Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Dr. Jim Garrow
Dr. Jim Garrow was willing to be called a “smuggler” and a “child trafficker,” risking his life if the Chinese police discovered what he was doing – but for this Canadian living in the land of a one-child policy, saving baby girls from certain death was worth the risk.
“That river was fraught with dangerous currents,” Garrow explains. “As a foreigner, especially, if I were caught ‘stealing babies,’ as the Chinese authorities would perceive my actions, I would be killed. Pure and simple. … Failure was not an option.”
This amazing story of how one man began a quest that literally saved the lives of over 40,000 children and counting all started in 2000 when Garrow, the fantastically successful chief of the Bethune Institute’s popular schools in China, one day found his assistant weeping.
The weeping woman explained her sister’s husband was insisting that the couple’s newborn daughter be “set aside,” meaning killed – to make way for a son under China’s one-child policy.
Garrow promised to help and was able to place the infant with an adoptive couple. But that one act of kindness and courage soon brought him the story of another girl at risk, and another and another.
“I did not start out to save the lives of endangered baby girls. Endangered. A strange word, usually associated with baby seals or dol¬phins,” Garrow explains in his new book, “The Pink Pagoda: One Man’s Quest to End Gendercide in China,” published by WND Books. “My passion, my mission, did not start with a major worldview. It all started with one baby girl whose parents were faced with the reality of ‘setting her aside.’”
It didn’t take long for his life-saving work to become known, and Garrow eventually spent some $31 million of his own money to divert the trail of death that China creates with its limits on children.
But as Garrow explains in “The Pink Pagoda,” not even his wealth and connections – his guanxi, as the Chinese say – could protect him from the danger he was about to face when he began saving babies.
“Our initial preparations offered no indication of any problems,” Garrow relates, in one of the harrowing stories from his first days rescuing infants. “We arrived at the baby’s home, collected the child, and headed back to our car. There were three of us, two women and me, and all seemed to have gone well until we headed out on the road. All too quickly, we noticed that we were being followed, and the game plan would have to change.
“We headed instead for the subway and quickly hatched a bait-and-switch maneuver,” he continues. “One woman would be holding the baby, the other a baby ‘bundle.’ Once on the subway, the two women split up, and our pursuers had no way of knowing which woman had the baby they were after. The woman with the real baby got off at the designated place, and rejoined us on our journey back to Chongqing. It was the closest call we’d had so far, but sadly, it was not to be the last or the most dangerous.
“That danger was moving in all around us, but like the Buddhist koan about the fish who doesn’t know it’s in the water, I didn’t know that I was starting to drown,” he writes.
Soon thereafter, Garrow was visited by a member of the Chinese secret police, beginning a dangerous story of cloak-and-dagger cat and mouse with the intelligence community, only it wasn’t secrets being stolen and smuggled, it was babies.
“People have often asked how I dealt with that kind of pressure,” Garrow explains. “Simple: I didn’t. If I had put my conscious attention on eventualities, I would have been thwarted in all my efforts. I just pressed on. I also reminded myself of the promise I had made to God those many years ago. I was connected to a kind of divine certainty, and I embraced what for many is simply an evangelical cliché – ‘Let go and let God.’ For me it was not a cliché, but a mandate.”
Using the same entrepreneurial gifts that grew his Pink Pagoda English immersion schools – more than 160 of them – to success, Garrow launched into a career of saving unwanted daughters.
Risking his family, his employees, deep-cover Chinese intelligence assets and his own safety to save girls, one at a time, from the clutches of death, Garrow illustrates the power of God to shape lives and influence others to fight injustices around the world.
His work involves letting word spread to Chinese families that their baby girls are wanted by couples around the globe.
For his efforts in “human trafficking,” Garrow was nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, which eventually was won by Barack Obama.
Garrow’s book takes a reader into a world that continues to be shrouded in mystery and shadows. The book’s purpose is not to denigrate the Chinese government or people. Rather, the story of gendercide and of Garrow’s efforts to end it, represent a terrible tragedy for China whose people are forced into heartbreaking choices because of an ill-conceived law established back in 1979.
It’s a story of courage and danger and daring, but Garrow doesn’t see himself has a man of extraordinary courage, only simple conviction.
“I’m an ordinary man,” Garrow writes, “who found himself caught up in extraordinary circumstances who then responded with only one word. Yes.”