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Monday, May 27, 2013

Child Advocacy

My world is changing. It's expanding into something beautiful. My heart is flooding with emotion that I cannot put words to. I have wanted to share about the past month of my life, but every time I try the words don't come. I am overwhelmed by the feelings I've been having. God has been tapping on my heart. Although some days it has felt more like a hammer driving in the nails.

I'm going to attempt to tell you about this life-changing decision I have made. My words may fail me, but I want to try. My heart is overflowing with emotion. I am filled with love, but at the same time I am filled with pain. I am only one person, and I can only do so much. I cannot save all the little children of the world. But Jesus can. He knows them all by name. He knows when they are hurting, and He knows when they are rejoicing. He walks along beside every single one of them. Where I can't go, He does.

In the past month, our family has expanded by 3. That's a pretty big jump, you might think, but it still doesn't feel like it's enough. Will it ever be?

For two years now, I have wanted to sponsor a child through World Vision. I attended a ladies conference a couple years ago, and witnessed a very powerful friendship. God brought together child and sponsor. Neither were ever the same again. I wanted what that woman had, but I was afraid.

Afraid of the commitment. Afraid of the money. Afraid of the relationship.

Isn't it weird how we can be afraid of something we want so badly?

I put it off, and pushed it to the back of my mind. We give money to church. I don't have to do everything. I don't need to give away it all, do I? It seemed there was no room for extra. Or so my heart told me.

Every Christmas I receive a World Vision catalog showing me all the animals and gifts I could buy for families in other countries. I wanted to help. I really did. But other things came up. And I didn't give. I went to Mexico and gave to some other very special children. God is always leading me somewhere, to someone.

If you've been around for awhile, you know my heart has been with the elementary age kids at my church. I teach four times a month; two Sunday's and two Wednesday's. These children have been my treasure. My resources and time have gone into building relationships. I know that God has called me to work with children. Whenever I think of the kids, my heart swells up and tears begin to fall. God has put a heart for kids in me that will never grow hard. I love children, and I want to make a difference in their lives. If I could, I would spend every week with the kids. When it's time for a break, a part of me is always wishing I could be with them instead. But I know in order to be an effective minister, I must first take care of myself. My pitcher must be full.

April 21st was Compassion Sunday. A woman in our church stood up and spoke about Compassion International. If you've been to many Christian concerts you've probably encountered one or two speeches for this sponsorship program. For $38 a month, you can provide a child in another country with education, healthcare, nutrition, and regular Christian training.

I wasn't in the service that day; I was in the classroom with the kids. But I saw the table after the service. Several people crowded around, looking at the faces of the children needing a sponsor. The excitement was contagious. They were adopting children into their families and life. I wanted that too.

In response to the Great Commission, Compassion International exists as an advocate (ad·vo·ca·cy: noun, To take action for another.) for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. Compassion helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries.

I no longer was at a place in my life where I could put it off or say no. This was promised to be a year of stretching for me.

I didn't sign up that day. I have always felt a pull towards World Vision, a similar program to Compassion. One of the biggest differences between World Vision and Compassion is how the money is distributed. World Vision places a larger emphasis on changing the community, not just the child. When you give to Compassion, your money goes all to a specific child. World Vision is done on a larger scale too. They reach approximately 100 million children in 100 countries. I believe both programs have their advantages, and it was very difficult to choose which would capture my heart. Honestly, both did. I wanted to have an affect on an entire community, and I wanted to change a child's life.

Both things are possible, with both programs. It took a lot of prayer to make a decision. For my first child sponsorship, I went with World Vision. That is where I first developed those feelings of wanting to make a difference. To be used to change lives.

It took me a week of browsing faces before I would make a final commitment. I looked for children who shared Ariel's birthday, then Gabriel's, then Zech's. I couldn't decide. I searched for children that shared my kid's names. I wanted some kind of connection. I needed confirmation that I was choosing the right child for our family. It needed to be a perfect "God" fit.

On May 9th, we welcomed a nine year old girl, Aberu, into our family. I know this is not an adoption by most people's standards, but to me, I was agreeing to bring her into my heart, just as I would a child of my own. I wish I could share a photo of Aberu with you, but I'm not allowed. She is absolutely beautiful! She lives in an area of Ethiopia where Jesus is not allowed. For security reasons I am not allowed to share her picture over the internet. But that won't stop me from sharing it in my home!

Aberu represents to me each of my children. She is a girl like Ariel. Aberu is the same age as Gabriel, and she shares a birthday with Zechariah. As soon as her face appeared on my computer screen, I knew she was the "God" fit. I couldn't stop the tears from streaming. I felt like a proud mother, holding her baby for the first time.

I know I may never meet Aberu, but she has a very special place in my heart. She is my first "adopted" child.

God is softening my heart. I am opening my life to new possibilities. Our family is growing. We are no longer a family of five. We are now eight. My heart has continually been pulled in the direction of these child sponsorship programs. I felt God was drawing me to help other children. My family has now adopted one World Vision child, and two Compassion children. We now have Aberu and Yeabsira from Ethiopia. And we recently were given Meyli, from Peru.

compassion international
5 years old

compassion international
3 years old

All three children have captured my heart. I cannot wait to see how God works in these relationships. My heart is brimming with love for these children. My thoughts and prayers are with them constantly.

For the past several months I have had this Bible verse stuck to my bathroom mirror. God was preparing my heart months before I took this step of faith. I am so excited to see what good things God has planned for me and my family, all 6 of my children!

"Seek justice,encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” — Isaiah 1:17

1 comment:

  1. Hey! My sister is a Compassion Advocate and loves it! She has sponsered the same girl since she was about 14 - all on her own! Two years ago when she was in Africa she got to visit her girl and she is going back again next week! The compassion center has made a huge difference in the village as whole families benefit from having their child sponsered. And my mom is an artist who donates all of her etsy shop sales to the compassion pre/post natal care program. Her shop is She Can Laugh. For any of your readers who may want to get involved but can't afford a monthy commitment, Compassion and World Vision have loads of one time gift options, such as providing a home with mosquito netting for only $10 (malarial mosquitos are noctural, so netting is a huge deal). It's such a fun way to spend money!



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