Potential: the capacity for something or someone to develop and change.
ADRA International has reported that more than 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school. Why? Because caregivers, educators, policymakers, and the societies at large do not see the potential within these children to contribute in meaningful ways for the betterment of their communities.
A few months ago, we met with local government and community workers to collect information about children in our district who are not attending school. On the list of names was Chang, a 17-year-old boy who is mostly paralyzed from the waist down from childhood polio. The social worker described how much Chang wanted to study and learn. The boy’s father was chronically ill and couldn’t work, and his mother was struggling to support the family. With so many mouths to feed, Chang’s special educational needs presented a seemingly impossible hurdle. The social worker begged us to visit Chang.
It wasn’t easy to find Chang’s house. Though it is only about a 10-minute drive from our learning center, it took us an hour to locate it on an unpaved, potholed back alley. Chang was nervous about talking with us. We started visiting him and his family every week, and he and his brothers started warming up to us. We learned that Chang really loves storybooks, especially fables or parables that teach important lessons. He also loves to draw animals and nature scenes.
We purchased some art supplies for Chang and a how-to-draw book. We also began bringing books from our learning center library to read to him and his brothers. Chang loves to listen and look at the pictures as Teacher Ming reads. We have been encouraging him to consider illustrating children’s books someday or even writing the books as well. We want him to dream about his future and develop his talents.
Long ago, the Psalmist wrote, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. . . . How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:16-17 NLT). We believe that God’s thoughts for Chang and his family are precious and that He sees all their potential.