Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Very Present Help

Children in Nicaragua are on my heart tonight in particular because of the earthquakes that they have been through this spring. Yesterday I received a letter from my 12 year old Axel in Nicaragua who wrote...  

"The vacations were not that good, because Nicaragua has been shaking. There were 2 earthquakes and we have many days without attending school. In the place where you live, has it been shaking?" 

Other sponsors have also been receiving letters from their Nicaraguan children who have written about the earthquakes and aftershocks... one boy wrote that it was terrifying and that it destroyed many houses, and another said that they missed 3 weeks of school and they slept outside because of the aftershocks. 

When our sponsored kids experience these kind of frightening events, we can pray for them, and share with them the truth of God's word.  Psalm 46:1-3 is one of the key scriptures that I have shared with my kids over the years in response to frightening events in their lives...

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.

As I considered the Nicaraguan children who are currently in need of sponsors, this one precious boy captured my attention. Raul is 9 years old, and lives in the typical adobe home with dirt floors such as I experienced when I visited in Honduras last month, and he too gathers firewood and carries water. But one part of his profile in particular pointed out another shaking he has experienced in his young life... he doesn't live with either of his parents, but lives with his grandparents. He has been waiting a very long time... 318 days for his sponsor, and that is a long time for a child to wait. Would you consider sponsoring Raul, and be one to stand with him and help provide stability for him through Compassion's sponsorship program? You just might be the one that he has been earnestly praying for.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Presence of Dignity

The presence of dignity doesn't mean that poverty is absent.
I was pondering this sentence in light of my recent trip to visit two of my Honduran sponsored children, and have many visual images imprinted on my memory related to this from the many people I met and the homes I visited, such as this one... 

 or this one...
or this...
Having visited in several of the homes, I prefer to turn this around and say, "The presence of poverty doesn't mean that dignity is absent," because the first thing I was so acutely aware of was the presence of poverty.

As I observed, albeit with a hurting heart for the families living in such impoverished conditions, I began to see also the dignity that many of them held...
homes and belongings were made as presentable as they could...
and I saw the sense of pride and joy as they welcomed us in...
The moment I was most overwhelmed with their dignity in the face of such poverty however, was when we were served a meal in the poorest of the homes that I visited.  Here was a family with so little in possessions in every way, with so little food, without even a source of water in their home or close by, who had spent so much of their time and meager resources to provide a meal for us...

a stack of handmade tortillas, a tasty chicken vegetable soup, a plate heaping with rice, and one of their chickens they had roasted along with with a few small eggs.

Eating that meal was painfully difficult knowing that this family struggles so hard for their food, and are often hungry... they have so little.  Yet the greatest gift we could give was to accept their generous gift, and to do so graciously, enjoying what has been so lovingly prepared... allow the ones who have been so often on the end of needing to receive from others, the privilege of being the generous givers. 

We did pray privately among ourselves before eating that we wouldn't get sick, and asked the Lord to bless the family for their generous hearts.
When faced with such dignity and generosity in the face of such extreme poverty, I just am overwhelmed.  I felt like they had prepared for us just like they would have done so for Jesus... sacrificially, and with great love.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Go: Treasure His Children

If I were to choose one word to describe this year, it is the word "Go."  I knew beforehand that this would be a year where I started traveling to visit children around the world, to love on them, hold them, and look them in the eyes and tell them how very valuable they are.  Early in January, I went to Mexico on a missions trip with other employees from Family Christian Stores... my first "real" international missions trip, and in May/June, I joined a group of Compassion sponsors to visit our sponsored children and minister to many others that the Father would show us.  

As I visited these countries, I had opportunities to love on fatherless children that I had never met before... own sponsored girl whose father has died... 

...friends' sponsored children who are orphans and who have been hurting both physically and emotionally...
and other precious orphans who have totally won my heart, such as Alondra in Mexico, and Teresa in Honduras.
As I did, I began to get a glimpse of the heart of our Heavenly Father for children around the world... 

to feel His heart for each of these children. 

The question has been asked, is it really worth the time, effort, and especially all that money to actually go?  What really is being accomplished by giving so much of your money?  of your time? of your energy?  Wouldn't it be better to just give that money to them to help with their needs?  What value is it to visit the children in their school classrooms...

where they eagerly run to the door to greet us?
and to see the conditions of their playgrounds where they are spending their childhood playing?

 What value is there in visiting them in their homes...

where we saw the reality of their harsh living conditions in more ways than just the physical ones?
What is the value in using all that money to spend an hour or a day or a week playing with children... 

providing learning activities for them...
and taking them on unforgettably fun outings?

I say the value is imparting incredible worth and hope
to each one that you allow your heart to touch. 
Maria is an absolutely transformed child from when Jonathan & Kim saw her last year.  She was beaming the whole week every time I saw her, and she knew that she was incredibly valued and loved by two very special somebodies in the world... as well as by the rest of us on the team who were all loving on her too.

I watched children transform and blossom right under my eyes, such as Irma here.  When I first met her, she wistfully asked if I knew her sponsor.  She has never received a letter from her sponsor, and the feeling of having so little value was written all over her face.  She couldn't even smile for me to take her picture.  
As I talked with her, telling her that she was such a precious treasure, and letting her know that it made me really sad that her sponsor had never written to her, and that I would do what I could to help her sponsor know how important letters were for her, hope began to come in her eyes, and a smile transformed her countenance.
 I saw children transformed by simple gifts, given with love...

I saw children transformed just by spending time together with them and in every way possible, to say that I loved them and that they were so very important...

Over and over I held children's faces, looked in their eyes, or hugged them, and told them that they were so precious... such a valuable treasure... that I loved them, and Father God loved them so incredibly much.  We often say that if we were the "only one", that Jesus still would have left the glory and riches of heaven to come to earth just for us, that we are that valuable, priceless, and precious to Him.  

That is true.  He would. We are each that valuable to Him.

And that is how He feels about each of these precious children... some unloved by the people they live with... some are loved but are in very difficult circumstances... all of them are facing the effects of poverty in multiple ways.

Ask yourself, what difference does it make to you for one important person in your life to tell you that you are loved and a priceless treasure?

I know that it matters to me.

I met my sponsored children's siblings, and loved on them too...
and met my child's friends...

who became my own special friends as well.
I sat on the floor with orphans, talking with them, listening to them, taking selfies together with them, 

hugging them...

and before we left, I loved this one like she was my own.

"Going" really isn't so difficult.  It's the leaving the children behind that is difficult.  I received far more than I ever expected when I went.  My heart has been flung open to embrace many children, every child that I can, not just my own sponsored children.  I can hardly wait to go back.

As I look over the photos of the children I sponsor as well as the children who are waiting for sponsors, many times I have caught my breath in awe of them...  "They are so beautiful..."  It's not so much about any kind of outward beauty as it is about glimpsing the Father's heart to see them for how He values each one.



 If you haven't written to your child recently, or have never told them what a valuable treasure they are, write them now.  They need to hear it from you.

If your heart is being stirred to go, get ready to go!

And if you are willing to open your heart to another child in need of a sponsor, do whatever you can to make this a reality.  We have so much.  


We have so much that we could use to invest instead in the life of a priceless child.

This sweet 5 year old boy, Antony, is in the same project that we visited for a week... I walked up and down those stairs behind him many times!  I know that you would be so very blessed to sponsor him, and you could make such a difference in his life.

Antony is one of many children in need, but will you embrace this one?  Tell him that he is valuable?  That he is not just one face among many in the crowd, but that you personally SEE him, and will love him, in Jesus' name?

We are the Body of Christ... Will you extend His hand of compassion, to share His love in every way that He gives you to do?