No Free Riders


An Xiang’s New Ride

It was impossible to look at An Xiang (pronounced awn-shy-awng) without feeling pity for him. He was lying on a crude wooden bed in the corner of the room, his arms and legs contorted and atrophied. We had just hiked into his remote village in China's Yunnan Province, up miles of narrow mountain paths, arriving in the darkness. Xiang's room was illuminated by a cooking fire beside his bed, over which a blackened tea pot was suspended. Smoke filled the room. Although Xiang had limited ability to control his arms, legs and facial expressions, he smiled as he looked at us, his unexpected visitors.

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A Discarded Baby

She was just 17 years old, and with each passing day her fears increased. I'll be suspended from school if they find out, she worried to herself. An education was a precious opportunity for someone like her, and she would do anything to keep from losing it. So she did all she could to keep her shameful secret hidden.

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A New Lease for Tharcisse

Tharcisse's parents were an easy target. Unscrupulous traditional "healers"—of whom there are many in Burundi, one of Africa's poorest nations—knew that their medicines would do nothing to heal Tharcisse's atrophied legs. That didn't stop them, however, from promising his desperate parents that they could cure their precious baby—for a price. Full of hope, they sold their only asset—a small plot of farmland—to pay for his costly treatments. When that money was exhausted, their infant son was no better.

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One Less Beggar

John Ntahomvukiye didn't ask to be born with two crippled legs, but he was. Living in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, his handicap consigned him to one occupation—begging on the street. There weren't any other options, and John cherished no hopes for anything better. Thankfully, however, God did.

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Robbed, Raped, Restored

In last month's magazine, CJ McDaniel told the encouraging story of Ildephonse Bigrimana, a handicapped beggar in Burundi, East Africa, who was led to Christ by a Heaven's Family-sponsored native missionary. Through gifts to the Handicapped Christians Fund, we set Ildephonse up in a small grocery business, by which he was able to support his wife, Odetta, and their son, Samuel.

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A Selfish Man Turns

Don't let his disability fool you. Although born with a disfigured back and right hand, Ildephonse Bigrimana of East Africa didn't let his handicap hinder him from sinning. He cared for no one other than himself, and his selfishness culminated with his discovery of his girlfriend's pregnancy. Disowned by her disgraced family and fired from her job in their rural town in Burundi, she turned to the man whom she thought loved her. He also turned. He turned his back on her and their unborn child—and ran.

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