Day 31: What’s next?

As it rains and the wind blows outside this morning, I cannot help but think of how beautiful this month has been. Not only have we had unseasonably warm fall weather here in Michigan for the greater part of October, but this month-long series on spreading God’s love locally and globally through compassion has been especially beautiful. We have been challenged, and our hearts are filled. We do not want this spirit of compassion to end, and we pray you want it to continue as well.

 

So, what’s next?

 

Today, your challenge is simple yet life changing. Will you join us in seeking the Lord for what he would have you do in response to 31 days of compassion? Might he be calling you to minister in your local community? Are you being led to share the ministry of Compassion International with your sphere of influence? You can fast and/or pray, whatever you are most comfortable doing. No matter how you approach this final challenge, we pray it is not the final step in your journey of showing compassion. On the contrary, we pray this is just the beginning of a beautiful, courageous, and bold walk of faith that we each take to spread God’s love locally and around the globe.

 

Share your story or next steps!

 

If you have a testimony of how God used this series to draw you closer to his heart, or if you want to share how God is calling you to continue walking in compassion, we would love to hear from you! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and thank you for joining us in October for our 31 days of compassion. Please stay tuned for more posts and series in the days to come!

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 19: Advocate for a child living in poverty

One of the reasons we love Compassion International is their child-focused approach to ministry. By helping a child through four areas of development: physical, economic, social, and spiritual, Compassion is able to release that child from poverty in Jesus’ name and allow that young person to make an eternal difference in their world. For day 19 of our 31 days of compassion, we want to invite you to join us in advocating on behalf of a child who is still in need of a sponsor.

 

Throughout the past few weeks, we have looked at poverty and spreading God’s love locally and around the globe. We have seen how poverty wreaks havoc on the well-being of those living in its grip, and we have had the opportunity to shine the light of Christ in dark desolation. Sponsoring through Compassion International is one way to spread God’s love to a child living in poverty. Sponsorship is much more than the $38.00 donation each month. This is a chance for someone to bless and be blessed. Through prayers and letters of encouragement, sponsors are able to watch their sponsored child grow and develop into a successful young man or woman, despite their surrounding circumstances. Will you take the time to encourage someone you know to sponsor a child today? Will you speak up on behalf of a child living in poverty?

 

How do I choose a child to advocate for?

 

You may be thinking to yourself, “There are so many children in need around the world. I could not possibly pick just one child to advocate for!” Whether you advocate for one or 100 children, that choice is between you and the Lord. We want to help you narrow down your choices a bit if we may.

 

• Choose a child from the country or region you prayed for yesterday

• Choose a child who has been waiting far too long for someone to say, “I love you”

Choose a child with a specific birthdate

• Advocate for a child who has lost one or both parents

• Speak up on behalf of a child who may feel unloved because of his or her special needs

• Choose to find a sponsor for a young person who may feel forgotten as they enter adulthood

• Choose a child who has the same name as you or someone you love

 

Who are you praying and advocating for today? What steps are you taking to help that child find his or her special sponsor? We want to introduce you to our prayer child who is waiting for his sponsor.

 

Will you help us find Eric’s sponsor?

 

Eric lives in Ghana, West Africa with his uncle, grandmother, and one sibling. Those who are able to find work in the community where Eric and his family live only make an average of $32.00 a month. At the age of eight, Eric is in kindergarten. He enjoys playing soccer. As of October 19, Eric has been waiting 444 days for someone to step up and change his life for eternity through an act of compassion. Would you please join us in praying for Eric and helping him find his sponsor?

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 8: Praying for children in poverty

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Mat 18:20).

 

If you have prayed for another person or had someone pray for you, then you would agree with me that prayer is very powerful. Whether the need is related to health, finances, relationships, ministry, salvation, or employment, prayer is a driving force in the body of Christ. Without that intimate conversation with our creator, we have a breakdown in our vital relationship with him.

 

Today, as we begin day eight of our 31 days of compassion, we want to gather to pray for children in poverty around the world. While we could simply pray for the Lord to bless and be near to all children in poverty, and we should pray for this, we have a unique opportunity to pray for children by name. We may not see their faces, but God sure does. He knows their needs, and we have the privilege of joining hearts across the globe and lifting our voices on their behalf.

 

Will you join us in prayer?

 

Through a free monthly prayer calendar delivered right to your email inbox, Compassion International gives you a unique way to pray specifically for children and staff involved in their ministry. Andy and I receive the prayer partner newsletter, and it has challenged us in our relationships with the Lord. As we intercede on behalf of children in poverty who are so very close to the heart of God, we feel a deeper connection with the creator of life.

 

Let us take a deeper look inside the prayer calendar

 

When I open the prayer calendar email each month, I am challenged by an overall message to take away. The message for this month reminded me that children observe and imitate those around them. Not only am I challenged to pray for the children and staff in Compassion’s ministry, but also I am reminded that the children in my life observe me and imitate what they see.

 

Highlighting needs around the world

 

Each month, the prayer calendar highlights specific needs around the world. These needs could include:

 

• Children and staff suffering loss because of natural disasters

• Safety and protection for those in vulnerable situations

• Children who are victims of abuse and other violation

• Children at-risk for or suffering from health concerns

• Family, friends, and sponsors grieving the loss of a precious child’s life

• Children grieving the loss of family members

• Family members suffering from health concerns

• Highlighting specific ministry partners and programs

• The ministry of sponsors and Compassion advocates

 

Scripture tells us repeatedly that the Lord hears the cries of his children. What prayers has God answered for you lately? Can you share a time when you have been blessed by someone praying for you? Will you join us and become a prayer partner with Compassion?

 

 

31 Days of Compassion

Miranda’s reflections on day 1: 50 cents and a smile

I could not simply place this God-sized story in the comments section of the day 1 post for you to miss, because I want to share how faithful the Lord is in answering a very simple prayer. Before I left for classes at the local community college this morning, Andy and I prayed for God to give us ways to show our definition of compassion today.

 

Later in the morning, when I transferred from one city bus to another, I encountered a driver who was extremely rude and disrespectful to another passenger. After further discussion with this passenger, I learned that she is new in town and this explained her being unfamiliar with how the public transportation system works. In short, she needed money to get back home later in the day and was not aware she needed exact change. Before my conversation with this passenger, I had previously tried to help her locate her destination and encountered the unkind words of the driver in return for my efforts. I sat in my seat, feeling frustrated and sad for this other young woman, and the Lord prompted me to check my wallet.

 

While I carry quarters with me at all times for bus money, 50 cents will get me nowhere. Unless they equal 75 cents or more, those quarters are essentially useless to me. To this other passenger however, who was lacking the needed 50 cents, those quarters would be priceless. When I checked my wallet at the Lord’s prompting, I found a mere 50 cents. By blessing this newcomer with what I otherwise might have seen as a meager gift, the Lord allowed me to show compassion to someone today. If I had not had my eyes open to the Lord’s leading, I might have missed such a beautiful encounter.

 

Do you want to encounter compassion? Starting right where you are, you can envelop the globe with God’s love. It is not too late to join us in our 31 Days of Compassion!

31 Days of Compassion

Plan B: A major update on our Dominican Republic trip!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

As we have prepared over the past year to go to the Dominican Republic with Compassion International, we have been blessed by the many prayers and overwhelming support. In order to travel this November, we needed to guarantee we could have the funds available in time for our United States travel and lodging, immunizations, and other incidental expenses. To not lose the already paid for Compassion portion, we needed to make our final decision by the end of August as to whether or not we would go in November. We will not be traveling to the Dominican Republic in November of this year, but instead go to plan B.

 

Anticipating that the funds would not be available in time, we began the process of transferring our registration from the November 2013 trip to the April 2014 sponsor tour. Compassion has graciously agreed to transfer our non-refundable deposits for November to April. The Compassion portion of the April trip is less expensive than the November trip, so we will not owe any additional money to Compassion by traveling in 2014.

 

Through gracious and unexpected donations, we have met our financial goal! Words could not express how humbled we are by the generosity of those of you who donated in faith and support for this dream to be realized! However, as the transfer process was already started upon receiving the final donations, it would not be feasible to reverse the transfer process without major complications and the possibility of not traveling at all. Being that the April trip is over 6 months away, we will also have more time to purchase domestic airfare and lodging, get our immunizations, apply for our passports, ETC. In all honesty, we are breathing a sigh of relief about this. Moreover, the April 2014 Dominican Republic sponsor tour is an extended weekend trip that runs from Friday April 4 through Tuesday April 8. As Andy and I are both college students, we feel this extended weekend trip will better suit our schedules instead of juggling coursework while working diligently to enjoy the weeklong tour in November. With this change of plans, we would appreciate your continued prayers and encouragement.

 

Prayer requests

 

  1. As the November trip dates draw near, please pray for our emotions, as we will not be traveling during this time as previously planned.
  2. Please pray for our final preparations over the next few months to go smoothly and without complication.

 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. We look forward to keeping you updated as our plans progress and the trip draws near.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

A year in review: Update on our Nov 2013 Dominican Republic trip

It was a year ago today when we first shared with you our dream of traveling to the Dominican Republic this November with Compassion International as part of a sponsor-exposure tour. On this trip, we will experience the ministry of Compassion first-hand, meet our sponsored child Vladimir, and raise awareness about Compassion’s ministry through our blog and future opportunities. Much has happened in the past year, and we wanted to write and update regarding our fundraising efforts and specific prayer requests.

 

Fundraising updates

 

First, we would like to thank those who have donated to this trip. As a result of our saving and donations, both the Compassion International expenses and our passports have been funded. We are still raising funds for remaining expenses including travel and lodging within the United States, immunizations and Malaria medications, and any other incidentals we may encounter. In continuing to raise the needed funds, we are in the process of researching and planning various fundraising activities, and we look forward to updating you on their success when the time comes. As stated before, any money raised above and beyond the costs of this trip will be donated to Compassion International upon our arrival home to aid their ministry in the Dominican Republic. If you feel led to donate towards this trip, please feel free to go here to do so. Please keep in mind that donations are not tax deductible, as we are receiving services in return for expenses paid.

 

Prayer requests

 

We have seen the Lord work miracles in this past year, and we are trusting that he will continue to do so. Here are some specific prayer requests that we would like to share with you.

 

  1. Please pray for wisdom, peace, and strength for the Compassion staff who are working tirelessly to plan this trip.
  2. Please pray for everyone planning to travel, that all needs would be met and every heart would be open to what the Lord would have in store.
  3. Please pray for the Lord to prepare the hearts of the children, staff, and families in the Dominican Republic as we long to be a blessing and minister to them while we’re there.
  4. Please pray for Andy and myself to continue trusting the Lord for the finances and other trip needs to be met.
  5. Pray also that we will have grace, patience, and flexability with one another before, during, and after we travel.
  6. Please pray for anyone who reads our blog. As we hope to raise awareness of children in poverty and the ministry of Compassion International, please pray for the Lord to open hearts and lead who he sees best to join us in meeting the needs of these precious children.

 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We look forward to updating you again as the weeks go on and our departure draws near.

My birthday wish

 

 

When you read the word “birthday”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a party with friends and family? Is it a birthday cake? Or, is it the gifts you receive?

Today is my birthday. I’m planning to spend the weekend with Andy and a very dear friend who I haven’t seen in 9 years. Andy has given me some gifts, and my friend and I plan to go out to lunch tomorrow as part of our fun weekend. I am blessed and excited to spend this time with people I love, and I never want to take the gifts in my life for granted.

 

I do have one birthday wish

 

When Andy asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I did give him a list of “things” that I would appreciate. However, the items on my birthday list are wants rather than needs. As I think back over my life, I am in awe of all the Lord has brought me through and the many ways in which he has blessed me. I could never imagine wondering if I will live to see my next birthday, but this is reality for many in our world today. Knowing this makes me truly grateful that I woke up today, and my needs (and many of my frivolous wants) are met.

I do not want a birthday gift for myself today, but I want a gift for Peaceman, Anna, and Rosa. These precious children share my birthday, and I want them to truly celebrate! I want them to know they are a gift from God, and he knows and loves them in a unique and special way. Will you pray for each of these children today, and if he leads you, will you sponsor them on our birthday?

Passing on the vision of hope

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” — Helen Keller

 

Yesterday marked the annual observance of World Sight Day, a day set aside to promote global awareness regarding Blindness and visual impairment. World Sight Day is observed on the second Thursday in October, and focuses on educating people around the world about prevention and rehabilitation of the Blind and visually impaired.

 

You may or may not know that Andy and I are both completely blind. I was born without eyesight, and Andy lost his eyesight as a young adult. Over the years, we have faced various challenges in regards to our Blindness, but none that could not be overcome. Here in the United States, we have laws to protect people with disabilities such as Blindness or visual impairment from discrimination in education and employment. We have healthcare specialists who are trained to care for people with a variety of eye conditions, and there is health education available to the general public as well. Furthermore, the government provides funding to people who are disabled and need financial assistance with daily living expenses.

 

According to the World Health Organization (2012), 285 million people in the world are visually impaired. About 90%  of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries. “Blindness is most prevalent in developing countries where malnutrition, inadequate health and education services, poor water quality and a lack of sanitation leads to a high incidence of eye disease” (Himalayan Cataract Project, 2012).

 

When Andy and I were both completing our primary and secondary education, we faced barriers that our sighted classmates did not face. However, there were special educational services in place, and we were able to receive the additional materials and instruction needed to allow us to graduate with our peers.

I can not read regular print, so I was taught from a young age how to read Braille. We use a text-to-speech screen reading program called JAWS for Windows to independently use our computer. We adapt things in our life where needed, and we have relied on individuals with special training to help us learn Braille and other technology.

 

Imagine how difficult it must be then, for a visually impaired child living in poverty, who does not have such laws or special educational services provided to them. For children living in poverty, there already exists a lack of scholastic materials, teachers, and adequate educational facilities. Many families living in poverty do not have the money to pay for school uniforms or tuition fees. I imagine it is additionally difficult to provide special educational services or materials such as Braille or large print to a child who is visually impaired.

 

Andy and I, like many other visually impaired individuals in the United States, have also received independent living and vocational rehabilitation services. These services are provided by the government to aid the visually impaired individual in independently caring for their daily needs, traveling safely, and obtaining employment or higher education. This further allows us to contribute to society by adequately and independently caring for our family and home.

For someone living in poverty that is visually impaired, it may be difficult or impossible to contribute to their family and community by performing such necessary tasks as carrying water, or buying and selling goods in the market (Himalayan Cataract Project, 2012).

 

While reading this, you may feel that there could not possibly be hope for people living in poverty who are visually impaired. Andy and I believe there is hope, and we believe that each of us can make a difference. We must be willing to catch the vision of hope and pass it on. The World Health Organization estimates that 19 million children under age 15 are visually impaired. “Of these, 12 million children are visually impaired due to refractive errors, a condition that could be easily diagnosed and corrected.” Furthermore, “Globally, 80% of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured” (World Health Organization, 2012).

 

Donate today, to provide critical medical treatment to a visually impaired child living in poverty!

 

One way you can provide hope to a visually impaired child living in poverty is by donating to Compassion International’s medical assistance fund. This fund is part of Compassion’s Complimentary Interventions program, and provides medical treatment to the children Compassion serves around the world. For children who are visually impaired, this treatment may include eye exams, eyeglasses, surgery, or prosthetic eyes. Specific treatment depends on the country, and what resources are available.

 

Pass on the vision of hope to one of these children today!

 

Another way you can provide hope to a visually impaired child living in poverty is by sponsoring one of the children featured below! Your sponsorship and letters of love and encouragement will let your sponsored child know that he/she is loved and prayed for, and that even with a physical disability, he/she still has a unique ability to be greatly used in the Kingdom of God. You will be able to help your sponsored child know and realize that their visual impairment does not limit God’s ability to work in and through them. You can give one of these children, their family, and community the vision of hope! I can guarantee your own vision of hope will also become clearer than ever before.

 

*Update: Zewdneh from Ethiopia has been sponsored! Thank you for passing on the vision of hope to this precious child!

 

Meet Yahir from Mexico

 

Yahir is 5 years old, and lives in the coastal community of Ponte Duro with his mother and at least one sibling. At home, Yahir’s duties include carrying water and running errands. Playing ball games and running are his favorite activities. In kindergarten his performance is average and he also regularly attends church activities and Bible class.  Yahir’s mother is sometimes employed.  Most adults in Ponte Duro work as fishermen and earn the equivalent of $130 per month.

 

One thing Yahir’s community needs is an improved community health center, and one of the common health concerns is malnutrition. As stated at the beginning of this post, these are two causes of eye disease in developing countries.

Some of the benefits provided to Yahir via your sponsorship are: Bible classes, medical checkups, health and hygiene education, nutritious food, reading workshops, school supplies and homework supervision. In addition, your consistent letters of love and encouragement will give Yahir the confidence he needs to reach his full God-given potential.

Will you change Yahir’s life today?

 

Meet Francis from the Philippines

 

In his home, Francis helps by carrying water, gathering firewood and caring for children.  He lives on the plains of Poblacion with his parents and at least one sibling.  His father is sometimes employed and his mother maintains the home. Most adults in Poblacion are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $75 per month.

 

For fun, Francis enjoys singing, playing with marbles and art. He attends church activities and Vacation Bible School regularly and is in primary school where his performance is average.

One of the Common health problems in Francis’s community is malnutrition, and two of the community needs are affordable health care and improved sanitation. Your sponsorship allows the staff of Agape Child Development Center to provide Francis with Bible lessons, medical and dental treatment, sports, talent showcases, educational field trips, school supplies and fees and leadership development programs.

Francis will turn 9 on November 30. What a wonderful birthday present your friendship would be!

 

Meet Angel from Mexico

 

Angel is 9 years old, and he makes his home with his father and his mother. Carrying water and running errands are his household duties.  His father is sometimes employed and his mother maintains the home.  There are 4 children in the family. Soccer and playing with cars are Angel’s favorite activities. In primary school his performance is below average and he also regularly attends church activities, Bible class and Vacation Bible School.

 

Angel lives in the hillside community of Coxquihui, Veracruz, home to approximately 5,000 residents. Typical houses are constructed of cement floors, wood walls and cardboard roofs. The regional diet consists of maize. Common health problems in this area include malnutrition, diabetes and hypertension. Most adults are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $153 per month. This community needs secondary schools, employment opportunities and substance abuse rehabilitation programs.

 

Your sponsorship allows the staff of Beraca Student Center to provide Angel with Bible teaching, hygiene and health education, craft workshops, music classes and sporting events. The center staff will also provide marriage conferences and evangelism for the parents or guardians of Angel.

Will you bless this precious boy and give him the love and encouragement he so desperately needs?

 

If you choose to sponsor any of these precious boys, we would love to know about it! Please tell us about your decision to pass on the vision of hope and release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name!

Dear God

Dear God,
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my apathy and living in my own little bubble for so long. I’m sorry for turning a Blind eye and a deaf ear away from the sweet faces and the silent cries of your precious children. I’m sorry for breaking your heart.

 

Dear God,
Thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes, ears and heart. Thank you for showing me the bigger picture that is much more than my little bubble. Thank you for bursting my bubble and guiding me out of my comfort zone. Thank you for breaking my heart.

 

Lord, the words just won’t come today. I have too many emotions, too many things I could say, but I’m left in awe and speechless. Nothing seems right or worthy enough. I’m not right or worthy enough, but you still choose to use me; you still choose to love me. You still choose to use these hands to write the words our Compassion children so desperately need to hear. You still choose to use these lips and this voice to lift prayers to you on each child’s behalf. You still choose to use this broken heart, this shattered vessel to pour out your love for these precious ones. You choose to use this imperfect life to teach lessons that I learn right along with our children. You choose to use children whose earthly circumstances tell them lies to speak truth to my heart. You choose to create a family that stretches across the world where broken homes exist. You choose to give us a heart for the older children who may feel forgotten. You choose to give us love for the special children who the world sees as unlovable. You choose to bind us to our children by love that flows from your precious blood.

 

In return Lord, I choose to not be silent. I choose to speak up for those who can not speak for themselves. I choose to bend my knees, bow my head and pray. I can not save the world, but I can change the life of the children you have placed in my world. I can share the honest experiences of child sponsorship, believing that you will use these mere words to burst someone’s bubble of apathy and break someone’s heart.

Lord, I’m sorry for not choosing sooner. Thank you for giving me the choice.

Jesus, I pray all of this in your precious name.

Amen!

Say “Yes”!

Do you ever feel like you say “yes” too many times in one day? Your boss asks you if you can stay late at work for voluntary overtime and you say “Yes”. A friend asks you if you’d like to go to a concert next weekend, and you say “Yes”. The church’s children’s ministry needs another volunteer in the preschool classroom this Sunday, and you say “yes”. The local charity that you are involved in asks for a fundraising volunteer for their next project, and you say “yes”.
Do you feel a bit overwhelmed yet? Maybe you said “yes”. 🙂

The above senarios are all a real part of life, and it’s not wrong to say yes. But, we can say yes too many times and fill our plates to overflowing. We can feel overwhelmed and like we’re being pulled in every direction by so many people all at once.
Let me ask you one more question: What do you say when you hear God’s whispered voice? Do you say “Yes”?

We are called to care for the least of these in our world. Maybe God is asking you if you will pray for these precious children in poverty. Maybe he’s asking you if you will step out in faith and change a child’s life through sponsorship. Either way, will you say “yes” to God’s still small voice?

Children are very close to the heart of God, and if you say “yes”, the only direction you will be pulled is closer to him. You will be overwhelmed by the peace and love that comes from knowing you said “yes” to the one who said “yes” for you.
If you say “yes”, we’d love to know about it! Please share with us the child or children God has asked you to pray for, or share if you said yes to sponsoring a child! We would love the opportunity to pray and rejoice with you!