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The Tears of Lao Wang

The story of Lao Wang highlights the fact that evangelization, especially in the Chinese world, is done one by one, a person at a time. This column will narrate stories of people I met on my missionary journey and who were touched by Jesus in mysterious ways.

Lao Wang would just burst into tears every time he opened his big hands to receive Communion during the Eucharist at the nursing home run by Catholic sisters. At first, I thought that this old Chinese man was going through some tough times, but as I learned from him, that was not the case.

He was born in Shanghai and had a decent living before being forcibly sent to work in the cold Northeast provinces of China during the Cultural Revolution. He still remembers the government rhetoric by which the sacrifice of many was demanded: “We are going to create an equal and just society,” a paradise on earth. This has not happened. On the contrary, ideology, nepotism and corruption made the life of ordinary people like Lao Wang harder and unfree. 

A deep feeling of disillusionment led him and many of his fellow comrades to look for a better life abroad. He ended up in Europe and worked as an electrician. In moments of hardships, to his surprise, some Chinese Christians generously took care of him, especially when he realized that his health was slowly failing and he had no one else to turn to for help, being alone in a foreign country. Eventually, he had to return to China and be admitted into this nursing home. 

“Why did the Christians in Spain helped me even though I was not one of them, without asking anything in return? Why are these nuns now taking care of me with love, day in, day out? Why are all treated equally in this nursing home, no matter who they are?” The search for an answer to these questions led Lao Wang to baptism, and to the startling realization: “What communism has failed to achieve and for which I sacrificed so much, God has now given me – an experience of communion and true equality.”

I replied: “Why the tears, then?”  He answered: “After so many vicissitudes, even though I did not deserve it, God has offered me a real paradise, my true home. I feel grateful and blessed. I cannot help but cry every time I receive Jesus in my hands…”

Evangelization is becoming increasingly complex in this modern world. These short stories simply want to remind you and me that despite all the difficulties and  limitedness of our witness as Christians and as missionaries, God is always at work in the hearts of the people we encounter daily, one by one, attracting them to Him.  

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