Greg and Cathy Crowell made a radical decision in 2004, at that time, they were “empty nesters”, in their 50s, and had four adult children. With a love for China and its people, the Canadian Christian couple picked up everything and moved to China, hoping to make an impact for good.
Greg did some English teaching work, and Cathy went along to help them. The couple who gather in a Lutheran church just did whatever they could as volunteer. Cathy mentioned that when a village was on fire, children lost their stuff, and she tried to arrange to get little backpacks with school supplies and things for them.
They wanted to do some humanitarian work in China, and Cathy’s heart was especially on young’s girls’ education. But God had a different plan for them, and their lives were totally changed in May 2007.
On May 29, they saw that little girl (they named her Hosanna) for the first time, and she was approximately 13 months old. Cathy received a phone call from her friend who was involved in orphan care and was asked to take care of a dying girl until she passed away. They took Hosanna to the hospital, and the doctor did a blood transfusion for her. Cathy was amazed by how Hosanna responded, “Her little body was literally infused with life!”
With the help of doctors in Canada and China, they knew that the little girl who was born with Beta Thalassemia Major needed regular blood transfusions to survive. Since then, caring for Hosanna became their primary focus.
They started to help her as her foster parents in China. In late 2009 they officially adopted her and took her back to Canada in 2010. Cathy said that they cared too much about her to leave her and just go back to Canada. “As a Christian, I know that God has adopted me into his family through Jesus. I have done nothing to deserve it, and it’s only his goodness and kindness...I was desperate and God rescued me. For most Christian families (who want to adopt children), they think they were rescued and they should be willing to do that kind of kindness to a child who needs to be rescued,” she said.
For every 2-3 weeks, Hosanna needs to do a blood transfusion. Cathy got to know from the doctor that Hosanna could be cured if she could receive a bone-marrow transplant from a matched sibling. It was hardly possible to find Hosanna’s biological family in such a big country as China, but Cathy kept praying and believed that God knows if her biological parents were still alive and if they had other children.
In 2017, she wrote an open letter to Hosanna’s biological family in China. Bowen Zhang, Mandarin anchor for OMNI television news, and his friend Wensheng Luan, a writer in Beijing came to help her. Luan shared Hosanna’s story with Cathy’s latter in his Weibo account on March 8, 2017. That post went viral on Weibo in China, receiving reposts by many media outlets and winning many responses. Local government officials in Guizhou also joined to help—they printed out over 50,000 posters with Hosanna’s picture and her information when she was a baby and tried to send these posters to every village and every school, let the students show their parents.
Several months later, Hosanna’s biological father contacted Luan through Weibo and as a result was connected with Cathy. The miracle happened that DNA tests confirmed a match, and one of Hosanna’s two siblings was also confirmed to be a bone-marrow match for Hosanna. Last summer, Hosanna’s biological father and her sibling were able to come to Canada and the bone-narrow transplant was successfully completed.
Because of her own experience, Cathy’s heart is with adoptive families always. Due to COVID-19, China shut down the foreign adoption program in early 2020 and has not resumed finalizing adoptions.
Recently, Cathy was listening to a woman's sharing, knowing her pains and struggles. This woman is an adoptive mother, and she only needs to do the last step--to pick up the child in China--to complete the adoption. But because of COVID-19, she cannot come to China and suffers from the long wait. Knowing her situation, Cathy's heart is broken.
Later, Cathy learned of other families facing similar situations, and she really wanted to do something for them. She thought about prayer. She organized a prayer meeting through zoom and put the information on the internet—many people responded and joined the virtual prayer group.
Cathy told China Christian Daily, “In the prayer meeting, some mothers are crying and saying, God, we need you to move the mountain, to make a way for us to get to China to receive these children into our lives, for the children to have forever families.”
Cathy absolutely believes that “...nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). She saw her daughter Hosanna receive a miracle of healing and a new life. Cathy prays that children in China that are waiting for their forever families will soon see a miracle too, a new life with their forever families.