bad-week Have you ever had a monumentally bad week? I’m not talking about running late, forgetting to turn off the sprinklers sort of bad, but an epic week that shifted your normal and changed everything? Last September, I had one of those weeks.

My very bad week began with the worst kind of phone call. One of my college roommates died in a car crash that morning. It was just months before her wedding.

Days later in my newly married community group, I watched a dear friend and Air Force officer weep as he looked deployment square in the face while holding his two-week old baby girl.

And then I got a letter from Compassion.

Weeks before, I learned that one of our Compassion kids, Kevin, had been removed from the sponsorship program. His mom had a good job, and he didn’t need us anymore.

We rejoiced with him and with his mother who was finally able to provide for her son, and we prayed for the new child who would greet us in the mail and take a place among the photos on our bulletin board of Compassion kids past and present. When the letter arrived that week, we met our new little guy through a cartoonish worksheet he had filled in about himself with crayons and pen.

Ezra indicated he was from Indonesia, average height, average weight, enjoyed school and loved his family.

In the last section of the sheet, tucked on the back page, he got to ask us something. There was just room for one question to these strangers on the other side of the world.

“Do you get to eat every day?”

There it was. A punch in the stomach. The ache for him. The knowledge that he had seen hunger. He had known it. The understanding that he got a chance to ask us anything, and he chose that question.

Three great tragedies – death, separation, poverty – all in one week.

I was down for the count, lost and overwhelmed. The world was too filled with grief, and my contribution wasn’t going to make a dent in it.

But in the days that came after, I saw friends and families swarm my college roommate’s grief-stricken family. People helped meet her family’s needs, provided council and casseroles, and sat through the long, tear-filled silences.

In all sorts of ways, they were the bringers of compassion, loving on parents who had lost a child, sisters who had lost a sibling, and a fiancé whose whole life changed.

We rallied around our friend who was to be deployed. He left knowing his wife and daughter had a dozen families ready to lend a hand – a dozen men to call for plumbing emergencies, a dozen girls to have movie nights with, a group of moms to turn to for mothering tips, and a lawn that would be faithfully mowed every week so his wife never looked like she was temporarily husbandless.

And then there was our Compassion child.

Yes, Sweet Boy, we get to eat every day, I whispered to his little kid handwriting.

But still, compassion comes at a cost.

My husband and I drive old cars. We only go to the dollar theatre, and we don’t have cable TV. The realities of our budget elicit an occasional pity party when I see a friend’s new family-friendly SUV and am reminded that we don’t have a nest egg big enough to start a family.

But we eat every day.

Is the cost to sponsor a child a sacrifice? Yes.

Will it break us? Nope.

But without our monthly commitment, Ezra could be the one to break.

For me, sponsorship means less grande, three-pump, no water Chai Tea Lattes. For him it means an introduction to Jesus, clean water, a belly full of food and a head full of knowledge from school.

Or as Christ said it – hope and a future.

We live in a world of blistering hurts and festering, generations-long injustices. God, in his sovereignty, lets us help ease suffering and right wrongs, and in the process, we’re changed too.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed and to be sure that nothing you do will make a dent. When I was in that place, God used the question of a little boy to remind me that only He could save the world, but in the process, He would use my little contribution to make a difference in the world of one child.

It was an awful week of tragedies followed by months of hope as God brought a community of people around the hurting and reminded us all that we get to be used by Him. The sacrifice becomes the gift, and amid the suffering, we can be the bearers of compassion.

I hope that someday when Ezra becomes a father, and his child gets to ask just one question to people on the other side of the world, it won’t be the same one we were asked.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Warren is a writer who works in public relations for a university. She is also a newlywed who lives in Oklahoma with her husband, Kevin. When Sarah learned that Kevin sponsored several Compassion kids, she decided it would be nice if he asked her to marry him.

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  1. Sep 6, 2011
    at 6:05 am

    Sara, I have also received a single sentence sucker punch to the gut, you can read about it here: http://blog.compassion.com/change-your-perspective-a-precious-perspective/

    I loved your post and found myself nodding with agreement as I read. It was beautifully written and he message is spot on. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  2. Brent
    Sep 6, 2011
    at 10:29 am

    Loved the story. My wife and I live like you. We try to live below our means as a way to be a blessing. If we are broke how can we bless? I also agree with you about sponsorship changing the life of the one. We can not end poverty, BUT we have ended poverty for the children we sponsor. God bless you and everyone who reads this and acts in behalf of children.

  3. Theresa Noe
    Sep 6, 2011
    at 12:20 pm

    I want to thank you for sharing that. I’m sitting in a library at Tri-County Tech and it has air-conditioning, comforts, etc and yes even on a full stomach because my daughter, who is also in school here ate lunch together. But, as I read this, with tears streaming down my face, I understood exactly what you are speaking about. My daughter, Savannah also sponsors a child, threw Compassion, and it has been in inspiration to many people. So many just sit and do nothing, then there are others, like my daughter, Savannah and you that do something and I know make a big sacrifice, not only financially, but also with those that are around you that just don’t seem to understand. I want to thank you for sharing this with us! It is because of people like you and my daughter, that are able to inspire those around them as well as change a life, one at a time! It is truly the truth, for it is by action that you will know these are my disciples. You are truly walking the walk, not just talking the talk. **** I pray this comes out the way that I’d like it, too and you understand.***

  4. Sarah
    Sep 6, 2011
    at 12:27 pm

    Michelle – thank you so much! I read your blog posting. What a perspective changer!

  5. Brad Howe
    Sep 6, 2011
    at 12:35 pm

    Sarah; Your well written essay brought tears to my eyes and succinctly reaffirmed my committment (and I’m certain many others). Thank you for taking the time to put pen to paper; no one could have said it better. God Bless you and Kevin

  6. Sep 6, 2011
    at 2:02 pm

    This is the best blog post I ever read here. Even after just finishing a group study on it, I struggle with what “enough” means, so hanks for the “punch in the face.” Maybe on letter writing day, the projects should put that line on the chalk board? :)

    • Sep 6, 2011
      at 6:08 pm

      Andrew, I’m confused: What line should go on the chalk board? In the project where I worked it was letter writing day every day.

  7. Sep 6, 2011
    at 3:30 pm

    “For me, sponsorship means less grande, three-pump, no water Chai Tea Lattes. For him it means an introduction to Jesus, clean water, a belly full of food and a head full of knowledge from school.

    Or as Christ said it – hope and a future.”

    So very well said. It’s amazing what we consider sacrifice and what our sacrificial efforts will translate to for a child living in poverty.

    17 years ago, when I sponsored my first child, I sent an extra $10 for her birthday. She wrote back telling me she used the money to buy a blanket so she could sleep better at night. Another time she used the money to buy chickens for her family. And another time, beans and seeds to plant.

    Her selflessness spoke volumes to me and humbled me to my core. I committed to doing more and quickly became an advocate, taking the first of many life changing steps.

  8. Sep 6, 2011
    at 4:17 pm

    Such a moving piece here. But Sarah, I did smile when I read your bio: “When Sarah learned that Kevin sponsored several Compassion kids, she decided it would be nice if he asked her to marry him.”

  9. Sep 6, 2011
    at 6:59 pm

    “I hope that someday when Ezra becomes a father, and his child gets to ask just one question to people on the other side of the world, it won’t be the same one we were asked.”

    Loved that. Loved the whole thing, actually. <3

    Thanks for this, Sarah! :)

  10. Sep 6, 2011
    at 7:34 pm

    sarah, your post was well thought-out and beautifully written. i’ve been wondering about the same thing – when will poverty end and is what i do actually enough to end it. you know, the more you pour your heart and soul into serving God, the more you realize that the world is full of wretchedness. but it’s a choice we all have to make everyday to persistently be His tool of blessings whether or not we feel like it. your writing has just blessed me today. :)

  11. Sep 7, 2011
    at 3:00 am

    Beautiful post Sarah – I was so moved. I have shared it on Facebook and will put it on Twitter too.

    On an unrelated note, we share a name – I am Sarah Warren too! I had to do a double take at the bottom! :-D

  12. Sep 7, 2011
    at 7:56 am

    Thank you for sharing!

    Wow. Our little sponsored boy is from indonesia! My 14yr old daughter has a correspondent girl from Indonesia.

    I love the information on your biography …. about you marrying Kevin!

    Grace,
    Teena

  13. Nancy Young
    Sep 8, 2011
    at 8:57 am

    Love the story. What inspiration. “Do you eat everyday” That really gets you in the heart. I put it on fb, too. Keep up the wonderful work using your God-given talent for his glory!!! Yeah!

  14. Sep 15, 2011
    at 2:40 pm

    I’ve been there where that one sentence from my compassion child (my little brother) who i support kicks me in the face. I believe his phrase came about a year ago when i was reading his letter from christmas where he asked how my christmas was and thanked me for the gifts for him and his mother. He talked about how he had bought his family multiple household items and how happy his mother was. It hit me hard because it was something so simple like veggie oil or something… something that costs like $1 here and i take advantage of daily. I remember sitting down and crying when i read how happy his mother was and how excited he was to be able to help around the home because of me. This 7 year old boy had more compassion than i ever have seen and it utterly destroyed me.
    I’m a college kid (aka broke most of the time) and have been since the day i started supporting my little brother but there is never a moment where i regret it or contemplate dropping out of the program. For me, Sponsorship means learning to give of myself (john 15:13 tells us that there’s no greater love than to lay down your life- i hope and pray for this to be my calling and desire at all times in my life) and use the resources which the Lord has lovingly and graciously provided me through His justice and mercy to the betterment of his kingdom. To me, Sponsorship means two fewer pizza deliveries during the month when every professor decides they’re our only class. Sponsorship means buying less bottles of water and learning to reduce, reuse, and recycle (because we are also called to be stewards of our land as well). Sponsorship means learning to love someone more than my own selfish desires. Sponsorship is teaching me how to live wholly and more fully through and in the kingdom of God and everyday i wake up praising the Lord for the opportunity he has given me to be able to support my little brother.

    • Celina
      Sep 17, 2011
      at 11:40 am

      I loved your post! I am a college student as well and although it’s tough monetarily, it’s the last thing on my mind whenever I look at my child’s letter or picture. =) For me, it’s not being able to pay off my credit card as quickly as I would like.

  15. Celina
    Sep 17, 2011
    at 11:33 am

    Wow! Thank you for sharing that with us. My child has recently moved out of the Project Area and I just received a newly assigned child a few weeks ago. It’s really tight for me right now but I know if I keep on top of my budget I will be able to keep sponsoring my child. For a second, I almost didn’t continue on with another child but then I realized even though it’s tough for me here, it’s tougher for my child out there. I couldn’t stand the thought of him not being able to enjoy a meal, feel safe, and get the knowledge he needs to better himself and go further in life.

  16. Bernadette Figueroa-Williams
    Sep 18, 2011
    at 9:01 pm

    This story put it in perspective for me this evening. I lost my job a couple weeks ago and I was not sure If I or we as a family could continue to sponsor our child, had tearful moments, I just couldn’t and wouldn’t give up on my new extended family in Tanzania. I’m so happy I read your story. This reconfirmed it all for me and I know God has a plan for all of us. We will struggle month to month, but I know I have food on my table and a roof over my head and I am grateful. I will give up anything to continue my connection, friendship and calling to help my new friend and sister in Christ. :) Thanks for sharing such an inspiring story when I needed it the most.

  17. Sep 23, 2011
    at 5:03 am

    I just received a letter from a new sponsor child this morning. He is 8.

    He asked me to pray for him to have strength so that he will not die.

    :’( I pray that he be able to have and fulfil dreams far beyond not dying, but today, I am in tears that a little boy of 8 could ask that as his one prayer request.

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