On August 7, 2019, the hottest day of the summer season, two colleagues and I came to the Lost Sheep Home in Q City and met the four elderly people who were being cared for by five workers.
The work of the Home (also known as the "House of Love") began in September 2011 and was first set up by a Christian volunteer who had met Mr. Guan. Mr. Guan had been lying on the side of the road suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis.
As the story was recalled, a Christian volunteer was walking on the street one day and saw Mr. Guan lying on a trolley. Seeing him pale and skinny and being seriously deformed, the volunteer could not help feeling pity for him. Upon asking of his situation, the volunteer learned that Mr. Guan, at that time 54, had been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis since childhood. His legs could not be straightened, his right arm could not bend, his neck was too stiff to turn, and only his left hand could barely move normally.
Guan had previously been living with his mother. And no matter how difficult things got for the family, his mother never gave up on him. At that time, he also had a brother and sister. However, after his mother died, they regarded him as a nuisance and were unwilling to help him. Since he could not take care of himself, he chose to wander the streets.
After learning about Mr. Guan, several Christian volunteers discussed how to help him. They rented a small house far from the city centre where they took care of him. This was the initial location of the shelter.
Since then, the number of those at the Home has gradually increased. All the volunteers involved in serving there are Christians because, in their view, "indifference is the greatest sin".
The current director of the Home in Q City, Ms. Sha, has said that the Home is for people who are homeless, those without children cannot take care of themselves and cannot afford the nursing home, those who are blind, and those with serious physical deformities who cannot walk upright. Some have mental abnormalities, some are mentally handicapped, and some have some form of paralysis.
Q City's Home moved out of Z City in 2018. It started up in another city and ran for about a year. Due to the high rent, its less favourable geographic location and other reasons, on June 30 of this year the Home moved to the suburbs, far away from the city. This is now its present location.
As Ms. Sha has explained, the Home in Q City now mainly takes care of four elderly people.
One of them is Brother Li. The TV station reported that because of a stroke and cerebral atrophy, Brother Li's mind is not clear and he has forgotten most of the things in the past. Although he was middle aged, he could not take care of himself and often got confused. Brother Li used his own dark little room for eating and for going to the toilet. "Now he's in a much better state of mind," said Ms. Sha. "And he very much loves reading the Bible, sleeping with it in his arms every day."
The other three in the Home are from one family. Big Miao and Little Miao are two brothers who are blind. And their 90-year-old mother was also sent to the Home to be taken care of.
Little Miao was formerly in the Home in Z City. Because Q City is closer to his hometown, he came there along with his blind older brother and 90-year-old mother.
Since coming to the Home, Little Miao's mental state has gotten better day by day. Although he is still blind and cannot see, it does not affect his daily life, "Brother Li and I help each other." Little Miao's brother is very experienced and says: "I can't see, so he leads me. He can't walk steadily, so he holds my arm. Very often we visit the basketball court. The way we help each other is very good."
When it comes to serving, Ms. Sha also has much to say. She always says that she and the volunteers have not done anything, God is doing everything. In fact, there are really too many people in need of help. However, at present, the Q City Home only temporarily takes in four people in need of care because there are not enough staff. There are now two full-time staff, and the three others can only serve part-time because of family concerns.
"We also grow our own food to be self-sufficient. Here, everything is for everyone," said Ms. Sha with a smile. "We lack nothing because God provides for us. We hope to be able to give our strength to help those in need. To serve others is to serve Jesus Christ."
- Translated by Charlie Li