Friday nights at the Cheungs’ is becoming all the rage amongst Christian students in Cardiff.
Gloria Cheung’s home is a haven of warmth and light. Laughter bubbles from the living room where two students and a close friend are talking and tinkling on a piano. This is not unusual. On Fridayevenings especially, her house is filled with even more students local and international, eagerly gathering for another session of Bible study and hymn-singing.
Gloria’s home is just one of many Christian community ‘’centres’’ under global banner, Amana Trust, a Christian organisation that provides sponsorship and training for such centres around the world. Gloria and her husband, John, have been members since 2006. Many would not open their homes quite so generously, but for Gloria, this was her calling, ‘’ I knew I wasn’t just made to be a house wife, I wasn’t made to be just a mum’’. She recalls an amazing journey that began in Taiwan.
Faith lost, faith found
The oldest of four children, Gloria was eight when she first became a Christian. She decided to get baptised. Her church elders were understandably taken aback. Why would a girl so young want totake such an adult step? But Gloria could not be swayed, ‘’I said to them, because I know God loves me, and I love Him, and I want to give myself to Him.’’
She was baptised on a Saturday night, and thenext day she joined the morning meeting, the only child in attendance. She smiles, ‘’I remember I was the happiest child in the whole universe. ‘’
But some of this happiness left when Gloria, 18, was studying pre-med at the University of Colorado, and busily working as an intern in the delivery room. To her family and friends, her life looked exciting, but Gloria admits she was crying at night questioning if God was real, ‘’I worked so hard, it didn’t satisfy me, I felt so empty.’’
But a chance attendance at a Christian seminar while in Massachusetts, helped reclaim her spiritual well-being, ‘’ I heard for the first time that man is a vessel. Yes we need to study, we need food in our stomachs, but still those things cannot satisfy us because we were made to contain God in our spirits.’’
‘’It was love at first sight on my side!’’
Gloria later enrolled into Bible College in Texas. It was there at 23, she met John. ‘’ It was love at first sight on my side!’’, she exclaims. They never actually dated, but worked closely together on various church-related activities. But she was quick to notice a magnetism between them, ‘’Whenever we prayed together, he drew my spirit out.’’ They weremarried four months later.
Children came a few years later. Joshua was born when she was 27 and Faith two years later. Family didn’t slow Gloria and John down, as their goal, she states, was always for the whole family to serve God. So together, under sponsorship of the Amana Trust, they began a trail blaze that would take them from Texas, to Reading, to London, and finally to Cardiff, as of last year.
Next Spring, the Amana Trust comes to Wales bringing a conference just for university students. Gloria is clearly looking forward to it. So she may not have become an obstetrician, but at 48, she appears content with the direction her life has taken,‘’ If we have God’s purpose as our primary purpose then our lives are full of meaning.’’