Catholic Orphanage of Daming
China's Poorest Orphanage
The events that led to Harmony supporting the Catholic orphanage of DaMing began in 2006, in Arlington, Texas. How on earth did Harmony end up supporting one of the poorest orphanages in China—and a Catholic orphanage at that?! Well, it is a cool story….
I was back in the US attending a large Baptist church, and trying to stand up Harmony Outreach as a new missionary organization. I had been called to a meeting with Lonnie Diggs, the administrator for this mega-church, and a wonderful Christian man. He had been trying to help me get Harmony started, but Baptist churches are often run by committees. Even though Lonnie was on the senior leadership team, he could not simply declare that the church would financially support Harmony’s start-up.
It was almost time for my family to return to China and the money we needed had not come in. When Lonnie asked me what I was going to do, I answered, “Bro, I’m going to get on the plane.” I explained that if I waited until I had the money I needed, I would never leave Texas. Instead I was going to go in faith trusting the One who provided manna in the desert, and streams of water from a rock, for the Israelites.
Lonnie shook his head and said, “Wow. We have lost something of that spirit amongst the churches in the US.”
I walked out of the building, got in my car and began backing out when my cell phone rang. It was my friend Larry calling to say that he had procured 18 suitcases for my large family to pack all our belongings for the flight to Beijing. At that moment, Lonnie came running out of the door of the church’s offices waving at me.
I told Larry, “Hold on a minute, bro,” set the phone on my knee and pushed the power-down button on the passenger window.
Lonnie leaned in and said, “John, I know God is leading you and I am going to pray. I know the Lord will come through with everything you need.” I thanked him and said goodbye and then picked up the cell phone, apologizing to Larry. But Larry overheard our short exchange and asked, “John, how much money do you need?”
I told him, “Don’t worry about that. That was just me talking to Lonnie.”
But Larry persisted, “How much money do you need?”
I said, “Larry, we don’t even have enough to purchase one-way tickets to China.” When he asked how much I needed for the tickets, I said $5,000. Thirty minutes later, Larry showed up with 18 suitcases and a check for $5,000!
Shortly after arriving in China we received our first 5 special needs orphans. Between the orphans and their medical care + staff expenses, it took every drop of my personal support to cover these needs. There was nothing left over for my family.
And then, something beautiful began to happen. We received an email from a wealthy Jewish woman from California saying that she and her husband wanted to give $3,000 a month for 6 months to give Harmony a chance to get on its feet. Then I was contacted by a Buddhist charity in Beijing which had heard about our need and wanted to help. They donated furniture and air conditioning units. Next, Father Tom the Catholic priest for the Westerners in Beijing contacted me to say they had had a vote at his parish about where the church would send their mission tithe. The vote was unanimous. Everyone wanted it to go to Harmony Outreach. He showed up a few days later with a thick wad of money.
And so, just as I had told Lonnie some months before, being found “in the desert place by faith,” we were receiving manna from heaven—literally coming out-of-the-blue. And just as rocks don’t normally issue forth water, neither do Jewish people, Buddhists and Catholics normally support evangelical Christian missionaries. God was miraculously meeting our needs albeit from the most unlikely of sources!
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Now faith is the assurance of what is hoped and the certainty of what is not yet seen. (Heb 10:35 – 11:1)
The end of the story is that I was so blessed and amazed that Catholics would support Harmony in our time of need that I wanted to return the blessing. Sometime later, we learned about a desperately poor Chinese Catholic orphanage in the city of DaMing. The Chinese government does not allow Chinese Catholics to be supported by foreign Catholics, so the sweet nuns caring for these orphans were doing so despite their own poverty. The conditions at their orphanage were truly depressing.
Over the next years Harmony became a consistent source of blessing, funding numerous projects to help the nuns and the orphans in their care. I can’t remember everything we did for them but do remember paying for their winter fuel on multiple occasions, replacing their heating system, upgrading their windows to keep the cold out, installing a water purification system and several other projects. It was such a joy for us to return a blessing to our Catholic friends who had helped us in our own time of need.