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Lang after receiving his Sacraments of Initiation on March 26, 2016 at the Great Vigil of Easter at Our Lady of Wisdom Newman Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. Lang stood confirmed "Paul the Apostle" in between his two sponsors Joel Burg (left), a fellow tenor singer whom Lang met through the morning music ministry and his father Bob Lang, who first introduced Daniel to the faith.

From Vegas to Asia – Daniel Lang on a mission for God

Daniel Lindbergh Lang is a 24-year-old from North Las Vegas, who is now serving with the Catholic St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society in this part of Asia. This article is on how he got closer to God, and its publication is timed to coincide with the Feast of St. Mark on April 25, Monday. This is the first of a series of stories on Lang’s missionary life in Asia. 
APRIL 22, 2022

Though I tend to tell people I’m from Vegas, I actually spent my childhood in southern Indiana. I grew up in Bedford, a moderately-sized and forested town known as the “Limestone Capital of the World.” My parents would take me and my four siblings to Mass every Sunday. Of my immediate siblings, I was second oldest. Before me came a brother, while after us came a couple sisters and another brother. 

Our parents enrolled me and my siblings at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. There I received my first reconciliation and communion at age seven. At the time, Dad was serving in the United States Army National Guard. As the military had deployed him a couple times overseas, to Iraq and to Afghanistan, our family moved to Vegas in 2008, where he could finish his service to our country. 

From the forest we went to the desert, and I studied middle school and high school in Vegas. We still went to Mass on Sundays. Mum sang in the music ministry. If my parents couldn’t take me and my siblings to Mass some Sundays, I’d walk the desert heat there and back. This was mostly out of habit, for Dad tended to instill many habits in me. Kindly, Mum also covered personal tithes for any of us who walked.

Lang invited to cantor by the music ministry team on July 30, 2017, during his final Sunday Mass on his first journey overseas. He wore a traditional Chinese shirt, bought with 20th birthday funds gifted by his relatives. More of Lang’s mixed parentage in the next article.

The summer before my senior year, 2014, a friend of mine — a Protestant minister’s son, Nate — asked if I was Christian. I said yes. Nate asked if I’d read the Bible. I said yes, though it was more like a no. I expounded having flipped open Genesis and getting confused as a kid. He said that was my problem — I should start with the Gospel according to Mark. 

Starting from the Gospels seemed odd to me. Why would one begin reading a book from its middle? But Nate explained that the Gospels reveal what the Old Testament means. And Mark’s Gospel’s quick to read. I decided I’d take a look. 

On a still day I believe that summer, I found my older brother’s Bible, which I suspected he wasn’t reading. I hopped on my bed and opened it to Mark. From the outset, reading Mark 1 felt odd, as though I was reading about Christmas during the summer. I persisted. 

Merely from the first few chapters, years of Sunday services rapidly felt condensed into moments. Jesus’s words felt immediate. His calls and healings felt otherworldly. People’s reactions to Christ’s words furthered this bewilderment. Yet as early as Mark 3, He empowered the twelve to do as He did. I felt amazed. 

Then came the storm in Mark 4. Jesus’s disciples feared death. He, God, halted the storm. His disciples were filled with terror and awe. I paused my reading. This was much to take in. 

Moments later, my house doorbell rang. I opened the door to find strangers there. They’d asked if I’d read the Bible recently. As a matter of fact, I had, I replied! I shared with them my experience from moments before. They departed happily. I stood amazed. From this day on, I hungered to grow in faith and in fellowship. 

At university in my new city, with renewed interest since that summer of Nate’s recommendation, I decided to get involved at my new parish. I joined the music ministry, following in Mum’s footsteps. Fellow music ministers felt extraordinarily kind and welcoming. I wanted to love like them. Our pastor in Reno was Fr. Nathan, whose name reminded me too of Nate. When I heard the call for candidates for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, I joined that, too. Easter 2016, I was confirmed. 

Lang has loved to sing in music ministries wherever and with whomever he is graced the chance.

Though St. Mark’s Gospel renewed interest in my faith, another evangelist spoke more to me — Paul the Apostle. St Paul’s story was one I distinctly remembered from Catholic school. As I learned at uni, Paul was also the patron of writers and public relations practitioners, as I was studying to be. 

By the time I graduated uni, though, I accepted an offer to another career path. I became a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching English in Mongolia. It was during this time that God introduced me to yet another possibility. 

In my Mongol city of service was an American couple. They were building God’s Kingdom. Like us Peace Corps Volunteers, they led English speaking groups. They also hosted fellowship dinners and led Bible studies. They welcomed me and my fellow volunteers. They encouraged me to talk with their groups too. 

I left Mongolia when the COVID-19 pandemic sent us volunteers back to America. During the pandemic I discerned my call to mission. Seemingly too, God had already been calling me to mission through St. Paul. I hadn’t noticed back then. (I’ll share more about my road to mission next week.)

Years since that restorative encounter with Christ through the Gospel according to St. Mark, I’ve read the other Gospels as well. I’ve enjoyed each for different reasons. Still, to anyone looking to get to know Christ, I tend first to recommend Mark. With people’s attention so divided these days, St. Mark’s brevity and awe remain as relevant as ever. 

Next week: The death of Lang’s mum, how that affected him and how he started travelling to this region.