In China, I have often noticed that there is a uniqueness about the faith journey of each person who receives baptism as an adult, especially when a person’s family has never had previous contact with the Church. Such experiences in China are a constant reminder that God’s Spirit finds its way to stir the hearts of people in a deeply personal way in all areas of Chinese society, whether that be among people who are struggling with poverty or working in areas of influence, whether they are suffering from physical limitations or engaged in work of high professional competence, whether they live in isolated rural areas or in China’s megacities.
The personal and precious details of each of these people’s stories point towards what I see as a deep mystery in a country as big as China, where the largest population of any nation in history lives within its borders. In a nation with a population of more than a thousand million people, God does not work in sweeping ways of immense influence. Rather, God finds a unique and gentle approach to touch the hearts of people in a way that is deeply personal, a way that is patiently crafted to flow with the contours of the person’s life: a series of encounters that remain important for the entire life of the person, the unfolding of events leading to their faith story being continually told with sincerity for the rest of their lives, a story that allows them and others to marvel at how God reaches each person in their own special time and in a way that is deeply reassuring, a way that brings lasting peace.