Robert Glover, Executive Director of Care for Children, discusses his organization's efforts to work inside China to place orphans in foster care homes, and encourages listeners to consider how they can help adoptive and foster care families around the world. (Part 2 of 2)
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Mr. Robert Glover: Let's not forget, God adopted us into His family, you know and that's an amazing situation that we are part of God's family. And I think as Christians, therefore we have to be champions. And this is the message I'm now giving to the Chinese church. It is the church's responsibility to make sure that we are champions for the orphan.
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John Fuller: Robert Glover is back for a second day to encourage you and me and the entire body of Christ to be a champion for orphans, whether they're living overseas or right in your own local community. That's our topic on today's "Focus on the Family" with Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, last time we shared Robert Glover's amazing story, how he was willing to follow God's lead and take his wife and six children--think of that--on the mission field to China to start a foster-care ministry there. What an incredible testimony. If you didn't hear it, man, let me encourage you to get that download or CD, because you're gonna be inspired by how God opened the doors for Robert's ministry, Care for Children--that's the name of it--and the Lord opened it in amazing ways.
It all started when this former soccer player, Robert Glover and social worker, was given the unexpected opportunity to help the Chinese government rethink how to address the orphan issue in their country. Robert's plan was to recruit local families to open up their homes, like we do here in the U.S., to these children, rather than leave them in institutions. And as a result, more than 300,000 children have been helped by this man's work. I mean, God is really using him.
John: And of course, we've got a vibrant outreach here at Focus on the Family to help connect these children with a forever family. In the U.S., it's called Wait No More; in Canada that same approach is called Waiting to Belong. And there are more than 130,000 legal orphans here in North America.
Jim: We've seen a lot of success in these programs, John, because as Robert said in that clip right at the beginning, the church--the body of Christ--is stepping up to champion this issue. And I want to encourage you, each of you, to prayerfully consider what you can do about orphans and foster children. Maybe you can open your home up to one of these children on a long-term basis or maybe do something like respite care. And Jean and I did that for years. It's just giving the foster family some relief and taking the children for a long weekend. That's very doable. I think all of us could do something like that. There are many different ways that you can get involved to be a part of the solution for foster children in North America.
John: And there are a number of resources we have for you to learn more and to get engaged. The starting point is www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call us and we can tell you more, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And now, let's return to part two of the conversation we enjoyed with Robert Glover about how God radically transformed the culture and traditions of China to allow the rescue of hundreds of thousands of abandoned, unwanted children, all because one man said yes to God's plan.
Robert: My early experiences of the Shanghai orphanage, they gave me a little office in the orphanage. And I remember the Chinese chap coming who's there to look after me, telling me that the staff--there are three types of staff--some people actually like you being here. Actually some people couldn't really care whether you're here or not. And there are others that really do not want you in here.
Robert: And I thought that was very interesting and so, I felt very clearly and culturally I needed to understand. And so, for six months I just listened to them and spent time learning from them, to the point where I wasn't allowed to eat with them in the orphanage canteen. I had to eat on my own at lunchtime. But that for me was quite a remarkable experience, those early days in [there].
Jim: Just learning, absorbing.
Robert: Absolutely and culture.
Jim: What would you say was your key characteristic that continually allowed you to get entrée into these people's lives, those people that would want to separate you, that could care less if you were there or maybe didn't want you there at all? How did you win, maybe not with all of them, but how did you win favor with them over the long haul? Was it humility or what were you expressing that—
Jim: --appealed to them?
Robert: --you know, I think the key thing for me and we struck a deal very early on that, what I became very aware is that Chinese culture's very much about face.
Jim: Saving face.
Robert: Saving face, yes, so it's important not to embarrass or to humiliate Chinese people. They will do anything (not) to be in that situation. So, you know, I struck a deal with the head of the government there. I said, "Look, as far as I'm concerned, I will never put you in a place where you lose face."
Robert: And that really stood long term, that 17 years, has always been honored. But I think there was also the football came back in, soccer, sorry. (Laughing) There were all these older children that, boys that loved to play soccer.
Jim: You had instant respect with them--
Jim: --I would imagine.
Robert: --so, well, not instant. You have to show, you know, bounce the ball on your head a few times. (Laughter) So, I put a team together. And my old team from U.K. are called Norwich City. They're the Canaries. And they have a little canary on their shirt, yellow shirt. They sent out strip. And so, we had the Shanghai Canaries. And I trained them for about six months and then we entered into the Shanghai school's trophy.
Now remember, I've got probably five deaf and dumb boys. We had one boy who only had one arm. And there were others with other disabilities, but they were strong boys. You know, they've lived this life and—
Robert: --in the institution. And so, it came to the Shanghai trophy cup and we got to the final. And actually, interestingly, we played the American school in the final and beat them 5-3. And the mayor of Shanghai turned up and presented the trophy to the boys. And I … an interesting comment that he made, he said, "All your life you've been losers; today you're winners." (Laughter)
Jim: Wow. That must have meant so much to them--
Robert: Absolutely! They'd been …
Jim: --I mean, in their heart.
Robert: Till today, still today that photograph of those boys with the cup is in the orphanage today in Shanghai.
Jim: Isn't that something? A little achievement.
Robert: Absolutely and it switched.And after about six months, the director of the orphanage, an old lady, Mrs. Wong, I'll never forget her, came down with my own bowl, with my name on it. And that meant I was accepted. I could go into the canteen and eat with everybody else.
Jim: You were one of them.
Robert: One of them, took six months. (Chuckling)
Jim: That's amazing.Robert, when you look at the plight of the orphan in China and around the world, what would you say to Christians? How do we get involved? It looks like such a big issue. There's so many kids that need help.
And like I said at the top of the program, here at Focus we're doing what we can in the foster-care space in the U.S. to get more Christian families engaged, hopefully to lead to adoption out of foster care, because we have 100,000 children in this country that need a mom and dad like you said. But help me as a Christian understand my responsibility and my duty in that regard.
Jim: What should I do?
Robert: Well, let's not forget, God adopted us into His family, you know and that's an amazing situation that we are part of God's family. And I think as Christians, therefore we have to be champions. And this is the message I'm now giving to the Chinese church. It is the church's responsibility to make sure that we are champions for the orphan.And you know, we know that God made the family for children, that when a child has that identity, has that security, that permanence, there is a sense of godliness. And I do believe that as we impact a generation of orphans, we will change the nations.
Jim: When you look at the work for Care for Children in China, again, you've seen thousands of Chinese families open up their homes to take in these children and to foster them and maybe even some to adopt them. Human beings are human beings everywhere.
Jim: So, when you see that, you know, I think oftentimes we will not see another culture in the same way we see our own culture.
Jim: And I'm not sure that people understand that the Chinese family is very loving and kind and willing to embrace an outsider like that. Describe that and what you've seen, moving from institutional orphanage in China to family by family embracing this little child, whom they did not give birth to, whom they bring in and love.
Robert: Well, of course, when I first set out, everybody said the Chinese won't do this. It's not in the Chinese culture. And interestingly 17 years on we're seeing, you know, 600,000 people, 'cause they're usually, well, they're always two—a mother and a father--so, that proves that wrong.
But I do remember going into a village in Sichuan Province and walking down the track to see this woman coming running out to me. And it's very unusual. She grabbed me and gave me a kiss, which is quite unusual for a middle-aged Chinese woman to do to a Westerner. (Laughter) And she said, "Thank you for transforming my family." And I said, "I'm sorry; I don't understand. You know, we're trying to obviously help the children."
She said, "Let me tell you my story." She said, "We had a son. You know, we're only allowed one child. It was during the one-child policy. And he went off to Chengdu University and our home was empty." "My husband started to gamble and drink and we started [to] have arguments and there was no focus and all I could do is sit on with my friends and drink tea and play Mahjong.
And then we saw this idea where we could take this little girl. And we took little Lee-Lee, who was 5-years-old with pigtails." She said, "She has transformed our family."
Robert: "You know, during a time when we had no focus, we all laugh," because often Chinese live together in the courtyard, so there'll be granny, granddad, aunt, uncle, the whole extended family living together. But during this tough time, they'd all moved out and they'd become very isolated and she'd become very lonely.Along comes Lee-Lee. She can give all those craft and cooking [lessons] and all those rich Chinese [traditions]—
Jim: Be a mom again.
Robert: --yeah, be a mom. There's still good. And dad stopped gambling and drinking. He put everything into her education and sat with her reading and doing her homework with her. And she said, "We just had the best Chinese New Year. All the family are back together, 'cause we've got focus. We've got that little girl that we've always wanted."
Jim: That is so—
Jim: --uplifting and that's the key. John, you're sitting here. You're hearing it. You and Dena have adopted from Russia, not China. What's going through your mind?
John: Wow, I'm identifying with some of the conditions that kids live in, just the appalling conditions. I'm thinking about the obedience that the Lord touched us and said, "I want you to do this." And we were kind of arrogant, thinking, "Well, we've got five kids. We can do one more. How hard can it be?" (Laughter) And the Lord has softened my heart. He's changed our lives radically.And I think, if He had told me the road we'd go down, I'm not sure I'd go down it. But as I listen to Robert, I think about the change. I think about the life. I've been sitting here wondering, what would life have been like for my boy in an orphanage if nobody had shown up?
Jim: If you--
Jim: --hadn't shown up.
John: --and there's a normalcy of life that he knows that is wonderful. I mean, oh, to have an average life when the prospects are pretty bleak when you're one of a million. And then in an institution that doesn't have any hope, any care. So, it really is a life-changing effort to step up and to go into this space. And I hope our audience hears that, not that they would aspire, I mean, oh, that we would aspire to be like Robert, right and go do something magnificent for the Lord. But really, if you make a life change for one child, the generations that can be touched by that.
Jim: Well the reality, there's tough days, many tough days you and Dena have lived that, but you look to the future, the many good days that lie ahead. That's beautiful.
Robert, I want you to take a shot and John, you've set it up nicely, at telling us why to engage in this way and maybe my life is too busy. You can be a supportive family. You don't have to be that foster family, but you can come around a family. Just tell me why.
Robert: I always remember just before we went when I was standing in Guernsey, a little island in in the English Channel. And I was seeing the power of the sea, smashing against the rocks and just thinking, you know what? God made all this and He could just push that wave up and take me away. And I just really sensed, we've gotta be 100 percent or nothin'. At that point, for me, it was 100 percent or nothin'.
Robert: What is the point of being a 75 percent Christian? Or even a 98 percent Christian? It's gotta be 100 percent or not. And God gives us opportunities in our lives. But there was, you know, thinking back, it's a sacrifice. And I remember my wife again, waking up one night. She often used to wake up in the night, thinking about, is this right for my children? Am I doing the wrong thing? These six children, their education, you know, what is gonna happen with their education, worrying. She opened her Bible and she saw that story, when Jesus took six clay pots and filled it with the best wine.
Robert: And she said, yes. That's what I want for my children. And I'll never forget, Joshua, the next day saw a little girl in Chengdu in those shoes. He was about 5-years-old and he took his shoes off and gave 'em to this little girl and came back and said, "Dad, I've got another pair at home."
Robert: And I said to Llz, "You know, you can't teach that at school."
Jim: Yeah.Boy, that's beautiful and you know, teaching sacrifice and service. So often we have people come through here at Focus on the Family, saying if you're gonna do anything as a parent, that's the No. 1 thing to do—
Jim: --'cause their hearts will be changed for good.
Jim: Talk to theChristian. When we look at the New Testament, I mean, the Christian community in the New Testament had to operate under very adverse conditions—
Jim: --with Rome and everything else happening. When you go into a culture that doesn't understand or embrace the Christian ethos and you begin to work as the Lord has led you and obviously, have given you that great favor, again what advice do you have for us in terms of separation, segregation, versus engagement and bringing Christ to people through helping people?
Robert: Yeah and I remember going up to Baotou in Northern China. And I was on a train with some of the government guys. And on the way up, he was saying to me, "Well look, Robert, you know, we know you're a Christian, but you know, where we're going there are no Christians. They're all Taoists and Buddhists and you know, we just don't want you to be disappointed." And I said, no, no. We're goin' up there. We're gonna find some families for these kids."
So anyway we got the first 20 families come in and he starts to tell a joke, you know. And I can't say I totally understood it, 'cause but it was something to do with me being a big Englishman and being Christian.
Jim: (Chuckling) Okay.
Robert: But what I also realized was, that the families weren't laughing either. And so, he told the joke again and then one lady put her hand up and she said, "I'm a Christian." And then the next one and the next one, all 20 were Christians.
Jim: Oh, my.
Robert: So, you can imagine his embarrassment on the way back, that you know, he said, "Well, why is it the Christians are doin' this?" I said, "Well, this is part of our Gospel message. This is who we are."
Robert: "You know, this is our identity. This is what we do." And so, he said, "Can you show me?" And I showed him the Scripture. So, for the first time, I'm talking to a non-believer in government about … because he's asking me.
Robert: And that's the place I wanted to be in, you know. And so, he then started to do some research and he researched three provinces of China and he found out that 80 percent of the families were Christians.
Jim: Oh, my goodness.
Robert: And what I would say is—
Jim: That's fantastic.
Robert: --sometimes what we have to do is be obedient to God's call, step out in faith in that obedience and He might give us a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. And sometimes what we want to do is the whole jigsaw puzzle.
Robert: But if we do the bit that He's told us to do, it allows Him to reveal [Himself]--
Robert: --in the right way at the right time.
End of Interview with Mr. Robert Glover:
John: That's how we concluded our conversation with Robert Glover. He's the founder and executive director of Care for Children in China. I'm John Fuller and this is "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly.
Jim: John, I hope people will contact us about getting a copy of this two-day conversation with Robert. Again, what a powerful testimony about how God can transform our lives and literally, an entire culture when we're willing to submit to His plan. Robert was faithful to God's call on his life, taking his wife and six kids to China and what was the result? More than 300,000 Chinese children were helped. That's worthy.
And I urge you to share a copy of this program with your pastor, with your small group leader at church. There are so many important lessons here about living out our faith and doing what James 1:27 calls us to do, which is take care of widows and orphans. I think the Lord says it over 50 times in Scripture and it's like us children to say, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Well, for the 53rd time, take care of the widow and the orphan.
If you're able to make a financial contribution to Focus on the Family today, I will gladly send you a CD copy of this program, so that you can pass it along to your family members, to your friends, to your church leadership. Let them catch fire with what's taking place here. You want to transform the culture? Let's start with widows and orphans. I think it's a great thing to do.
John: Donate and request your CD at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: And before we close out the program today, John, I've invited Dr. Sharon Ford to join us here in the studio. Dr. Ford, it is so great, first of all, to have you on staff here at Focus on the Family.
Dr. Sharen Ford: Jim, it's my pleasure to be here. I'm honored to serve in the ministry.
Jim: It always puts a smile on my face and one of the reasons, Sharon, is because you worked so many years in the Colorado system. You headed up the state's effort here for foster care. What was that official title?
Sharen: I was the Manager for Permanency Services in the Division of Child Welfare at the state.
Jim: And so, when we started doing Wait No More, that caught fire. I remember the first time I met you, you said you had been praying 25, 30 years for the church to wake up and begin to help in this area. Man, I love that passion. Why do you think it's important for us to engage the foster-care system?
Sharen: It's important because the answer isn't in government. The answer is in the community and that community is the church community. It's in family. And so, you have to go where the answer is.
Jim: Yeah. You know, so often what I've heard from social workers is this point. They'll say, "You know, good loving Christian homes are the best places for these kids, for all kinds of reasons, but the love of Christ being the most important. And we just need more of us to get engaged, don't we?
Sharen: We do.
Jim: Right now in the U.S., we have 400,000, roughly 400,000 children in the foster-care system. Within that number, you have about 100,000, about 25 percent where the courts have determined that parental rights no longer apply and they become wards of the state, the children. Parents no longer have contact. It's just over and these are the kids that are placed in foster homes, sometimes many foster homes because they're so wounded emotionally. These kids find it hard to attach and hard to … to move on. What are you walkin' in the door every day here at Focus on the Family, trying to accomplish?
Sharen: Every day when I come to work, my goal is that, who can I connect with? Who can I talk with about who these kids are and that their goal is to belong. Their goal is to be connected and that means, to be connected to a mom and a dad, people who will love them and welcome them home.
And so, who do I need to be in conversation with? Who am I gonna talk to? Who am I gonna e-mail with that wants to know about the kids who continue to wait?
Jim: And Wait No More is the program. Describe Wait No More for us.
Sharen: You know, Wait No More is a wonderful opportunity to engage state governments, local governments, licensed child-placement agencies and the families in the community, in churches, who want to know about who the kids are. And it's about coming together jointly to make a difference in the lives of those children. And our event brings all those folks together on a special day, from 10 to 2, to say, "Let me tell you about the kids. Let me show you their pictures. Let me tell you about their stories. Let me tell you how important it is for them to not age out of the system to nothing and to no one, but instead, come into your home, be a part of your family and have a place to belong."
Jim: That's powerful, Sharon. You have so many stories of the children that do age out after they've gone from home to home. Describe one or two of those. What happens to that child who turns 18 and no longer has a place to stay?
Sharen: You know, unfortunately those children begin to roam and they "couch surf." They move from home to home, friend to friend. "Can I sleep at your house for a couple of nights on the couch?" They don't unpack anything. Everything's in a plastic bag or maybe in a suitcase. And it's just temporary living and they're looking for a job. They don't have health care some of them. They are struggling, because they don't have a place to be connected to or a person to be connected with.
Jim: You know the other sad part of that, Sharon, is being part of the system for the years that they are and then they turn 18 and they leave that environment, whether it's healthy or unhealthy. Most are healthy, but they move into this area where you know, they don't know how to cope. And so often, they'll get into criminal activity [and] end up in jail. It's a large percentage of foster children who when they age out at 18, end up in local jail and prison, isn't it?
Sharen: Yes and those are very sad stories, but you know what? Wait No More can be a part of changing the trajectory for those children.
Jim: You know, one of my favorite stories out of Wait No More [is] the young people that get adopted just before turning 18.
Jim: You know, they're about to age out. They've gone years maybe without anyone saying, "You're worthy of becoming part of my family." And somebody will adopt them. And I remember one call that we received here at Focus where this girl through Wait No More, was adopted, I think at 17 years and six months old, something like that. And she said, "The thing that I so appreciate is now I can call home once I leave and ask mom how to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving." That one just gripped me, because I thought, man, what a simple delight for her. Because before she was adopted at 17-years-old, she would not have been able to call somebody "Mom," to say, "How do you cook this Thanksgiving turkey? I don't know what I'm doin'."
Sharen: But what did you hear her say? I can call "mom."
Sharen: She has a mom to be connected to because she was adopted.
Jim: And Sharon, the exciting news is, over 33,000 families have started the adoption process through Wait No More. That is a good number, but we have about 97,000 more to go. And I want to see that day where The New York Times headline reads, "Christian Church Wipes Out Foster Adoption List." Wouldn't that be a great day?
Sharen: What a day of rejoicing that would be.
Jim: Amen. Thank you so much for what you do. What can people do to contact us to say, "Okay, I heard ya. I heard Sharon Ford. I'm motivated to take care of the orphan like the Lord has said." What can they do today?
Sharen: You know, one of the things that they can do is connect with a local child placement agency. Connect with their local child welfare agency about the kids who are waiting in their state. But they can also connect with us here at Focus on the Family. We would love to have them call our 1-800 number, 1-800-A-FAMILY and by doing so, we'd love to give them information about being a part of Wait No More in their local jurisdiction, whether it's Kentucky or Pennsylvania, wherever it is that they reside, we want to engage with them about the kids in their state who wait.
Jim: And we have lots of wonderful resources for those families that say yes.
Sharen: We certainly do.
Jim: Thank you, Sharon for everything that you do. I just pray often for you and I thank you for the labor of love that you walk in the door every day here at Focus to do.
Sharen: Thank you. It's my honor to serve.
Jim: Can I turn to you and ask, really invite you to financially support the work we're doing through Wait No More here in the U.S. and Waiting to Belong in Canada? It takes a donation of $45 to help find a forever family for one of these children--$45. May I ask you? Can I beg you to stand in the gap for these kids and send a gift to Focus to take care of one, two or three of these children, to help us find a forever home for them? It is worth your resources and it's worth your prayers and I hope you'll do it today.
John: We so appreciate your partnership with us and you can donate online at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.
And please join us next time for a powerful reflection of the terrorist attack of 9/11 and how God was at work among those who survived that tragedy.
Major George Polarek: I think anyone who worked at 9/11 could close their eyes, see 100 different people and have a story for every one of them. And most of the time, we'll all end up crying because of the miraculous kind of stuff that was happening there.
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John: That's next time and I'm John Fuller. The program is provided by Focus on the Family. On behalf of Focus president, Jim Daly and our entire team, thanks for listening. We'll be back tomorrow to once again, help you and your family thrive.
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Robert GloverView Bio
Sharen FordView Bio
Sharen Ford, Ph.D., is a nationally-recognized child welfare consultant and the retired Manager for Permanency Services for the Colorado Department of Human Services in the Division of Child Welfare Services. She is the former president of the National Association of State Adoption Programs and the Association of Administrators for the Interstate Compact on Adoption Medical Assistance. Dr. Ford currently serves as the program director for Focus on the Family's adoption and orphan care efforts. She and her husband, Roy, have a daughter and a grandson.