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Back To Serve

The Arrows Go Public

The Arrows Go Public

When I was being prayed for at a conference in 2016, there was the image of a quiver of arrows at my side. I shot each arrow in a different direction. Then I collected all those arrows and shot them, all together, in one direction. I immediately knew what that meant.

I believed God was telling me to contact our adopted children and ask them to return to Qinghai and serve in our Children's Homes. That was the beginning of our Back to Serve programme.

Four girls expressed interests in returning to Qinghai, and two of them, Abigail and Bingjie, joined us for the programme.

Last December these inspiring young women shared their stories and answered questions from our CA colleagues. At the end of a time of prayer, my husband Marlon saw these girls each wearing a full suit of armour. "You are spiritual warriors!" he said to them.

After the girls' returned to the US, they were interviewed by Public Radio International, one of the larger US-based radio companies. The piece was featured on a segment called "Across Women's Lives", in which the girls shared their stories. Take a minute to listen and read here.

Abigail and Bingjie faithfully responded to God's call on their lives, going on an emotional, healing journey to reconnect with the people they grew up with and love. Pray with me that there will be many more ‘arrows' going out and returning to help serve and build bridges.

-Siew Mei Cheung
Christian Action Executive Director

Abigail Anderson - Back to Serve Reflection

Abigail Anderson - Back to Serve Reflection

In September of 2016, Mrs. Cheung-Ang Siew Mei, Executive Director of Christian Action, contacted my family and asked if I would be interested in joining a pilot program called “Back to Serve” that God had put on her mind; inviting former adoptees to return to Qinghai and serve for six months. Bingjie Turner and I answered her call, and we arrived in Hong Kong early last year on April 29th to begin our one-month orientation and training, to be better equipped to provide the orphans of Qinghai the care they deserve and need.

“Back to Serve” has been an emotional and self-healing journey for me since from a young age I learned to keep all my feelings to myself because I had no one to talk to about them. It was an emotional journey because it meant that I had to come face to face with my past, the past that I had buried so long ago. It meant that I had to relive all those memories, the good and the bad.  During this entire journey, sharing my story with other people has been the most difficult part for me.  During my first sharing in a public gathering, I started to cry even before I began sharing. In the end though, it turned out to be a good thing, as my crying during the presentation left a huge impression on the audience.

When I started this journey, I thought that service at Qinghai would be easy breeze for me; I would reconnect with old friends, meet new friends, brush up on my Chinese heritage and just enjoy my time there. I was not prepared for the emotional roller-coaster that followed.  At first, I was very excited to meet up with all my old friends, especially my foster grandmother and the young adults that live at the Bridging Program. But I broke down completely when I met my foster grandmother for the first time, as I was shocked to see how her health had deteriorated over the past ten years.  In fact, I was so scared and sad to see her in that condition that I did not go back to see her again for several months to emotionally prepare myself before I saw her again.

When I met the young adults for the first time, they could not believe their eyes that I was physically there and were super excited to hear that I was going to spend the next six months with them doing volunteer service.  Due to my petite size and my love of art, they placed me at the Special Education Department in the Xi Ning Children’s Home (XNCH) and the Social Welfare Institute (SWI).

At the Social Welfare Institute, I really connected well with the young adults. In the beginning, we just talked and tried to reconnect. As time passed, they opened up more and shared some of their more personal stories with me; some of their stories just broke my heart. It was difficult for me to leave them again, knowing how much work needed to be done, even though I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything during my stay. I suppose my being there physically gave them some comfort. 

The more time I spent at the Social Welfare Institute and Xi Ning Children’s Home, the harder it got for me. I was constantly retelling my personal story to strangers in order to promote and advocate for the children at the children’s home. Everywhere I walked, I recalled roads that I used to walk on with my two foster grandmothers during my childhood.  The memories of their unconditional love and devotion they showed me brought me to tears every time I thought about them. 

At the children’s home, there were memories both happy and sad, especially the sad memories that I had buried so long ago. It was very difficult for me to reopen those old wounds after all these years. My greatest takeaway from this trip is that I ended my journey with a lighter heart than when I first began, having summoned the courage to come face to face with my past, and coming to terms with it by sharing my story with other people.

After my time at the Social Welfare Institute with the young adults at the Bridging Program and the children at the Xi Ning Children’s Home, I am more determined than ever to lend a hand to those in need. Despite all the emotional baggage that I encountered on this journey, it was a wonderful experience.  It was a truly self-rewarding feeling to be doing something good for those in need.  This trip gave me the opportunity to reconnect with my Chinese heritage, my foster grandmother, old friends and connect with new friends along the way. Most of all, it was an unforgettable experience, and a constant reminder of how blessed I am with the life I have right now.

Back to Serve — October Update

Back to Serve — October Update

Since 2001, over 200 children have been internationally adopted from the Xining Children’s Home (XNCH) which Christian Action co-manages with the Chinese government in Qinghai Province. Many of the children who were adopted overseas are now adults. We continue to keep in touch with these adoptive families and have heard that many adoptees still miss their friends at XNCH – the first home they ever knew. In response to this, Christian Action began working to arrange a reunion of these friends with their loved ones in Qinghai.

About fifteen months ago, Christian Action Executive Director, Mrs. Cheung-Ang Siew Mei, was in touch with those who were adopted from Xining Children’s Home through the years.

Siew Mei’s request of those she contacted was that they would prayerfully consider coming back to Xining to become re-acquainted with their culture of origin, re-establish contact with the people living at XNCH and serve the children of the group homes nurtured by CA staff. This request aligned perfectly with some who were longing for re-connection with the Xining Children’s Home, as well as the Xining Social Welfare Institute (XNSWI) “Bridging Program” where those who are eighteen and over now reside.

Our first two “Returnees” are Abigail Wrynn Hu Yang Anderson and Liu Bingjie Turner (both are now 27), who were adopted by U.S. families in 2003 and returned this year to serve six months (from June through November) in Xining. Abigail and Bingjie came to Hong Kong in May to spend one month at Christian Action Headquarters for an introduction and orientation time.

Since June, Bingjie and Abigail have been doing great things in Qinghai: Helping to develop short-term programs, leading activities for children and youth, assisting with the training of local child welfare workers who serve at the five children’s homes Christian Action co-manages throughout Qinghai Province, helping short-term volunteer teams gain traction in their areas of service and providing tours for “Vision Trip” guests seeking to know how they can best support CA’s calling to rescue and serve the Kids of Qinghai.

After fourteen years in the U.S. Bingjie and Abigail both speak English and Mandarin so fluently that they are able to simultaneously translate from Mandarin to English and vice versa. Their amazing language skills have been an immense help in all the areas they have been asked to serve.

Along the way, Abigail and Bingjie have also had the great joy of spending time with many of their friends who lived in the Xining Children’s Home before they were adopted. The times they have spent interacting with their long-time friends and children’s home family members have been precious, resulting in mutual encouragement and affirmation.

All of us at Christian Action are so grateful for their sacrificial hearts of love for the children, youth and staff they have been serving. Bingjie and Abigail have enriched the lives of so many in such a short time!

Meanwhile, CA is looking to place four returnees in Qinghai in 2018. Like Bingjie and Abigail, they will receive an introduction to Christian Action and training in Hong Kong for one month, followed by service with CA in Qinghai for six months.

The budget for this program is $50,000; $12,500 per person. This includes international, regional and local travel, accommodations, food, orientation, training, debriefing and administrative costs.

The “Back to Serve” program is a vital and vibrant one because those who are returning to serve, like Abigail and Bingjie, will have a background, experience, knowledge and love which is unique to them. They will bring a depth of understanding and a great passion for the well-being of the children and youth CA is helping to rescue, nurture and empower. In addition, on the receiving end of things, they will be warmly welcomed and loved as brothers and sisters.

The “Back to Serve” Program is also extremely valuable to the participants, as it will help to bring greater context and insight to their life journey. In the future, Abigail and Bingjie will share their reflections with us about their time in Qinghai.

We would be very grateful for your support and partnership in this important program!