When we first sat down to discuss what to write about on our blog, we knew that Champ’s story had to be told. When we were trying to decide where to start, we picked Champ as our first post.
Partially because stories are great…
Partially because his story is spectacular…
(Partially because we love sharing his adorable smile with the world.)
But the main reason is because Champ’s story so accurately portrays the great need for restoration for Taiwan’s orphans and spiritual freedom for Taiwan’s church.
So here goes…
This is Champ:
We first met Champ in the summer of 2014 when we were visiting Josh’s parents in Taiwan. Josh’s mom, Beth, had been fostering children with special needs from one of the local orphanages. Champ came to her as all the rest did, for temporary care and therapy until an adoptive family could be found. Champ, though, was a unique case.
Champ was a miracle right from the start. At birth, he wasn’t breathing. For half an hour Taiwanese doctors fought for Champ’s life, and by the grace of God they succeeded. But, of course, going 30 minutes without a steady supply of oxygen left its mark. In addition to the cleft lip that he was born with, Champ was discharged from the hospital with cerebral palsy, seizures, and a seemingly chronic case of pneumonia. His mom, facing the struggle of parenting him alone, was unable to care for him and soon brought him to a nearby orphanage. To this day, Champ can’t walk, he eats through a feeding tube, and is unable sit up, roll over, or even hold his head up for very long.
Our world does not see the value in this kind of existence. Many believe it’s not worth it to care for a child like this when so many other, higher-functioning children are in need of families.
But Champ knows love…
Because he has been invited into family, Champ experiences love. Although he has no ability to show appreciation or gratitude, he knows what it is to be cherished and to belong. He knows the sound of mom’s voice and the difference between a crib and a cuddling pair of arms. He knows the taste of a pear apple on his tongue and the sound of being sung to sleep. He knows the feeling of home.
In spite of all the difficulties he faces just to survive each day, Champ knows what it is to have a reason to smile.
This is what the gospel is all about. Bringing hope to the desolate, welcoming in those who are cast aside, caring for those who can’t make it alone, all for the glory of God. When we see Champ’s bright smile, we are reminded that our Father is calling the people of Taiwan into a great freedom and a glorious light. He’s calling them into a hope that, in spite of anything they may face or fear, will give them a reason to smile.
Taiwanese culture is shaped by honor and shame. Relationships, politics, and business are all run by the desire to build honor and avoid shame. Taiwanese culture, like any other, has its pros and cons. While the honor/shame schema contributes to a sense of pride in one’s family, it also creates a sense of shame in accepting anyone outside of your bloodline.
Adoption is rare. Abortion is rampant. The shame and guilt associated with an unwed pregnancy or a child with “defects” is so high that, in the rare case such a child is not aborted, they are almost certainly put up for adoption. Through no fault of their own, these children are an offense to society, and to take them in would cause any self-respecting Taiwanese family to lose face, bringing that child’s shame into their home.
This breaks God’s heart. This breaks our heart. This should break your heart.
This should break the heart of the Taiwanese Christians.
But it doesn’t.
Right now, in churches across Taiwan many Christians are choosing to turn a blind eye to the orphans in their midst. The shame that Satan has so engrained in Taiwanese culture has yet to be banished from the Taiwanese Church. God has given us a vision to see a Church that is so free from shame and fear that they can embrace even the most unwanted members of society.
A Church that, like Jesus, can welcome the sinner, the shameful, and the sick without a second thought.
A Church that doesn’t turn its back on scared young moms or their unplanned babies.
A Church that can make a place for the orphan in their midst.
A Church that can make a place for Champ.