. He wants to keep us distracted and keep us from doing God’s will.
Free Biblically-Based Training: God’s Not Done With Me Yet
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
Before enrolling in the Christian Leaders Institute with its biblically-based training, I experienced an epiphany moment. Jesus is all about the transformation and relationship we have with Him. The success or wealth I was seeking did not matter. I have always desired to help others in my life, but I was not clear on how I would do that.
My years of soul searching and prayer somehow led me to CLI. I am currently seeking to get certified as a Life Coach Minister. My life experiences thus far can easily tell you precisely what NOT to do. Now I want to get biblically-based training. Then, I can learn to do things the right way.
I desire to grow in my faith and walk with Christ. I also feel that Life Coaching is my calling, but I do not want to go into debt paying for the high cost of traditional ministry training or Life Coach certification. So the classes at CLI are a perfect fit for me.
Living a Victorious Life in Christ
I thank God every day for believing in me when I did not believe in myself. And, as His image-bearers, I want Jesus to be my personal Life Coach so that I may help guide others with their spiritual journey through life.
My journey to spiritual maturity is one that God enables. I realize that I still need to do my part, but ultimately it is God and the Holy Spirit that help me be more like Jesus. Philippians 2:12-13 shows both of these truths when it says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”