My trip to Moldova was really my first mission trip. I went to Mexico when I was in college for a few days on a church mission trip, but Moldova was so much more, so much more hands on. I came back from Moldova different. I’d experienced first hand the brokenness of those who have been victimized by human trafficking. These lives I’d communed with over Placinte & cried for in the darkness of the city touched me in a way that reading about another’s journey ever could have.
It was six months ago today that I stepped on a flight for a country that would leave echos in my soul. I really can’t believe that it’s been that long.
Since then I’ve witnessed a friend & her tribe spend time in Burundi visiting a village where they built a well. I was in Moldova with Idelette. She slept in the bed next to mine, and prayed over me when I needed it most. She has a passion for women all over the world. On her return trip from Burundi she stopped over in Moldova. The ache of missing that had waned re-surged. Seeing the friends I’d made. Seeing her be a part of what is going on currently with Beginning of Life caused a jealousy. Not a jealousy for her time in Moldova, but more a jealousy for the Good Thing that she’s doing.
Yesterday I wished that Shawn and I could have a lifestyle that enabled us to do more of these Good Things. To not be encumbered by work or finances. To be able to go to the least of these and have that communion with them that I’d experienced in Moldova. To be perfectly honest with you, this is what keeps me up at night. My heart’s passion is for the Orphan. I day dream about India & doing work with orphans there, about going back to Moldova. My heart longs to do the Good Thing for those who our world forgets about.
All these people, some whom I’ve met others I haven’t, are going. More than just for the sake of the Gospel, but because they take seriously the command to go, the command to look after the widow and the orphan. They’re telling the stories that even ten years ago we wouldn’t have been able to hear on such a global impact as we can today.
I long to do this Good Thing. To do the hard and dirty work that I feel has been lacking in Christian culture. I’m jealous for these opportunities and long for the day my feet and heart touch Indian soil and return to Moldova.
A little over three years ago we started sponsoring through Compassion International. It was a life changing decision for us. It was more than just a decision to give up a portion of our income every month so a little girl in India would be able to go to school and have at least one meal a day. Choosing to sponsor has literally changed our lives. It has changed how we view our spending, our money, and our perspective on those in poverty.
It was because we sponsored Nikita that we now have this passion for India (I could go on and on with you of how my heart longs to rest my feet on her soil).
Sponsorship really does change lives.
I’m sharing our story because my dear, dear friend Alece leaves for Ethiopia today with Food For the Hungry. She and the rest of the blogging team will spend a week seeing and learning what Food For the Hungry is doing on the ground in Ethiopia.
I encourage you to follow them as they share their experiences.
They will have a live Twitter chat (with a give away of locally crafted Ethiopian crafts) on July 12. You can find out more information about that here.
If you’re thinking that a trip like this is frivolous and unnecessary, I’d simply like to say that we first sponsored because of a blogger’s trip Compassion took to India. It was because we saw and read what the bloggers saw. There was no padding. We shared their tears and their journey from half a world away. So yes….these trips work. We’re living testimonies of this.
Pray for their time there and for them. Pray for the children they will be meeting and that many children will be sponsored.
If you’ve been around my site for a while, you know I have a passion for India and a deep love for Compassion International.
We sponsor an 11 year old young lady in Nagpur, India. It is because of sponsoring her that Shawn and I both have broken hearts for India’s people. I’ve spent many sleepless nights agonizing over mind boggling data on the poverty that exists in India. She is a hurting country longing for someone to love her.
Despite the fact that the caste system is illegal, it is still very much in effect. My husband had a conversation with a friend recently and this talked about this. However deprave the caste system is, it is a way of life and tradition; and heads turn as higher level caste members exercise their “right” over those who are lower.
This of course does not bode well for women. In a country that turns a blind eye to a deprave system and the majority of her residents fight to make about a dollar a day, many turn to whatever means they can to feed their children.
Their bodies are sold for 10 cents. They are abused. Yelled at. Threatened by bodyguards employed by the pimps.
All so they can have a “better life”.
I cannot tell you how angering this is to me. That the worth of a “good time” is literally nickle and dimed.
Missions in Action in conjunction with Compassion recently did a video highlighting this epidemic. Nagpur, the city near where our sponsor daughter lives is the epicenter of sex slave trade. When they filmed the video there were 200 children of sex workers in the neighborhood of the red light district, only 40 were sponsored. Yesterday, because of the video I’ll be linking below, 10 more children were sponsored. That is now 50 children who have the chance to learn to read & write. To have an education and be able to get jobs that their mothers never would be able to.
I’m not asking you to sponsor. If you do, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am asking you though, to watch the video and learn. This isn’t only going on in India. It’s happening in Africa, Thailand, all over Eastern Europe, and is rampant in the US. Pray for these children, for the women.
It was a week and a half ago and I was still fighting blinding anger. I wasn’t at the indifferent stage yet in this cycle I’d been running, and consideration was the furthest thing from my mind.
I’d made accusations against God based on feelings that have been ravaging me. Accusations of abandonment, of the lack of caring.
We were scheduled to volunteer at an event for Compassion and honestly I didn’t want to go. I wanted to be home, warm, cozied on my couch with my book. I didn’t want to have to put on a “happy, Jesus is awesome & compassionate” face. [just being honest here]
I was finishing up my day at work when I got a text from Shawn. We had a message from our sponsored child.
If you don’t sponsor, or even if you do – these letters have the ability to make a bad day good, and even bring joy when all you feel is anger.
When I got home we opened the letter. Inside was an anniversary card from our sponsor daughter Nikita for our tenth anniversary. My eyes brimmed with salty tears and quickly overflowed.
The card was accompanied by a letter. With my eyelashes still damp from tears I read that she loves math, and I think how smart this beautiful young lady is. She sends kisses and hugs and I think how loved we are.
And she closes her letter with a verse. This is the first time in two and a half years. I read the illuminated text written by a 11 year old girl half a world away, and an overflow of sloppy tears inundate my cheeks again.
I wonder at how a young girl who wrote this letter about two months prior (a month or so before this all started happening in our lives) would choose this verse for a letter that would arrive at this season in our lives.
My mind floats to God, and I believe that it was at this point that my shell first started to crack.
It still amazes me that God reached from the other side of the globe, that months prior to this season even starting He moved upon the heart of a little Indian girl to minister to us.
For the last several months we’d discussed sponsoring another child. We fully believe that we are called to care for the poor, and want to be obedient to God’s calling.
We decided a few weeks ago that we wanted to sponsor an older child through the term of their time with Compassion. Older children are less likely to be sponsored.
Since April 30th is the anniversary of when we started sponsoring with Compassion we decided to make that our consistent sponsorship date. We missed that date by one day due to a busy day Saturday. We sat down last night and sponsored this lovely young lady, Delinah. She is 19, and lives in Kenya – southeast of the Ugandan border.
We are thankful that God has brought her into our lives. And for the few short years we are able to sponsor her I pray that we can be a blessing to her as she is to us.
Last Wednesday night Shawn and I had the privilege to volunteer at an event with YoungLife College & Compassion. We love these events because we’re able to share with other people what sponsoring has done for us. We love being able to walk with them as they take that first step towards ministering to children.
There is something to be said when college students are willing to let go of $38 a month to help a child in poverty. I was humbled by the generosity of these students. Justin McRoberts spoke as a Compassion advocate, sharing his story of sponsoring and meeting one of his sponsored children. One of the things he reminded us of is that whether a child is sponsored or not a seed has been planted. A seed that sparks something more than just social justice, but a relationship.
I loved the scripture he spoke from. I love how Luke writes that Philip not only came along side of but climbed into the chariot with the eunuch. Philip stepped into his world. I love the relationship that Compassion provides me as a sponsor, how they allow me to step into the world of a nearly 11 year old and minister Jesus to her.
Some great bloggers are running along side some “chariots” in June. You can join them in a few different ways. You can support them by donating to their fund raising efforts (click here). Sarah is also featuring Crafting for Team San Diego, joining with handmade artisans – like Mandi – who are donating part of their proceeds to Team San Diego.
I want to scoff at those who think child sponsorship doesn’t work. Those who think that their money can be spent better elsewhere than on those who Jesus commanded us to take care of.
Yesterday we received an updated picture of Nikita. The young girl we sponsor through Compassion. We’ve sponsored her for nearly a year and a half now. I love that God has allowed her to be a part of our lives. This young lady who loves dogs, calls us Uncle and Aunt, always sends hugs and kisses for us and our doggies. This young lady who in part we think of almost like a daughter.
The photo we received yesterday showed her with a study desk that she was able to buy with money we’d sent for her birthday. The initial picture in her sponsorship packet show a sad, maybe even scared little girl has been replaced with a smiling, happy young lady. As soon as I saw her picture my eyes brimmed with tears. I couldn’t believe the change.
Sponsorship works. It works for them and it works for those who sponsor. Every monthly amount, every birthday gift, every family gift, every care package with stickers, coloring pages, paper dolls, puppets, construction paper, little books…..
One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in my life from walking this going on 4-year journey of waiting, changing, waiting, readjustment, waiting has been God’s revamping my attitude of those in poverty.
What started out as a small flame erupted into a burning desire to rescue those in poverty when we started sponsoring Nikita. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it till the day I die, sponsorship changes YOUR life. Allowances you made before, you’re no longer willing to make. Your perspective changes.
I love what Compassion does. I love how they minister to not only the children who are part of their services but their whole family. What touches the child doesn’t stop the moment the leave Compassion’s Child Development Centers. They carry it home held in precious little hands & hearts. I love how as I sleep at night this beautiful young lady is being ministered to spiritually, physically, emotionally. I really do ♥ Compassion!!
Do you sponsor? If so what organization, and where does your child(ren) live?
I take for granted that my heart works. It vigorously pumps blood throughout my branching veins. It thump-thumps in rhythm like the beat in a great song. Sure it goes a little fast some times, skips a beat, but all in all…..it works well.
Meet Achile. Achile’s heart doesn’t work very well. He is an 8-year-old boy in Burkina Faso with a congenital heart defect known as tetralogy of Fallot. On Jun 17th, he arrived in India for heart surgery. This precious little boy needs heart surgery. His pain is great, and for the last five (5) years has been unable to attend school on a regular basis.
Achile has the privilege of being in the Compassion program in Burkina Faso. More than that, when Compassion HQ contacted Shaun Groves that he needed to pull his child sponsorship info from the boxes that would be shared at concerts & conferences Shaun more than stepped up to the plate. Actually…his son did.
Not only is Achile part of Compassion, he’s sponsored. By none other than Shaun’s son. He get’s the chance for life years from now, and gets to hear about Jesus, and gets to be loved on by a little boy and his family in Tennessee, USA.
Of course with any surgery, this isn’t cheap: $20,449. You can help. I encourage you to give towards helping pay for the surgery & airfare to save this little boy’s life.
In Matthew Jesus tells His disciples that when we’ve given to the least of these (the poor, the needy, the alien, the orphan) we have done these to Jesus himself. Click the link below, donate. Touch not only the heart of Achile, but also the heart of Jesus.
Update on Achille.
Saturday night, I was lying in bed waiting for the pleasant presence of sleep to overwhelm me. I was thinking about blog posts I needed to get up. I realized it was Sunday, May 09th, in Nagpur, India.
In the quiet of my dark bedroom, with Chihuahuas nestled in their crates I mentally began to sing:
It was officially her birthday, though it was still May 08th in my bedroom.
I wish I’d gotten a cupcake to split with Shawn for her. Maybe next year.
Painting I did for Nikita for her birthday.
(watercolors on watercolor paper. her favorite color is blue.)
I know that certain dates can change your life. Your wedding day. The day your child is born. The day you get that job. However, I didn’t realize on the evening of April 30, 2009 that this date would forever change my life.
It rocketed my perspective and my desires to a completely other place than they’d ever been before.
More specifically, it took my heart and shipped it to a slum outside Nagpur, India.
On April 30, 2009 Shawn and I decided to sponsor our first child through Compassion due largely in part because of this Bloggers Trip (Anne‘s posts had my crying like a slobbering fool). We always say that sponsoring her was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. And we’re completely serious. I didn’t think that sponsoring Nikita would change my life, I thought we’d change hers. Provide her nutritious meals, schooling, health checkups, etc. But she’s changed ours in so many ways. They way we are choosing to live our lives. What we find important.
Sponsoring her has made me fall in love with India. Praying that God would redeem and save India. That He would break apart the hierarchy of the caste system and open the eyes of the leaders to the poor dying outside their major cities.
I can’t believe she’s been apart of our lives for a year already. We do our best to write her often and send gifts. I want her to be the little girl that always gets something from her sponsors.
I pray for her salvation and that of her parents and two sisters and brother. This is hugely important to me.
I wear this ring as a reminder of her. To pray for her and her family and her friends.
She is as much part of our family as our own child would be. Even across thousands of miles.
As part of celebrating we sent her some special gifts.
A card, a little wallet size card that reminds her she’s special, Disney Princess stickers, My Little Pony coloring pages, monkey finger puppets I found in the Target Dollar Spot, and a beautiful prayer Shawn wrote for her.
We celebrate this day with great joy and pray that we will continue to celebrate for many, many years.
For the last week, Shaun Groves has been in Kenya with other various bloggers documenting and sharing how Compassion International is serving and rescuing the people of Kenya. When I say people I mean more than just the children that are sponsored through Compassion. The sponsorship of these children changes their entire family’s lives.
Shaun is doing a very thought provoking image blog category while on this trip called Third World Dictionary. Photographic images of everyday things you and I take for granted. There was one image that really hit me especially hard.
It seems over the last year I’ve grown to hate doing laundry. And that is only laundry for Shawn and I. No children. It just seems to be a bother. Remembering to transfer it to the dryer and don’t even mention folding/putting it away. Ahhhh.
I’ve only had to do my laundry outside for a few months……and it was still done in a washing machine. I haven’t had to brave inclement weather to wash my clothes. I’ve never washed my cloths in tubs smaller than a plastic kids swimming pool. I’ve never washed my laundry in dirty water.
I felt convicted over my complaining when I have it so easy. I printed out this picture and have hung it up in my laundry area. A reminder of this advantage I have. That I shouldn’t be complaining but should be grateful.
If you don’t want to be messed up. Don’t want to be convicted or have tears streaming down your face, do not click the link below.
If you want to see lives that have been changed. If you want to see hope in the eyes of beautiful people. If you want to be a little uncomfortable click the link below.
What is it that causes a 19 year old girl to pack up everything and move to South Africa? Or a young woman to move to Uganda to be a Kindergarten teacher, only to have God move her to start an orphan child sponsorship program? Or a man who when visiting South Korea was heart broken for the orphans and would start an organization that would change the lives of over a million children in third world nations?
For a few weeks now God has been laying on my heart that He wants me to be uncomfortable. It is like that nagging little tickle in the back of your throat, seemingly always there. The thing is, is that I WANT to be uncomfortable. I’ve lived nearly 35 years worth of life being comfortable in church and not doing anything. I want to change. I want to make an impact on the world that God has placed me in.
I’ve never been to Africa or South Korea but I’m pretty sure it isn’t comfortable to live or serve in a Christian ministry there. It sure isn’t comfortable riding 3100 miles on a hard, skinny bike seat to raise money for Blood Water Mission – in the middle of summer – through PHOENIX. Or smelling the constant reminder of death in Haiti as you dig through hundreds of pounds of concrete.
I realized yesterday that being uncomfortable is a hard thing to do (insert obligatory, “yeah duh” here). But for me it isn’t the being uncomfortable, it’s the getting there. Like I mentioned above I’ve had nearly 35 years worth of being comfortable. My parents weren’t the type to live life spiritually uncomfortable. We went to church, taught Sunday school, taught VBS day in day out. That was my life growing up. Now as of about a year or so ago God’s breaking the mold that has been my existence. He’s given me a heart for the poor. He’s made me to fall in love with India and long to see justice for the 50 million plus living in her slums.
I am praying now, with more fervor that God would continue to make me uncomfortable. It is one of those prayers like praying for patience or humility. It doesn’t come easily or without cost. The end result though will be beautiful and for the glory of God alone.
I laid awake thinking of you the other night, my dear little girl. You are literally half a world away. As I was trying to sleep I imagined that you were playing with your sisters and brother. Or perhaps you were selling in the market so your family could eat.
As I laid there I went over in my head what I’d do if I were with you. I’d hug you and kiss you and tell you just how much I love you. I’d tell you that Jesus loves you so much more than I ever could. I’d play dolls with you. I’d tell you that I love your sisters and your brother and your mom and dad – मां and पिता. That I love your people.
I’d tell you to dream big dreams and not give up hope. I’d tell you to love. I’d tell you I think of you and pray for you every day. I would tell you just how beautiful and how precious you are.
I love you so much my precious little girl, and though you are a half a world away my love spans that distance many times over.
I have felt so helpless lately. It started a while ago seeing images of precious people living on nothing just trying to get by.
It came roaring at me two weeks ago with the earthquake in Haiti. The images of poverty stricken, broken people floated before my eyes. I didn’t close the websites or stop reading the Tweets because I wanted to look.
Last Sunday at church God literally wrecked me. Our pastor decided to forgo communion after the teaching and allow people to pray for Haiti while worship was led. We watched this video done by Pastors Mark Driscoll & James McDonald who went to Haiti to help churches just days after the earthquake. Within seconds of the video starting I was crying. I hadn’t cried for Haiti yet. All I could do the rest of the service was cry and plead to God to save: spiritually and physically.
It isn’t just Haiti though. It’s all children and families that are in devastating poverty. That is what breaks my heart. I want to argue with God and ask Him why are you allowing this to happen to your creation. Why are you allowing the flesh and blood you wove together to be eaten away by diseases and malnutrition?
Today Shawn showed me pictures that Tony Morgan Tweeted from his trip to Burkina Faso through Compassion. All I wanted to do besides cry for these children, was bring them into my home and take care of them. Love them.
I know it isn’t an accident that God has placed these feelings in my heart. I’ve pleaded with Him over and over to break my heart for the things that break His. This is an answer to prayer. Yet, I still feel so helpless. We sponsor our precious, beautiful little Nikita in India and fully plan on sponsoring more in the future. Yet, I still feel so helpless. I pray. We donate to Haiti, and yet… I feel like there is so much more I could do and don’t know how or what.
I just want to be open to what He has for Shawn and I. I guess my feeling helpless means I just lean on Him all that much more and He’ll be the work in me that moves my hands the way they need to be moved.
When I logged onto my computer at work this morning I read this headline for this story on the BBC feed I use Haiti Quake Toll May Be 200,000. My heart just breaks. It cries out for God’s mercy.
Last night I was praying for our little girl Nikita in India, and the people in Haiti. Both India and Haiti are amongst the poorest in the world. Haiti being the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, and India having the largest concentration of poor in the world. This utterly breaks my heart. I began asking God to save and come quickly. I am becoming more and more aware of the effects of sin on our world and our own selves. In Genesis 3 man fell from the grace of God. Sin entered the world and all that was in it and on it became cursed. I long for the day with great anticipation when Jesus returns. When sin and it’s effects are no more.
In the mean time all we can do is serve God, which includes others; and pray and give. As I said in my last post I do not wish that you would give lightheartedly. To treat it as the easy way out. The truth of the matter is these people need Jesus more than they need money. It seems like a harsh thing to say, but I’d rather die homeless in a gutter and have been saved by Jesus, then to die in a mansion and never know Him.
If God leads you to give then do it. Don’t hesitate. And pray, unceasingly. My husband and I gave through Compassion Intl. You can donate by clicking the Help Haiti image below.
For whatever you do thank you.
I’ve been dealing with a lot of heart issues the past few days. Issues I don’t normally deal with, but they’ve been rearing their ugly heads.
For Christmas this year Shawn and I felt very convicted to ask our family instead of buying us gifts that they would just give us the cash they would normally spend on us instead and we would be sending that to our little girl we sponsor with Compassion in India. This was our heart of hearts. I knew going into this that it wouldn’t be easy not receiving gifts, I mean who doesn’t like to get presents. But it was really hard. Selfishness started to bloom in my heart. I wanted to get gifts just like everyone else. My only hope was to start praying for a heart change. I’m still recovering but God is working.
Shawn and I have been blessed far greater than we ever should be. We are grateful for every blessing. Part of those blessings is blessing Nikita. We love her so much. I believe by God’s providence, we received a letter from her just days before Christmas. Shawn and I agreed to wait to open it and that would be our “gift” to open on Christmas. We opened it last night and our hearts were overjoyed.
My life has no room for a selfish or jealous heart. It was more and more room for loving on other people and blessing them.
My first experience with Compassion Intl. was when I was in highschool. Our family sponsored a young girl in Haiti. Now my relationship with them is more personal. It is my husband and I who are sponsoring our own child, Nikita. I can’t express how blessed I am to have her in our lives half a world away.
This week I’m following the Compassion Blog Trip to El Salvador. I’m reading the stories of five women and one man who are visiting, meeting, and getting down & dirty with the families and workers that are involved in the Compassion project down there. The only thing I can think to say is I’m so moved. I have to read these stories, watch the videos, look at the pictures taken when I’m at home and I can cry and not make a fool of myself. If you get a chance I recommend reading some of the blog posts. And if you don’t or even if you do pray about whether God would have you sponsor a child through Compassion. It is because of one of these Blog Trips that Shawn and I decided to sponsor Nikita.
Thank you to all the bloggers on the El Salvador trip. You are touching my life all the way here in Arizona.
The end of April Shawn and I sponsored a little girl in India. It is something we’d talked about doing, but never actually took the steps until we read the blog postings by the Compassion Bloggers that were in India at that time. I prayed that God would give us the girl that he wanted for us to sponsor. We chose Nikita. A beautiful nine year old girl.
Since that time we have become interested in the goings on of this very large nation. India covers 1,269,210 square miles. The estimated population for 2009 is 1,198,003,000. When most of us think of India we think of Bollywood or those hour long conversations with a call center for our computer’s hardware or software OEM. We don’t generally think about the residents that make up the rest of the country. According to The World Bank, India has the highest concentration of poor people in he world. According to The World Bank 42% of India’s population lives on $1.25 or less a day (http://xrl.in/34sy). That means that at a population of 1,198,003,000 approximately 50,316,126 people live on what we pay for a soda at a fast food joint. India also has a higher malnutrition rate of than any other country in the world!!
So, I’ve tried to think of India in this way. Forgetting the call centers and the movie musicals and focusing on that 42%. God has really been laying on my heart to pray for India when I pray for Nikita. This is her home for the next dozen years at least. I want it to be a place that cares for it’s people. That seeks the welfare of all it’s population not just those who are in a caste that they feel deserves their respect and time. Through prayer I know that God can change a nation.
Statistics taken from here, please visit the site for more detailed citations.
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.