The first half of our summer travels is already behind us! The many hours on the road were happily kept in check with the great time we had sharing with friends new and old about the work God is doing in Taiwan.
In Indiana, I saw something I had never seen before: a crowd of young people decked out in camouflage without the slightest trace of a southern accent. I think I sat there for a full two minutes listening for a hint of southern drawl- the Georgia girl in me just couldn’t fathom camo clothing without the accompanying accent! Just goes to show you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to experience culture shock.
For our second anniversary, Josh and I went to see the play Into the Woods while in Texas. When the cast came out, sang their final reprise and bowed, the two of us clapped along with the rest of the audience. An elderly woman sitting beside me, however, kept insisting that the show was not over, that we had only seen the first act. I smiled politely and gave myself a mental pat on the back for knowing that it definitely was over. My pride, however, couldn’t keep me from Googling the ending of the show just in case we really had missed something. Sure enough, we had walked out during intermission, missing the last 90 minutes of the play! Next time the lovely lady sitting next you suggests that the show isn’t over, I recommend checking with at least one usher before you leave, just to be sure.
But what stood out the most from this trip was when Josh and I shared at a Chinese church in northern Indiana and, for the first time, got to experience what it’s like to have a Chinese Christian come alongside us in encouraging their fellow believers to care for orphans and uniquely-abled children. We were wrapping up a Q&A session after the service when one of the elders of the church approached the microphone and asked to share something.
“I want to tell you all something I have never told anyone, even though I have been at this church for 20 years,” he began.
“There are four children in my family, and I am the second oldest. My older sister has Down syndrome.” The room hung silent. It takes a great deal of courage for many Chinese to reveal that they have a relative with a disability because the fear of what others will think is so overwhelming. He went on,
“When my sister was born, my mother hired a nanny to care for her, because we could afford to do so. She lived in an upstairs room, where the nanny watched her, and she was never let outside the house. My sister lived this way for her whole childhood. When my parents got too old, they sent her to live in a home for people like her. She stayed there until she was almost 60 and then she died.”
“We must step up and do something for these children. It is our responsibility to care for them- they should not have to live like this.” Here, he stopped and gestured to Matthew, Josh’s brother who has Down syndrome and who had spoken briefly to the congregation earlier that morning. “I wonder,” he said, his voice shaking,”how much more my sister could have done. Maybe should could have been like this young man. Maybe she could have learned and gone to school.”
The Chinese are generally pretty reserved with their emotions, but glancing back at the audience I saw several people with tears in the eyes, moved by this man’s testimony.
“This is our responsibility,” he finished, “we must not put it off any more.”
We didn’t know going in that the heart of our message would come from a member of the audience. But God knew what would impact the hearts of our Chinese friends most deeply, and He provided just that. While this man’s story began decades ago, stories just like his and his sister’s are still happening today, and we’ve seen it firsthand in Taiwan. Keep praying with us that Jesus’ freedom will reign in Taiwan, and that the church will grasp our Father’s vision of hope for orphaned and uniquely-abled children.