From Former Penniless Gambler to Full-time Preacher: Embracing Life's Challenges With God's Guidance

A man sits in a church.
A man sits in a church. (photo:
By Steve Sun December 21st, 2023

Editor's note: Xu Dawei, who went astray in his youth, found himself in the abyss of gambling for its temporary wealth and success, ending up penniless and deceiving family and friends. At the bottom of his despair, the door of a church opened to him, guiding this prodigal son to turn his life around.

Born into a poor family in a small town in Anhui Province, Xu Dawei left home for work when he was under 18. As the family’s youngest son but without a father since he was little, Xu had adopted bad habits after leaving home.

As soon as he arrived in W City in Zhejiang Province, Dawei got a job but also developed a gambling habit, falling deep into an abyss of evil.

He said, "I often asked for leave or just absence from work and finally got fired. I had become a professional gambler since then, and even staff in the casino for a salary of 1,000 yuan a day as I made an acquaintance with a gangster.”

His wife and child were out of Xu’s mind in the first year he worked in the casino, which led to a total breakdown of the couple after a five-year separation. Later, Xu opened a gambling house with a booming start but lost all the luck the more he gambled. He recalled, “Back then, I was just eager to win all my money back while ending up with a loss of 2 million yuan within a month. I started to lie to my family for money and, first, to my considerably rich older sister. I turned to everyone I could borrow money from, even the loan shark. Finally, I chose to run away.”

He once considered suicide or just hiding in a strange city. On the second day, as several churches passed by, he couldn’t help but think, “There will be hope for tomorrow if Jesus is real, or at least my way of escape was ready if not.”

“A great peace fell on me upon my first step in the church, for which I chose to stay there for three years of pursuing faith.”

There were moments of uncertainty and skepticism during these three years. One day, he drove a car to the church but found out it couldn’t restart as he was about to leave. He then prayed, “Jesus, I will not only follow you for my whole life but also testify for you as Paul and Peter, if you can perform a sign to let my car start.” Then he inserted the key, which started not only his car but also his complete faith in Jesus.

The next day, driving his blessed car, Dawei fled to another city. Later, facing a call for debt collection from the bank, he turned to the Lord once again for help. In his prayers, a businessman came to mind, and surprisingly, this man agreed to lend Xu money, despite having only met once and sharing just one contact.

Experiencing the Lord is with him, Dawei regained confidence to find a job. His first job was in a decoration company, where he could only earn a salary by completing orders and receiving commissions.

"I began my job with a prayer as soon as I arrived at the company, receiving my first client. The good news about the deal signing came during Sunday service. I received a commission of over 2000 yuan and immediately dedicated half of it to the church," Dawei said in excitement.

He recalled. “Later, God told me, ‘Son, you should start a business. I am with you.’ I did as told, with only 1,000 yuan. There have been challenges in running a company. Before believing in Jesus, I would first consider which acquaintances could help. But now, I've learned to trust God instead. I prayed with doors closed when confronted with troubles. The turning point then showed up.”

"Over time, in 2017, I was able to repay not only all of the money I cheated from my family but also the $1 million usury loan. These are God's protection."

In 2022, Xu was suddenly diagnosed with a lung abscess and severe diabetes. The hospital was at its wits end at that time. Lying on the bed, Dawei called out, “My Lord, please heal me and raise me to serve you.” Surprisingly, as the doctor did the test again the next day, his blood test result returned to normal.

When Dawei was completely healed in 2012, Jesus began calling out, "My son, give up everything you have and follow me." In March 2022, Jesus called once more. Xu devoted himself to serving the Lord with the firm belief that Jesus would sustain him, letting go of his previous worries about family and business.

- Translated by Poppy Chan

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