By Francisco Hernández
Long ago, we used to imagine European or American missionaries going to China to evangelize. Yuan Fuei Liao breaks those stereotypes. Born in China, his parents moved to the Dominican Republic when he was just 7 years old. Yuan says he had a personal encounter with Christ when he was 15, while reading the Bible and participating in the Easter celebration with youth in Santo Domingo.
“Every Catholic has to have a personal encounter with Jesus with open eyes and beating heart,” Yuan says. This encounter led him to discover a Jesus who does not move away from the world. He felt an irresistible attraction to this lifestyle, to the simplicity, and to the closeness and compassion of Jesus.
After his baptism Yuan came into contact with Claretian Missionaries, who motivated him to read the autobiography of St. Antony Claret. He read missionary materials, heard the song Ideal Missionary, reaffirmed his missionary spirit, and decided to devote his life to becoming a lay missionary. Yuan says the words that motivated him the most were Claret’s motto, “The love of Christ urges us.” The phrase has been like an engine that gives him life and fills him with the passion to spread the good news.
“If I do something good and keep it to myself, I am being selfish. A person who finds a treasure and is not selfish, the first thing he or she wants to do is share it with others. The good news treasure has to be shared.”
Yuan later encountered the Servants of the Living Christ, a community of faithful with a charismatic spirituality. The community was founded in Santo Domingo and now extends worldwide. Yuan was a delegate member selected to attend prayer houses in Europe and has remained a tireless evangelist. As a lay preacher he has visited many countries in Latin America and Europe, working with young people and in the formation of evangelizers. He currently lives in New York with his wife and son. He has taught, composed songs, created a radio soap opera, published articles and two books, in addition to short stories published online, all of them targeted toward the formation of young people.
Throughout this passionate journey, Yuan is inspired by the image of a flame. “Claret said that we had to be like a candle that burns, gives light, and is consumed until it dies, and I believe this is how we must be for Christ. Therefore,” Yuan adds, “the kingdom of God is possible here on Earth, by promoting a more just world, without divisions, and helping the poorest. Not only with just words, but with the transforming action of the Spirit of God, I think we can die to ourselves in order to build a more humane world.”
What moves you to action? What are you passionate about?