A “father” to more than 20 kids. A Chinese monk’s unconventional way of reducing abortions.

Compassion knows no bounds.

By Chan Cheow Pong | March 20, 2017

He was a successful local businessman in Nantong city in Jiangsu, China. After he was ordained as a monk, he lived in a local Buddhist temple.

5 years ago, he converted his villa in his hometown that he had wanted to leave for his daughter, into a living space for unwed mothers. The space — “Saving Lives Home” (护生小居) has since helped more than 130 pregnant mothers who wanted to abort their babies, and also helped to raise some of them.

This is the story of Reverend Chang Deng (常灯法师) of Wanshan Temple, as told in a heart-warming video uploaded on micro-blogging platform Weibo.

Chang is now taking care of more than 20 kids. Some of them are being fostered by volunteers, while others live in the temple. About six to seven kids have his name listed as their “father”.

The unconventional way social intervention came about as Chang could not bear to see these unwed mothers going through abortions.

He is acutely aware of how he might be viewed with suspicion, especially the moral hazard and legal risks involved, given that he is a monk who has to be celibate.

Some hospitals have refused to help some of the unwed mothers deliver and the police has also questioned him more than once, as the home is not an official adoption agency.

Part of the costs of operating “Saving Lives Home” comes from the rents he collects from the factory space he owns when he was still in business, and part of it comes from donations.

In the video, Reverend Chang spoke about his personal beliefs for helping unwed mothers and saving the unborn kids:

“For those who managed to contact me, I will be able to help about 90% of them. Some will ask candidly for a place to shelter them, and they would want to take care of their babies after giving birth; Some will say directly: ‘Master, I will leave them with the temple, as long as I can see them in future, that will be enough. The other 10%, they will go ahead with the abortion. Such situations are quite common, it can’t be helped.

Many people asked me. You have helped so many kids, you want them to be ordained as monks or nuns, if they don’t, won’t you be disappointed? I will these people, in that case, isn’t there one more life in this world? If he or she can go back to his mum, it is also a good thing.”

When asked how long will he continue his benevolence, Reverend Chang said: “As long as life never ends, the giving will never stop”.

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About Chan Cheow Pong

It took Cheow Pong two decades to recover from the trauma of memorising General Paper essays before he was ready to be an English writer. In between affliction and recovery, he thoroughly enjoyed his time writing in Chinese and doing Chinese translations.

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