Christ calls, Asians respond

Lent series 2023


The Taiwanese atheist who responded to God’s calling

By UCA News reporter, Taipei

March 29, 2023 03:14 AM

As she prepares to embrace her new faith and future, Ally Han-Yu Yang reflects on the unexpected turn of events

Ally Han-Yu Yang with her fiancé Andrés German Martinez Calderon

Ally Han-Yu Yang with her fiancé Andrés German Martinez Calderon (Photo supplied)

Ally Han-Yu Yang, who grew up an atheist in Taiwan, used to mock and ridicule religious believers, but this slowly changed after she met a Catholic from Colombia, who later became her fiancé.

“I was one of those people who enjoyed mocking the deeply religious,” said the 37-year-old Taiwanese woman, who came to Hong Kong two years ago to work in the financial technology field.

Yang met 32-year-old Andrés German Martinez Calderon, who came from a traditional Catholic Colombian family, while working in Hong Kong.

“We were exceedingly different in age, background, worldview, and faith, and we did not even know each other’s language all that well,” she recalls.

Yang would madly disagree with Martinez, a gym trainer, whenever he said: “God will arrange everything.”

But then, she began experiencing the miraculous ways of divine intervention in their lives.

One such incident happened at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Martinez couldn’t be vaccinated because of his health and Yang was getting tired of Hong Kong. But they could not go back to Taiwan because it was closed because of the pandemic.

“Let’s leave it to God and if it’s a path that we should walk. He will take care of us,” she recalled Martinez saying.

In less than a week, Taiwan allowed foreigners to enter.

“I quit my job and decided to bring him back to Taiwan to get married, and also to bring his Lord into my future,” said Yang who is preparing to be baptized a Catholic in Taiwan at this Easter Vigil on April 8.

As she prepares to change her faith and future, Yang often reflects on the unexpected turn of events in her life.

While they were dating in Hong Kong, Martinez would attend Mass. Initially, he went alone but later Yang started joining him and also tried to pray with him.

“I said prayers that I hardly understood. I argued quite a lot with him on the Church’s doctrines,” Yang recalls.

Ally Han-Yu Yang (second from right) is pictured with other catechumens during the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens in Taipei. (Photo supplied)

But because of the language barrier, she failed to understand Martinez explanations.

Yang soon realized she needed help from someone who was a traditional Catholic and knew both Chinese and Spanish to solve her doubts.

One day, towards the end of November 2022, Yang and Martinez went to Mass at the Parish of Our Lady of Songshan in Taipei archdiocese.

By then the parish had already started the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), the official Church process to prepare a person doctrinally and spiritually to receive the Sacraments of Initiation — Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation — and become a Catholic.

Although two-thirds of the course material was already completed, Catechist Mary Sze-Ying Chen made exemptions to accept Yang as a catechumen.

Chen also found another Catechist, Justin Chun-Chien Wu, who could speak Spanish and Chinese.

“Justin helped me to see the essence of this faith … he would clarify doubts showing the source of the issues and their historical contexts. Mary, on the other hand, would use day-to-day examples to help me understand how our God is a living God,” Yang said.

Yang spent four days a week to make up for the lost classes, two hours each day.

“I used to worry, what if the classes were boring? What if after all these, I still did not want to be a Catholic? But once I learned about all of it, I couldn’t find a reason to say no. How wonderful would the world be if I could follow God’s commandments?” she wondered.

Ally Han-Yu Yang is accepted as a catechumen during a ceremony at the Parish of Our Lady of Songshan in Taipei archdiocese.(Photo supplied)

Yang, though, knows that there’s still much to learn about faith, but is confident and ready to receive baptism at this Easter Vigil.

She said joining the Church is not a “sacrifice” for her partner.

“The time I spent learning about the faith has earned me a much better gift, the depth of which I will not be able to exhaust,” Yang said.

Martinez said he sees “the hand of God” in the story of him and Yang, “which has been a great example to show that nothing is impossible for God.”

The path “has not been easy, we have gone through difficulties” but every test has manifested God’s presence, he said.

Catechist Chen said Yang had been attending Mass with Martinez for a year in Hong Kong.

Chen “deeply admires” Yang’s attitude and approach because she did not come to join the Church so she could get married to a Catholic, but worked “very hard to understand the content of the faith and asked many questions, and embraced clarifications wholeheartedly with faith.”

Catechist Wu said among his trainees, Yang has been the most inquisitive and talented and does not hesitate to ask questions that show her genuine interest and excellent understanding.

“All of this, along with her long-established habits of piety, I am certain that her Christian journey will take her ever closer to Jesus, who will be the source of all her joy,” he said.

Our Lady of Songshan’s parish priest, Father Jean Lucas, said Yang is also preparing to get married to Martinez this year.

“So she thought it was good to know his religion before marriage. Helped by our catechist and her fiancé, she progressed very fast in the knowledge of the faith and will be baptized this Easter,” the priest said.

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Christ calls, Asians respond is a new series of features that explore the life of individuals who discovered Christ in the face of misunderstandings and even opposition from those around them. Responding to Christ’s call these men and women have become beacons of inspiration for those around them. Read more about them here.

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1 Comments on this Story
yes! it is a wonderful journey if you make the first step to the "YES" it embraces your whole LIFE that is LOVE every day a surprise takes place! Gods LOFE exides everything Love and Prayer your little br. Herbert Liebl