Yesterday was Compassion Sunday, which I presented (hosted? shared?) at my little church. I want to do a mirror of it here as Compassion Monday (even if I am posting this in the last few minutes of the day).
My friend/pastor’s wife and I sang “The Power of Your Name” yesterday, and it’s really amazing how the words Lincoln Brewster penned fit the whole theme.
“Surely children weren’t made for the streets
And fathers were not made to leave
Surely this isn’t how it should be
Let Your kingdom come…
I will live to carry Your compassion
To love a world that’s broken
To be Your hands and feet
And I will give this life that I’ve been given
And go beyond religion
To see the world be changed
By the power of Your name…”
The gospels say that Jesus fed the people because he felt compassion for them. To me, compassion is love in action. It is love strong enough to sacrifice part of me for the benefit of someone else.
There were many times over the years that my husband and I talked about sponsoring a needy child somewhere else in the world. But the years ticked by, and we didn’t do it. We talked about it again…and still didn’t do it. Finally the day came when he called me from work and said, “We have to do it now. Go find out which program we should do it through, and get it started today.” And so I started looking.
I checked out a number of programs, but here is why I felt that Compassion International was the program I wanted us to sponsor a child through:
1) Their fiscal responsibility and ratings. I wanted as much of my sponsorship dollars as possible to go to the children, and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going anywhere questionable. Compassion’s ratings are the highest.
2) There’s this little phrase tacked onto Compassion’s logo (when it’s big enough to squeeze the words in there). The words? “In Jesus’ name.” You see…The people in Compassion know that money alone isn’t enough to set a child free from poverty. Poverty is so much more than a lack of money. It creates hopelessness. It feeds depression and desperation and fear. And money can do nothing to permanently alleviate those.
But Jesus can.
Just as the song says…the world can only be changed through the power of the name of Jesus, because He is the only One who can/has/will conquer everything for which poverty is merely a result. You may disagree with me…but this is what I believe, and tens of thousands of people around the world have one million little reasons to agree with me.
And so Compassion works through local churches, acting as the connection between sponsors in first world countries who have a little (or a lot of) money and a caring heart, and churches in third world countries who have the opportunity and caring heart, but not the money to see to the desperate physical needs surrounding them. Because so often, it is the meeting of a physical need that opens the bruised and wounded heart to the healing Jesus’ offers. And as John said, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
It was about a year and a half ago, I think, that the kids and I sat down in front of the computer and looked at the Compassion website to choose a child. We decided we wanted to sponsor a child in a Spanish-speaking country, so that once they learned Spanish, they could converse in the child’s language. We decided to sponsor a boy, because my son does not have a brother. And so we found K-. He is only six days younger than my son, and we pray for him, and write to him, and get excited whenever we receive a letter in return from him.
I was thinking of K- and the many waiting children like him when I signed up to do Compassion Sunday a month or so ago. I was assuming that I’d share a little and…well…what else was I going to say?
I didn’t know that I was going to be virtually kidnapped two weeks later and taken along a Compassion Bloggers trip to Guatemala City. You see, Ann Voskamp, who blogs at A Holy Experience (and who started the whole 1000 gifts thing) went on this trip. And she took me along with her. And then I started following the others blogging the trip, until I was virtually kidnapped and couldn’t think about much for days other than what they were seeing and experiencing and sharing about in Guatemala City. It made everything so real!
I followed along with them as they visited hillsides that had been swept away by Hurricane Agatha. I rejoiced with them as they heard a mother share how the building materials supplied by Compassion were not her most precious gift. Rather, it was the love given in Jesus’ name that helped turn her son from the gangs that were luring him. He was even then away at school, building a future for himself.
I cried with Amanda as she witnessed sights she would gladly have gone without seeing her entire life, and then my heart found joy with hers as she saw the hope offered in the midst of what was more difficult to comprehend just days before.
My heart struggled to comprehend 20,000 families living at the Guatemala City Dump–this place where gangs think they rule, where even rats die from the water, and where children go missing. And yet if the parents manage to find work, then the children must go to the dump alone to scavenge, because just maybe, if they have a good week, they’ll find $5 worth of items to sell for food and clean water. Beautiful children like these:
It seems so hopeless.
And yet, there is hope in their lives.
You see… on April 10th, 1986, at 8:30 in the evening, a 21 year old who had been addicted to drugs since he was 13 years old gave his life to God. He got up from the floor where he had lain prostrate, completely free from his addictions. He has since proven that he really did give his life to God. As he said, “He who is loved much, serves much.”
Now his church is reaching out to the dump families. 120 people, ministering to 20,000. Their water purification system provides the only clean water in the area. They sell the water for 1/3 of the going price, and with the proceeds, pay for the loan Healing Waters gave them for the system (Compassion paid for half), provide building materials for the dump families, run a food program for them, and host a free weekly meal for any and all who are hungry. They also, with the help of 80 Compassion sponsors, minister to 125 children (45 of them are among the 816 children in Guatemala currently waiting for sponsors). His wife is a doctor, so she provides the medical care for the children…doing her best to make sure that these children aren’t among the 24,000 children who die every day of preventable causes.
Ann told of Daniel and Josue and Maynor–three 20-year-olds whose lives have been changed over the course of fourteen years as their sponsors wrote them and encouraged them and prayed for them…and as they were three of the chosen few who were accepted into the Leadership Development Program…and they told of what they are going to college for…and as they shared exactly how much those letters (all of which they kept) meant to them over the years.
I realized in a fresh way just how much God uses the letters and the time spent writing them. For these three young men are living changed lives because of letters. Lisa-Jo told how in these boys’ church, there is a little boy right now waiting for his sponsor to write his first letter so he can write one in return. And there’s another little boy hoping that his sponsor of five years will write him a third letter. And there’s another beautiful little girl named Darling who has never gotten one letter from her sponsor.
And so I wrote K- another letter, and I began thinking about being a correspondent for another child…someone who writes to those children whose sponsors can’t. (Or aren’t.)
But then I read this article about infanticide in India, and how many families kill their 3rd and 4th baby girls because they feel that to do otherwise is to doom the two they already have to severe poverty…for the cost of having a daughter is much, much higher than I realized.
And a face swam before my eyes. Months and months ago I clicked on that little banner on the left side of this page…the one that says, “Do you share a birthday with a child in poverty?” I found that I did…a teenage girl in India.
I didn’t do anything, for was I not already sponsoring one? But her face never left me, and beside her was the smiling face of a dear Indian friend of years ago, whom I’ve since lost track of. I don’t know how to find Lizzy, for I do not remember how to spell her married name. But could I not reach out to a girl from her country? A girl the age that she and I were when we shared our so-different stories of growing up? And could I not sponsor her with the overflow that God has recently blessed me with?
I ran another search…and found that someone else “got” her. But now my heart was hungry to find a young Indian friend again, and I found H-. She is so beautiful. She is also almost 20, and she is being blessed with the only free source of education on her side of Calcutta….by people reaching out to the poorest of the poor in Jesus’ name and giving them what others say they have no right to. She studying and learning and working on completing 9th grade so that she might rise from the poverty she was born into and realize her potential. Not all Compassion-sponsored children can stay in the program at her age, but she has one year left. And I have one year. One year to love her and pray for her and encourage her to become the woman God created her to be.
Perhaps $38/month sounds like a lot to you. Or perhaps it doesn’t. But did you know that if every church-going American gave 1% of their income, we could all sponsor 11 million children? That makes the 1.02 million currently sponsored through Compassion look…well…less impressive than it really is.
Would you like to join us? Are you willing to give 1% so that another brother or sister in Christ can reach out to a child in ways that you cannot? Would you like to know God?
Opportunity is just a click away…
This weekend’s gifts for Multitude Monday:
482. His blessing on yesterday’s Compassion Sunday and the privilege of connecting:
483. Nataly and her sponsor
484. Dary and his sponsor
485. Kevin and his sponsor, and
486. Snighha and her sponsor.
487. And for the two friends who are waiting…
488. For me to bring the six packets I still have so that they can each sponsor a child
489. And for the hope within me that the four who will be left will also find sponsors, either through me or through someone else. I don’t care which.
They are what matters. And they are my gifts, for they were sent to me for this short season. And so I pray for them, and I rejoiced as God gave me something specific to pray over each of them.