I've grown up in the church hearing about being an ambassador for Christ. I've read 2 Corinthians 5:20 and Ephesians 6:20. I thought I knew what it meant.
I've traveled internationally before – Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Vienna, even China three times before. I never wanted to be “The Ugly American” I read in high school English class. I've always attempted to represent my country well as I traveled and represent Christ every day.
I learned important lessons from my college sociology professor, even through I didn't fully recognize or appreciate them or him at the time. Preparing for this trip to China, our team discussed eating and drinking whatever you are served. The universal language of breaking bread (or eating rice) together. My entire team joyfully leaped into the experience of Chinese culture and traditions. (Well, almost too joyfully the night we were asked to either stop laughing or leave a restaurant in Beijing.) We earned great respect from our hosts simply by refusing forks and knives at meals and eating with chopsticks, even if our skill level was elementary and amusing.
None of this prepared me for the shocking moment in the van/converted ambulance as we were driven from the airport to our hotel with one of the assistant directors from the orphanage when she asked, “Why Americans prefer girls and do not want boys?“
Feebly I attempted to explain through our guide Della that Americans do not have a preference for girls over boys. Unfortunately, most Americans associate adoption from China with girls and do not even know that there are boys available and needing families and homes. Stumbling for words and repeating at times the lack of knowledge, our team together emphasized that part of our efforts in coming to China to visit with the staff and children was to bring back home this message…
There are many children in China waiting for the love, care, and nurture of a family and a home, both girls and BOYS. The orphanage we visited services primarily children with some form of special need. Most of the older children we spent our days with were boys. Boys with cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome, heart conditions, cleft lip or palate, slow learners with some form of developmental delay. Many had already received life changing surgeries so we puzzled over what their disabling conditions could possibly be. They were all just children! Full of love and laughter. Curious and playful.
I'd like to introduce you to some of my friends…