In partnership with Shining Star, a local volunteer organization founded by former CWEF High School Scholarship recipients, the GROW program works with ‘left-behind children’ in Northern Guangdong province. The GROW program connects left-behind children with university student mentors by providing them support and encouragement through in-person visits, phone calls, special activities at their school, and facilitating improved communication between children and their parents.
Meet Deng Zuoxin and Deng Yiyun, two students who grew immensely through their first-hand experience in the GROW program.
Prior to the GROW program, Deng Zuoxin was very loud and undisciplined in the classroom. His classroom teacher often reminded him to listen carefully, but he was unwilling to obey. Zuoxin’s large family of multiple brothers, sisters, and cousins resulted in the lack of attention he received at home. This resulted in his disobedience in the classroom as a means of attracting attention from his teacher and classmates.
Zuoxin did not know how to express his needs, therefore spoke in a loud voice and fought with other students. The GROW volunteer teachers sat quietly with him, explaining and guiding him on his communication skills. After one year in the GROW program, Zuoxin is more patient and has learnt to better communicate with his words instead of fighting. He is building a stronger relationship with his peers, and is growing in his collaborative skills.
At home, Yiyun lives with her three sisters, and parents. Yiyun’s mother suffers from a defect in her behavioral IQ, and has often been rejected by the villagers. Likewise, Yiyun has also been rejected by her classmates in school. In her first interactions with mentors in the GROW program, it was observed that Yiyun “seemed to know that she was being rejected, and she could not care too much about it.” She often sat quietly in the corner of the classroom and did not complain.
Prior to the GROW program, Yiyun was a member of the dance club. She was unable to express herself as a dancer, and was encouraged to try other activities like sports. She was better able to express herself through sports, and began to wear a smile on her face. She was taught teamwork through games, and experienced continuous cooperation alongside her teammates. Yiyun’s experience with her teammates in basketball and kite-flying gave her more confidence to make new friends. Her classmates also began recognizing Yiyun’s ability and confidence in sports, giving them an opportunity to get to know Yiyun. Since the start of the GROW program, Yiyun has made new friends and has become a more cheerful and expressive person.
At its May 22 Board of Councillors meeting, Concordia Welfare & Education Foundation unanimously appointed Joshua Lange as its Executive Director. Since 2010, Josh has served CWEF in various roles as Shanghai Service Coordinator, Operations Director, and most recently as Interim Executive Director.
Josh hails from the state of Missouri in the U.S. and holds a marketing degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia. In 2016, he earned a master’s degree in Global Leadership from Azusa Pacific University. Prior to his service with CWEF, Josh worked for a marketing agency in St. Louis and served for two years as Communication Specialist for the Asia regional office of LCMS International.
“Having known and worked with Josh for more than a decade, I cannot imagine a more gifted, passionate, selfless servant-leader for CWEF at this point in time. Josh brings a wealth of experience to the role of Executive Director and has been prepared by God to lead CWEF forward in the opportunities God is providing us to share the love of Jesus Christ. What a joy it will be to work in partnership with Josh!” shared CWEF Board Chair Doug Werth.
In 2013, Josh married Yang Wei (“Coco”). Coco is a graduate of Nanjing University and earned a master’s degree in international business from Birmingham University in England. They are parents to three-year-old John, and newborn daughter Sophia. The Lange family is based in Shanghai and are active members of their church, where Coco uses her musical talents and Josh teaches Sunday School.
Of his new role as Executive Director, Josh shared “It is my continued joy and privilege to serve and learn together with our team, partners, project participants and supporters as executive director for CWEF. God has given us wonderful opportunities to reach out to students and families in Asia with the love of Christ, and we intend to keep working hard to find ever deeper and more effective ways to work with and for them.”