Note: Dr. Chen moved, along with his lab, to the U. of Missouri during the fall of 2019.
Professor, Dept. of Physiology and Pharmacology
College of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Chen’s Faith Story
As a person who was born, raised, and educated in China in the 1960’s through the 1980’s, I truly believed that through persistent effort we could make the world a communist society. Our world could be a place where everybody could have anything for free, whenever they needed it. We wouldn’t even need to work hard for these luxuries because work would be leisure. Looking back, these beliefs were based on false assumptions, as we know the world’s resources are limited.
I believed that there was no God and was told that Christianity was a drug that paralyzes people’s mind and spirit, and a tool used by western capitalist countries to invade China in the past. Therefore, Christianity was an evil thing in my mind, so I tried to avoid any contact with the Church when I first came to the US in 1996. After nine months in the US, I met a very kind Chinese couple that lived next door who happened to be followers of Jesus. They consistently invited me to attend their church activities, and I participated in some of them out of courtesy. However, at the time, what they did and said made no sense to me and I felt that going to church was a waste of time.
Although I had given up on God, I realized now that He had not given up on me. One day a Christian gave me a magazine for international Chinese students that contained articles of individuals sharing about their personal experiences with Jesus. Unlike other articles that I have read, these experiences touched not only my intellect, but also my heart. It affected me so much that my view of Christianity being evil began to change. I had to consider the possibility that my original beliefs might be wrong. Around the same time, I found a pocket version of the New Testament that someone dropped on the road. Curiously, I started to read the Bible every night before I fell asleep. The words in the Bible convinced me that Christianity was in fact not evil, but instead, based on the best teachings I’ve ever heard.
Although my attitude on Christianity changed, I still did not believe in Jesus or the existence of God. I thought God had to be visible, and I did not see Him. During this period, I continued to attend Bible studies for several months, and started to appreciate the Christian faith. However, I still couldn’t accept it personally because I was not certain if God really exists. I couldn’t put my trust into something that I wasn’t sure was true. Because of this, I went to Bible study only when I was in a good mood or after I was invited multiple times.
During my struggle, I prayed that He reveal Himself if He was real. He answered my prayer by solving three difficulties that appeared impossible during November – December, 1997. The following spring, God’s compassion was revealed to me as I continued to read the Bible and learned about his love and desire for me to enter into a relationship with Him. Soon afterwards, I heard a series of messages from a speaker explaining the existence of God, man’s nature to rebel against God (what the Bible calls sin), and the divined nature and love of Jesus. These messages solved all the doubts in my mind. In the presence of such an intelligently-designed universe with harmony between different living species, I was convinced it is impossible to have such a wonderful world and universe without a Creator (God). Romans 1:20 states, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen…”. In addition, human history, especially after experiencing the Culture Revolution in China, clearly demonstrated that every person, including me, is sinful in nature and separated from the Holy God. I came to realize it is impossible for a sinful man/woman to save himself/herself. Salvation only comes from God. Moreover, the love that Jesus showed to His enemies on the cross – “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34) – surpasses what we can comprehend because this kind of love cannot be found in humans. For these reasons, I believed that Jesus is the true God who died on the cross to pay the penalty of man’s sin and rose again from the dead. It was totally through God’s grace and mercy that I came to know Jesus personally.
Amazingly, after I place my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my life was totally changed. During weekdays, I longed for the weekend to come so that I could go to church and worship God. It was as if God had taken me out of the darkness of my past and into the light of His heavenly kingdom. Since I became a Christ follower, I continuously feel that the most precious thing I have ever gained is Jesus and His salvation although many other blessings have also been given to me.
I now know what 2 Corinthians 5:17 means – “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun”. I am surprised but so thankful that God has given me this new life. This new life comes with everlasting joy and peace along with all other heavenly blessings. This new life is the eternal life that every human pursues, and this new life can only be found in Christ Jesus.