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The Modern “Secret” Christians

In mainland China, there is a growing presence of educated professional people who, outside the Church structures, bear witness to God’s love in their lives. Their discreet presence may be an effective witness to the Gospel values in an increasing materialistic Chinese society.

Having just arrived from mainland China, one of the few things she wanted to do in a new environment was to look for a Catholic Church. 

A pretty and lively post-graduate student, she grew up in a well-educated atheistic Communist family. She excelled in her studies and had a promising career ahead. Yet, through some readings, movies and God-only-knows-what, for many years she had desired to know God – the God witnessed by the Catholic Church. Why Catholic? She doesn’t know either: it was only a “feeling” inside, an invitation she felt coming from her heart. So there she was, ringing at the door of the parish, ready to start a journey of faith. 

Towards the end of her catechumenate, her teacher was somehow reluctant to have her baptized, fearing that after baptism, once back in the mainland, she may not be able to follow the basic rules of our faith, like attending the Sunday Eucharist. Yet, her desire to become a Christian was there, strong, undeniable: the future, better leave it in the hands of God. For her baptism, she dressed like a bride radiating light and joy. I always felt that this conversion was a grace in the full sense of the word: an unmerited gift that not only God was giving her, but to us too. In fact, as a Church, we did not do anything to look for her: we were only ready to welcome this gift when she showed up.

A few years passed. She is now back in the mainland, in a place where the Catholic Church is not present. Yes, she usually cannot attend the Sunday Eucharist. She cannot even tell her family about her baptism: she is always reminded by them that she is not allowed to approach any “superstitious group.” Yet, her faith in God has not diminished. On the contrary, God’s presence in her life has become quietly constant, nourished by simple prayer, some readings and sporadic contacts on social media with some Christian friends. 

The low-profile presence of such educated professionals in those sectors of society which the structured Church (no matter if “open” or “underground”) is unable or unwilling to penetrate, may be more effective to bring forth the values of the Gospel and a more open view about the importance of the “spiritual” in the fast-changing materialistic Chinese society. 
What really matters for me as a missionary is to bring all to Christ, one by one. 

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