By Dr. Cai Xuanging
I grew up in an absolutely atheistic environment, a scientist’s family in a Communist country. Such a background shaped my view that I only believed in rationality, science, and hard work. During the Cultural Revolution, I was sent to the remote countryside and forced to live on myself for nearly six years. The severe life further deepened my conviction that for everything I must rely on myself. Later I went to a medical school and then graduate school. After graduation, I was appointed as a faculty member in this same medical college. In 1986, I came to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. degree. For all these accomplishments, I have always blindly credited my own efforts, plus some “fortune” as we Chinese often say.
The whole philosophical system in Mainland China is built solely on Marxist materialism; that is, material comes first, spirit second; metaphysics, idealism, and religions are all taught as premature epistemology, and only Marxist dialectic materialism is the perfect one. Especially for us who major in natural science, we believe that truth should be tested and repeated.
Normally, most Chinese students and scholars from Mainland China are extremely careful about investing their beliefs in someone. We were cheated and ployed upon during the Cultural Revolution, when we were taught to worship the man-made god, Mao Zedong, who was finally destroyed. This sad history tells me that man can create something or someone to worship to satisfy their spiritual needs or for their own purposes. Perhaps Jesus was a great man in history, but His supernatural powers might have been invented by His disciples for some purposes.
Lao Tsu, the great philosopher and teacher of Confucianism, about 2,000 years ago wrote in his famous book Tao Te Ching, “The wise man hears of the Word (Tao) and practices it diligently; the average man hears of the Word (Tao) and gives it thought now and again; the foolish man hears of the Word (Tao) and laughs aloud. If there were no laughter, the Word (Tao) would not be what it is.”
I used to think that Christians were no more than a group of nice people in search of their spiritual comfort because of a lack of self-confidence and an unbalanced personality.
Actually, many presidents of the United States have had Christian beliefs. President Jefferson once said that the Bible is the foundation of the United States. These great men, with super wisdom and strong personality, eventually directed their personal beliefs toward something supernatural. They influenced me to begin to question atheism, which I used to regard as perfect, and research the “divine” in life. Though I was terribly busy with my study and work, I thought such a research was worthy, for the claim for God’s existence in this world is either the biggest fraud in human history or the greatest mystery beyond man’s wisdom and rationality.
The Attraction of Christian Culture
What also attracted me to Christianity was its culture. Christianity has played an extremely important role in human civilization. Western culture is closely tied to Christianity. Before coming to the United States, I worked in Europe for one year. Many famous paintings and buildings actually describe stories of the Bible. The values of freedom, equality, and human rights are basically founded on the biblical concept that human beings are God’s unique creation. Western culture, including painting, music, architecture, philosophy, literature, and politics, is deeply influenced by Christianity.
When I came to the West, the first thing I wanted was to understand Western culture. Only after that could I deal with Westerners and understand their thoughts and ways of life.
Near the university where I studied, there was a Chinese Christian Fellowship. These Christians were middle-aged intellectuals who met together every Friday evening for Bible study. I knew that my English was not good enough to communicate in depth with Americans about theology or philosophy, and therefore, I thought it would be better to discuss this first with Chinese Christians. Both my wife and I joined the Fellowship.
As we studied the Bible together, I gradually realized that these pious Christians were not merely nice people as I had thought, but they were very serious about searching for the truth, and were confident about their beliefs. I was able to feel from them the beauty of humanity, which was very attractive to us who grew up in Mainland China with an unhealthy personality, such as distrust and self-isolation. Not only did these Christians patiently help us understand the Bible and Christianity, but they also kindly helped us through the first year, the most difficult year for any student studying abroad.
I had been curious about the Bible even when in China. At that time, however, the Bible for me was just an interesting book, solely because it was the best-selling and most widely translated book in the world. Its value as literature, philosophy, history, and art has been widely known. Any civilized intellectual living in a Christian environment is at a loss if he fails to read the Bible. When I began reading it, I did not understand and even disliked the stories about devils, miracles, creation, resurrection, and healing. I even thought these stories made the book less valuable and acceptable. Only later did I begin to understand that the Bible was the revelation of the Creator to His created subjects, and therefore, its true meaning is far beyond the given wisdom and rationality of human beings. If one limits himself only to his rationality and wisdom, he will miss the true points of the Bible.
As my questions were answered one by one, my self-imposed obstacles were automatically removed. The sky was clear and the next step was to practice my new beliefs. In 1988, both my wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our own Savior, for we know that Jesus Christ can never be understood just by man’s rationality and scientific research. Our world is boundless and complicated. Science can explain to us “how”; only God can tell us “why.”
Life with Christian Beliefs
In the three years of Christian belief, my view of life and the world has been fundamentally changed. As I look up at the sky in the dark peacefulness, I feel that I have finally found my direction. Gone are my fears about death. While still facing many difficulties in my life, I feel deeply in my soul that I am moving toward a promising land, which is difficult to express. I know that my limited life has been linked with eternity. Jesus Christ is my own personal God. Now I can understand Confucius’ famous saying, “I am willing to die in the evening if I experience the Word (Tao) in that morning.”
Besides the invaluable peace and joy in my soul, the true God has also shown His faith and power in my family life, my study and my work. Also, I have experienced the great wonder and beauty of praying to God, which I once thought childish. Christian beliefs are fundamentally different from Communist beliefs. Jesus Christ gives me true hope and eternal life; communism is no more than a dream.
Before I thought that Christian beliefs were ridiculous; now I would say that it is ridiculous to refuse Christian beliefs. I pray, with heartfelt earnestness, that the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ may touch every thirsting soul of Chinese students and scholars.
Dr. Cai Xuanging was a medical doctor in China. He now lives in California, where he works as a research scientist. Reprinted from Mainland Chinese in America … An Emerging Kinship, Edwin Su, editor, published by Ambassadors for Christ, PO Box 280, Paradise, PA 17562; telephone: (717) 687-8564, fax: (717) 687-8891.
From Atheism to Knowing God
by Dr. Yiang An-Dong
I was invited to a Bible study group soon after arriving in the States. We were reading how God created the heaven and the earth and how He created Adam, the father of man, with the dust of the ground. I thought it ridiculous that science was greatly advanced and yet there were still people teaching such hilarious stories.
After I got used to the time difference and the initial adjustment, I began experiencing powerful, constant and overwhelming culture shock. I was greatly puzzled by America, the melting pot. I was beginning to feel unstable and lost. I was bothered by the cultural differences; I worried about my study, life and future; I felt uneasy about future problems such as my visa and passport extension; and I was greatly concerned about the family in Mainland China, who were struggling with rising inflation and the increasingly immoral society. I carried a heavy burden every day as if I were trying to keep my head just above the water in a turbulent sea. Daytime at school in front of people I had to cheer myself up to look like a strong man. At night alone in my room I complained to myself about the difficulties of life, and I did not know what to do with the uncertainty of the future. I was filled with worries and concerns, but had no one to turn to. My friends, sympathetic as they might be, were unable to do anything about it.
In the beginning I went to church, Bible study, and evangelistic meetings with an opposing and critical attitude. But gradually I came to realize some fundamental differences. Those Christians came voluntarily and willingly, not just for show. I was surprised to see that they were really serious about things concerning God and life, trying their best to apply biblical teachings to their daily lives. So I adjusted my perspective. I made an effort to study the Bible and related books, attended evangelistic meetings, talked with Christians, and kept my mind busy thinking about Christianity. As a result, my questions were answered one after another.
I realized I could not keep rejecting Christianity until I knew everything about the Bible because the knowledge of mine and this world combined was still little compared to the wisdom of the Creator of the universe. How could a finite being like me be compared with the infinite God?
As I learned in the Bible study, reflected in my mind, and spent time with mature Christians, I had some breakthroughs in dealing with my questions. I found that it is more accurate to say that Christianity is a “relationship” between God and man rather than saying that it is one of the religions. What the Bible shows is the relationship between the Creator and His creation.
Since I came to believe in the Lord, through my doubts and denials I have been coming closer to Him. Each experience has brought me closer challenges and difficulties, but I am confident that I will triumph over them all because God has changed me. I know that the Almighty God is taking care of me, leading and directing me, and I know where I am going and where my eternal home is.
My personal experiences have convinced me that the Jesus I trust is true, loving, and eternally living. He is more than what I can possibly tell.
Dr. Yiang An-Dong is a medical doctor and Ph.D. candidate studying in Louisiana. Reprinted from Mainland Chinese in America … An Emerging Kinship, Edwin Su, editor, published by Ambassadors for Christ, PO Box 280, Paradise, PA 17562; (717) 687-8564 telephone, (717) 687-8891 fax