by Hongyi Yang (Baptist Press)
Hongyi Yang grew up in a city in southwest China. She studied in Beijing for six years and earned her bachelor and master's degrees there. Before coming to the U.S., she had never seen a copy of the Bible and knew only one Christian. She shares her story:
In 2000, I came to this country as an international student. I was an atheist at that time. I believed that there was no God who could change my life and that we must strive for success by our own ability, diligence and luck.
As soon as I arrived in Texas, I found that I was surrounded by Christians and churches. I had an attitude of contempt toward Christianity. Some Christians invited me to go to church. I refused without hesitation. I also mocked Christianity. I thought it is so humiliating to worship a God who was crucified on a cross. This is exactly what 1 Corinthians says, that "a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him" (1 Corinthians 2:14). I was actually the foolish one.
Although I was foolish and defiant, God had mercy on me. The last three days of 2000 changed my life completely.
I attended a special conference where I mainly heard two speakers talking about God. Through their messages, I became convinced that there is a God and that He is like a Father who waits for us to return to Him.
On the last day of the conference, I decided to follow Jesus Christ. After I made the decision, amazing things happened.
I felt that my eyes were opened, and it was almost like I could see the world more clearly than before. I experienced a kind of gentle, bright and great love that I had never experienced. I surely know that there is indeed a God and I am experiencing His love. Life is not meaningless anymore because there is this God.
The first step of obedience of the Christian life is baptism. After several months of intensively studying the Bible and asking all kinds of questions, my faith grew and I was joyfully baptized on Easter day in 2001.
Reflecting on what God has done in my life in the past 19 years, I can only say that I am a completely new creation, once an atheist and feminist, but now a Christian and complementarian [the men and women are equal in value but with different roles]. The Gospel has changed and continues changing my life, my mind and my whole person.•
Hongyi Yang serves as assistant professor of systematic theology in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's women's studies program and director of the Mandarin translation project for the master of theological studies program.