College,  Stories

A Life Well Lived

Written by Candace-Arce Lindsay

Sarah Jong, a junior and cellist performance major, relates the difficulty of rising each day to face the heaviness of trials. In her home in South Korea, she was plagued by an illness for which doctors could find neither name nor cure.

“My disease was so obscure it didn’t have a name, but the doctors did not give me more than two weeks to live,” she explains.

She was healed from her sickness by what Jong describes a miracle of God. “Actually this is my second life,” she says of her current symptom-free state. “God saved me; I met Him at that time, and I’m the first one who believed in God in my family.”

Jong shares how her mother came to God through Sarah’s sickness. “My mom didn’t know God, but she would go to church to pray for me and she saw God through my healing.”

Even though there was healing for Jong’s sickness, mother and daughter were to face more hardships as time wore on. Jong’s mother, Oma, came to the United States first to study business, and was later joined by her daughter.

On Sarah’s arrival at Biola in 2008, her mother was diagnosed with terminal stage lung cancer—a revelation that overwhelmed them both. To complicate matters, Jong and her mother, both international students from South Korea, are here in the United States on student visas. This has proven difficult concerning her mother’s sickness. To stay in America and carry on with her cancer treatments, Mrs. Jong must continue her studies to fulfill the requirements of the student visa; otherwise, she risks deportment.

“There are a lot of difficulties because I am an international student,” Jong shares. “I feel like I have to live twice as much as anyone else, and sometimes it feels like too much.”

Still, in the midst of this struggle, Jong finds encouragement and strength in the example of her mother. “When I see my mom, how she knows God, and how she is still studying even though she is in terminal cancer, I am so inspired by her,” she states. “She’s working so hard; English is her second language and she’s getting good grades and she’s just trying really hard and being a really strong mom for me.”

Jong’s reliance on God and her relationship with her mother have sustained her in this difficult period of life. In spite of the weight of suffering, Jong and her mother have grown closer together and closer to God.

“Nothing is getting better,” Jong states, “but our belief is getting stronger and we just feel thankful for God’s grace.”

This attitude has enabled them to have joy in the midst of trials. “It’s weird,” says Jong, “but so many of my friends say I’ve changed so much; these days I am laughing a lot! I have peace and joy.”

Right now, Jong’s driving passion is to share her experience with others so she can share with them the hope and purpose she finds in life. “In order to do that, I have to live my everyday as hard as I can,” she states. “I just want to be ready in front of God so he can use my life, and I just don’t want to waste all the time that God has given to me. That is why I wake up.”

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