Her name was Joyce McMillan – an ordinary enough name for a woman born in the United States in 1914. Though her life began as many begin – growing up, finding a profession (nursing), and getting married – it hardly ended that way.
Upon her death in 2007 Joyce, called Granny, despite being a childless widow, not only was remembered by the hundreds whose lives she had touched, but was also eulogized by the President of Taiwan, who commended her devotion to the nation’s disadvantaged children.
Widowed in her 30’s, McMillan, when in her mid 40’s, answered a call to Taiwan to volunteer her nursing skills after learning that many Taiwanese children were suffering from tuberculosis.
But upon arrival in Taiwan it was not only the suffering from tuberculosis that made an impact on her, but the children suffering the literally crippling affects of polio.
We heard one such story from Chen Jung Sheng, now a grown man.
“Encouraged by Joyce we tried to stand up and search for our life,” he said, in sharing his own story of overcoming the challenge of being born crippled.
“When we were young we crawled on the earth – and had no hope. Joyce opened the door for our hope.”
He literally crawled on the earth. He described the feeling of having his face so close to the earth that it was literally all he could see – until, through the love of Joyce, as a young boy he was helped to his feet and taught to stand on his own.
Not only did that young boy learn how to stand on his own, but he is now helping to lift up others.
Chen Jung Sheng is the director of a company he founded, called Joyce Agape, that seeks to provide both dignity and financial sustainability to those suffering from mental and physical handicaps. “We see it as a love without boundaries,” he continued.
“We do this because we want to be a witness to the love of Joyce, and also of Christ,” he explained to us.
A witness to the love of Joyce. And also of Christ. But Joyce first – Joyce, the one whose tangible, flesh and blood love made a direct impact on his life, on their lives.
Joyce Agape, founded in 2003, now employes a staff of 61, more than two thirds of whom are disabled, either physically or mentally. Joyce Agape now in its 10th year, brings in $61 million annually – $1 million per staff member, pointed out Chen Jung Sheng – and supports 43 families.
“We don’t just offer a job – we believe that when we pass on love, we give new possibility,” said Chen Jung Sheng.
“We always remember Joyce.”
And also Christ.