25 January 2023
Xiaoxi Lou has always loved helping people. She keeps an eye out for those who worry about what God wants, and particularly for Christians anxious that those closest to them are not believers.
“You don’t know how God is going to work. He’s so much smarter and cooler than you,” Ms Lou usually tells them.
The best way she can help people, she believes, is by helping them understand Jesus. And that’s been on her mind since at least 2000.
Just 16-years-old back then, Ms Lou found herself staring at a crucifix on the wall of her hospital ward at St Vincent’s and nursing a deep anger at the God it represented.
Ms Lou wasn’t a believer, but it was summer, she was recovering from major surgery to remove a brain tumour, and there was the cross.
She recalls studying it and asking, “God, if you’re really God, then heal me.”
But the hurdles were plenty when Ms Lou was discharged. She had meningitis, relied on a mobility walker, and her doctors warned that she might need radiotherapy.
They said her hair would fall out, that she might never have children, and no one, including her teachers, seemed to know what to say to her.
Then her doctors did a follow-up scan and declared the tumour gone.
“I thought I’d better go to church and find out about this Jesus guy,” she said.
She began attending Glen Waverley Anglican Church, and became the first Christian in her family.
This created tension between Ms Lou and her father, economics visionary Professor Xiaokai Yang, who, as a young student, had railed against Marxism before going on to a stellar career lecturing in institutions including Monash University.
But her dad had no time for faith. When his work criticising Mao Zedong was published he and his parents were sent to China’s gulags. His mother took her own life while in solitary confinement, and his father was sent to re-education camps. Afterwards Professor Yang chased meaning through his work, and dedicated his life to academic success.
As outspoken as her father, Ms Lou said their confrontations were painful.
But now she can see how the fissures created room for an awareness of faith to seep into the relationship. “God was using me in a way that I didn’t recognise at the time,” she said.
Things changed when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2001. Professor Yang turned to Christ and was baptised at GWAC a few months later.
By the time her dad died in 2004, Ms Lou was involved in mission trips overseas and raced back to Melbourne to deliver the eulogy at his funeral. It was then she realised she was comfortable with both her Chinese and Australian cultures and started working with international students at GWAC.
She went on to qualify as a social worker and gained an extensive background in hospital settings before finding her way to Ridley College.
Having amassed plenty of ministry experiences at GWAC, Ms Lou and her partner were transferred to All Saints’ Clayton recently where they’re deciding on whether priesthood will be their path.
Although excited about what could be ahead in terms of helping others come to Christ, Ms Lou said her health continues to present challenges, something doctors relate to her brain surgery. Nonetheless, she is determined to persevere.
She is set to be ordained a deacon on 4 February, but doesn’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that she will become a priest.
“I believe in leaving my options open,” Ms Lou said. “I’ve assumed too many times that I know how things are going to go, and then I get diverted. So, I’m not about to make plans and assume that God will follow. Where He wants us, that’s where we’ll go.”