It has been said, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” Well, God is using a village of children to continually break my heart and raise me into the child he wants me to be.
In the eight years we’ve sponsored through Compassion International, we’ve loved 18 children from just over half of the countries in which Compassion works. I recently had a Compassion phone representative comment, “Hey! It looks like you have a little village here.” I had to laugh, because it’s more true than even he realized.
I knew God was calling me to sponsor a child through Compassion long before we picked up Mayara’s profile 8 years ago this month. I’ll admit that I used to go on Compassion’s website after my homework was done in my senior year of high school and browse through the children waiting for sponsorship. Honestly, I don’t know why I did this, because I was in no position to sponsor a child myself. I had never been on a mission trip, and I did not know much about poverty. Although I grew up in a broken home and had my fare share of struggles, “the least of these”, “abject poverty”, “Malaria”, and “the third world” were pretty foreign concepts to me. HIV/AIDS was just a subject in my freshmen health class, and I had access to food, education, and safe water every day. Friends had traveled on various mission trips, but I couldn’t grasp the devistating reality and lies of poverty. I was literally Blinded to the truth.
As I now look back at the 2.5 years in which we sponsored Mayara, I’m ashamed to admit I still didn’t fully understand. We exchanged some letters back and forth, and we paid our monthly support. But, we were not truly engaged in the relational aspect of sponsorship. We were helping this precious child, but what did we do to deserve her innocent trust and love? Absolutely nothing! We were unworthy of Mayara’s love, just as much as we are unworthy of the unconditional love of Christ.
When we found out that Mayara had left Compassion’s program, I grieved for lost hope and the fear of the unknown. Once the questions that could be answered were, I was able to move on.
Although I was still unfamiliar with many terms and aspects of poverty, losing Mayara put a chip in my heart.
In May of 2009 while preparing to facilitate a benefit concert for Compassion, we began to really research this ministry and dive deep into the realities of poverty. The stats were hopelessly overwhelming, but the hope was found in knowing that the light of Jesus shines brighter. By the time the event was over, my heart was shattered and burning with a true passion for children in third world countries, who live in abject poverty, face life-threatening diseases like Malaria and HIV/AIDS, and do not have daily access to safe water, education or food.
God has used our Compassion children to teach me many valuable lessons in these past 8 years. A financial gift that seems small to us is not small in the eyes and hands of God. Joy is not found in possessions, but in possessing the faith to say, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Children send Scriptures and words of encouragement that speak wisdom beyond their years. Family members can live on the other side of the world, and still share a deep bond of love. Learn to pray with the faith of a child, and you’ll be humbled to know that your children are praying for you. Sponsors’ letters are priceless treasures, and as such they should be sent often. Hold lightly the gifts God gives you in the form of these precious children, but know that God never lets go of them.
Some children have come and gone from our “little village”, but the lessons learned will always remain in the cracks and crevices of my fragile heart. I pray God will continue to break my heart for what breaks his, and I praise him for his love that overflows from my heart to their’s.