Darkness to Light, Part 3: “The Darkness Would be Completely Transformed by God”
Editor’s note: Grace transforms. In recent decades, millions of Chinese people have met Jesus and had their lives turned inside out. Their hopes, dreams, families, leisure, and (in some cases) occupations have changed because of Christ.
This is the first in a series of stories about Chinese coming to faith. The personal experiences of these Chinese believers flaunt the inescapable truth: God is real, and meeting him changes everything. Our hope is that these interviews challenge and encourage Western believers to examine their own faith, as well as reminding them to pray for their brothers and sisters in China.
“Lola” is a bright young woman who attended one of China’s top universities. Her résuméis full of professional accomplishments. Though her life is full of modern success, turning to God meant trusting him more than the ancient, vindictive spirits her mother served. Before Christ, Lola thought often of life’s pointlessness, and from her teen years struggled with an awareness of her own internal darkness. As with many young, urban Chinese, she first heard of God’s grace during her college years. This is the third and final section of this three-part interview with Lola, detailing her experience encountering and growing in the gospel. Make sure you check our Part 1 and Part 2!
After college, what did you do?
I went to grad school at the same university. I was pretty sure the decision was from God, because I met someone who had an HR role in a non-profit. I thought what she did was cool – she cared about people who helped others. I thought, “There are a bunch of people in the world who work. They manufacture, they teach, they babysit, they manage. I want to serve them and help them do what they do, better.”
In the third and fourth years of college I was challenged to consider if I wanted serve college students on campus, but I didn’t want to do that. I decided if I wanted to serve young professionals, I needed to be one, to get a job and see what that life looks like.
What did you study in grad school?
It was similar to my undergrad in business studies. Academic-wise, I didn’t really learn much in grad school. In the first year of grad school I was constantly thinking I want to quit because I wasn’t learning much.
But then I started a six-week internship at a [Christian] non-profit in another city and ended up staying for a year.
Why did you decide to stay?
It opened my mind to see how you can serve people with a heart from Jesus. It was not like when I was at school, when we lived in a bubble. That non-profit served the poor, people with various problems. They were not trying to convince them to believe in Jesus, they just loved them. A lot of what I did in college was trying to share God with people. I felt like, “I do care about these people, but is this the only thing I do with them?I cannot just hang out with them.”
That trip was super eye-opening. That year changed and transformed my life. My faith grew deeper. I lived with a family who had mentored me back in college and observed how they raised their kids. As for my job, I saw how what I learned at school and my professional skills could contribute to something beyond just making money.
After that I went back to finish school and took a consulting job with a professional firm. The first two years I was there I worked like a dog. I didn’t think much, but I learned a lot. As for my relationship with God, I was constantly struggling with questions like, “What is the value of what I do? How can I bless people around me?” It wasn’t that there were no opportunities, but I didn’t have the capacity. I wanted to love my colleagues, but I myself struggled so much and didn’t have any say on the team. I didn’t have any influence on people around me. I started to ask God, “Do you want me to become a manager in a firm like this, where I could have my own team, impact them, and help them grow in a different way?”
But I realized that if I kept staying,my faith and character were not mature and strong enough. I’m pretty sure I would have become a manager like my manager, which I didn’t like. It was time to move somewhere I could grow my professional skills, and where it was more holistic, spiritually and personally.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
For me, coming to know God, my previous experience with all those fake gods was a big factor. Also, my thoughts around the meaning of life. Once I came to know God, he equipped me with knowledge, and constantly challenges me with real life experience. I love it.
What do you mean you love it?
I remember that, for a while, when I was working for a firm, I didn’t feel close to God because I was working so hard. I feel like I had lost meaning again, I was just running. I told myself, “If you don’t do it well—that is, my relationship with God—if you’re not serious about this, then just give it away. Either be serious about it or don’t have it.” And I thought, “I have nowhere to go. My life is in him.”
That sounds like Peter, who said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
Even though I can’t do it well or I’m not in a good place, I have nowhere to go. It’s all in him.
If you were to share one thing about your experience walking with God, what would it be?
I’ve always loved Philippians 3:8: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
When Paul met Christ, everything he considered as treasure became nothing.
Why does that speak to you?
I was constantly thinking about that when I was throwing the wine away. In a very specific way, what I believed would be the controller of my life had no control over me at all.
To another extent, all the struggles, the darkness, whatever lies I believed about who I am… that would be completely shaped and transformed by God.
Last year I read through Philippians a lot. I want to grow in him in joy. In the past, I thought joy was knowing how to suck it up or to be positive in a hard situation. I wanted to learn that skill. But after I read through Philippians, God helped me get a little taste of Paul’s joy when he was in prison. It’s not like Paul is positive about it. His heart is completely not there, his heart is on Jesus’s gospel and the Philippians. When he heard the gospel is spreading and the Philippians are growing, that’s where his joy came from. He’s so filled with joy that his surroundings or the situation don’t even matter.
It’s not him sucking it up, but he is focused on something else so completely that he doesn’t care. That’s quite challenging.
Yeah. The first couple months I was reading through this, nothing came to my mind or heart. But I feel like slowly the Spirit helped me and opened my heart. I am really thankful. God so wants me to know him, he is more than happy to help me taste a little bit of what his kingdom feels like—what great joy feels like, what it means.
“Lord, I understand I’m your daughter—but what does that really mean? I want to know.”