“Man who says it can’t be done should not interrupt man doing it.”
Project C.U.R.E.’s first donations of medical equipment and supplies had entered China in 1989, and even though Project C.U.R.E. wanted to cooperate and send even more medical goods into China, the government had introduced new restrictions that blocked our efforts. China did not have any law or written policies regarding outside humanitarian groups wanting to enter their country. They simply said, “No.”
Traveling with me on my trip from Denver to Beijing was Joshua Zhong, founder of Chinese Children Adoption International and a native of Fushun, China. He had made contact with a very high government official in Beijing, named Yan Ming Fu. Mr. Yan had recently been appointed to Minister of Civil Affairs and head of China Charity Federation. Everyone had advised me that our attempt to travel to Beijing and receive any concessions would be absolutely futile. No one was receiving permission to work in China.
The Federation had been established in 1994 with the sole purpose of being in total control of all humanitarian efforts throughout the country. They were in charge of all disaster relief, social relief, poverty issues and any other charitable functions. If Project C.U.R.E. would ever hope to find favor within China for their humanitarian work, that favor would have to come through that one man. I realized that all of Project C.U.R.E.’s involvement in China in the future was dependent on finding a way to be accepted by the Federation and given special favor and recognition.
Friday morning was very cold and stormy in Beijing. Our small taxi took us through the rain to a large government office building not too far from Tiananmen Square and “Forbidden City,” where we were to meet with Mr. Yan. I felt the excitement of the occasion as I walked into the room. This meeting would determine Project C.U.R.E.’s effectiveness, or even existence, in China. The time had come.
I thanked the officials deeply for the meeting and began to share with them about Project C.U.R.E. and our work around the world. I told them that I had visited many of the Chinese hospitals and had performed “Needs Assessment Studies.” I showed Mr. Yan many pictures of their own needy hospitals. I had seen their healthcare system with my own eyes. Mr. Yan jumped right in and began asking me many questions. I showed him pictures of our warehouses and volunteers in the United States. Finally, I felt the time was right and went for the main point.
“Mr. Yan, I have fallen in love with your country and your people, and I want to be a friend and come along side you. But it is too difficult to work with you. Everyone has told me that I am foolish to come directly to you, but I sincerely want to help. The problem is that your system does not allow me to be successful. I cannot ship my donations into China like I can the other nearly 100 countries around the world. That makes me very sad. So, I have come all the way to Beijing to ask you to help me.”
Mr. Yan looked at me and with a quick wink said, “So, they tell you that you are foolish to come and talk to me directly because I will say, ‘No’. Well, in our country we have an old Chinese proverb, ‘Man who says it can’t be done should not interrupt man who is doing it!’”
“Who has given you the trouble?” Mr. Yan rumbled, “Because you and I are going to work together in China for a long time in the future.” “I don’t believe that it is any ‘person’,” I answered, “it is just that your laws do not allow for it. I need your help to guide me around that problem,”
“Well,” Mr. Yan said emphatically, “you have come to the right place. I am the right man to help you. From this day forward you will not again have a problem getting any of your shipments or programs into China, and they will be tax-exempted. I will see to it personally. As you have shown me, our big city hospitals are functioning quite well, but our smaller hospitals and our rural areas in China need everything. We must work together for a long time. Dr. Jackson, do you want to sign an agreement to guarantee your status?”
“Yes,” I answered emphatically, “I would like that!” I was astounded at the complete acceptance. When the proper paperwork was completed, Mr. Yan entered the room again and came to the table and sat down beside me. He took out his pen and we both signed the agreements as the flashing lights from the cameras lighted up the room. It was done. Everything I could have hoped for was on an official document and signed by one of the most influential men in all China. I stepped outside the big gray concrete government building. The rain had stopped and the sun was shining in Beijing.