The Blue Sheep shop and proprietor help poor Chinese earn

Brad Molnar
Special to the Outlook

Dr. Ray is careful to say she is not a missionary, “there is no M after my name,” but advises that she is a Christian. Dr. Ray was raised in England and graduated from Bristol University with a degree in Internal Medicine. She then practiced medicine in India for a year, “because I wanted to see it. Of course I fell in love with it.” She then returned to England for 12 years for more medical training while working in various hospitals but it wasn’t her calling. In 1976, she contracted with the Nepal government to develop hospitals every “four days’ walk,” with a clinic every “two days’ walk.” Then she wrote the training manual for health workers and supervised the training of the Himalayan version of first responders.
After that, she self-funded the development of canoes and air-boats to transport patients along the Yangtze River in China. In places it was shallow and rock filled for hundreds of miles, but it was the only reliable transportation in central China.
Dr. Ray has brought medical attention to the poor in Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Mongolia, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Syria. Now retired she lives in Chengdu, China, she teaches the disabled and those in remote areas of China, how to economically care for themselves.
Dr. Ray’s main focus is on single mothers as their plight is so untenable. Northwest of Chengdu a woman becomes a single mother for many reasons including the death of her husband, his imprisonment for drug running on the Silk Road, or for performing revolutionary activities against the Chinese government. Further north a woman can be divorced for having two girl babies. In a land that gets two feet of rain a year, getting thrown out of the house with two babies is serious.
Dr, Ray teaches these impoverished people to make quality crafts which she then buys and sells them from her shop, The Blue Sheep, on a dark side street in Chengdu. I asked if the shop were self supporting.
“Not yet,” she replied. “I probably need help setting up a website.”
She got the idea for the shop after meeting a 17-year-old Tibetan boy. When he was ten years old his yak spooked, threw him, and his foot became tangled in the stirrup. As the yak drug him across the steppes two other yak riders caught his yak’s reigns but their yaks stepped on him. His leg was broken in many places and there was no hospital to take him to or money to pay for care. So his father cut off his leg with his wood axe.
When Dr. Ray met him he did not even have a crutch. He crawled or rolled from yurt to yurt. She got him into an art school so he could learn how to do the intricate designs Tibetans put on the prayer wall of their homes, on their furniture, and the eaves of their homes. He is now self-supporting.
Dr. Ray also works with a local teaching hospital serving up healthcare to the indigent of Chengdu, often using over-the-counter medicines brought in by travelers that know of her efforts.
She, I, the Thanksgiving Chengdu Church and Dr. Furber of Billings Mont., have come together to help one beggar (Chen) suffering from a rare genetic disorder causing hideous thickening of the skin on his hands and feet. The condition led to the amputation of his fingers and toes forcing him to walk on his knees. When his knees give out he will be immobile.
Tao Zheng is central to the above stories as she is a leader of a merry band of renegade missionaries. She introduced me to them and allowed me access to their work. She and many in her group of American-based friends personally give money to keep selected Xi children in public schools and pay the daily and teaching expenses of Cia Xia. The group personally goes into the mountain communities of the Golden Triangle, working with families and children trapped in unimaginable poverty giving them hope and direction for the future.
The missionaries also go north into the southern tip of the Himalayas, not only preaching the gospel and performing good works, but also working with survivors of the 2008 earthquakes. Adobe homes were no match for the quake and the death toll was high.
The Chinese government responded to the devastation of the quake and rebuilt the Tibetian villages, but the mines had collapsed and the terraced farms were ruined. The adults left to find work, leaving the children with their grandparents.
The grandparents are without resources, so the poverty grows deeper. Tao and her fellows in the Chengdu Thanksgiving Church are trying to set up day care with hot meals, after school care with meals and tutoring for students.
Tao has degrees in electrical engineering, business management, and is getting a Masters in Theology with a focus on humanitarian relief. Oh, and she is working on her American immigration papers since I changed her name to Tao Sheng Molnar.
Next: China cracks down on Christian missionaries


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