There's a story about a man who fell into a pit and couldn't get out.
A subjective person came along and said, "I feel for you down there." An objective person came along and said, "Well, it's logical somebody would fall down there." A Pharisee said, "Only bad people fall into pits." A judgmental person said, "You deserve your pit." Jesus, seeing the man in the pit, reached down, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.
In China there is so much we could do, so we really need to search God for the things we should do and do only those.
During 2009 we weren't able to run our teams to orphanages as we used to. Firstly, the global financial crisis impacted the number of people able to travel, and then swine flu led to the closing of orphanages to foreigners. So both these events greatly impacted our short-term teams and we were only able to run one in July. But those who came did some great work in our school project, painting classrooms and doing other maintenance work. We also replaced 100 student desks and chairs. After that, the team spent two days in a ‘boot camp' where local children live for at least three months to overcome anti-social behaviour, internet addictions and family conflicts. We spent time there teaching conversational English, playing sports games and teaching songs. Some of our team also visited the homes of some of our sponsored children, which they found very challenging. We hope to be able to run more teams this year.
Recently one of our China-based co-workers visited an orphanage and was greatly moved by what she saw. There were a number of children who could have been much healthier if the carers actually had time to give the individual care needed. This has led us to take the large step and leap of faith to open a small foster home. We have leased an apartment, employed a full time carer, and taken in two babies who both need individual care. One is a little girl who needs a heart operation, but can't have it until her weight increases. However, she eats very slowly. The other child suffers extreme eczema and must be treated three times each day. Again in the normal scheme of the orphanage workload the carers just don't have time. But we do. So these two children are now living in our foster home receiving a higher level of care and special love.
On April 14, 2010, Yushu county in Qinghai province was hit by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. China was again rocked by a devastating event and at the time of writing the death toll had reached over 2,200 people.
Rescuers found it very difficult to reach and work in the remote region. Low oxygen levels at high altitude and the lack of large excavation equipment hampered the desperate attempts to find survivors. Families are now without homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings that were demolished. And so many were killed.
We have helped fund earthquake relief work and one co-worker wrote saying, "Heard today that the money transfer was extremely timely, as they had gone ahead and booked a truck as well as equipment for doing a two-week medical trip, believing in faith that He would provide!!" How awesome. The trip was to take several doctors to attend to the worsening condition of the survivors in the harsh weather there in Yushu County.
Then we discovered there were 250 patients in a hospital who had virtually no clothes. We were able to purchase tracksuits for them all. One of our co-workers emailed to say, "I just want to add my thanks and appreciation for the generous gifts you are sending! On behalf of the many people being blessed, with everything from medical care to tracksuits, thank you and everyone involved! It is such a privilege to be part of this relief effort, and we can't say enough how much your wonderful help means!"
It won't stop there either. As we receive more news of help needed, we'll send whatever and as much as we can.
In another city our team have opened a centre for children with intellectual and physical challenges. We have an apartment fitted out to provide day care and training for around 15 children. But it's been very tough going. Hospitals we believed would recommend our centre to parents haven't been doing so. There seems to be a very strong spiritual heaviness in the city. Many parents in China feel very embarrassed to take their special needs children out in public, but how can they bring them to our centre without going out in public? So, many children and their parents who could have been blessed and taught how to live more effectively with their challenges have not come. But there are a small number attending (including one young Muslim girl) and this number is growing. Please pray more parents will take the step to bring their children and that we can raise more funds for this really worthwhile centre. We want to have an increasing impact in this city and believe this centre and the team we have serving there can, with the strength of the Spirit, change lives.
We are now sponsoring approximately 135 children from extremely poor families in rural counties. Many live up in the mountains. I walked to one child's home and it took 1.5 hours up (and I mean straight up!) the mountain. Not up a road but up what I could best describe as a goat track. Their home is on a level piece of land cut out of the mountainside, where they grow some crops that they either eat or bring down the mountain to sell. Their home was very basic; it was dark as it was only lit with a couple of light globes. Their cooking area was blackened from the fire. They were such a lovely family though and fed us as we chatted about life. The girl had very poor quality reading glasses, so we left money with them to get proper glasses next time they were in the town. It was wonderful to see her in her new glasses on our next visit.
I was saddened though as I read the situations of the last group of children we took into our family. There was such a common thread - mother died in a work accident... father killed in a fight... parents killed in a crash... father died and mother left home... These situations and those of the children in need of greater care in the orphanages bring tears to the eyes.
We have recently employed two local Chinese people to join our inland team to help better care for our sponsored children. They will visit the children more often and hopefully mentor them as they build relationships, as well as help with administrative work, visiting teams, and the foster home. Please pray for these new team members that they would become a strong team with our existing group and see God move in mighty ways as we care for the poor, needy and orphaned.
At the conclusion of the parable of the Good Samaritan we read (in the Message Bible): "What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?" "The one who treated him kindly," the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, "Go and do the same." I believe Jesus would have said the same had it been an abandoned baby, a child whose parents were killed or left home, or a father whose child was killed as his school tumbled down. He would still have said, "Go and do likewise." So we do.