Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bow Down

I couldn't tell if the tiny hand gripping my finger tightly was that of a little boy or a girl. The hair on all of the children confined to the stainless steel beds is kept at a quarter of an inch.

The size of the child lying in the crib didn't really offer an indication of age either. There were children no more than 30 inches but already several years old. One way we were able to estimate was by the number and condition of their teeth.

*"Lesson One in the school of faith. That is, ...having to bow down before that which I could not possibly explain...."

Today was my first visit to the new multi-million dollar orphanage in Tai'an. The children moved in 18 months ago.

The new facility is phenomenal. Probably six stories tall with a center courtyard with a badminton net and ping pong tables. There are brightly painted murals on all the walls, and an array of umbrellas and silk flags hanging from the glass ceiling far above.

We called in advance to ask what was needed most that we could bring as a gift. Their answer - diapers. How can that be explained?

*...Usually, we need not bow. We can simply ignore the unexplainable because we have other things to occupy our minds...."

We arrived a few minutes late and were quickly escorted up the stairs where the older (and mostly able-bodied) children were waiting for their special guests. Our minds and theirs were occupied for over an hour with tricks, stories, games and of course the Chicken Dance!

We finished the program and took Polaroid photos with each of the kids. Then the assistant director took us to the "baby" rooms.

The older children share rooms and have joint bathrooms with the room next door. There is no comparing it to the old building. There is much more room, but there are many more

orphans.

The rooms are nicer, cleaner, bigger, more spacious and lovely. They house too many more broken, disfigured, and abandoned.

*"...We evade the questions...."
Tonight, after the performance for close to 150 medical students, I tried not to evade the questions. I answered honestly.

*"...Faith's most severe tests come not when we see nothing..."
I saw children crumpled in the corner of the crib come to life when I approached. I heard them laugh and giggle when I merely reached in between the bars and touched them through the layers of clothing they were swaddled in.

*...but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain...."
There were at least four babies with cleft palates. Disfigurements easily corrected. Older children with cerebral palsy that could have greater mobility if there were more accessible physical therapy.

*"...If God were God,..."
Did He really knit together a child without a nose, whose family would abandon her?

*"...if He were omnipotent, if He cared, would this have happened? "
I knelt beside more than eighty cribs today, stroking the face of each precious and treasured child. I understood "whatever you do for the least of these" in a deeper and more profound way. Our Savior, became by choice - an infant! How much more disabled could the Creator be?

Here I am in China to worship, here at an orphanage filled with too many broken and abandoned children I am to bow down, here I am saying that You're my God.

And sometimes at the end of the day the smiles left behind turn to tears,
Charlynn

*Quoted from "These Strange Ashes" by Elisabeth Elliott
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T