An “apostolic hobby”. That’s how the American couple Brent and Serena Johnson describe Little Flowers Project, an organization they started in 1998 in Beijing, China. According to numbers from as recent as 2012, these two have saved at least 1,400 vulnerable (probably closer to 2,000 in 2014) infants and children left for dead or to government-run facilities. To give you an idea of the chances a baby has in state-run care, the infant mortality rate in one third of these facilities hovers around 100%! With the country’s one-child policy, it’s not unusual to find babies that show less-than-perfect physical or mental characteristics abandoned in fields or dirty city streets. Thanks to Brent and Serena, both Catholic converts, these children have a place where they can be cared for and their medical needs can be taken care of.
Little Flowers is a non-profit organization that is funded from the donations of caring people to help provide intensive medical care to abandoned babies with complex medical needs, many with birth defects and other conditions that requires skilled nursing or surgery. These infants stay with Little Flowers until they are strong and healthy enough to find loving families to take care of them. The organization seeks to help educate these children as they grow in their care.
“We feel this incredible pressure to just save as many babies as we can,”
Hospice care for orphans is provided for those suffering from terminal illness. Little Flowers provides comfort, love, and care for those nearing the end of their important earthly journey.
The Johnsons’ powerful endeavor began when they approached leaders of the orphanages in China, asking if they could foster one child in their own home after noticing the poor conditions the state provided. They were granted permission and slowly convinced family and friends living nearby to do the same! In 2005 they began focusing on children that also had medical needs and physical disabilities, giving them a place where they can live and learn in a family-like setting until they became adults.
“We were just kind of ordinary, young Catholics, living our faith, trying to do the right thing,”
When Brent, a business start-up manager, was asked about the organization only having about two to three months of funding in the bank at any given time, he replied with laughter, “I don’t know if it’s bad management on my part[,] or God’s plan.” He says he ignores the criticism from people that he’s being financially irresponsible. It’s not about the money to him.
“I think, Well, I have this money now. I can save 100 babies this year that otherwise wouldn’t be saved.”
A glance at their Facebook page will show you a handful of beautiful children they are saving every day, sometimes with a quick background on the little one, with the money they raise through donations. It’s hard to avoid getting…dust…in your eye when you scroll through the page (or it might have been from that onion I chopped earlier). One thing that will jump out at you is that these are not images of despair, quite the opposite, these are pictures of children enjoying the company of others, playing, celebrating birthdays, and smiling.
Donations to Little Flowers entirely go to life-saving surgeries and 24-hour loving, family-like care to the most vulnerable of humans. This Christmas I can’t think of a better gift for these little miracles than a donation–even small–to this organization full of men and women truly doing God’s work by turning the Gospel into action. It’s Catholics like Brent and Serena that truly move the world through their fantastic works of faith!
To read more about Brent and Serena Johnson, check out their interview here