Richland Welcomes New Family Member from Half a World Away

Richland (Wash.) Church members welcomed a new sister in Christ from half a world away as they celebrated the baptism of Wenjing Ma on Dec. 24, 2011.

Wenjing, a Chinese student, met fellow countryman, Yafan Zhao, 18 months ago while both were studying for doctorate degrees in the U.S. Their attraction was immediate, and so was a major problem: She was an atheist, and he was an Adventist Christian.

"Being educated as an atheist," says Wenjing, "I never believed there were supernatural powers or supernatural beings. Instead, I believed everything can be explained scientifically and that the phenomena we can't explain are caused by some natural rules that we haven't discovered yet."

Wenjing was very sure about those beliefs until she met Yafan. His character and "not of the world" nature attracted her, but he insisted they could not be in a relationship unless she became a Christian.

"I thought that was a very unreasonable position," says Wenjing. "You can imagine how bitter I felt. I could not understand why such an open-minded, intelligent, scientific Ph.D. student could be religious. Finally, after fighting in my mind and with Yafan, I realized I didn't know what I was fighting against and decided to try to learn what Christianity is."

Two months after her pivotal decision to explore Christianity with an open mind, she graduated from her doctoral program in Ohio and returned to Richland, Wash., to work. She began attending the Richland Church with Yafan — the first time she had ever attended a Christian church.

"Since the first Sabbath School class and church service, I began to be attracted to Christianity and this church," says Wenjing. "Even though Yafan had to return to China, I kept attending church and began to love the church more and more."

"As I allowed myself to explore Christianity," she explains, "I realized I had found in the church what I had always been longing for — a life of serious spiritual pursuit. I got a lot of guidance, support and comfort from church members."

Wenjing is still in the U.S. for awhile and attends the Richland Church when she’s in town. "Even though I am in a country which has a completely different culture from my own, God created us with a common need for Him, and we are sharing the same faith now," says Wenjing.

Faith is something everyone experiences differently. For Wenjing, she is willing to accept it because it enables her to do more difficult things. She is determined to follow God’s instructions and leading in her life and let His love work through her.

Wenjing shared her personal testimony with the Richland Church family before her baptism. She says the church has been a blessing in her life, and church members find the blessing is mutual, as her inquiring mind and open heart inspire them.

April 01, 2012 / Upper Columbia Conference