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5 Questions on Christianity, Books & life

The Latimer Trust asks Christy Wang


 

How did you become a Christian?

 

I grew up in Taiwan in a Christian home, so I learned to pray when I started learning to talk. I remembered my grandparents teaching me how to say grace in Hokkien, which is a local dialect originating from South East China. The issue was that I really didn’t know much about what I was saying (and it wasn’t simply because of my ignorance of Hokkien)! One childhood incident of significance was being severely bullied for an extensive period of time at the age of nine when I switched schools, for reasons that I still don’t understand. I suddenly realised the importance of popularity, and for the longest time, I pursued acceptance and admiration from my peers as a source of happiness. Being popular is who I am! This brought and still occasionally brings a lot of anxiety, often under the facade of ‘being chill’ (apparently a virtue among millennials), so imagine the joy and liberation I felt when I finally heard the gospel story again! Jesus died for my sins and accepted the worst of me, and I can always, ALWAYS, go to him knowing that He cares. Obviously, this doesn’t mean I am no longer affected by what others think of me, but God’s love and care for me and my trust in Him, albeit imperfect, are what holds true as I continue to follow and walk alongside Him.

 

Who is or has been an influential person in your Christian pilgrimage?

 

There are many inspiring figures and spiritual mentors in my life, and it’s honestly difficult to name one person as the most influential among them all. I learned to do bible studies and became very passionate about it as a teenager because there was a group of committed adults in my home church in Taipei, most of whom had full-time jobs during the week and yet they devoted hours of their weekends to spend time with me and my friends. They are a great inspiration to me and they encouraged me to seriously consider pursuing theological studies after I graduated from university, which I did. More recently, five years at St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford were spiritually formative. I met church leaders and friends who are not afraid to live a faithful life even when it is costly. Seeing their confidence and joy gives me courage to stay faithful to Christ as well.

 

What piece of advice would you give people going into full time ministry work today?

 

I think cultivating a few close friendships among peers at church and among fellow ministry workers would be really helpful. Serving the Church as a full-time job can be very exciting, but when it becomes a series of mundane routines, and when the saintly community doesn’t seem so ‘saintly’ after all, such mismatch of expectation can be frustrating, even crushing. Trustworthy friends in Christ can offer us honest and wise advice as well as regular mutual accountability and encouragement, which I think are all essential for faithful and sustainable ministry.

 

Which is the best book you have read in 2022?

 

I will have to say Henri Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love. My friend Sofia gave it to me as a gift and I loved every page of it. In the midst of busyness with writing up my thesis, teaching, and fulfilling other duties in my final year in Oxford, Nouwen’s words invited me to pause, meditate more deeply on God’s love, and find rest in Him.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

 

I am completing a biography on Edward Reynolds (1599–1676), Bishop of Norwich, and wrapping up a few other publications on Puritan conformity and ecclesiology. I am also leading a research project that focuses on evangelical preaching and the 2024 presidential election in Taiwan, which I really enjoy doing at the moment. I am moving to Japan in a month (in April 2024) to embark on a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Economics, the University of Tokyo, where I will investigate the complex relationship between Puritan piety and profit-seeking among the early modern English diaspora. Besides research, I also created and co-host a podcast on ‘lesser heard voices within Christianity’ with my friends from St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, called the Overtones Podcast.

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Christy Wang holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Oxford. Her DPhil research focused on Puritan conformity, church polity, and Anglican identity in the seventeenth century. She taught at Singapore Bible College from 2022 and until this March 2024. She is now JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tokyo, with a new research project that explores religious hypocrisy among the early modern English diaspora.  Her book on the latest St Antholin Lecture 2023 will be published next month by the LT.


Views expressed in blogs published by the Latimer Trust are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Latimer Trust.

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