featured image

Susan Ciancio introduces the conversion story of a man who fled Communist China and ultimately found a home for his soul.

Christians must lean on the cross of Christ just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. (St. Anthony of Padua)


It may sound trite to say that we are all on a journey. From the time we are first created until the day we take our last breath, we grow and develop both physically and mentally, we become stronger, and hopefully we lead a life that will eventually lead to eternity with God. 

But that journey is rarely an easy one. Sometimes it can be unbearably long and difficult. That is the reality of a man known as John Ma in a new nonfiction book by Bob Blundell. 

In the introduction to Crossroads: A Journey from Communist China to Christ, we read that this is the story of a man who has “spent his life in search of peace in this broken world” at a time “when innocent people were taken from their homes and imprisoned, tortured, or summarily executed.” 




It is the true story of a boy born in Beijing, China, in the 1960s and “raised beneath the dark cloud of communism.” It is the chilling story of a little boy’s fear and of a family broken apart. Yet it is also the beautiful story of a young man’s flight to freedom and ultimately of his journey home to the Catholic faith. 

John Ma couldn’t allow his real name to be printed in a book because of the danger he might bring upon himself and his family, but he wanted his story to be told. He wanted the world to know what he endured, how he endured it, and how Christ helped him survive.  

John didn’t have a typical childhood. Growing up in communist China, he and his family lived in fear. When John and his sister were very young, their parents were taken from them and held as prisoners in a “reeducation camp.” For months, the children lived alone, with only themselves to care for each other. Despite great odds, they survived.   

When their parents returned, the family had only a short amount of time until they were all taken to one of those camps. There they lived for years.  

John knew he had to flee China. He lived every day with that desire burning in his heart, and when a chance came for him to study in America, he took it, knowing he would never return to live in his homeland.  

Thus begins John’s journey. And though his physical journey from China to America was a relatively easy one, his spiritual and emotional journey took many years. Always longing for something he could not seem to find, John traveled across five continents and through 19 countries. He explored more than a dozen religions, yet still the emptiness he felt and the void in his heart remained.  

It wasn’t until he began learning about Catholicism that he felt truly at home. This doesn’t mean that after he found the faith that Jesus started, that when he encountered Jesus in the Eucharist, or that after he went to Confession everything was suddenly fine. There were still demons to wrestle with, haunting memories to overcome, and feelings of anxiety and depression to battle.   

But it did mean that John finally understood that he didn’t need to be on this journey alone. He finally felt a peace that he had never previously felt—one he had been searching for his entire life.  

Crossroads: A Journey from Communist China to Christ gives us a glimpse into a tragic life made whole by the love and mercy of God. It teaches us that while terrible things happen in life, God is always there. And it helps us understand that no matter what we face, our Lord and Savior will never forsake us.  

This is the love that John Ma discovered when he found the Catholic Church. It’s the love that permeates this story of redemption, perseverance, and salvation. And it’s the love readers will feel when they read this compelling book that proves that Christ is always there walking this journey with us and helping us carry our crosses, regardless of whether or not we ask for His help. 


Is this a book you'd like to read? Share your thoughts with the Catholic Mom community! You'll find the comment box below the author's bio and list of recommended articles.



Copyright 2024 Susan Ciancio
Images: Canva