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I Once Had No Direction in Life

Growing up without a dad, Jonathan felt hopeless and had no sense of direction. But after turning to God, he receives guidance and a sense of self-worth.


Jonathan Nguyen: At the age of seven, my dad left. Growing-up, I was dark, I was bitter. I was angry and I was hopeless. How can someone, you know, just leave their child? I was more—I felt unwanted. I didn’t have any guidance. 

I never could understand the idea of a God. There was a moment where I was like, “Do I just let everything go?” You know, do I…what’s worth… 

[Deep exhale]

Life wasn’t worth living anymore. 

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Stories of Faith

My name is Jonathan Nguyen. I was born in San Jose, California but I was raised in Sacramento, California.

I kind of grew up alone, even though I had three siblings. We’re all seven years apart so I always felt like the only child sometimes. And then at the age of seven, I was even more alone because my dad left. So it was just my mom and I in Sacramento together and my siblings were all gone. 

Growing-up without a dad, in the beginning I was confused. I was more—I felt unwanted. The lack of a father—a father figure—really affected me. So at times I would just run away, and I ran away from a lot of problems.

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“I Needed Something More”

When I was growing-up with my mom, we weren’t really religious. We were religious when we wanted to be religious. My mom was Buddhist, so we would go to the temple. People would be there and pray. But I was always confused. 

Growing [up] Vietnamese-American we celebrated, we celebrated Chinese New Years or Lunar New Years so we would go to the temple. You know, growing-up without a father figure, growing-up with religion or a God—I didn’t have any guidance. I lived it one day at a time. And I was just looking out—I let my emotions rule my decisions. I let, you know, how I felt and how I did things that made me feel good. And so whatever decisions, [whomever] I hung out with it was based [on] emotions, and not teachings, not guidance, not wisdom from anybody. But it was when I never found happiness hanging out with friends that did, you know, did questionable things. And something was always missing. 

I always had a friend that was some kind of—had some kind of Christianity belief. Whether it was Protestant, whether it was Catholic. And at times to please that friend I would go with them to a worship service, to a gathering but I never took—I never could understand the idea of a God. Or I never really embraced it and it was—something was always missing. It was a—I felt this void in my heart that I was like, “I needed something more.” And I’m just not truly happy. And there was a moment where I was like, “Do I just let everything go?”

Life wasn’t worth living anymore. And it wasn’t until I met someone that introduced me to the Church Of Christ.

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“I Started Attending Bible Studies”

I don’t want to say that there was no God but I definitely saw there was just, you know, [I was] agnostic, not atheist and so I started attending worship service—the teachings were nice. And at first, it was this big house of worship in San Jose, California. And for years I would drive past it and I just didn’t think about it. Even my mom—when I was growing-up, or right before I was born, my mom had a restaurant right next to it. At the plaza right next to the San Jose house of worship my mom had a restaurant. 

There was this time I was playing volleyball, I’m a big volleyball—I love volleyball. And during a—while I was going to college I was in this volleyball class and I was playing but there [were] these four (two male, two female), and they came up to me and they’re like, “Hey, you attend the Church Of Christ, right? You attend—” Then they’re like, “You should play in this tournament we have. We have this volleyball tournament, you know, it’s just good friendly, brotherhood competition.”  

And that opened my eyes. And I was like, “Wow, I want to play, many I want to play.” So I started attending Bible studies

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“It Just Opened Up My Eyes”

At the same time I was going to school and I was going through the Bible studies and during my history class, there were talking about the Catholic inquisition. And at the same time I was learning about that in the Bible studies and it just connected. It was just this, it was this parallel. It was these two, you know, how do you say—it just opened my eyes and I was like, “Wow, this is the Bible, it’s—there’s something to it.

[The Bible] prophesied about things that happened and things that would happen, I mean. And I just kept going and I wanted more. I was thirsting for it. I just wanted to learn more. And it was amazing. Everytime like, I would just around afterwards, I would ask the minister questions, he would answer it from the Bible. But it just felt good to have—to be taught truth.         

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“I Was Able To See The Bigger Picture”

There was a specific lesson, it just clicked, it just—it’s the lightbulb in my head just, it just turned on and everything else just started to make sense. All the Bible studies started to make sense, everything just came together and it was about all the prophecies of World War I and World War II. And not just, not just the—about the start of the war, different diseases or famine. The instruments of war. The time period in between World War I and World War II. It just blew my mind and that lesson, there was another lesson that we learned about the true meaning behind 666. And me thirsting for knowledge, thirsting for truth, it was just amazing to hear. I invited my brother to that lesson. So once I learned those lessons everything else just had—it was credible. So I never questioned it because it just came from the Bible. I was like, “This is true. So there’s no—I’m not going to question God’s words, that’s wisdom right there.” 

It just made me believe in the Bible even more. You know, when I was going through the Bible studies I didn’t have any moment of resistance. I think coming from a non-religious upbringing, it allowed my mind to be open, fresh for ideas that just made sense. It was logical. So when I was going through the Bible studies, everything just made sense and it connected. Like one lesson after another, after another. And so it was—I never had any doubt. You know, I never had questioned any of the teachings because they all logically made sense. Everything just came together and I finally, I finally got to see the bigger picture.

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“I Cleaned Up”

After joining the Church Of Christ, I just—I cleaned up; I didn’t hang out with the same friends anymore because they didn’t help my faith grow. Anybody that didn’t help my faith grow I just—sad to say but I had to cut them off. And I wanted to become a better person and I loved the person I was and I wanted to become better, especially in my faith. 

Growing-up I was dark, I was bitter, I was angry and I was hopeless. You know, now I just have peace. Peace in my heart, peace in my mind. And that everything will be alright. And that our problems [are]—they’re not really that bad. They’re not that big. 

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“The Church Of Christ Gave Me Guidance”

You know, after I joined the Church Of Christ and I had more guidance and I had a vision of where I wanted to go—of what I wanted and life ahead of me—I was going towards salvation, of course, working towards salvation, working towards eternal life. Because you know, God saved me. So I wanted to focus my life on Him. And my services to Him. 

When I joined the Church [Of Christ] I never knew how to pray. Whether it was just praying to something, to the universe or praying to you know helping in the—praying in the Buddhist prayers. You know, joining the Church [Of Christ] it really helped me learn how to talk to God and ask [Him] for my needs. To open my heart to Him. You know, I’m thankful that the minister really taught me how to pray from my heart and not mere—and not just pray from my brain. Just, you know, let my heart speak and God will listen. It just felt good to—it felt good to tell Him about my day. And how happy I was.   

Growing-up without a father and now having children of my own I… I’m grateful that I have God in my life. I’m grateful that I have the Church Of Christ in my life because it helped appreciate what I have and I just want to be the best father for them. I want to be there for them. They’re my blessing from God [that] I wanted but never prayed for. And He gave it to me. I’m just, I’m just grateful. 

I’m glad that I’m in the Church Of Christ because it gives me guidance [on] how to be a parent, and how to raise them the right way. And then I know that I’ll do my best so that they can always be under God’s protection and love.

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“God is Wonderful”

If I never joined the Church [Of Christ] I think when times got tough, I wouldn’t know what to do and I would [have] quit. Like what I’ve done most of my life and I would’ve failed my family. I wouldn’t have endured the troubles and I would [have] just quit. But I’m thankful because I know that there’s no quitting. Especially with  family, you push through it. It’s just an opportunity to turn to God. It’s just that knowing that everything will be okay. And that God is there to protect you, and that you’ll become stronger out of this and anything that happens in our lives, good or bad, we’re just thankful for it, you know, my family and I. And we just use that opportunity to thank God. And that when—either I’m gone or we’re separated [from our kids] when [our kids] grow older that they will love God more than me. And that they’ll always pray to Him. I can’t just—there’s just, words can’t explain just how much I love, you know, [I] love God and I’m just thankful. 

I love… I love sharing my faith and I find it so important to share my faith because I want more people to experience God, to experience what I experienced. And to have God in their life and to protect them. And just the peace and happiness it brings when you finally serve God the right way. I want more people to really experience that because He’s the only one that can save us. God is always there. God is my protector. God is amazing, God is just wonderful, kind. He’s my Father. He’s the one that guides me. You don’t have to worry about anything because you know God has your back.

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I Once Had No Direction in Life