Growing up in the '70s, I was taught daily that communism was the best thing that ever happened to China and that Chairman Mao, the "savior" from the East, was incapable of error. Around the age of 14, I recognized I was fed a lie and decided I would never be brainwashed again.
After college, I moved to Canada in 1994 to pursue my graduate training in biological sciences. I spent two years at the University of Waterloo (60 miles west to Toronto) and then six more years at the University of Toronto. I was a steadfast atheist (indebted to the indoctrination of the Chinese education system) who tried very hard to make it in academia. Two decades later, I would learn that one of the biggest revivals—called the "Toronto Blessing"—was taking place not far from where I lived, but at the time, the revival stopped short of impacting my world despite its vicinity.
In 2003, I had received my Ph.D. in biochemistry and was offered a postdoctoral fellowship at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, across the Connecticut River from Vermont. Shortly after I arrived at Dartmouth, my first marriage fell apart. It was a shockingly painful experience, even though I was the one who instigated it (I foolishly blamed my marriage for my unhappiness and wanted the freedom to find my true love). I suffered panic attacks and insomnia for quite a period of time.
To deal with the stress and turmoil, I devoured self-help books, sought psychological therapy, attended life-coaching workshops, undertook Buddhist meditation, practiced Taoism Qigong, intermingled with medium and New Age healers, and eventually became a full-fledged New Ager myself.
As a New Ager, I had a very high opinion of Jesus, but I stayed away from Christianity for three reasons: I did not see the power of the gospel manifested in the marriage of my parents, both of whom were believers; the numerous denominations in Christianity convinced me the church had been corrupted; and Christians I encountered then did not have or accept supernatural experiences that I knew existed and were possible. Out of pride and ignorance, I considered my own spirituality superior to that of modern-day church goers. Meanwhile, I held dear a naive belief that my life would be filled with joy should I eventually find my soulmate.