Not All Heroes Wear Capes

With the resurgence of superhero films, we see individuals with mighty powers and special abilities make war against evil and injustice. We see the bad guys lose, and we cheer. The day is won! Justice prevails!

Then we go back to our ordinary lives, where evil doesn’t always look like one guy in a purple suit. Sometimes it’s hidden behind banality—hidden deep within human hearts.

But then that must mean that our heroes of today also are not always flashy and obvious. Sometimes they are just ordinary people who take life step by step, sometimes not knowing what the future holds and why situations unfold in such unexpected, unwanted ways, but still moving forward and onwards and upwards.

Maybe it’s the woman who moved her entire family across the ocean to pursue one precious child, not knowing it would take eight years before she could call her their own, but always trusting in a faithful God. Now she continues to save hundreds of orphans who would otherwise die without medical intervention, enduring heartbreak in the face of countless unknowns and at times, inevitable death.

Maybe they are the people within the house churches who continue to meet and grow together despite government opposition and persecution.

Maybe they are the many ladies who dedicate their time day after day to care for abandoned children.

Maybe it is the orphan girl who will leave the security of her life in Shanghai to minister to others in need back home.

If I had to describe how I felt about this second foray into Shanghai, I would say only this: the first time I came here, I saw a world of darkness and hopelessness—where babies with handicaps are heartlessly abandoned and where not enough people will enter into the mess to help them. I returned home with just one desire–to do whatever I could and tell everyone who would listen–“Please help; children are dying, growing up unloved and alone,” yet for the most part was met with indifference or “Good for you, but it’s not for me.”

This time, I’d say that I saw many glimpses of light: I heard orphanage directors say that less children are now being abandoned, even those with minor handicaps, thanks to the rapid upward mobility of the Chinese people out of poverty. I saw how many people lived sacrificially to rescue orphans, heard the tears in their voices as they shared the stories of love and heartbreak. I heard of the Chinese parents who, through no choice of their own, were painfully forced to abandon their child, but who still tried their best to ensure the child knew he was dearly loved. Above all, I saw the reality of those who walk by faith, day after day after day.

The road ahead is still long, still arduous. There is still a great need for more people to join in the struggle with us. But I stand behind greater giants, and most importantly, beneath a great and loving God whose ways are not my ways, but which are always, always good.

No, I don’t always notice when I see them, but I think I met many, many heroes this week.