From growing up in rural China to encountering Jesus in hospital, to becoming a Deacon in the Anglican church while studying at MST—God has woven a rich tapestry out of Grace Wang’s life.
Grace was born in the Shandong Province in China’s north where her family foraged for food and were chronically sick, unable to afford medicine.
“There was never enough food,” she says. “There wasn’t any grain. We had to eat wild vegetables in the field— the same as the rabbits.”
Grace says people believed the god or gods were capricious, and you just hoped you would be treated
well by them, not harshly. Superstition was normal, with a focus on appeasing your ancestors. “My parents believed in god, but there was no theory, no books,” she says.
In spite of the challenges her family experienced, Grace studied and became a nurse. Later, she met her husband, Paul, and they had a son.
In 1998, in a dramatic turn of events, she and her two- year-old son were in an accident that saw them fighting for their lives in hospital. Grace was unconscious for several
days, but when she woke up, the Lord intervened with a special visitor.
Her husband’s work friend, Mrs Zhao, came to the hospital to see them, but when she was refused entry by security, Mrs Zhao prayed and begged them to let her in.
Grace says Mrs Zhao’s visit to her bedside was the first time she had heard about Jesus.
“There was such hope and strength in what I heard,” she says. But with that hope came anger and feelings of being let down. “Why had no-one told me about Jesus before?” she wondered.
Even to this day, this experience has given Grace a great desire to proclaim the good news to people while they are still alive, before it is too late.
A while later, Grace had an even more personal encounter with the Lord where she felt his arms around her. She cried, confessed her sins, and immediately gave everything she could to him.
That was when she really committed her life to serving Christ. “I wanted to share the gospel with others,” she says. “I wanted to know this God further and deeper.”
When Grace and Paul and their family emigrated to Melbourne in 2004, Paul was still not baptised. It was only later that he, too, felt a calling to be a minister in the Presbyterian Church.
He also studied theology at MST. After graduating, he became a full-time pastor and Grace continued nursing.
But she always wanted to study the Scriptures, something which would have been impossible back in China. She even enrolled in 2005 but stopped studying when she was pregnant with the couple’s second child.
Grace eventually enrolled in a Bachelor of Ministry at MST in 2015, graduating in 2020. She says studying “opened her eyes” to the wider church and to the body of Christ beyond her local congregation.
Grace is still doing a subject at college, with the goal of becoming an Anglican priest, which she wants to achieve as only an ordained minister can perform the Eucharist in the Anglican Church.
Grace says her decision to go into the ministry was not always clear and there were lingering doubts about her precise calling. “Even after I graduated, I thought that perhaps my calling was to support my husband in his role as a pastor,” she says.
She talked to many people, not convinced that women should be locked outside a brick fence, unable to contribute to the most important parts of the church service. She also committed it to prayer and asked God to guide her.
Grace says she is especially grateful to Rev Dr Theresa Yu Lau, and Theresa’s husband Rev Dr Timothy Lau, for their help and encouragement in the ordination process.
“I am very thankful to all the lecturers and fellow students at MST,” she says. “I give thanks to the churches, my pastors and brothers and sisters in Christ. Without them, I would not have been able to walk this far.”
For the last three years Grace has been part of a small multicultural Anglican parish called The Holy Name of Jesus, in Melbourne. Here she preaches, leads Bible studies, does pastoral care and community work, and is involved with the youth and Sunday school.
She has found her church family and community in Christ, where there is wonderful acceptance and love.