Monday, September 10, 2012

Wrecked - a letter to Jesus

My dearest Jesus,

A few months ago I asked you to break my heart.  You had me study the book of Nehemiah for 6 weeks, as you remember, and the big question that the study posed was: “what has God put on your heart to do?”  I really didn’t know.  But I asked you to break my heart and help me to love others with your love.

Wow – when you answer, you really answer! I thought you’d break my heart for someone or something here where I live – having me serve in some mission here in town.  I thought you’d put something on my heart regarding my church or my family.  But you did what I should learn to expect by now – you turned me to a totally unexpected direction.  You turned me to Ghana, to beautiful little Rebecca, and back to Mexico to my handsome young Michel.

While Michel has been in my life for a few years, I really had not been a very good sponsor.  I cared for him, but I was too easily distracted by the cares and concerns of my own life to show him your love like I should have been doing.  I wrote, but nowhere near as often as I should for such an amazing young man. I loved getting his letters and reading about how he was doing, what he was interested in doing, and looking at his drawings.  His letters went up on the fridge door.  But I was so inadequate in my love for him.  You know this – you tried to tell me over and over again. Please forgive me for not obeying you for so long.

I asked you to break my heart for the things that break yours. And you did. Not just broke my heart. You wrecked it.   

You brought me back to Michel’s picture – looking at that gorgeous head of curly hair and that adorable smile.  You brought me back to reading about how he loves to ride a bicycle and his favorite animal is the horse. You reminded me of his mother and how hard she works to care for him.  And suddenly, in an instant, he was my son. 

In an instant, my heart was overflowing with so much love for Michel and his family that I thought I’d never stop crying.  I couldn’t stop thinking about him, praying for him and his family, wish we could fly to Mexico to meet him.  You gave me that, Jesus. And I am so grateful.  You broke my heart for Michel. 

And then you wrecked me some more and brought me to my darling Rebecca, who might not even know she’s been sponsored yet.  I don’t know what it was – her name (the same as my mother-in-law), her big dark eyes, her brightly colored dress – but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  I couldn’t stop worrying about her.  I wanted nothing more than to pick her up in my arms and love on her and tell her how special she is. 

Jesus, you know I haven’t been the best sponsor.  I didn’t let myself get too close.  Maybe I was afraid it would hurt. Maybe I was afraid that they wouldn’t want me in their life.  I guess what you’ve been trying to show me is that hurting is good, when it’s hurting for them the way you do.

Oh, Lord God, thank you for putting Michel and Rebecca in our lives.  Thank you for giving us children in two parts of the world.  Thank you for making my heart long for these two precious ones.  I never realized that I could love these two children like they were my flesh and blood – especially since we don’t have children of our own yet. But when I open this computer and see their beautiful faces that you created and that you knew even before they were knit together in their mother’s wombs, I know.  Michel is my son.  Rebecca is my daughter.

I have such hopes for them both, such dreams for their future.  For Michel, Father, give him a heart after yours.  Help him to grow into a man of integrity and honor, a man who loves and serves you and cares for those who need help.  Give him confidence that he can do anything with Your help.  Give him big dreams, Father, and use Michel to bring others to your throne.  Give him passion and a servant’s heart. Protect him and his family, and provide all that they need each day. 

For Rebecca, Father, may she be like Ruth, Esther, and Mary, who trusted you and served you with all their hearts.  Please protect her and her family, especially from the slavers and human traffickers that are so prominent in Ghana even now.  Please provide clean water and food and security for them all.  Help Rebecca to grow into a woman of virtue and integrity, a woman who loves you first of all and who radiates peace and love from you.  Give her confidence that you created her for a purpose, and that she can do anything with Your help.  Give her big dreams as well, Father, and use Rebecca to transform the world for you.  Give her joy and compassion, and teach her of your love.

Jesus, I can’t ever thank you enough for giving us the chance to be a small part of Michel and Rebecca’s lives.  I have such joy – not because of anything they have done, but just from the opportunity to love them.  This is what you wanted from me all along, isn’t it?  

Please help me to love them and their families with your love.  Continue breaking my heart over them, Jesus. And if it is possible to give us the privilege of adding to our family in the future, please help me to be open-hearted.  Give me your love for them, Jesus. 

Thank you for loving me enough to break my heart.

Your beloved daughter,

**This post is about the two children my husband and I sponsor through Compassion International

**Those of us who are "Bloggers for Compassion" are working in the month of September with the goal of helping 3,108 children gain sponsorship before October 1.  Last week, the first of this month-long challenge, 837 kids were sponsored!

**Whose life could you change for only $38 a month?  Click on the picture below to see the faces of those precious children who most need your help.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Allowing your heart to break

As the badge off to the right of this post indicates, I am participating in the September "Blog Month for Compassion" initiative.  My previous post ($38) was my contribution to the first assignment for Blog Month.  Our goal for the month of September is to get 3,108 children sponsored in 31 days.  Those of us who have agreed to dedicate time on our blogs to raise awareness and point people to the needs of these precious children are getting weekly assignments to fulfill. 

In the end, it's not so much about the number - 3108.  It is about the lives of precious, beloved, unique children who are waiting for the hope that comes from Christ and a more secure future.

Anyway, to get my thoughts in the right place, I spent an hour or so listening to and watching videos that Compassion had put up on Vimeo and Youtube, looking especially for videos that talked about the impact sponsorship had on a particular child's life.  I wanted to be moved before I wrote my assignment.

A funny thing happened, though.  In watching the videos, in looking at the pictures of the children still waiting for sponsorship, and in carefully considering what I wanted to say to encourage my friends and family (and anyone else who ends up on this page) to sponsor a child, I myself was moved.

I began crying.  A lot. My heart was breaking for the thousands of children who need Jesus, hope, and clean water.  I have sponsored children with Compassion since I was 19 - Fatima in El Salvador, Omar in Mexico, and now Michel in Mexico.  Omar's family moved away from the Compassion center and no longer participates in Compassion-sponsored programs.  When he moved and we said our mutual goodbyes, Compassion asked me if I would consider continuing my sponsorship for another little boy in Mexico.  I readily agreed.  But this morning, looking at the faces of these precious children around the world who need hope, my heart broke.

I turned to my husband while we were eating lunch and asked him, "Can we sponsor a second child?"  Now, money isn't exactly flowing into our pockets these days.  Things have been very tight lately, and money has been a concern.  But we started thinking about what it would take to save up $38 in a month.  A few less meals eaten out.  Eat off of $1 menus rather than the full menu.  Get coupons to save money at the grocery store.  This past weekend, I saved $44 on groceries. That's a month's sponsorship. The more we thought about how easy it would be to save up the money, the clearer the answer was.

So let me introduce to you our two beloved children: Michel and Rebecca.

Michel is 6 years old and lives with his mother in a coastal village in Mexico.  His mother makes pinatas and is only occassionally employed.  His parents were never married, and so his mother is on her own to care for Michel.  He should be starting school this fall, and he is very good at coloring (if the pictures I've gotten are any indication)!
Rebecca is the newest member of our family.  Since my husband and I do not have children of our own yet, these are our children.  Rebecca is four years old and lives with her mother and 4 siblings in northern Ghana.  I fell in love with her at first sight.  She and her family live in a very poor area, with the average adult earning less than $10 per month.  It is also an area that is affected by AIDS/HIV, and Rebecca's father is no longer supporting or living with the family.  She has been waiting for a sponsor for 410 days!  Over 1/4 of her life she has been waiting for someone to love her and her family.  I am so honored that my husband and I get to be her sponsor.
So these are our kids.  I've never met them in person.  In fact, Rebecca doesn't even know that she has a sponsor yet.  (Though I already wrote her and sent pictures!)  But I am praying that God gives me His love for them and their families.  They are my children, now and forever. 



What is $38?  To you, $38 might be:
  • A nice dinner for two (at least, for my husband and I, that would be a very nice dinner).
  • Three or four new books to read.
  • Two movie theater tickets or two new dvds.
  • $1.27 per day - probably less money than your daily cup of coffee or that soda you buy from the vending machine at work every afternoon.
  • One dinner for your family of four at a fast-food restaurant.
  • What you pay for a month of high-speed Internet

But to a child living in poverty around the world, $38 is so much more.  $38 can change the world for a child.  To a child living in seemingly hopeless situations, $38 means:
  • Medical care - both basic instruction in personal hygiene and medical attention to treat illnesses for the child and their family.
  • Education - the provision of school supplies, school fees, literacy programs, possibly tutoring - all things that the child would not be able to receive or would only be able to receive for a short period of time
  • Food for the child and their families to prevent them from starving
  • Individual attention and love through a local church and their volunteers
  • Training in social skills and the chance to develop self-confidence
  • The chance to be told the good news that Jesus loves them, died for them, and wants to be their Lord and Savior
  • Hope
Do you need tangible proof that this is even possible? Good - because I can show you!

$38 a month can radically change the life of a child and their family.  Will you consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International?

You can change the world.  You can start by changing it for one child who needs you.

If you can't sponsor a child, will you consider going to the Compassion Sponsorship page and praying over the children found there?  Perhaps you get overwhelmed by the enormity of the need.  What can you do?   Here are a few thoughts:

1) Search for a child whose birthday matches yours or one of your children, and pray for that child whenever you pray for your own child or whenever you think of your birthday.

2) Go to the Sponsorship Page and read about the lives of the children who are waiting for sponsorship.  Explain to your children or grandchildren or siblings what these children's lives are like.  Use this to teach the children in your life about poverty, compassion, and what it means to love others and to be grateful for what God has given you.

3) Learn about what Compassion does for children around the world and pass on the information to your friends, your family, your church.  Share God's love for these beautiful children.

Jesus said, "Let the children come unto me."  Can you give up $38 a month to give one child hope and a future?  Will you love these children on behalf of our Lord Jesus?

Please go, look at the faces of the children God loves, and pray that God would provide someone to love them.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Who is God, part 2

A long while back, I wanted to start a series of posts about who God is.  You might recall I had one post talking about how we can know anything about God, followed up by a post on why we as Christians believe the Bible is the holy, inerrant Word of God given to us for our instruction and faith.

Today, I want to focus on the first of many attributes of God: His Sovereignty.

First, let's answer the question: What exactly does "Sovereignty" mean?
* For something to have sovereignty, that thing contains the absolute or supreme power or authority in the system.  It is the ultimate authority, the ultimate power, the one who sets the agenda and can exercise independent decision making. 

* For God to be sovereign, it means that He is the ultimate authority.  He is fully and wholly in charge.  It means that He is the one who orders and designs the universe.  He is the one who makes the rules, because He alone has the authority to make them. 

Let's look at some verses that declare and demonstrate God's sovereignty, and then we'll consider what this means for us.