I have had the privilege of traveling to some of the poorest places in the world. I say privilege because I consider it just that. Walking with the poor is what Jesus did. Holding their hands is what He would do today. Ministering to them, He said, is ministering to Him. That’s a privilege. But all privileges come with a cost. In many cases, that cost is a broken heart. Sometimes, we need broken hearts.
I have been in a jungle in Thailand, where families live in shacks made of rotting wood, each built 3 feet above ground because every rainy season the entire village floods —taking lives and possessions away in the frantic current. I have seen how the families there endure the stifling heat, with little food to eat. Children, lethargic from lack of energy, don’t run or climb the massive trees that would provide perfect perches. Many of them work in the rice paddies to provide for their families.
I have been to Kenya, and sat with a family of five in their tiny 12x 14 home made of mud. I watched as the mother doled out one piece of bread to each family member for dinner. I saw her hungry children playing beneath the clothes-line with the only toys they had — clothespins. I saw where they sleep…mom, dad and three children, on one moldy mattress on the dirt floor.
In Bolivia, I met a four-year-old named Lalady. For some reason, I was drawn to her. I saw her across the playground at a Compassion project. I smiled. Within seconds, she was in my lap, touching my face with her sticky fingers…marveling at the color of my hair. We played together for nearly an hour. There was no language barrier. We just enjoyed each other's company. Then, her father came to pick her up at the project.
“She likes you.” He said in Spanish. (I know this only because there was an interpreter.)
“And I like her very much too!” I said.
“Maybe you could take her home with you.”
“Ha! Yeah! I wish I could!” I joked. Only daddy wasn’t joking. His face was serious.
“I have four other children. You could give her a much better life than I can.”
Whoa. What desperation leads a man to be willing to let his child go away with a stranger? How much love does he have for his daughter, that he’s willing to give her up, just so she can have a chance at a better life? I sat there, with little Lalady on my knee, my lip and chin quivering and my eyes filling with tears. My forehead sweating in the brutal Peruvian heat. My heart breaking.
And Lalady was one of the lucky ones. She has both parents who love her very much. She also has a sponsor that pays $32 a month to make sure she’s taken care of at the Compassion project. There, she gets a hot meal, a safe place to play. She learns about health and hygiene. More importantly, she hears about Jesus.
There are literally millions of children who need just those basic things: a hot meal, clothing, a safe haven, after-school mentoring…to hear the Gospel. You could do that for one of them. For a price that’s less than taking a family to the movies for two hours of entertainment, you can provide all of those basic life-giving necessities for a child in poverty for an entire month.
I urge you to go to Compassion's website and sponsor a child. It really is the least you can do. And I’ll be more than happy to share with you just how strategic it is. How much it changes a life. But you won’t have to take my word for it. You’ll get letters from your sponsored child, thanking you…little hand-drawn pictures telling you about his/her life. And you’ll be able to write too…and share your life with that little boy or girl on the other side of the world.
It’s a relationship.
It’s a privilege. And yes…this privilege will break your heart. Isn't it time your heart was broken?
If you've had the privilege of witnessing Compassion International's ministry in action, go to this post on Shaun Groves' blog...and tell your story. Add to the growing list of bloggers sharing their stories of ministering to the poor through Compassion.