The vision to establish the Love and Hope Children’s Home, seek out children with severe disabilities and special needs institutionalized in nursing homes, provide them with effective healthcare services, and become God’s channel of unconditional love for them, undeniably is a daunting task. Convincing people to support this vision, especially in Taiwan, where most people have a highly pragmatic outlook, has proven to be genuinely challenging. For instance, those familiar with Yu-Chen’s story know the struggles of the Tiangco family. The politicking and defamation experienced by Ms. Hsin-Ting Teng during her time as a volunteer at the orphanage where Yu-Chen came from highlights the kind of mindset people have. Arguably, if Non-Profit Organizations in Kaohsiung that claim to love children were as benevolent as they proclaim themselves to be, these organizations would be actively engaged in preventing children with severe disabilities from being institutionalized in nursing homes. Unfortunately, it has been otherwise. While sharing the Taiwan Love and Hope Charity’s (TLHIC) vision to different people, it has been met with supportive smiles but mostly polite indifference.
Just this month, the CEO of the TLHIC, Ms. Hsin-Ting Teng, had a heart-breaking encounter. During a recent trip to Taipei, she talked to a wealthy person who was very proud of all his achievements. The person directly informed Ms. Teng that the organization’s vision to help such children is a waste of time and valuable resources. Taiwanese society does not need people who do not have the physical ability to contribute to its positive development. The children will never be able to grow up to work and pay taxes. More so, it is highly unlikely of them to raise their own families in the future. In other words, it is better off the children to eventually die unnoticed in nursing homes. Keeping them hidden in nursing homes lessens the emotional attachment and guilt for everyone.
Ms. Teng politely thanked him for his advice and time. She left devastated, and even until days after, recalling the encounter left her in tears. Are these children truly useless to the point that they deserve to die? Knowing that eventual death is their likely predicament in nursing homes, isn’t it foolish to still intervene?
How Jesus would respond to this dilemma is in Matthew 18: 1-14, beginning with the proper context when he pointed out in verse 1 as to who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven as he referred to children. In verse 14, Jesus asserts that our Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones (wandering sheep) should perish. He did so to point out that a good shepherd would leave the ninety-nine searching for that one lost sheep.
The TLHIC truly understands the pragmatic outlook of many in Taiwanese society. Yet, what people fail to see is that helping the children is not always about the children themselves. Jesus is reaching out and calling each and everyone to be a faithful disciple.
Much of it is about all of us. It is about healthy and productive people in Taiwanese society. It is about making each Taiwanese a better person and making Taiwan a truly great nation. As Patrick Baldwin aptly states,
Given the responsibility or parenting a child with special needs is not a form of discipline or punishment. Instead, God is saying, ‘I have a special job for you because your heart’s capacity to love and nurture us is above and beyond what is normal.’
Members of the Tiangco family never really imagined that they would be taking care of children with a severe disability. This thought would not have crossed our minds four to five years ago. Not only do we already have three children of our own. We are busy with our jobs and businesses. Yet, Yu-Chen’s presence in our lives has made us pause to ponder on what truly mattered to us as Christians. Unforeseen circumstances lead to the family’s life-changing decision to save a lost sheep. They did so as disciples of Jesus Christ. Yu-Chen’s presence empowered family members to grow in their capacity to love and nurture beyond what is normal despite her not being our own.
Furthermore, it is about medical specialists who challenge themselves in making full use of their talents and abilities to improve the quality of life of Yu-Chen and Xiao-Mei. It is about the TLHIC Team who are putting so much effort into making the organization function because they have faith in its mission and vision. It is about the donors and supporters who have grown in their capacity for generosity in spite of the current economic gloom brought about by COVID-19.
Whether we admit it or not, the presence of the lost sheep in our lives amplifies what is already in our hearts and souls. It can increase an attitude of apathy and indifference. On the other hand, it can strengthen our faith. We grow in faith in Christ when we see a promising future for the abandoned children with severe disabilities that may not be presently visible to everyone else’s eyes. We, Christians, are called to be faithful. We take a leap of faith to overcome whatever fear to show our capacity for selfless love and sacrifice. But why?t 1 John 4: 16-17 states:
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.