I keep getting really affected by God’s love among my OMF teammates. We continue to remember the life of Ian Ullstrom, the 17-year-old son of Ruth and David Ullstrom. Ian was their second adopted son. The family already had three biological children before they adopted their son, John. Before the adoption, the family had a meeting to discuss the possibility of having a new sibling. One of the kids cried at the meeting. At first, the family thought he was crying because he would have to share his parents’ love with another. But he told the family he felt that if another kid would be loved as much as he had been loved by his mom and dad, that it would be so awesome and amazing! And so John became an Ullstrom.
Ian came along a few years later. He was part-aborignal and had been living in an orphanage. Aboriginals are looked down upon by the Han majority in Taiwan, so it is more difficult to place these kids in homes. The director’s memories of him were of a kid picking through a garbage dump to find scraps to eat. But you would never guess it from the fun-loving person that Ian was, who was not one to feel sorry for himself, even when the cancer diagnosis came.
The folks that know the Ullstroms know there’s a realness behind it all when they say in the midst of all this, “To God be the glory.” You can check out an article written by one of the parents at Ian’s school that tells more of the story – it starts on page 12.
Yesterday, I stayed overnight at the Newquist’s, teammates who have been like a second family to me. They are affectionately called Mama and Papa Liu by the many young people that have been touched by their ministry over the last 30+ years.
One of my favorite things about hanging out with them is to hear the stories they have. Like the day that a young woman in Mama Liu’s church came over with her baby girl, beside herself with distress because her mother-in-law had demanded that she must give the baby up for adoption. They had just discovered that the baby had severe mental disabilities, which is very shameful to the family in Taiwanese culture. Liu Mama encouraged her to follow her heart and that of her husband to keep the child.
That was over twenty years ago. They never imagined that day that God would use this young couple to make a huge impact on the treatment of special-needs children in Taiwan. Their love for their daughter, vision for her development, and conviction that these children are precious in God’s eyes eventually inspired parents, schools and churches to seek their help. It used to be that special-needs classes were just about babysitting kids that were seen as good for nothing else. The teachers would come out of their seminars amazed – they had never seen the value of the children before. And Mama Liu remembers a father saying after a session, “Now I see that my child is God’s gift to us.”
As for the baby girl, she is now a joyful young woman with a gift for singing. And though she can’t sing like others who have had the same amount of training, people cry when they hear her sing “Amazing Grace” because they see God’s love and grace in her life.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins… We love because He first loved us.”
– 1 John 4:10, 19