At times, Liang was discouraged by what he considered a slow progress of the gospel in his country. After his death, however, the number of Christians in China, largely influenced by both his writings and his example, continued to multiply.
In 1804, fifteen-year-old Liang Fa moved to the big city of Guangzhou (then known as “Canton”) to find work, first as a brush-maker, then as an apprentice printer. His parents had provided a good classical Chinese education as long as their means had allowed, but poverty had forced them to stop.
In Guangzhou, Liang was introduced to the Scottish Robert Morrison, who arrived in 1807 as the first Protestant missionary to China, and to his Chinese helper and disciple, Cai Luxing. Morrison and Cai were working together on a Chinese translation of the New Testament. It was illegal work. Teaching Chinese to foreigners and translating and publishing their books was punishable with death.
In spite of these restrictions and of an instinctive, initial hostility to the gospel (including the daily Bible readings the missionaries insisted in holding), Liang continued to work on their printing projects. Six years later, when William Milne arrived from Britain to assist Morrison, Liang helped him to learn Chinese and to print Chinese language tracts. He also accompanied him on a mission trip to Malacca, a state in Malaysia, where Milne set up a printing press and a school, while preaching the gospel to the locals (both Malay and Chinese).
By 1815, Liang had learned enough of the gospel to understand that it possessed what he had always wanted and what no other religion could offer: the power to clear him of guilt and deliver him from the bondage of sin. In a later tract describing his conversion, Liang described his previous, frustrating struggle against lust, lies, and evil thoughts and words. His visits to the local temple, his prayers to the gods, and his efforts to adhere to the teachings of Buddhism and Confucianism could not overcome the evil he perceived in his heart.
When Liang asked to be baptized, Milne examined him and found that he had a thorough understanding of what it meant to be a Christian. Liang explained his experience with these words: “I trusted that I had obtained the remission of sins and that Heavenly God on High had purified my great sins. Then I took a name for myself, called, ‘Student of the Good,’ [Xueshanzhe] and from then on, my heart turned from evil and I studied the good.”
Morrison and Milne both saw a change in Liang. Besides holding on to his assurance of salvation, he became increasingly bolder in sharing the gospel. He was particularly fierce in his condemnation of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and all forms of idolatry, which he found insufficient in providing not only true peace of mind, but also a true remedy to the corruption in the society around him. They promoted selfishness rather than compassion, he thought.