Editor’s Note: Every summer, 20 university students enroll in our 10 1/2-week internship program for the opportunity to gain professional experience within Compassion. This is just one of the many experiences from their country trip to Guatemala.
“Hope is here,” Christina, a fellow Compassion summer intern, said the night before.
Sparkling eyes and excited voices shout in unison as more than 100 children and parents pack into a humid, concrete church tucked between the tin-roofed homes of a neighborhood in Esculinda, Guatemala. While marching in place they sing about being in the Lord’s army. “Soldado soy de Jesus. Sí Señor!” I am a soldier of Jesus. Yes, Sir!
Christina’s words echo in my ear and manifest in my heart as I look around the room at all the smiling faces.
It has been more than a month since our intern team returned from serving and learning about Compassion’s partnership with the local church in Guatemala. Many of the children I met were sponsored through Compassion’s Child Development Sponsorship Program and I saw cherished photo albums and stacks of letters saved over the years — words of encouragement, love and hope from their sponsors.
If I learned anything from those children, it would be this: Poverty is not just a physical manifestation. Coming from a business-major background, I tend to use instruments and economics terms to measure progress in the developing world. My time in Guatemala challenged me to see poverty of spirit and heart as well. I am eager to see children go to college and impatient to see job statistics grow, but is that the true and sole measure of success?
I think back to that humid, concrete church. There is no air conditioning for the stifling heat. There is no soft carpet for bare, marching feet. But there is music. There is laughter. There is the resonating message that these children are in the army of the Lord. A Lord who cares about them, loves them, and knows them each by name.
Compassion’s model is holistic. Yes, the medical exams, the education, and the food are important. Jesus didn’t neglect the physical feeding of the 5,000 or the healing of the blind, but just as important is that personal encounter with His loving heart. It is there that true transformation happens and the cycle of poverty can be broken. Hope brought through a loving Lord.
“Soldado soy de Jesus. Sí Señor!”
Kelly Uchiumi grew up in the Bay Area, California, and is a recent graduate in global business from George Fox University in Oregon. She is the HR talent acquisition intern where she is learning the secrets of mastering an interview. A life-long learner and traveler, Kelly hopes to play a small part in the grand story God is writing for the world.
This is one of three stories from the 2014 Compassion Summer Interns.
Check out last week’s story from Alex Tunell.