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A former Atheist's confession - Technician: Columnists

A former Atheist's confession

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Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 10:25 pm

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance.” —Psalm 33:12

The first time I read this, I doubted its truth, but now I am 100-percent sure a curse will come to a nation whose god is a human being or other material. As a child growing up in communist China, I was taught to praise Chair Mao as a god, my brain filled with Marxist and atheist doctrines. 

It wasn’t until I came to the United States in 2009 that I heard about God.  Many Americans who grow up here get used to the way of life surrounded by religious ideas — churches, prayers and ministries. Even non-believers can’t deny their behaviors are more or less influenced by the ideas of Christianity. But in my home country, it’s a totally different picture. Shortly after I came to the new land, I started paying attention to how Americans act differently than the Chinese. 

About love

One striking thing is that Americans, regardless of their beliefs, always love to say “I love you” to their families and friends, sometimes with warm bear hugs. One time I was hanging out with my best friend, Tim, as he was talking to his mom on the phone. I was shocked when I heard “I love you” and “I miss you” several times.  

Shamefully, I never said “I love you” to my parents and sister before I came here, nor did I give them a hug. In China, these kinds of actions are considered weird — especially for guys. You may subscribe to the stereotype that Asians express their love elusively. But for me, the lesson I learned is that if I didn’t even have the guts to spell out my love for my family, I didn’t know how to love at all. 

I was curious as to how this social norm came into being. I started studying the Bible and found that the Scripture is full of commands to love people — even people you are not familiar with. 

In East Asia, love only revolves around family and friends. Love is less likely go beyond the circle of your own kinship. People show their compassion to others’ sufferings, but few of them reach out to help. In contrast, American people are more willing to help the weak and get involved in volunteer work in various communities. 

About equality 

 N.C. State students who commute by Wolfline every day may not be surprised to see a handicapped student hop on a bus. The driver helps by pulling up a row of seats, and students already on the bus leave their spots. This scene, regular to Americans, stuck in my head for a long time. 

In China, the disabled are not granted the same rights as able-bodied people. If this happened in China, people on the bus would complain that the bus was consuming too much of their time and that the handicapped student was a burden. In a hierarchical society, your fate is determined by the social status of your family. 

Why do Americans treat the handicapped in such a friendly way? It’s because the Founding Fathers’ idea that “all men are created equal” has been deeply planted in every American man and woman’s heart. Where does this idea come from? Obviously it comes from the belief that God gave life to humans —making everyone equal before God. 

After witnessing numerous stunning and wonderful stories full of love, grace, forgiveness and thankfulness, I am convinced the Scripture at the beginning of this column tells the truth. Through faith, I have learned the most important lessons of the rest of my life: how to care for and love people, how to respect each one as a human, and how to be a man with integrity. I would have never learned these things if I had continued to stay blind to God.