Disclaimer: There is a plank in my eye here, and I know that. Lord willing, He will help me in figuring out where I’m to go with this thought and how I need to be used. That said, I think it’s still a topic worth talking about.
Let me start by saying, we have a sponsor child. We “adopted” Justin a few months after we got married. He is a cutie from Rwanda and will be 12 this March! When we chose to sponsor him, he was a sweet little 5 year old with the biggest, saddest eyes and I had the very best intentions.
I’m not sharing this to make myself look good, on the contrary, I’m ashamed to even share this because we have been horrible “parents”, and certainly a horrible example of what it means to be a Christian, to this sweet child. Yes, he gets the money every month, but it’s automatic deduction, so we never really see it go. Just another line on the credit card statement in the financial aspect of it. And we aren’t great at keeping in touch with him. Up until now, we probably send like three letters a year, not cool.
Honestly, when I think of him and pray for him, I often feel a pang of guilt, but I wasn’t quite sure why. I mean, because of us *patting ourselves valiantly on the back*, he has access to food, medicine, an after school program through his local church, and is taught the love and truth of the gospel.
Ah, there it is again! That pang of guilt!
On a seemingly unrelated note (bear with me), we went to a Casting Crowns concert last night. And it was fantastic. I remember from the last concert of theirs that we went to that they do a lot of work with and for Compassion International, the organization through which we sponsored Justin. Several years ago at the concert when they gave their speech about the organization, I sat there proudly puffed up knowing that we already had a kid. Aren’t we just the best??
But last night, something changed. During the part where they talked about Compassion, they showed a video where the lead singer and his daughter went to Honduras to meet one of their sponsored children. Forgive me for the ignorant statement to follow, but it hit me that Justin is a real kid. It’s almost as if in my mind I had set him in a category representing all of world-wide poverty and since we were sponsoring him, we were doing our Christian “duty”, it was easy to check that off the list. Yup, we are helping a kid in Africa! But that is just not how Jesus sees people, and neither should we.
Seeing those kids made me yearn, sadly for the first time, to know Justin, to see his every day life, to look at him as the valuable human being that he is, to connect with him on a deeper level and not just let him be some manifestation of how “good” I was. I had been horribly apathetic to him and his plight, to his story, to his family and community. Let’s just say God used that concert (something that’s actually quite self indulgent in and of itself) to humble me. And I’m so glad He did.
My eyes needed to be opened to the fact that we were called to be Jesus to a hurting world. Jesus didn’t treat anyone as if they were just a duty or an obligation. He provided for people’s physical needs, and (and the part we missed out on with Justin), He lovingly invested Himself in them, because he loved them. Things will be different now, for us and for Justin.
Today, we had a long talk with our 4 year old, Evan, about Justin (Evan knew of him, has seen his picture on the fridge and all, but we didn’t bring him up or pray for him nearly enough with the kids). So we let Evan pick some things from Compassion’s catalog to give people around the world (again, it’s a little “hands off”, but it was something Evan could see and choose where he wanted to put the money). He wanted to give toward a water well and provide food and medical care for a mom and newborn for a year. Love his sweet little heart!!). After you pay, there is a minute long video of kids saying thank you, Evan wanted to watch it 9 times. The questions he began asking made me realize that he is old enough to know that he can make a difference, he is old enough to show love and, well, compassion, to people around the world.
And, he saw immediately what I had failed to see for years, that each one of these kids is a precious life that we are all called to help and support. We have been blessed so that we can bless others. We have been given much so that we can give. It may seem like we don’t have much, but trust, me you have more than a lot of people.
Here’s a few tidbits from Compassion’s catalog:
-There are 270 million children in the developing world who have NO access to health services
-Every 60 seconds, a woman in poverty dies in childbirth
-Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease
-800 million people around the world do not have safe, clean water to drink
-Every year, child sex tourism victimizes approximately 2 million children
-A mother’s level of education is directly tied to child survival
I’m not saying everyone needs to sponsor a kid, but I’m sure there’s something we could all do on some level. I bet if every professing Christian in the developed world would take the mission and example that Jesus set forth for us to heart, our communities, and quite possibly the world, would look completely different.
The last time after watching the video, we had this conversation:
Evan: Rwanda is very far away, farther away than Texas!
Me: Haha, yes it is!
Evan: I want to go there someday and meet Justin.
Me too, buddy. Maybe someday…
And in case you were wondering (although you weren’t but I’m going to say it anyway), this, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, was my favorite song that they sang last night.