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The author's story which led to the book 'As Many as the Stars'

The author's story which led to the book 'As Many as the Stars'

BEFORE Robert Glover OBE’s charity began advising the Chinese government, foster care didn’t exist in the vast nation. That all changed after Robert felt led to China.

He says: “It was the place where I was supposed to be.”

The man Bear Grylls calls “a true hero of mine” left a nice home in the UK for a village in China with his wife, Liz, and six children in 1996.

“It was an exploration trip to see what God might be saying to us,” says Robert. “I was in social work in the UK at the time. We lived on the island of Guernsey, had a nice house, and our kids were happy. God, however, seemed to be calling us to China. I wanted to find out.

“One night at our little church a man spoke to me prophetically. He said, ‘You are going to be a father to as many children as there are stars in the sky.’ I remember thinking, wow, that’s a bit crazy. Don’t know what to do with that.”

Shortly after that church meeting, an Australian man prayed with Robert and confirmed that China was the right destination. He said: “Within a year you are going to be in an earthquake. God is saying that is the place you are to go.”

Robert continues: “It’s true that we went to China not knowing what we were going to do there… But God desired to use our experience in social work.

“So fast forward, I went to visit China, and after we landed in Shanghai, a woman came out of the crowd and gave me two tickets to the Special Olympic Games. My friend said no, we cannot go. I said no, we have to go, and we did. The next day I found myself sitting next to a senior member of the Communist Party of China at the Special Olympics.

“At the closing ceremony, he said to me, ‘All this work I do for the children here is for my Father, and he looked up toward the sky.’

“I said: “We are Christians and we desire to serve the children as well.”

“Which hotel are you staying in? I will pick you up tomorrow morning at 8 am,” he said.

“The next day, we discussed the fact that you don’t have to keep your children in institutions. You can place them into families. They were amazed and wanted to learn more. You know, the Chinese have a very rich, strong family life. At the end of the meal, they said, ‘When are you coming back? We really want you to come back and help us develop this.’

“You see, this was a new idea for them. There was no word for ‘foster care’ in the Chinese language.  We parted ways, and we were all very excited.

“That night, as I stood looking out the window in our hotel room, the bed began to rock and move. We were having an earthquake! I went outside into the hallway, and the words of that Australian man rang in my head. This was where we were supposed to be.

“When I got back to England, I got a call from the Foreign Office in London. I thought, what have I done now?

“They said the Chinese government contacted them and were requesting me to move to China to consult with the government. They said the Chinese want to work with you.

“I thought to myself, Lord, you know that China has a one-child policy, but we have six children!

“This took some time to figure out, but at a banquet in December of 1997, one of the men stated that they must give me a Chinese name. He said, ‘if you are going to work with us as a consultant, then you must have a Chinese name. They all agreed and began to discuss it at the table. I didn’t understand a word they were saying.

“Finally, he stood up and announced, ‘Robert, as many as stars are in the sky, so you will be the father to many children. That is the meaning of your new Chinese name.’

“Back then in those early days, the Shanghai government was discussing placing 300 children into foster care. We never dreamed that 20 years later over one million children would have their lives changed and grow up in families. Today in China, 85 per cent of their abandoned children grow up in families, in foster care, not in institutions.

“The program went national, they asked us to move to Beijing, and today they run the programme without us. However, many countries all over Southeast Asia have invited Care For Children [the charity Robert founded] to consult with them to do the same thing, based on our recommendation from the Chinese government.”

 

Reprinted with permission from Good News outreach newspaper, www.goodnews-paper.org.uk

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