Once an atheist who openly made fun of Christianity, Dr. Hongyi Yang is now a highly educated professor at a seminary in Texas.
Today, Yang serves as an assistant professor of systematic theology in the women’s studies program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, according to a recent column she penned for Baptist Press.
Yang moved to Texas in 2000 after having grown up in Southwest China, where she was taught to believe God is a myth. In fact, the first time she ever saw a Bible was that year, when she was an exchange student. Before moving to the U.S., she had only known one Christian in her entire life.
“I was an atheist at that time,” the professor wrote of when she first came to Texas. “I believed that there was no God who could save us and that we must strive for success by our own ability, diligence and luck.”
When Yang found herself in the Lone Star state, though, all that changed. Suddenly, she recalled, she was “surrounded by Christians and churches” — a cultural shock that sparked a level of “contempt,” she admitted, toward Christianity.
“I also mocked Christianity,” she wrote. “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.”
God, in his perfect grace, waited for Yang. In the final three days of 2000, the trajectory of her life changed entirely. She attended an evangelistic conference where she heard from two speakers whose messages drastically changed her perspective. She was suddenly convinced of God’s existence, and on the final day of the gathering, surrendered her life to Jesus.
Yang said her eyes “were opened” when she experienced “a kind of gentle, bright and great love” she’d never encountered before.
“I surely know that there is indeed a God and I am experiencing His love,” she wrote. “Life is not meaningless anymore because there is this God.”
The SWBTS educator went on to be baptized Easter Sunday 2001. She invited a handful of non-believing friends, and two of them later became Christians.
Over the last 19 years, Yang reflected, she has become “a new creation.”
“The Gospel has changed and continues changing my life, my mind, and my whole person,” she added.