Hope for the Future
Something was wrong. I could tell just by looking at her. She was bringing her baby for me to see, but where was that glow of pride and happiness that new mothers always have when displaying their newborns? She looked sad, tired, and ill. Her shoulders slumped in discouragement.
We had heard of the birth of the baby boy to the couple in Long Hkoad. They had wanted a girl, since their daughter had died of leukemia about a year ago. Their only other child, a boy, is about six years old. But surely her expression couldn’t be explained by disappointment in the baby’s gender.
“How are you feeling?” I asked through our interpreter, Lek. Maybe she was ill or anemic or suffering from postpartum depression.
“She is fine,” Lek relayed her answer to me. “But the baby has a problem with his brain.”
The doctor had told them that the baby has Down syndrome.
“It’s your fault because you are too old to be having a baby,” the doctor had told them.
I had so much to tell her. I wanted her to know that Down syndrome is not a curse from God and it certainly wasn’t her “fault.” God doesn’t make mistakes. He designed this child for His purpose.
“Children with Down syndrome are special children,” I told her. “They are loving and happy and can learn and accomplish things.”
But the words stuck in my throat. Children with Down syndrome in America can learn and accomplish things with early intervention. There will be no intervention for this child, early or otherwise. This mother has no resources. There are no government programs for preschoolers and no special education classes in the schools. With limited access to medical care, the child might not survive the health issues that frequently go along with Down syndrome.
How I long to see the situation change for the hill tribes people! The Gospel is the one thing that will truly make a difference for them. Paul is training the preachers and making a difference there. We visit villages and he preaches in the churches, but by teaching 30 to 40 men each month he can multiply that ministry. Preachers are being taught sound doctrine and relaying it in their churches in countries where we aren’t even allowed to go.
Education comes second. If we can help educate the hill tribes children who have no access to school, we can make a difference. We hope to raise up doctors and lawyers and teachers to help their people.
Please pray for us as, Lord willing, we start the first step in our plan in May of this year. We will begin by teaching our six kids in English, using the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum. They will go to Thai informal school one day a week for their Thai education, satisfying the requirements of the Thai government.
When we are able to buy property, we can move on to step #2 – an English learning center, meeting the needs of many more hill tribes children. We can’t solve the whole problem ourselves, but if we can show how it can be accomplished, other groups may follow our lead and numerous learning centers (they can’t legally be called ‘schools’) may be established.
That’s my dream. It will take the hand of the Lord to make it a reality. But I do long to see that reality! For children to have hope. For babies with disabilities to have a chance. For a people group to move from poverty and discrimination to stability and success.
Please pray for us as we begin our work toward this goal. We’ve already seen some major answered prayer.
* I’m not a spring chicken, and homeschooling six young teens is not an easy task! We prayed for help and are thankful for the volunteers who have committed to come from the US to help me. Otherwise, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to step out to do this.
* We weren’t sure the families of our kids would be okay with this plan, which is much different than what they were expecting. We had a meeting with all the families and they are behind us. Answered prayers!
And specific requests for what lies before us:
*We have obtained an okay from the informal school to take our kids, although they are younger than the typical students. Please pray that we can get them officially enrolled without a hitch.
*We need to hire a tutor to help them with their informal school work in Thai. Please pray that we find the right person. Finding a Christian teacher would be nearly impossible – but not too hard for God. Perhaps, though, He will send us someone to whom we can be a witness. He knows best!
*We need to make the arrangements and buy the curriculum. That’s do-able, but we need to figure out the most efficient and cost effective way to get it here.
And please continue to pray about our need for land so we can take more children. All in His timing! God is good!