Thought I'd share something from my past...
As told to me by my grandmother (father's mother) one time when I visited her.
She was born in 1906, during the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China.
In those days women were not treated equally and had very little life opportunities. She was denied basic education, but being headstrong, my grandmother ran away from home when she was 13. As she travelled on foot she became tired (there was a barbaric custom at the time which saw the feet of women bound - essentially they were maimed) and fell asleep on the side of the road. She had a dream in which she saw a road pointing north (she did not explain how she knew, only that this was "clear" from her dream). So she decided to travel north when she woke up.
Eventually, the first building she came to was a school set up by a foreign missionary, who provided her with education, and then trained her to become a nurse and midwife. This was how my grandmother found work.
Later on, she met a man who would become my grandfather. Both were Christians (my grandfather having become one before he met her, elsewhere) and they decided to get married.
My father was the youngest of four children, and his brother and sisters were born during World War II. Although my grandfather had little formal education, he loved learning and in his youth studied Japanese. When the Japanese invaded his hometown, he was told to act as a translator.
My father was born almost right after WWII. He recalls that in those days life in China was actually pretty good - things were cheap, people looked out for each other, and the government had the people's trust.
My grandparents set up a free primary school in their home and taught the neighbours' kids. At night they used their home as a house church, where neighbours would come and join them in worship.
I think house churches even back then were illegal because they were not registered with the government, but the local police saw no need to enforce that particular law because everybody got along well, and everyone took care of each other.
However, later on this would change.
My mother was born in Indonesia, one of ten siblings. Her ancient ancestors were part of some royal family that had to flee northern China due to political instability, and settled in southern China. Because all the good land for growing crops had already been taken by other Chinese people, my mum's ancestors decided to settle in the mountains instead. Later on they then migrated to Indonesia to do business and start a new life there.
By the time my mum was in her teens, the Indonesian government had become increasingly anti-Chinese, probably due in part to the fact that they were a minority of the population but controlled a majority of the nation's wealth. It was illegal to learn Chinese, or buy / read Chinese books. My mum recalls her dad smuggling in Chinese books so they could learn how to read it. Eventually my mum and one of her brothers left to study in China.
She met my dad during senior high school and then attended university together.
It was the 1960s and the Cultural Revolution had come about. It was a chaotic time, when educated people, political dissidents, and people who were influenced by "western thinking" were all given a hard time. And it wasn't restricted to these people either, I heard that even some Buddhists were persecuted - essentially anyone that did not toe the government's worldview (i.e. atheism) had their lives made difficult.
The police came and ransacked my father's parents' twice, trashing their Bibles and hymn books.
After the Cultural Revolution was over, my mother gave birth to my sister and the three of them left for a new life in Hong Kong.
I was born there and spent the first eight years of my life in Hong Kong. When my parents learned of how Hong Kong will be handed back to China in 1997, they decided to migrate to another country instead.
Their first choice was actually USA, but there was a very long wait, so they opted for Australia instead.
We all became Christians in different ways. My father grew up in a Christian family and decided to become a Christian at 12. My sister had long stopped going to church as far as I could remember, but one year when she went to visit her primary school friends in Hong Kong, she returned a Christian because of the message her friends shared with her.
My mum became a Christian years after we settled in Australia. Looking back, I think although we were Christians we were not a loving family, and this could be a reason as to why my mum didn't became a Christian earlier.
For myself, the irony was that the fellowship group I was in at the church I attended were filled with kids who were either distant relatives or family friends, all of them from wealthy backgrounds. I was the only kid whose parents worked in factories (because my parents had poor English skills, they could not find the type of work they used to do), and they didn't want to have anything to do with me.
During this time in high school, I also became aware that the people who I thought were friends actually made fun of me when they thought I wasn't listening. These people were considered to be upstanding students by teachers because they were good at pretending.
I became sad and very angry because I felt I had done nothing to deserve the way I was being treated, and began to really think about the reason for going to church.
Around this time (mid 1990s), I noticed a change in the way my sister behaved, and found out she had become a Christian. Though I had always liked the idea of living a Christian lifestyle, I really wanted to know the historical basis surrounding Jesus Christ's resurrection.
So then I spent a year (and since then, a few more years) studying the background information behind Jesus' life and eventually decided to ask for God's forgiveness and ask Jesus to be my Lord.
Later on, I would have other questions and doubts, but I suppose they are for sharing at another time...