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Dr. Ming Wang urges us to seek common ground in chapel address

By Simon Baker, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky– During his college career, Dr. Ming Wang had a meeting with a Harvard professor.

That meeting changed his life, leading him to have a relationship with Christ.

Wang discussed his meeting with that professor and his mission to find common ground in his chapel address Feb. 8 at Campbellsville University.

Wang, the founding director of the Wang Vision Institute and a clinical professor for Meharry Medical College, both in Nashville, Tenn., shared how he grew up in Hangzhou, China, during the Chinese Revolution when China’s leader, Mao Zedong sent over 20 million high school graduates into forced labor camps for life.

The Cultural Revolution lasted for 10 years, from 1966 to 1976.

Wang shared how he avoided going to the labor camps by playing the erhu, a two-string Chinese violin.

“One way to escape being sent to a labor camp is to play a musical instrument, in this case, a two-strong Chinese violin,” Wang said. “If you could play an instrument, you might be able to get into the communist song and dance propaganda troupe.”

Wang said he “learned music to survive.”

Wang came to the United States with only $50 and a Chinese dictionary, but that meeting with a Christian professor at Harvard University, he said, changed his life.

He said the professor “took me out to lunch and asked what the difference is between a car and the human brain. I said the human brain is a little more complicated.”

Wang said the conversation with the professor at Harvard opened a window for him to become a Christian and learn about God.

Wang said many in the United States are so fixated on differences and don’t appreciate what they have in common as Americans.

“We are increasingly unable to work across political, racial, and ethical divides,” he said. “I am so passionate about the message of how to overcome polarization because I’ve been there. I suffered through an extreme form of polarization—a dictatorship.”

Dr. Ming Wang shared the acronym “STEPS” during his chapel address to help people find common ground with others. (Campbellsville University Photo by Leinner Corrales)

He graduated from Harvard and MIT magna cum laude, the highest honor, and received his doctorate in laser physics.

To date, Wang has conducted over 55,000 laser eye surgeries.

The movie “Sight,” based on his autobiography “From Darkness to Sight,” details Wang’s story. The film chronicles his struggles with poverty and racial discrimination and his pursuit of becoming a world-renowned eye surgeon who developed a new technology that restored sight to millions.

The film tells how Dr. Wang met a six-year-old orphan from India who had been intentionally blinded, and he had to come face-to-face with his traumatic past before he could help anyone else.

Wang was also portrayed in the Christian movie “God’s Not Dead.”

Wang asked himself if science and faith could work together. He concluded they could and should work together.

He developed a procedure using amniotic membranes to clarify vision and reduce scar tissue using amniotic membrane.

Wang researched the project for over sixteen years. Due to his Christian faith, Wang said he was frequently conflicted about doing the procedure because of the fear of harming the fetus. However, he discovered the placenta could be used to make the contact lens. This placenta is usually discarded as medical waste after a baby is born, but it can be collected and used for medical purposes.

“We created a contact lens,” Wang said. “We cover the eye surface and recreate a fetus-like environment to encourage the adult body to heal.”

He is also the co-founder of the Common Ground Network, which calls for Christians in America to stand together against religious persecution worldwide.

Wang said God calls Christians to be common ground seekers.

“Our task is to grow the kingdom,” Wang said. “The only way to do that is to meet someone different than you, someone who shares different values and try to find common ground with them.”

Wang shared the acronym “STEPS” to help us find common ground with others.

“S” stands for seeing common ground with people.

“You got to be able to see common ground, Wang said. “If you’re unwilling to see, you’re never going to find.”

“T” stands for trading places with other people.

As an eye doctor, Wang said, “I have to listen to you. I have to trade places with my patients.”

“E” stands for showing empathy with and towards people.

“When we meet someone with different opinions, political viewpoints,” Wang said, “instead of shouting at them, can we try instead to start a conversation with them, ask a question, listen and then talk to them?”

“P” stands for having perspective when forming viewpoints.

“There’s a right thing to do and a price to pay,” he shared.

“S” stands for seeking common ground with others.”

“The common ground you have with someone can be very small but have a big, transforming action,” he said.

After speaking, Wang played his erhu, the instrument he used to escape a life of hard labor in China, to the tune of Amazing Grace. Wang played along with Jamie Lawrence, executive director of church and ministry outreach.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with an enrollment of nearly 12,000 students. The university offers over 100 programs of study including doctoral, masters, bachelors, associate and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.

Dr. Ming Wang, left, plays his erhu, a two-stringed Chinese violin, with Jamie Lawrence, executive director of ministry and church outreach at Campbellsville University, at the end of Wang’s chapel address. (Campbellsville University Photo by Gerard Flanagan)