The House of Hope: God's Love for the Abandoned Orphans of ChinaThe House of Hope: God's Love for the Abandoned Orphans of China
Elisabeth Gifford
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Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family's life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful no avail.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care--terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value.

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From author Elisabeth Gifford:

Q: What drew you to write the Hills’ story?

A: I was planning to write a book about an orphanage in the Warsaw ghetto and raise funds for orphans. Our friend Toby was about to commission a book about the life of the Hills. I was doing an MA in creative writing and Toby's writer fell through for a book about the Hills so he asked me if I would like to do the project. I was thrilled to be asked and put the other project on hold. So I got to write a book about orphans to raise funds for orphans.

Q: How did you hear about the Hills?

A: We had heard about Hope Foster home through our friends  Toby and Jing Little wood who live in Beijing and were on the board of the charity and our two older children had been out there as volunteers so I already was aware of some of what was being done. So when I came to write about the children, I already knew some of the little characters through our children and the photographs they had brought back.

Q: How has their story affected your life?

A: I was quite church focused and did quite a lot of meetings and church activities to grow closer to God. Meeting the babies made me click that meeting God happens when you get involved with Him through children in need. It made me question my assumptions and where we meet God.

Q: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

A: The Hills and how they live. They say what they do and do what they say and with such love and clear commitment. They do what God asks them and really trust that if it is His will He will provide. Even though Joyce is in constant pain now, she still runs the homes.They are so tough and so gentle and they love the children entirely. Also meeting other helpers such as the Chapmans and the board members. No fuss, no pious positioning, just getting on with doing what God has asked them to do to help orphans and save lives. It has been a total privilege to know these people.

From Joyce Hill:

Q: How long did it take to go from your decision to stay in China until you saved your first baby?

A: We made the decision to stay in China 2 weeks after we both felt God’s call to stay and take sick orphans into our home. That was in November 1998. We moved into a temporary Chinese village apartment on April 1st 1999 while waiting for our home to be built. One first baby, Kaitlyn Jayne (see attached) came to us in February 2000. Her name means Pure, Gift of God’s Grace

Q: Can you tell us about that journey?

A: It was not a difficult decision to make as we both felt the same call at the same time. It was not a call we were anticipating. We were both in full agreement that we were going to leave “corporate life” and begin serving God in a way that He had offered. There was nothing to argue about or even question. There was not really a lot of discussion other than
a) did we had enough savings to see our last 2 children through university . We did
b) what was our vision. To take the sickest, those with correctable defects and those who would fit into our cots.
c) to love and treat these children as if they were our very own and give them the best care possible.
d) to comfort always, to relieve often, to save sometimes.

Q: How has this ministry affected your marriage and children?

A: All our children see this as something that not many people would do. They respect our choice and support it fully. Our 3 youngest children, Amber, Ryan and Kaitlyn don’t feel that growing up with orphans is any different from growing up in a large family. They have a deep sense of compassion for those we cannot save and see the smile of a child with a cleft lip as especially beautiful. Our son Adam, an attorney, (before he became a MasterChef) says it clearly when he wrote an endorsement of the book saying, “I have been fortunate enough to see the Hope Healing Home grow from an idea nearly two decades ago to the extraordinarily joyous and tangible message of love it is today. My sense of pride at the generosity and servitude of my family in bringing dignity and hope to the lives of these children cannot be expressed in words.” – Adam Liaw, Masterchef Australia 20

Our marriage has always been strong with Christ in the center of our lives. There were times in both our young lives that Christ was not, but this marriage has made us understand how much we need Him. We are both compassionate people and the suffering of children affect as deeply. We never realized how deeply till we visited the first orphanage. We never realized how far God would take us in this journey of trusting in Him totally. This ministry with all its ups and downs has brought us closer than ever, especially in the roughest patches. The best and the worst of times.

Q: Have your older children been involved in your ministry?

A: Yes. 2 have chosen to study medicine after they saw the needs of the children. All of them have had hands-on experience with the children, either helping with the medical needs, helping financially or just playing with the children.

Q: What kind of challenges have you had in relationship to the Chinese government?

A: There have been no major challenges. They seems to really like what we do and want us to do more. We are here because God allows it to be so. The day that God wants us to move on, perhaps He might use the Chinese government to deliver the message and we are ok with that.

Q: What do you hope readers take away after reading The House of Hope?

A: Two main things:

  1. We hope that readers will understand that because Christ first loved us, is why Rob and I have been able to truly love these children enough to do our very best for each of them. Rob and I both grew up in dysfunctional homes where little love was seen or expressed. Once we learned of Christ’s love, were we then able to love Him and His creations more deeply. His love is pure and free.
  2. We hope that readers will learn what it means to obey His calling in whatever direction He takes you. You always have free will to obey or not to obey. In obeying, He is giving you a gift that is precious beyond description. Don’t miss out on receiving His precious gifts.

The journey will not be easy but He will provide you with the right shoes to walk the rocky paths and His arms will be strong enough to carry you when you can no longer walk. He will give you the strength that you never knew you had. He may even take from you all the things that you hold most dear but as you walk through the ashes you will understand the refining process.

Q: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

A: This is a hard one to answer. We never looked at respected, noble people like Hudson Taylor or Mother Theresa and thought “Wow, it would be great to be like them or to have their strength or faith” It was more like we felt God say, “Do you want to step into this river with Me and come on a journey?” It wasn’t a command. It was an offer. We did not realize then that it was also a massive gift that would enable us to see miracle upon miracle. We just chose to say “Yes." We see ourselves as servants and accept it as an honor to be given the gift of caring for ones on whom society places no value.

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