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FIRST-PERSON Christmas gift of new life makes their family complete

ATLANTA (BP)–As my wife and I step out of the old taxicab, a water buffalo walks by a few feet away, pulling a load of sugarcane to market. A bicycle loaded with bananas makes its way through an intersection that is crowded one minute and deserted moments later.
It is rush hour in SuXu, and we have only moments to snap a few photos before our presence will draw a crowd of curious onlookers. Americans — or any light-complexion foreigners, for that matter — are a rarity in this rural part of the People’s Republic of China.
We wish we had all day to capture the sights and sounds of this strange place nearly 8,000 miles from Atlanta. But on this balmy Nov. 25 — two days before Thanksgiving and one month before Christmas — Jan and I know our lives suddenly will never be the same again, after working 11 months toward this moment.
Around midnight on this street corner almost 20 months ago, our family history was made. It is the site where our newly adopted Chinese daughter, then six weeks old, was abandoned to be found by any passerby as the sun began to rise.
Most of us take our origins for granted, easily tracing our birth to a specific location. But that’s not the way it is for many of the world’s abandoned children who end up in orphanages from Beijing to Calcutta.
We will never know the exact details of our daughter’s earliest days, but we have a pretty good picture, gratis of government officials in this farming community. The usual scenario has a woman leaving her newborn daughter, wrapped in swaddling clothes to ward off the night chill, in a small cardboard box at this otherwise insignificant intersection. More than likely, this mother hid in the shadows the entire night until a modern-day Good Samaritan saw this piece of her life and notified authorities. Before long, this baby, as anonymous dozens before her, was catalogued and on her way to the Nanning State Orphanage, 20 miles to the north.
Now here we stand on this corner in front of the rice store where she was found. Yuan Su Fen, our daughter for barely 24 hours, sits patiently in the back of the cab, wondering why we are here and who are these adults she is suddenly spending all her time with. There will be plenty of time to explain that later, when we tell her about this corner and the burden of an emerging nation of 1.5 billion people with not enough food for each hungry mouth. And how she was chosen to be our daughter from among the 400 waiting infants surrounding her.
We will tell her the story of Charlotte Diggs “Lottie” Moon, her namesake, and about this courageous Southern Baptist woman who came to give the Bread of Life to her people nearly 100 years ago. And how this woman, in turn, gave her daily bread — and ultimately her life through starvation — so the Chinese could know the Father’s love more fully.
This Christmas, as we celebrate God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ, Jan and I thank him for his gift of Charlotte Su Westbury. She has made our family complete, as he has made us complete.

    About the Author

  • Joe Westbury