Do dreams come true? It’s an interesting, if not rhetorical, question.
Since I was a small child I have suffered from horrible, graphic nightmares. I have been chased by bears the size of Volkswagens, alligators the size of a school bus or dark figures hiding in shadows, waiting to pounce. I have fallen off jagged cliffs or struggled to hold my breath in deep, murky waters. And what’s worse, I remember every dream vividly. Some have haunted me for years.
So, to be honest with you, my initial response to that somewhat whimsical question is, “Geez, I hope not!”
But often, when someone asks “Do dreams come true?” what he or she really means is, “If I want something badly enough, will that make it happen?” When you “wish upon a star” do dreams really come true?
Right now, Compassion has more than 1,500 students attending university through our Leadership Development Program. Those students, sitting in college classrooms, studying things like politics, theology, engineering and medicine, all started out in extreme poverty — an all-too-real daytime nightmare.
They grew up in homes with cold concrete or tin walls and little or no electricity.
There were days when they wondered if they were going to eat. They slept on hard, uneven floors, lined up against brothers, sisters, parents and cousins crammed into a space smaller than most of our master bathrooms. And it was there, in those conditions, that dreams were born.
They imagined breaking the chain of poverty in their family. They dreamed about going to school, perhaps even university, and having a good job someday. They wondered what life would be like apart from their dire circumstances.
Those dreams are coming true.
Those dreams, birthed in the hearts and minds of children in poverty, are being realized in young Christian adults who have broken free from the shackles of impoverished life. So, yes, I believe dreams do come true.
Sadly, not all children in poverty will have the opportunity to see dreams of a better life come to fruition. Not every child out there has a sponsor or advocate who is working to help make his or her dreams come true.
Recently, I was able to view a pre-release screening of the 58: film. One scene in particular grabbed me: It was a group of young boys from India sitting together on the floor.
The narrator asked, “If you could ask God for anything, what would you ask for?”
The youngest child grinned with widened eyes and responded without hesitation, “Sweets!”
Another giggled as he said, “A bicycle.”
But the older brother, about 12 years old, gave an answer that broke my heart. He would ask God to take his dreams away.
“I do have desires, but my dreams will never come true. So let me not have any dreams at all.”
No dreams at all? That crushes me.
Poverty has told this child that there’s no chance of life getting better. And he believes that lie.
At Compassion, we have the honor of making dreams come true. We have the privilege of speaking truths that reveal the lies of poverty. We get to chase away the dark, shadowy figures that prey on the minds of the innocents. We get to pull children from the depths and catch them before they fall off the ledge.
As long as there are children who are willing to dream, we need people who are willing to help make those dreams come true. No little boy should have to ask God to take his dreams away. Ever.
Dreams are better incubated in safe classrooms and playgrounds. Dreams thrive in safe water and under the protection of a malaria net. Dreams breathe when tummies are full and needs are met. So when you partner with Compassion, you play a role in making dreams come true.
Do dreams come true? Yes. Not by wishing on a star. But through the actions of committed Christians who are willing to live out their faith in practical ways. You. Me.
We may not give them their dreams — but we can give their dreams a fighting chance.