What does a little blind Christian girl think of Jesus?
This is the burning question preoccupying my mind when told I was going to interview a little girl who is visually challenged.
Xiao Daifa is an eight year old girl and she is born blind. Abandoned by her birth parents, she was found to be badly in need of proper nutrition and love when the “Shanghai Huge Grace Disabled Welfare Centre”, otherwise known as “Guang Ci” (上海广慈残疾儿童福利院) adopted her. She was already 6 years old at that time, joining 4 other blind children also adopted by Guang Ci.
Founded in 1998, Guang Ci, a registered welfare orphanage for children with special needs, provides basic care as well as medical and educational assistance to more than 40 disadvantaged children, abandoned by their own parents.
At Guang Ci, blind children learn by hearing. Bible stories are taught using audio means. “It was Wu laoshi (or teacher) who taught me stories from the Bible. She will also pray for us children in the orphanage and tell us about Jesus,” said a beaming Daifa, when asked about her teachers.
Xiao Daifa, who will be entering a formal elementary school for the blind in 2011, is currently attending a 1-year preparatory program where she could learn Braille – a requirement for blind students prior to formal education. Typically, these blind children will start the Braille preparation classes at six years old, one year ahead of mainstream school students.
Xiao Daifa is a happy child. But she was a different girl when she first entered Guang Ci — withdrawn, fearful and lacking in confidence. Then she lacked trust in people, understandably due to her unfortunate background, and she also had a lot of fears since she could not see anything. The Center had sent her for an eye operation about year ago with the help of donations. The operation was successful in a limited way: Daifa can now make out blurred images in black and red.
Being accepted into Guang Ci was a blessing. Daifa became more cheerful as the days passed by; her health has since improved as she now ate more nutritiously. Loved by all the staff at Guang Ci who became her extended family, she sees the Center Director as her father, the teachers as her sisters. Says Guang Ci Center President, Mr Sun Jin Yao (whom Daifa addressed as “Papa”), “Daifa is a very thoughtful child. She is not selfish like most children in today’s modern China. She has learnt to worship God all by herself after merely hearing songs sang to her a few times. And she could recall Bible verses with a natural ease. She has such a simple faith in God.”
And her simple faith in God is shining through. Daifa told us that she wants to be a preacher when she grows up because “the Bible commands everyone to preach the Word to all parts of the world.” (The Great Commission in Matthew 28)
When Daifa received her first Braille Bible (a portion from the Gospel of Matthew) in March 2010, a gift from the United Bible Societies, we were told that she immediately opened to the first page and started to read aloud. Half-expecting her to read a line from Matthew 1:1, she read, “…this is printed by Amity Printing Company. It is the Word of God…. and is a donation from the United Bible Societies…” She was reading the copyright page!
Later as she read the first chapter of Matthew, she said that “Jesus is the Son of God. God is like our Father in heaven, just like our parents on earth. Jesus is my friend, just as Yuan Xiu and Jian Mei are my friends at Guang Ci.”
When asked my bugging question, simply phrased, “What is Jesus like to you?” Xiao Daifa answered readily, “Jesus is like my personal friend!”
Written by Pamela Choo
for United Bible Societies, China Partnership