This is the third in our series of testimonies from alumni of Tsinghua University and Peking University. These testimonies are translations of selected chapters from books published by ReFrame Ministries, The Reason for You II: Tsinghua Testimonies and three volumes of Peking University Testimonies. In each case we will post an excerpt from a testimony and include a link to the full testimony in downloadable form. Watch for more in the coming months.
For more information about these testimonies, see “Capturing Chinese Stories.”
Putting an End to Three Years of Awkward Seeking
Xiaolu (Master’s in Law, Tsinghua University, 2009, Class 2)
I still remember that in elementary school, I would often go to church with my mom or grandma. I would sleep on the long pews in the church sanctuary, or I would run outside and buy snacks at the food stands next door. Whenever I look back on these memories I feel happy because they were bright spots of color in the midst of studying.
Over Three Years of Life as a Seeker
During my sophomore year of college, I once again encountered the gospel. Two young men from America were leading a Bible study in the home of a university professor. At the time, I knew nothing about the contents of the Bible. However, since I had heard of the Bible before, I was not opposed to it and was willing to participate in the Bible study, even though I had to take an hour-long bus ride to get there. Perhaps I was bored with college life and wanted to get to know people who lived a different life than mine.
This was my attitude for over three years, participating in the group as a seeker. I liked that the weekly Bible study was in English. Later I also went to church to listen to the pastor’s preaching. The first time I attended a church service in Beijing was when a university professor took me to Shouwang Church. It was also my first time hearing a pastor preach on the book of Acts.
However, when it came to what Jesus meant to me personally, I didn’t have much understanding. Once when I was discussing God and faith with another seeker, and I said that God is love, light, and the source of all goodness. According to my understanding at that time, God is the source of all wisdom and goodness, but those are very abstract concepts.
During those three years, I never desired to be baptized, neither did I wonder if I should be baptized. Perhaps my lack of interest was because I didn’t consider baptism to be something urgent. In order to maintain the image of a proactive, diligent student among my circle of Christian friends and seekers, I persisted in going to the Bible study. I thought that, little by little, people would ignore the question of whether I was truly a Christian.
At that time, there was a lot more freedom and diversity at my university. One time there was an English lecture at school, where a black teacher shared from the platform. After the lecture, he discussed western culture with the students, and inevitably, the conversation turned to Christianity. Since I was familiar with the topic, I interacted with him for a while. Near the end, he asked me in front of many students, “Are you a Christian?” I wanted to show off my unique experience in front of other, so I answered, “Yes.”
Later, I was asked twice more if I was a Christian. I have forgotten exactly how I answered, but I remember that I admitted I was Christian, but I did so out of pride. I even quoted Romans 10:10 to comfort and defend myself, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
I always liked to ask questions and challenge authorities, and perhaps I would simply have continued being a “seeker” the rest of my life. However, looking back now, I am amazed by the wonderful work God has done in my heart.
Frustrated in Cognitive Dissonance
During the winter of 2010 was our final winter break before graduation, and all my classmates were looking for jobs. At the time, we had three main choices: taking part in the civil service exam, working at a law firm, or working at a state-owned company. I took part in the civil service exam for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I got a high score on my written exam, and in the end made it to the second-round exam and the interview. During the last round of the interview, I had about seven interviewers, each of whom belonged to a different department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There was a clerk there, as well.
For the first fifteen minutes or so, the interviewer sat in the middle asking questions such as, “tell me who has influenced you the most, and why.” I sincerely answered every question. But unexpectedly, at the very end of the interview, the interviewer asked me, “What is your opinion towards faith?” I was stunned, totally not expecting a question about faith during the job interview. I didn’t lie about my past experiences, but answered honestly, “I believe in God.”
As soon as I finished my sentence, the whole room exploded. The other interviewers besides the main interviewer all began asking me questions. I remember clearly that one of them asked me how I viewed the contradiction between Marxism and Christian faith. I shared with them my perception of faith and God based on my emotional understanding. At that point, the interview ended, with the interviewers looking at each other in silence and the clerk in total confusion.
After failing the civil servant exam, I experienced many difficulties in finding a job early in 2011. I faced pressure from my parents, competition from my peers, and anxiety from deep within my heart. But it became more and more clear to me that I didn’t want to cover up my identity as a seeker by calling myself a Christian: My heart was certain that there is a creator and savior, and yet my mind wasn’t sure that Jesus is that one.
Such cognitive dissonance made me hide my true thoughts in front of Christians. However, in front of non-Christians, I acted as if I had grasped the truth. The contradictions within and the tension without made me feel frustrated and helpless.
Tasting the Goodness of the Lord
Just before the May holiday when I was about to return home, I asked my uncle, who was a church elder, if I could be baptized. Being baptized was the one thing that I was hesitant to do during those three years, but it was also the one thing that I could do through my will at that moment.
That day wasn’t a Sunday, but my uncle immediately asked several people from the choir to be my witnesses. Therefore, on April 30, 2011, I accepted Jesus Christ as the lord of my life. The moment I was baptized, I fell apart sobbing. I never thought that baptism would draw out all my tears. It was as if the burdens on my heart were lifted suddenly. In that moment, I tasted the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The Lord knew the pressure on my heart.
On May 2, at the end of the day as I was leaving my internship, I received my first job offer.
This is an excerpt from an English translation of the original testimony in Chinese which is available for download. The original Chinese testimony is found on pages 60–64 of《无问西东 因为有你》(The Reason for You II: Tsinghua Testimonies)available from ReFrame Ministries.
Read the full English testimony to find out how God continued to work in Xiaolu’s life.
More about the Author
Xiaolu (pseudonym) was born in Henan, China in the 80s. Currently, she lives in Chicago, USA. To her, the greatest blessing is to follow the Lord, who is forever faithful. Her gifts are being a listener and her sense of responsibility in fulfilling others’ requests to the best of her ability. Her dream is to write a fictional drama.
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