International China Concern

Local Efforts and Events

Fund Raising Events - Austin Walk the Wall - Saturday September 24, 2011
Walk to help provide love, hope, and opportunity to every child with a disability.
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Build your own team... Sign up to walk on Next Generation Heart's team... Can't walk? Please Sponsor me...

Buddy Sponsorship Program - Empowering children with disabilities on both sides of the Pacific
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Children's Books - Author proceeds go to benefit the work of International China Concern
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Contact Michele to book a speaking engagement or for bulk book orders.

In May 2010, I had the opportunity to join a group of physical therapy students from Texas State University, representatives from River Stone Church, and other medical and non-medical Christian volunteers on a trip to Hengyang China. Our team travelled under the guidance of International China Concern. ICC is a Christian development organization focused on bringing love, hope, and opportunity to China's abandoned and disabled children. We served in the ICC Hengyang Project which currently cares for more than 100 babies, children, and young adults, all abandoned and with special needs.

As a physical therapist with a specialty in both seating and movement disorder, I hoped I could impact the enormous physical need in some small way. As a mother, I hoped I could provide a loving touch and a smile that transcended cultural and language barriers. As a woman, I hoped I could empower a young woman to reach for her dreams. As a Christ follower, I hoped to be constantly humbled with the knowledge that nothing could be done without aligning with the dreams of God, the love of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

I asked for your prayers as we prepared our hands and minds to be strong while our hearts broke for what breaks His.
I did my best to not to have specific expectations for the experience, and the journey exceeded any I could have dreamed.

When I returned home, I prayed how I could stay involved with this extraordinary organization. My prayers were answered early 2011 as I was honored and humbled with a Board of Directors position for the
American Friends of International China Concern. I will be placing updates of our activities, upcoming events, and important resource links on the AFICC page. God has also placed on my heart the desire to donate proceeds of my children's books. Please know any purchase will go to supporting the hearts of the next generation through activities of ICC both here and abroad.

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For more information on adoption and advocacy, please visit

China's Abandoned and Disabled Children -
What is the full story?
Posted June 9, 2010

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After being approached by one of my PT students from Texas State University late last fall regarding joining a team to serve the abandoned and disabled of China, I immediately began to research International China Concern and the reality of life in this mysterious and complicated nation. So many questions bubbled to the surface. The first and most poignant was, “How does this proud nation that hosted the elaborate 2008 Olympic Games abandon their disabled children? What is the full story here?” And the second question, which I will address in a subsequent blog, “What in the world do I think I can do about it?”

I have been intrigued with China for a long time, and I cannot deny that I truly felt led to join this group of young people under the leadership of International China Concern. I did not over think my next move, and with David and the boy’s love and support I simply answered, “Yes,” to His call. I didn’t want to go in completely empty minded, so I studied some Mandarin, listened to a 48 lecture Great Courses series on China from the fall of the dynasty through present day, and reviewed my pediatric development during my drive time between home health patients. All three were tremendously helpful.

International China Concern is a Christian development organization focused on bringing love, hope, and opportunity to China's abandoned and disabled children. It sounded good, but I couldn’t help being skeptical about how a Christian organization partners with a welfare system inside of a communist state. The answer to this question became clear as I had the opportunity to work side by side with the angels who are ICC. 
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Palpable Stories of China's Disabled Children
Posted June 16, 2010

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Sen Sen
A boy like Sheng Sheng would probably not be in line to receive the Chinese tech’s attention within the welfare center because his likelihood of being adopted is so low. Before I left though, Alison and I completed a therapy evaluation with these young, caring, and smart ladies. They were engaged and hungry for knowledge as we went through an assessment, goals, and an appropriate treatment plan for Sheng Sheng. Alison translated what we were seeing and saying as I watched in awe of the artistic beauty of hand written Chinese across a P.T. evaluation. I learned later from Alison what we had done with the therapy techs in the welfare center was a first.

Where there is hope… There is possibility.
I could have never guessed the gravity of the problem would be played out during a walk in the park.

Sue, Me, and Group at Park
The looks that we received from others in the park were ones of shock, dismay, and disgust. The confusion and discontent of seeing a group of disabled children out at the park was palpable. For the first time, I felt in my gut what was being described to me as the societal stigma and prejudice against the disabled. I thought of how Jesus must have felt when he was asked, “Why do you spend your time with the worthless and unlovable of our society?”

The message of Christ was played out in some small way that day in the park. Captured in the life of Christ was his movement not just his words. He did not just say there is a spiritual law that governs the consciousness of your society by loving the least of these…
...He loved them.

We had the divine opportunity to increase awareness and soften hearts that day in the park. He does show up when we follow him. I have never felt closer to God than on that day, and again I received much more than I had given.

Here is a poem that illustrates a portion of what I have been given.

 My heart is swollen tight to the point of breaking
While yours is empty and open, ready for taking.
My eyes fill with confused and stinging tears
While your eyes show no sign of earthly fears.
The enormous lump in my throat makes it hard to speak
While your laughter fills the room with giggles and squeaks.
My mind is overwhelmed with your grinding need
While yours is calm, uncluttered with desires to succeed.
My ears recoil from the chaos and shrill
While yours withdraw to a place of silence and still.

Boy in standing frame. Tender touch
My soul aches for what you do not have
While your spirit soars free, joyful, and glad.
Are you simply unaware? Not knowing what you lack.
Or is it me, as I play judge of a life that’s intact.
Who is rich here, and who is poor?
My child you have redefined what it is to have more.
You live off a strength I fear never to understand
As you bless me again...
...With the tender touch of your hand.

Michele Zink Harris
Hengyang, China 2010

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The Greatest Fear - Our Own Irrelevance
Posted July 7, 2010

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After spending some time getting to know our young team, I realized I was not the only one wrestling with this fear. Fortunately, the angels at ICC, the children and young adults at the orphanage, and the Chinese nationals all gave us the greatest gift we could receive. They readily accepted every gift, expertise, talent, and loving extension we had to offer.

We immediately settled in to different areas of the welfare center and ICC run orphanage. Many, many gifts were given and received and lives changed on both sides.

Bing Bing Mat Eval Best
We completed mat assessments and went over some ideas for interventions to address the different needs. Similar to the young therapy techs in the welfare center these Chinese nationals were intent and hungry for information, and the interaction with the doctorate level PT students from the U.S. was priceless. The entire experience was a poignant reminder that when we teach we can have exponential reach

The problem of relevance is inherent in the limitations of the term. This concept is static, and life is dynamic. Relevance is something we strive for, want to have, and wish to hold on to. But for us humans, trapped in space and time, the search for relevance is a search in the past.

By the time something is judged as relevant it is gone. It is meaningless really. What is important is the reality of the moment. Are we living it, pouring into it, aware of it, being present for it?

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With Grinding Needs Everywhere... Why China?
Posted July 22, 2010

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I now have a broader perspective of the concept of victim. I left China wondering, “Who is it that one prays for?” Is it the abandoned child, or the parent with no way out and no hope? Is it the person in the park with a hard heart who looks in disgust upon a child with disabilities? Is it the corrupt government officials at local levels, or is it the party leaders wrapped in and warped by a godless ideology? If you embrace an eternal perspective, all are victims who are separated from the truth, from the source of creation, from love. So who becomes the greater victim? Who finds themselves separated the most and suffering within the greatest darkness?
Our physical and intellectual capabilities and our illusion of strength and independence separate us from God. This, of course, is our greatest disability. One finds those strange utterances of Jesus from the Mount long ago confusing and contrary to our earthly experience until one sees their own disability of heart and soul. My answer to the question, “Why go to China?” began to take form. “China is going to be an enormous part of our children’s future, and the state of China’s heart must be our concern.”

The only way out from underneath fear is hope.
Hope in something greater.
I see the next generation of young people with me on this trip, and the next generation of Chinese college students visiting the orphanage with this hope. I see the work of ICC and the desire to educate and break down the barriers of superstition and fear in the Chinese community with this hope. All movement forward requires thrusting oneself off balance, extending our reach, and planting our next step some place new.

Why is it imperative we include and empower the physically and intellectually disabled populations within all human societies? We need to because our spiritual evolution depends on it. These individuals we so quickly devalue have abilities we
“temporarily” able-bodied and able-minded don’t have. They have the potential for strength and wisdom, a tenderness, openness, and fearless love that we simply do not recognize in our competitive and materialistic world. Those with physical and intellectual challenges may have disabilities we can see, but those with heart and soul challenges have disabilities that will eventually take down a family, a nation, a spiritually conscious species. Not until we become aware of our own brokenness and fear can we embrace the universality of the vulnerable heart. It is from here we will begin to see every human being as a valuable link in the chain of humanity.

When a society only places value on the physical and intellectual capacity of its members to give back to the whole, this society starves its heart and its soul. It remains incomplete.
I am moved by the last lines of the book, Becoming Human, by Jean Vanier.
“We are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope, called together to change our world one heart at a time.”
Thank you for joining me in my journey to China.

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