Harmony House Orphan Home
Transforming the Lives of China's Orphans
The cornerstone of our work in China was Harmony House orphan home in Hebei province, in the city of Langfang. It was here that special needs orphans from all over China began a life-transformational journey through our Three Steps to Hope (Foster Care, Surgery and Adoption) program. Our goal was to step into the shoes of their missing parents and come to their rescue in Jesus’ name - to take their problems and make them our problems. In a country with a One Child Policy, many of our children were abandoned because they were born with special needs or because they were female. These children faced a life growing up in a state institution without the love and help of family. Government can provide for basic physical necessities but government cannot love. In each case we were able to transform their lives from stories of abandonment and despair into beautiful stories of redemption and love.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing… (Psalm 68:4-6)
In total, 130 Harmony orphans found their Forever Families when their God-appointed parents traveled across the world to bring them home!
Kaifeng Deaf School
She prayed for Holy Fire from Heaven. And God sent Harmony.
In Henan province, in the city of Kaifeng, we discovered a group of young deaf children who were being cared for at an abandoned factory compound, in conditions little better than a cave. Amongst rusted out industrial equipment and broken windows, the children were trying to grow the food they needed to eat. The leader of the Kaifeng Deaf School was a new believer who had read in her Bible that God cares about orphans and the vulnerable. Excited to discover this, she began praying for “Holy Fire from Heaven” to help her. Shortly thereafter, God brought this situation to our attention and confirmed that it was His will that Harmony help the children and staff of KDS. For nearly 10 years Harmony provided financial and material support to the orphans and staff of KDS. In addition to significant monthly support, we relocated the school, funded a brand-new van, new furniture, a clean water filtration system, solar panels, playground equipment and hearing aids for the children. Stories of our work at KDS have been featured in Max Lucado’s books Fearless and You Changed My Life.
Qinghai Province Outreach
Healing Broken Hearts in Jesus' Name
In Western China’s Qinghai province, on the Tibetan plateau, Harmony Outreach began a relationship with China Association of Social Work to provide hope, love and medical care to poor and minority group families. One of our biggest outreaches was our heart surgery project for children who suffered from complex heart problems. Harmony funded dozens of surgeries to help these children—and a few adults.
I vividly remember being in a crowded room with scores of families whose children were struggling with the effects of heart disease. They came believing that, as the leader of an American Non-Government Organization, I had significant financial resources which could save their child. I candidly confessed that Harmony was little more than my family’s own private ministry and we had zero financial resources—but I served a God who had all the resources of the universe. I explained that I served Jesus Christ who cared about them – but that we needed to call out to Him and ask for His power and provision for their hurting children.
And then a beautiful thing happened. For the first time in their lives, Buddhists, Muslims and communists took hands and joined me in praying to Jesus that He would look down upon this situation, that He would take note of our poverty and inability, and that He would supply what was needed to help these children—His strength flowing through our weakness.
He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10)
Over the course of the next year, God began to supply what we needed to fund surgery after surgery. This project became almost too successful, in that so many of our supporters were donating to help the heart children that we were not getting enough to keep Harmony itself afloat. That was a learning experience, but in the end it turned out all right. I will never forget this beautiful time of ministry.
For most Asians who have never heard about Jesus—they need to “see” Christianity before they can “hear” about it. Often faith comes only after they have personally experienced selfless love.
DaTong Underground Seminary
two hours after I left, the police raided the seminary
The DaTong undergound seminary in Shanxi province was an example of Harmony China fulfilling the other arm of our mission statement—Spreading the Knowledge of Jesus. The underground church in China is vibrant and has been responsible for the greatest expansion of the Kingdom of God since the establishment of the church. But China’s underground church, as an indigenous movement, is usually poor. Harmony chose to partner with our brothers in the underground church – providing what they lacked which was quality teaching materials and financial support.
I will never forget one of my early trips to the underground seminary in Datong. The leaders smuggled me in with great care. I had to duck down in the car as we approached the area so that no one could see and report to the police, a foreigner arriving at this suspected Christian location. When the car stopped, I kept my head down and remained still until they gave me the all clear to jump out of the car and run into the compound.
It was an awesome and humbling experience meeting these Chinese young people who were dedicating their lives, and going through this training, to spread the Kingdom in China and to other countries. Two hours after I departed and as I was boarding my flight back to Beijing, the seminary was raided by the Public Security Bureau. Thank God they did not find an American there as that would have been bad for them—and for me.
Brother Han, one of the founders of the school, supported the seminary and his family by working in the coal mines of Shanxi province. I visited his home on multiple occasions. Three generations of family were living in this shelter-home the size of a one-car garage. Walls were sagging and plastic sheeting helped insulate from weather.
We were so moved by this that we raised money to buy him a brand new, modern apartment. My next trip to Shanxi we scheduled a meeting near the train station. Brother Han had no clue what we were up to when I reached into our bag and handed him $20,000 – the amount needed to purchase his family’s new apartment. That… was a cool moment and very much an example of what Jesus described as living “abundant life in Christ.” (John 10:10)
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.
Dingbian Orphanage for Teens
A plea for help in time of need. Thirty minutes later God sent Harmony.
In 2008, I was in Sichuan province working on water well projects. I needed information on pumps, so I called my friend Mike and asked for advice. During that conversation, I mentioned that we were on the lookout for Chinese Christian-run orphanages that needed help.
Mike was amazed. Just 30 minutes earlier, he had received a frantic call from brother Zheng, a Christian businessman who operates an orphanage in the city of Dingbian. He called asking Mike for help, saying they had an electrical fire that damaged the orphanage and destroyed clothing, beds and appliances. Mike didn’t know how he could help but said he would pray. And then, just 30 minutes later, I called!
Mr. Zheng had a heart for orphans, and he and his wife would take them in and raise them as their own. At the time of our first contact he had 36, mostly teenage, orphans in his care. Because he was supporting them out of his own resources, the conditions were spartan. One bunk bed was used by four teenagers—each having their head on opposite ends. Can you imagine sleeping every night with someone’s feet in your face?
Shortly thereafter, I traveled to Dingbian to meet Mr. Zheng, see his work and meet the children. Near the Gobi desert, Dingbian is located in a bleak landscape, but the experience meeting Mr. Zheng and the kids caused it to be a beautiful experience. I asked him to prepare a “wish list” of all the items they needed to replace because of the fire. We ran an article about the Dingbian orphanage fire in our Christmas 2008 newsletter. Shortly thereafter we received a large donation. It was enough to meet every need on that wish list—new appliances, clothing for 32 orphans, new bedding, 8 new bunk beds and school supplies—with enough left over to buy the kids, just in time for Christmas, a big new TV! Harmony continued to support the Dingbian orphanage for years, providing monthly support and funding special projects.
Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit. (Luke 6:43-44) The fruit of our work in China from 2006-2018 is as follows:
- 130 Orphans found their Forever Families.
- 172 surgeries performed.
- Dozens of nonbelievers came to faith in Christ.
- Jesus was glorified and His Kingdom expanded through numerous other projects Spreading the Knowledge of Jesus and Helping the Vulnerable.
PRAISE THE LORD!