A recent Chinese Church Voices post featured one Chinese believer’s reflections on several related decisions she had made in her struggle to live out an authentic faith. Each decision involved saying “no” to the prevailing social norms, putting the author, Wei Chen, at odds with the expectations of co-workers, family, and even her fellow Christians.
While Wei posed her decisions in the negative, they together represent a positive affirmation of the counter-cultural values to which many Christians in China aspire:
Meaningful Vocation. By quitting her job as a kindergarten teacher in a school that valued increased enrollment over quality teaching, Wei chose to affirm her calling as an educator. She also chose courage over against conformity to a system that squelches personal initiative—a system that everyone acknowledges is broken but no one has the courage to try and fix.
Intimacy in Marriage. Wei’s desire to model the biblical ideal of marriage led her to buck the trend of only spending weekends with her spouse and living apart the rest of the week. She affirmed the importance of time together, and of prioritizing marriage over work.
Personal Responsibility. Wei’s decision to quite her job shocked her parents, who, along with the rest of her family, tried to pressure Wei into reconsidering. While affirming her love for her parents, Wei nonetheless prioritized her need to honor God with her life, believing that, as she did so, he would enable her to fulfill her proper responsibility to her parents. Wei’s decision affirmed that her identity is found in Christ, not in fulfilling the wishes of her parents or anyone else.
Promoting Christian Education. Wei’s decision to homeschool her child reflects a growing conviction among many Christian parents that they need to take an active role in their children’s education. By taking this position, which was considered radical even by other Christians, she affirmed the responsibility of Christians to take risks in order to explore new educational options. She also affirmed the hope that Christians in China will one day succeed in providing a viable comprehensive alternative to China’s examination-based education system.
Simply going with the tide and conforming to the demands of China’s secular culture was not an option for Wei, who knew that her Christian faith required that she affirm a different set of values. In Wei’s words, “We cannot change this world, but we cannot be changed by this world.”
Read “Just Say No!” a translation of Wei’s original article on Chinese Church Voices.