The true story of a Chinese Ph.D. student who found hope and joy by a Chinese student in the U.S.
ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO, I STATED FIRMLY to my friend, “If anybody can make me believe in God, he must be God himself.” Although I was daily in deep sorrow because of the emptiness of my life, I knew nothing about Christianity. I believed that, for a high educated person like myself, a Ph.D. student in science, all the talk of God and of Jesus Christ was nonsense. Surprisingly, today, I am here to testify that I have been converted and have joyfully become a Christian. It took only three months from the day I first touched the Bible to my baptism. I am myself amazed by such a swift change in my life.
In the past three months, the changes that occurred in my inner world were far more dramatic than I can express. The following scenarios may describe what I felt.
I was like a cassette player working on old and weak batteries. Although the machine was running, the music was annoyingly distorted. Sometimes, the sound became so intolerable that I would rather smash the machine than suffer those painful tones. After I asked Jesus to be my lord and Savior, it seemed that this cassette player had plugged into a huge power source. Suddenly, the music became so harmonious, so enjoyable. For the first time, I was fascinated by the fact that a good power supply could make the machine play pleasant music.
After accepting Jesus Christ, it seemed that a lamp was lit in my heart. Before, my heart was always wandering in darkness. Once the lamp was lit, I was surprised by the clarity of the scene. I could not help wondering why I had not seen those things before. They had been so obvious.
My life, before accepting Jesus, was like a train in a long dark tunnel. This train dashed out when I accepted my Savior, and now it is traveling under a beautiful sunny blue sky with white clouds.
I was born into a peasant family in China. Neither of my parents were strong physically, so they struggled to survive the heavy farming labor. My father’s education, although very high in his class, could only help him to see the toughness and emptiness of life and to recognize the injustices in society. He had been trying to live on the classic Chinese moral dogma, “I would rather be mistreated by others than mistreat others myself,” but he had to resort to heavy smoking and drinking.
My parents struggled for rice and porridge to feed the family. They worried for the future of their three children. Until I left home for college in 1978, we lived only on vegetable porridge.
Growing up in such a family, I developed a low self-esteem. From my middle school age, I started to think about life. Probably from my father, the concept “Life is a dream” was always haunting me. As my knowledge increased, questions like “the size, essence, and origin of the universe,” “the history and the future of mankind,” “the essential meaning of the existence of the nations, societies, and individuals, etc.,” began to emerge. My greatest concern was, “What am I living for?” that is, “What is the meaning of my life?”
The theories of evolution told me that the earth and the lives on it, the sun and the whole universe today were merely formed from chemical elements because of probability or coincidence. The sun would become aged and darker and darker, and therefore, all lives would vanish forever. The earth would be forever silenced in darkness. From this view, it is obvious that human history, which is only a moment in the history of the universe, as well as my life, which is only a flickering moment, is short and meaningless; from yesterday’s nothing to today’s something to tomorrow’s nothing. There is really no difference between life and death; life is death to come, and death is life lasting forever.
If evolution is the ultimate truth, we have to admit that life is nothing but a dream. All we should do is focus on satisfying our desires. Everyone should be living solely for personal satisfaction. All the relationships, person to person, nation to nation, are actually calculated exchanges of satisfactions. Obviously, words such as justice, love, friendship, grace, etc. are symbols for constructing the “equation” of satisfaction exchange.
Furthermore, if “satisfaction” is the only measure of the value of life, what is the difference between criminals such as murderers, robbers, and rapists, and decent professionals such as doctors, professors, and lawyers? All are working to earn their satisfactions. Then all the laws, ethics, and morality are hindrances to all human beings to reach the ultimate goal of life.
This was my philosophy of life. In my heart, I did not want to accept these. As a Ph.D. student of science, I was bound to this “cold and hard scientific truth.” However, my whole life became a horribly chilly picture. I had no enthusiasm for living, no hope at all.
Several losses of close friends to accidents, the early death of my mother, and several life-threatening accidents cast heavy shadows, and made me face the weakness and uncertainty of life.
Today’s problems and the tragic history of China have aroused thousands of Chinese to think, to fight, and even to kill each other, in an attempt to find a way out. I have been one of those. As a student in China, I was deeply disappointed by the poverty, injustice, and corruption in the society; I could see no promising future of the nation. After I came to the USA, I was inspired by American democracy and freedom. I became involved in both local and national China-related political and humanitarian activities. I visited the former Soviet Union in an effort to study the political reforms that millions of Chinese fought for with their lives but failed.
None of this eased the aching problem of emptiness in my life. Contrarily, as I watched more and more games for money, fame, and power in the names of “Democracy” and “Freedom,” I became aware of the coldness of human hearts. I was thrown into deeper emptiness, and became more pessimistic.
This emptiness and pessimism resulted in strong passiveness and indifference towards life. The sense of inferiority bound me tighter and tighter. I believed that I belonged to the class of human beings that had no favorable potential to survive the “natural selection” in today’s world of competition.
Deep inferiority also greatly weakened my ability to make decisions. Once I hesitated for several minutes at the counter in the campus cafeteria just because I could not decide whether to eat a cheeseburger or a plain burger. Afterwards I had to blame myself severely for this.
Occasionally there was some happiness for awhile, but worry, anxiety, and self-blaming would follow. The birth of my son brought me a period of bliss, which unfortunately was soon transformed into huge pressure on me. I could not be a qualified father, since I saw the child becoming more and more lovely, myself, however, worse and worse.
Although I wanted a good job with good money, the lives of my peers and friends, with their decent jobs, nice cars and houses were not attractive enough for me to focus all my attention on those.
Rational self-analysis did not justify my sense of inferiority. All through my high school I never met a real match (except in physical training). As an undergraduate at one of China’s best universities, I was positioned in the top five in our class. Here at one of the U.S.‘s most prestigious universities, my GPA is 3.89 (A=4). During discussions on scientific research with professors and colleagues, my opinions usually were appreciated and accepted. And, I had a beautiful wife and a perfect baby.
When I saw my capabilities and achievements, I would tell myself that I was not inferior. I should feel confident in myself. I thought of seeking help from a psychologist, and I also tried Qi-Gong and other oriental meditation methods in an effort to improve my mental health. However, none of those worked for me.
Actually, it was impossible for all those methods to work for me, because I did not have any hope and interest for better living. To live or to die, I could not tell which was better. I chose to live because most people were saying, “Good death is not as good as bad living.” After I had a family of my own, I realized my responsibilities. I kept telling myself that I should not die. I had to live for all the responsibilities. However, quite a few times I could not help thinking of that, since I was so incapable, so worthless, I just would not be able to carry out all those responsibilities. So why should I not die earlier, so that my wife and baby might have another opportunity. Looking back, I can see that I was very close to committing suicide.
Thank the Lord, my Savior! When I struggled in the dark valley He sent me a book titled Casting to the Homeland I Dream For, a collection of testimonies of brothers and sisters from Mainland China. Deep in my heart, I felt that believing in God might be my only way out. But as a Ph.D. indulging in science, materialism, and atheistic education, it was almost impossible for me to believe in those “spiritual ghosts” and “superstitions.”
Thank the Lord! He let me know that in my “smartness” and knowledge, I would never find hope. So, I decided to try turning to God. Alone in my laboratory, I knelt down and prayed that if God, the creator of the whole universe and all human beings, did exist, then I would admit that I would be too inferior to know Him. So, speak God. Let me know You in a way that I can understand. Please help me out. I confessed that I had sinned against Him.
After the prayer I thought to myself, “If I could see some kind of miracle, I would believe in God for sure.” However, for quite a few days nothing happened. Nothing changed.
But after a few more days, miraculous changes started to show up. My whole inside world started to brighten up. Day by day the feeling became stronger and stronger.
There were two kinds of strong feelings I had never experienced. First, there was a flow of joy springing up from my heart. Sometimes this flow of joy became so strong that I even wanted to sing or dance. Often I felt that I was experiencing so much joy and happiness that I had to share it with my friends. In my daily life, however, there was nothing happening that might account for this joy.
Second, there was a kind of intimacy towards others. I suddenly realized that all the people in this world were so lovely. Chinese or American, black or white, from Mainland or Taiwan, all the people were just so friendly, so lovely. The sense of race inferiority, which had bound me for so long, quickly faded away.
Day by day, week by week, my life was changing quickly and completely. I started walking in a “new land, and flying in a new sky.” I cannot believe that the “old I” that existed before accepting the Lord Jesus could imagine what a peaceful and joyful world I am in now.
Finally, I am able to feel genuine energy, true joy, and hope!
Editors’ note: For a copy of this student’s story written in Chinese, please write Ambassadors for Christ (see address on pages 18-19).
From From Darkness to Light, Ambassadors for Christ, © 1994. Used with permission.