Dust and Ash Heaps
by Sister Yan and Sister Zhong, All Girls Allowed Field Workers
Holding our noses with one hand and fighting off flies with another, we made our way through what might be the worst place to visit on a scorching hot day in June.
Despite being loaded with trash, the landfill still felt strangely barren. There were no signs of life, none other than those dreadful flies which hovered like ominous dark clouds over a vast ocean of broken bottles, old newspapers, and rotten food. We had been led here by the Holy Spirit, but soon we began to wonder if our day could be better spent.
That was when we saw Mrs. Wu.
As we stepped closer to her, we noticed that she was not alone. Amidst the piles of garbage were several other women and children, who fled in all directions upon our arrival. Taking a closer look at Wu, we realized that the Holy Spirit had made no mistake for bringing us here: she was pregnant.
After repeatedly assuring Wu that we meant no harm, we were invited into her house. For one to call it a house was in fact a complete exaggeration—it was a squalid wooden shack with no furniture except one bed. What was more shocking than such a sight? The fact that this 100-square-foot-or-less space was occupied by Wu and 6 others members of her family. Mrs. Yang and Mrs. Luo, who were also pregnant, lived next door to Wu in an equally run-down and cramped environment.
“We thought you were one of them,” Yang and Luo explained their frightened response to our initial appearance.
These women were about to have their second or third children even though they were only allowed one. Violators of China’s One-Child Policy are at the mercy of Family Planning Officials, who would often pay sudden visits to such households with threats of fines, or worse. Under intense pressure, many mothers would choose to abort their babies.
The three ladies sat in silence as we introduced the Baby Shower Program, bowing their heads to avoid eye contact with us. We never asked them why, but it was clear that low self-esteem was the reason.
Wu, Yang, and Luo are a grim representation of the marginalized class in urban China. They had moved to the city from the remote countryside, where low crop yields and scarce employment opportunities make it hard to earn a living. Yet with no educational background, the families could not gain a foothold in our local job market. Eventually, they settled down in this landfill on the outskirts of town, trying to make ends meet by collecting and selling scrap metal, worn shoes, and anything that may be worth a penny or two. Their social status had created such a strong sense of inferiority in them that they decided to cut off all communication with the city dwellers.
“I wish I could cook a few dishes for you today,” Wu told us embarrassingly. “But we hardly have any food in our house.”
Before our departure that day, we asked if we could take a picture of them for our records.
“Please don’t,” Luo insisted. “We are too dirty.”
Thus was the beginning of our monthly visits to the landfill. Besides offering stipends to support the mothers, we also shared the Gospel and the Choose Life Message with them. Little by little, the walls of distrust surrounding these women crumbled before our eyes.
“These workers have come to help us,” Luo told Yang. “Why should we be afraid?”
Having cast their fear aside, the two women finally gave us permission to photograph them:
As you can see, life isn’t easy for Luo (left) and Yang (right). The hut behind them is where they eat, sleep, and raise their children every day. The sacks in the foreground contain their lifelines—plastic shoes which were to be sold to scrap collectors for a day’s worth of food.
We would like to give special thanks to the women in Grace Chapel’s Joy Bible Study, who organized an event on May 5, 2015 to gather baby shower gifts for the mothers in our Program. Some of these gifts, including baby clothes and greeting cards (which have been translated into Chinese), were delivered into the hands of Luo and Yang, as shown in the picture above. They were so surprised and overjoyed to receive such lovely presents from thousands of miles away!
Today, the once unpleasant journey through the landfill has become an exciting adventure for us. As we continue to serve and minister to the mothers in this dumping ground, we begin to see their hearts opening to the love of Christ.
“Thank you for telling us about Jesus,” Wu said. “He is so good to us!”
Yes He is. The world might have forgotten about Wu, Luo, and Yang, but our Lord has not. These women might be seen as poor and dirty by society, but they are precious and beautiful in the eyes of our Lord. To the billions of people around the globe, the landfill is simply a land filled with dust and ash heaps, but to our Lord, it is a place where stories of redemption unfold.
“He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap.”
Would you consider helping us bring the love of Christ to the unvisited corners of China? Donate to the Baby Shower Program now! 100% of your gift goes to China to bring life, value, and dignity to girls and mothers who are affected by gendercide.
Cover Image: Wallpoper.com
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