An international student's journey from the depths of despair and anxiety to the bright hope and meaning of the cross.

When Zhang Yao came from China to Colorado State University to get his master’s degree, his life was “in the negative.” Depression, anxiety and an unbearable pursuit for perfection were crushing his soul.

But when he got introduced to Jesus through Summitview’s International Student Ministry, things began to change. He found his life trending in a positive direction. “God gave me the meaning of my life,” he said.

Newfound gratitude for all he had been given came after studying the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. “I started to appreciate what God has given me. I realized how much he has already given me. he gave me a lot more,” he said. This changed his entire approach to work and school. “God wants me to make good use of my 2,000 coins. That’s the purpose of life: to make good use of what God gives you.”

Yao is currently a researcher in CSU’s department of soil crop sciences. And like any good researcher, he tells his life story using a model. The x axis is his age; the y axis is his condition—positive or negative. Using graphs of this model to explain his past and predict his future, he is confident that his life will continue to be marked by the positive sign. Because that’s the shape of Jesus’s cross. His life will be “up and down but always in the positive area” because that positive sign—the cross—is something he carries in his heart.