While volunteering at my church’s soup kitchen, I often serve dinner to homeless individuals and new immigrants, many of whom speak little English. A recurring question emerges from these interactions, “Where are you from?” The Vietnamese guests are curious to know whether I share their heritage. Hispanics, recognizing that I am Asian, wonder whether my roots are Filipino, Korean, or Vietnamese. One day, overwhelmed by this repetitive inquiry, I responded in an unexpected manner, declaring, “I am from El Salvador.” After that, the questions ceased.
But my answer held a deeper meaning. ‘El Salvador’ is not just the name of a country; it translates to ‘the Savior’. In 2012, my life took a transformative turn when I became a born-again Christian. In a profound sense, I am indeed from the Savior, for it was Jesus who rescued and renewed me. My response, though initially meant to divert, became a testament to my faith and the spiritual journey that defines me.
My first brush with the teachings of Jesus was during my early college days. On a cold winter morning, my American professor secretly took us to an underground church. In a shabby building with dim lights inside, I heard the name of Jesus and learned the meaning of Christmas for the first time. On that day, the pastor asked me whether I was baptized. When I said no, he passed me without giving me the communion. “One day, I want to be baptized.” My heart told me, although I had no idea what baptism meant at that time.
Later, this experience resonated deeply when I stood at the threshold of an unexpected sanctuary. In a rural small town in mountainous Idaho, I got lost, wandering on a bike path in the woods. I saw some elegantly dressed people walk into a lodge-like building. “There must be an art event happening here,” I thought. When I aimlessly moved toward the building, an American lady dressed in white appeared at the entrance. She opened the door, smiled, and said to me in an angelic voice, “After you! Welcome to church!”
That encounter marked a significant change in my life. The American lady, a hospital chaplain, baptized me in her house’s outdoor jacuzzi pool and has been my godmother — a spiritual mentor — since 2012. The word baptism comes from the Greek “baptizo,” which means to immerse. I had a full immersion in the water, symbolizing that my sin was washed away, and I was born again. Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Matthew 3:3).
My Only Status Now Is Christian
Since openly embracing my faith, my commitment to following the teachings of Jesus has deepened with each passing day. Embracing Jesus as the embodiment of truth, I’ve found a profound sense of liberation. Starting in 2013, I’ve dedicated myself to raising awareness through the publication of numerous articles. My writings shine a light on the oppressive actions of the Chinese Communist regime against Christians, dissidents, and various religious communities within China.
I’ve been vocal in my criticism of the authoritarian rule of Emperor Xi, utilizing social media platforms to amplify my voice. There, I express solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters, who bravely fought for their freedom. Additionally, I vehemently denounce the Chinese government’s reprehensible actions towards the Uyghur people, which I view as not only a grave human rights violation but also a cultural genocide. Through these efforts, I strive to be a conduit of truth and an advocate for those whose voices have been stifled.
In 2014, I took the important step of filing a petition in the United States as a Chinese dissident, seeking refuge as a voice against oppression. Fast forward to 2024, and my legal status remains uncertain, hovering in a state of limbo. Yet, amidst this uncertainty, there is one unwavering certainty in my life: my spiritual journey with God. I am, above all, a devoted citizen of His Kingdom.
Now, when people inquire about my current status, I respond with a deep sense of conviction and identity. I proudly declare, “I am a Christian!” This statement goes beyond just a declaration of faith; it encapsulates my journey, my struggles, and the unshakeable belief that guides me through the complexities of life as a dissident in the United States.