By Nathan Magness, Director of Communications at Show Hope
Had you asked me a year ago if I ever wanted to travel to China, the answer would have been, “Not really.”
That completely changed this summer, though, when my eyes were opened to the beauty of China—its unique people, its rich culture, and of course, its amazing food. But much more than that, I encountered a hope unlike any I have ever experienced.
Nestled among towering gray and brown buildings in the city of Luoyang stands this big, blue, beautiful building covered with dreamlike clouds and striking six-petal flowers. You may know where I am going with this—Maria’s Big House of Hope (Maria’s), a sacred place where deep love and care are found.
I had heard stories, watched videos, and seen pictures, but trust me, seeing Maria’s face-to-face and walking its hallways far outweighed anything I had thought or imagined. As Show Hope’s flagship Care Center, Maria’s exists to provide loving, attentive care for children with acute medical and special needs. To date, more than 1,100 children have been cared for within Maria’s walls—all in just 10 years.
To watch as children, wrapped in their nannies’ arms, experience belonging and know they are loved and wanted was more than heartwarming—it was life-giving. To see their faces light up when nurses walked into the room was a true joy and delight. To listen as they laughed and even squealed with excitement as they played, sang songs, and danced brought out the kid in me. And to experience fellowship and community with the staff and volunteers as they shared stories, passions, and desires was utterly astounding and inspiring. To say that God is working in and through Maria’s is, honestly, quite the understatement.
It is not lost on me that I am not the only one who has experienced Maria’s—or will experience it. I appreciate that Show Hope is dedicated to investing in high school and college students through its short-term trips. It’s remarkable that today’s youth can also embark on a journey to Maria’s—a trip bursting with life-defining moments and opportunities.
It does not end there, though. Show Hope supporters and friends have also encountered the hope of Maria’s through donor, sponsor, and even construction trips. I am certain each trip participant walked away with his or her own “favorite” moment, but I know, without a doubt, we all experienced a hope that filled our hearts.
In his book “Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope,” my pastor and friend, Matt McCullough, wrote, “[Grief] does not go away because it shouldn’t. But it is channeled into hope. In Christ our grief gains an aim, a new direction: grief gives rise to hope.” Maria’s stands today, in large part, because grief gave rise to hope.
In the darkest days after a family lost a beautiful little girl named Maria, God moved. He began to stir the hearts of family, friends, and even strangers who wanted to love well and support this family who was hurting. He began to work through deep pain and sadness, and from it, Maria’s Big House of Hope was built, becoming a place of care, hope, and love.
Since my return, I have been able to process my time at Maria’s a bit more. I am grateful for my personal experience there, for the little lives that touched my own life, and for the new friends I made. I also have a greater appreciation of my own family—my wife and our two boys who are walking this life with me. And lastly, I now humbly possess a renewed gratitude for the one true God who is “making all things new.”