ICC’s 25th Anniversary Feature: Awaken to HOPE
Since my first volunteer trip with ICC 19 years ago, I have seen so much transformation, and so much hope grow in the hearts of the children and families we have served.
From Hopelessness to…
When I think of the hope brought through ICC, I reflect first on the hopelessness we initially encountered in the children we met and worked with. We all remember the darkened flat expressions, the lack of eye contact, and children who grabbed desperately at food or just refused to eat at all. In these children were the signs of hopelessness, children who barely held onto life and had ceased to know joy.
Though 25 years have passed and much has improved in China’s social welfare system, each year we still receive children into our care, some of whom arrive with a sense of hopelessness in their eyes. But as we surround them with family love and attention, we see them slowly awaken to hope and begin to live again, with joy. Such transformation has shown us the resilience of the human spirit.
ICC’s story is all about nurturing children and young people with love, and bringing them hope and opportunities to live life to the full. As the children have had their needs for belonging met, we have seen through them what hope and joy look like. If you have watched them dancing you may be able to picture what I am trying to describe. Some of them sing and dance freely and with flair, some sweep the floor with passion, all shining with hope each and every day!
A Life-changing Hope
One current story of hope and transformation is unfolding in the new Woodpecker family at the Hengyang Care Centre, which has two little boys that came into our care just two months ago. One of them is 4-year-old Qianqian. Only a couple of months ago Qianqian didn’t smile, didn’t walk and couldn’t stand to be touched. He didn’t know what to do with the toys in his new home. But Qianqian is now laughing and smiling with hope as never before, enjoying the company of the adults in his life.
Qianqian’s life is radically transformed by a stable family environment, daily “circle time” (a play therapy activity), patient caregivers who take the time to feed him at the slow pace he enjoys, and by two special and dedicated volunteers working in his family home. Beautiful Qianqian has hope that when he wakes each day he will have fun and have his needs met. This hope is changing his world.
Redeeming a Lost Pearl
We have seen so many lives like Qianqian’s transformed. I will never forget a child we cared for in 2011 and 2012 that transformed my faith in God to restore lives and bring hope. She came to us broken and malnourished, barely clinging to life. I confess to thinking she would not live, but we all took on the task of supporting the caregivers of this fragile little girl. Several months later, this tiny girl had started to come to life, and live with passion and quite a bit of spunk.
Seeing Pearl’s transformation at that time, and learning the power of God’s love and hope, the verse that God revealed to me was from Ephesians 3:20:
Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. (The Passion Translation)
God’s love and hope is demonstrated in ICC through the transformation and healing of children, energising them through his spirit, and bringing them to life. And in doing this work He shows us His love, His goodness and His faithfulness, and transforms us as well. To Him be the Glory!
The Deep Roots of Love
Recently, I had the wonderful pleasure of travelling to the United States to attend a reunion of children who had been adopted from ICC’s care. It was such a hope-filled and encouraging time to see the children blossoming in their forever families. ICC has cared for 290 children that are now adopted across the world. Many of them are with their families because of the advocacy of ICC, and they are healthier and happier because of the hope and nourishment given to them, often from infancy, by the ICC family in China before their adoptions. To share with each child at the reunion that they were known and loved before they joined their adoptive families was precious to them.
Hopes in the Little Things in Life
After the reunion I returned to our projects in China. There I saw our children and young people in Hengyang enjoying life, having fun in the swimming pool each day, going off to their special education classes, learning how to cook dinner, being treated for sickness in the clinic, and playing with their caregivers and the visiting Short Term Team. So much hope is being expressed in simple everyday activities that give life.
At the same time in Changsha, young people were having summer fun through different activities. Families raising children with disabilities have been receiving services through our Family Partners Programme (formerly Community Outreach Project), and had the opportunity to go on summer camp. These families gained strength and support in the camp and heard a message of hope in the midst of what is often a difficult and challenging path raising a child with special needs.
Journey on in Faith
As we walk through our 25th anniversary year, we in ICC are looking forward and dreaming new dreams for the future. It is our desire to bring hope and transformation to many more lives, both children with disabilities that are abandoned and families struggling to raise children with disabilities. The challenges we face have never been small, but we will continue to walk with God in faith and obedience, trusting that He will do immeasurably more than we could hope for or dream of.