By Jia’nan, Hong Kong
Whenever someone mentions betting on horse races, some people are daunted by the idea, and they avoid it like the plague, whereas others will be as happy as a lark and they can’t get enough of it. Each person takes a different stance on horse race betting. I used to be a gambler and I betted on horse races for over 20 years, and I tasted bitterness and pain. As I think about how I went from being a horse race gambler to becoming a Christian, I can’t help but feel overcome with emotion …
Back then, I was not earning much money, and because of the financial burden of my family and being short of money, I racked my brains to think of a way to make more money. One day, while I was chatting with my work colleague, he said to me, “‘A man without a second income will never get rich, just like a horse starved of hay at night will never put on weight,’ and if you want to make more money you could bet on the horse races and buy Mark Six lottery tickets. If you buy 10 Hong Kong dollars’ worth, then with some you could get several tens of Hong Kong dollars back, some several thousand Hong Kong dollars, some tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars, and some even hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong dollars …” As I listened to my colleague say this, my heart was stirred with desire, and I felt like my dreams of becoming rich would soon come true.
When I started betting on the races, I only bet 20 to 30 Hong Kong dollars, and I would easily win several hundred to over a thousand Hong Kong dollars. I pondered to myself: “It’s not hard to win money on the races, so if I bet more then I’ll win more. This is a good way to strike it rich.” I then began to buy the Racing Post to research where to place my bets in order to win big. Even while I was at work, I carried the Racing Post with me. Once, I was working a machine whilst reading the newspaper, and because my attention was divided, my hand became caught in the machine and injured. I needed several stitches and had to be off work for several months.
Once my wife became aware that I was a gambling addict, she felt very strongly against it and we argued about it often, but I wouldn’t listen no matter what my wife said. In order to have more money to bet on the races, I cut down on living expenses. I walked to and from work rather than take the bus, and sometimes I didn’t eat and would just buy a bread roll that would do for a meal, and I would use the money I saved for gambling. Back then, I lived in a dream of striking it rich; I was exhausted and strained, my eyes would often look dull and lifeless, and around them there appeared black circles. Sometimes my colleagues would ask, “Why are you so tired every day?” and “Why are you always eating bread rolls and not proper meals? Don’t you work to be able to enjoy your life?” I could only try my best to look normal and say to them, “I like bread rolls, and I’m tired because my son cries at night and I’m not sleeping well.”
Each time I won money on the horse races, I was as happy as could be and I felt like I had a good eye for picking winners. In order to make my fortune, I took the money I won and gambled it again, thinking that the more I bet, the greater the chances of winning and the more money I would win. But when I placed a large bet, I unexpectedly lost it all. My mind went blank and I felt greatly pained. I thought to myself, “I’ve learned about horse racing and studied odds and trends just as much as anyone else! Why has it turned out this way? I’ve been betting on the horse races for over 20 years and I haven’t struck it rich, but instead I’ve lost a huge amount of money.” When I was alone and had calmed down, I thought, “Why am I bothering with all this? Why am I living such a bitter, exhausting life?” Gradually, I ended up with no direction and no goals for my future. I just muddled along aimlessly from day to day.
In late 2008, a relative preached to me theof God’s kingdom. I began only to nominally , however, and my life was still spent gambling in the same old way. I knew in my heart that if I believed in God then I should quit gambling, but I didn’t know why I couldn’t quit my addiction to betting on horse races.
During a meeting, I opened up and fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters about the fact that I was still betting on horse races even after I’d started believing in God, and a sister read these words of God to me, “None actively seek out the footsteps or appearance of God, and none wish to exist in the care and keeping of God. Rather, they are willing to rely on the corrosion of Satan and the evil one in order to adapt to this world and to the rules of life the wicked mankind follows.”
God’s words made me understand that, after we had been corrupted by Satan, every thought and idea we had was controlled by the life axioms of Satan. These negative things became our lives and they made us willing to follow Satan, follow the trends of society, and have no thought to come before God and worship Him. I thought about how I’d been harmed by the satanic ideology and outlook of “A man without a second income will never get rich, just like a horse starved of hay at night will never put on weight,” how I had become addicted to betting on horse races, had thought of nothing but striking it rich, and had even spent time when I should have been eating or working studying horse race gambling, and how I spent all the money I had saved on betting on the races. And yet over all these years, my dream to strike it rich had not come true, and instead I lost all my money. And because of my gambling, my wife and I had often argued, and my home was no longer like a home. What I found even more painful was that my heart was filled with horse racing; I had no goals in life, and even more so my heart was empty and tormented. I thought about how, because of betting on the horse races, so many people were up to their necks in debt, had brought their families to financial ruin and lived in a pain they could not escape from, and I thought: “Satan causes us all this harm!” When I came to this realization, I decided to quit gambling.
Although I was resolved to quit gambling, every time I passed a Jockey Club betting station and saw the crowd surging, a betting slip in each person’s hand, focusing their concentration on researching what horse to bet on, my hands itched, I would feel uncomfortable all over and I would really want to place just one more bet and win back all the money I’d lost. But then I would think of how I’d made my resolution before God, and if I gambled again, wouldn’t I then be deceiving God? Thinking these thoughts, I would feel a sense of guilt in my heart. I would ultimately still be unable to control myself, however, and I would bet on the races again and lose even more money …
Later, at a meeting, a sister read a passage of God’s words to me. God says, “Man’s entire life is lived under the domain of Satan, and there is not a single person who can free themselves from the influence of Satan on their own. All live in a filthy world, in corruption and emptiness, without the slightest meaning or value; they live such carefree lives for the flesh, for lust, and for Satan. There is not the slightest value to their existence.” “You must find ways to free yourself from this depraved, carefree life that is no different from an animal’s. You must live out a life of meaning, a life of value, and you must not fool yourself, or treat your life like a toy to be played with. … How should you live your life? How should you love God, and use this love to satisfy His desire? There is no greater matter in your life. Above all, you must have such aspirations and perseverance, and should not be like those spineless weaklings. You must learn how to experience a meaningful life, and experience meaningful truths, and should not treat yourself perfunctorily in that way. Without you realizing it, your life will pass you by; and after that, will you have another opportunity to love God?”
Thinking about it carefully, I knew that betting on horse races was a means employed by Satan to deceive and seduce people, but when Satan’s temptation befell me again, I couldn’t help but follow in its wake, and this was the result of the satanic view that “A man without a second income will never get rich just like a horse starved of hay at night will never put on weight.” I thought about how I was always addicted to betting on horse races, ambling aimlessly along all day, neither working nor living normally, with no human likeness whatsoever, and I knew that if I carried on that way, I would only degenerate more and more and get further and further away from God, and my chance to attain God’s salvation would be forfeit. Especially when I read these words of God, “You must find ways to free yourself from this depraved, carefree life that is no different from an animal’s. You must live out a life of meaning, a life of value, and you must not fool yourself, or treat your life like a toy to be played with,” I came to appreciate the care and thought God took. God was hoping that I would leave behind the dark influence of Satan and utterly cast off that previous depraved way of living, and yet I was causing God grief again and again; I really was so numb and rebellious. A sister also gave me fellowship, saying, “No matter what adverse environments or hardships we encounter, as long as we come before God sincerely, pray to God and rely on Him, place ourselves in His hands and allow God to rule over and arrange everything for us, then God will always open a way out for us.” As I contemplated God’s words and listened to the sister’s fellowship, I came to have a direction for my practice. I became willing to come before God with an honest heart, make a resolution to Him, practice in accordance with His words and quit my addiction to gambling.
But a little while later, my gambling addiction once again raised its ugly head. Although my conscience reproved me at the time, I thought: “This really is the last time I’ll gamble. I won’t gamble again after this. I hope that, with this last bet, I can win back all the money I lost.” When I walked into the Jockey Club and bought a betting slip, my heart felt very ill at ease, and it beat ferociously to the point where my hands wouldn’t stop shaking. I stared at my betting slip, but my mind was all blank. I didn’t know how to fill it in and I became so nervous that my head went dizzy. All I could do was leave the club, take a breather and get my mind right. After my emotions had calmed, because I didn’t want to fail at my attempt to gamble, I went back into the club, and when I went to place my bet, my mind still went blank. Clutching the pen, my hand went back and forth. I didn’t know how to place my bet and I didn’t have the heart to do it. At that moment, God’s words came to mind: “I am the true God, the God who examines the innermost heart of man. Don’t act one way to others’ faces but another way behind their backs, as I see clearly everything you do and though you may fool others you cannot fool Me. I see it all clearly. It is not possible for you to conceal anything; all is within My hands.” Yes! I thought of all the times I’d made resolutions before God and yet still hadn’t been able to stop myself from gambling, and by doing this I had blatantly been deceiving God! God scrutinizes the innermost hearts of man. While I was doing it, God was watching, and although I knew perfectly well that betting on horse races was a negative thing, I still went along with it again and again; by knowingly doing bad things I was making God detest me even more! So as soon as I walked outside the club I hurriedly went before God and prayed: “O God, please give me the faith and strength to no longer suffer the seductions and temptations of Satan, but to be able to rely on You, heed Your words and completely quit gambling. Amen!” I then decisively left the club.
I spent some time praying to God about my gambling problem, and thanking God for opening up a way out for me. Through gathering together with brothers and sisters, fellowshiping and performing my duties, and through working and living in accordance with God’s words, gradually my heart began to feel enriched and at peace, and I no longer had the time or the inclination to bet on the horses. Sometimes I would bump into my old gambling cronies, and they would ask me, “Have you won lately? Do you want to go to the races with me?” and “So-and-so won the Six Ring lottery …” Listening to them, sometimes I would still feel a surge of desire in my heart, but I realized that this was the temptation and seduction of Satan. What’s more, I had already made a resolution to God to stand witness for Him and no longer to be Satan’s fool. And so I would say to my friends, “I’ve quit and I won’t gamble again.”
Afterward, whenever I passed the Jockey Club and saw so many gamblers sitting outside the club, my hands would no longer itch like they had before. I reflected on my experiences of quitting gambling: Just by relying on myself, I hadn’t the willpower or the faith to quit, and yet God’s words had enabled me to understand thoroughly the essence of gambling, and He had given me the strength to quit betting on the horses.
Now, my wife and I frequently read God’s words and we perform our duties in the church. My mental attitude has taken on a completely new outlook and I’ve thoroughly cast off my old life of carrying the Racing Post wherever I went. It is truly by God’s grace that He has given me a new life!