God Heals

I’m an American mom who raised two sons, one stepson and one stepdaughter. We were your classic “blended family,” I suppose, and it wasn’t easy. Issues that come up for blended families can be extremely complex.

All four of my children were teenagers at the same time. It was challenging.

I would hear things like, “My dad lets me do … ” or “My mom cooks dinner like … ” It seemed my particular “momming” abilities (for my kids or my stepkids) were never good enough. Consequently, my self-esteem took a beating and I felt unappreciated most of the time.

I have to admit, the years of parenting teens left my heart wounded. The pains of these old wounds have stayed with me. I often wondered if I would ever be released from them.

Then, without expecting it, a special gift from God found its way into my life …  all the way from the Dominican Republic.

A Special Call

Last year, Compassion and Moody Bible Institute partnered to raise money for three scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to Compassion Leadership Development Program (LDP) graduates and enable them to come to the United States and obtain a master’s degree at Moody.

When the three scholars were chosen, they flew from their home countries to Colorado for Compassion orientation, and Celina Baldwin put out a call seeking volunteers to host the students while they were in Colorado Springs.

Being a sponsor, I thought to myself, “I wonder if my family should offer to host a student?” and all the memories from parenting young adults came rushing back. I felt a pain in my stomach.

As a compromise, I told Celina to give me a call if she did not get the volunteers she needed. I figured I did my part and was off the hook.

A Divine Appointment

God healsNot so! Celina called. She needed me to host 23-year-old Tony Beltrán from the Dominican Republic. Uh oh! What did I get myself into?

Tony was the first LDP graduate from the Dominican Republic, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in computer engineering. He stayed at my home for 10 days before flying on to Chicago to begin a master’s degree program in theology.

I didn’t know what to expect. Would he be shy? Would he like the food I cooked? Would he want to talk with me? I didn’t know it. But God did. And He had a divine appointment scheduled for me and my heart.

What first amazed me about Tony was the fact that he saw everything through eyes of appreciation and gratitude. He was a computer engineer, but had never seen a dishwasher before. He took great pleasure in saying with a big smile as he loaded his dirty dishes into the machine, “Don’t worry, I’ll wash the dishes for you tonight!” :-)

Tony and I had long conversations about God, school, family and girls. He listened to everything I offered him and took it to heart. He responded with things like, “That’s right, that’s in God’s Word and I want to live an obedient life for God.”

He appreciated the time I spent with him and he was proud to be with me. I made lasagna for dinner and it became Tony’s favorite. He would say to me, “Can you save me a piece of the lasagna? I want to have some later before I go to sleep?” I could feel the healing inside my heart.

Released by a Compassion-assisted Child

Sometimes people can be so kind and caring that my defenses cannot stop the love from coming in. That’s what happened with Tony. He’s such a fine young man and his authentic integrity, respect and appreciation for people (and all that God has done for him) has a healing affect on those he’s in the same room with!

I didn’t realize the full affect Tony was having on me until it was time to say goodbye and I burst into tears.

Looking back, I’ve determined it is because God used Tony to reach the dark places of my heart and heal them. It’s an amazing thing.

I’m an American and I love to sponsor children and release them from poverty (whatever that looks like in their lives), but they in turn release me. Oh we have a very clever God!

If you ever get the chance to host a Compassion-assisted child in your home, don’t hesitate, just do it! You will be blessed in ways you never dreamed of. Oh! You do have that chance.

19 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Kevin Russell March 20, 2009

    Catherine,
    You don’t know how much you are a blessing to me. After a rough week, reading your letter helped to bring much needed perspective and clarity to my thinking. I am so proud of you and I am truly thankful to be your brother. I love you and God bless you.

  2. Christi March 20, 2009

    Catherine,
    How wonderful to see you being blessed by your ‘children’ here on this blog.

  3. Heather March 18, 2009

    I would love to be able to do this,even though I’m only 28! Too bad I live in Southern Arizona..This is a really great story. I needed to read this today-I felt so glum!

  4. Tony Beltran March 18, 2009

    Wow mom! I really love that God usually works in both sides. Cat, you have been a blessing for me; I do appreciate your advices and the fact that you’re always caring about me. I know that anyone who tries your lasagna will love it; it is just delicious :)

    I really love that you are humble enough to acknowledge the things you have to improve and that makes me consider your opinions. Thanks so much for being available for me. God has blessed me through your life and I am so thankful that He has used me to bless you mom! You know that I pray that God will use me in my interactions with people and it is so refreshing to know that He is working.

    See you in the summer!
    Blessings :)
    Tony Beltran

  5. Catherine Hilger March 18, 2009

    Thanks for you comment, I pray that you will get to meet your sponsored children some day! These kids are amazing!

  6. Catherine Hilger March 18, 2009

    Hi Christy,
    Thanks for your comment on the blog. Stay encouraged. Any time you invest in a child it is a worthy investment (whether to our biological children or our sponsored children). God will use your love to build that child up and to fight the lie of poverty in that child’s heart. Poverty says, “You don’t matter, give up,” but your love and letters say, “You DO matter, and God has a plan for your life!” I am confident that God will show us the return on our investment in His good timing!

  7. Catherine Hilger March 18, 2009

    Hi Son! It was so nice to hear from you on the blog. It is a small world. I had no idea you would receive the blog and read my entry. You touched my heart again with your kind words. Love Mum!

  8. Christi March 17, 2009

    Ibrahim, thank you for sharing your side of the story – that only encourages me more to hold my teenage orphaned boys to my heart and make every letter count!
    Thank you, and may God continue to make His face to shine upon you.

  9. Compassion dave March 14, 2009

    I’d do this in a second

  10. ibrahim olaiseh March 14, 2009

    i dont believe in coincidence because that to me means that whatever has happend has got God by surpise-which i know is never the case.my name is ibrahim olaiseh i am a leadesrhip development program student completing a political scince degree at the university of Nairobi.i joined compassion in 1991 as a sponsored child,lost both my parents in 1994,lived on my own since then in the most poorest conditions you can ever think about.i overcame the greatest odds and limitations through compassion support.now i am a living testimony of the great work compassion is doing.i have been rescued from poverty in jesus name.i met catherine hilger in 2006 in our project in mathare slums in kenya.since then she has been a good mom,role model and a friend to me.i am amazed to read his story.she realy has a heart for God “when you did this to those little ones you did it for me”.indeed God must have been adressing those who,
    like catherine are doing everything to bring the kingdom of God down-to earth.i am blesed to know her

  11. Brianne Mullins March 13, 2009

    Catherine! You have such a beautiful heart. Thank you so so much for sharing this story with us. Your words have conveyed such beauty!

  12. Amy March 13, 2009

    Thanks for sharing this!!

  13. Christi March 13, 2009

    Catherine – your letter says so much to me. We raised five children – only 6 years between all of them. Therefore the diapers seemed to go on forever, the terrible twos seemed to go on forever – and then, the teens. And we are still recovering from that, and working on relationships.
    The questions I had of myself sort of affected my first months of sponsoring my compassion kids. Your story, and the posts of others about how appreciative these children are has been healing my heart.
    I doubt that we will have the opportunity to host a compassion kid here…but I thank God there are people like you to touch their lives in such a personal way. Praise God! Thank you for sharing!

  14. Barbara M. March 13, 2009

    Your story brought tears. Thank you for telling of your “encounter” with Tony. Although I have never actually met any of my sponsored children, from one of them I have felt that same gratitude and love and appreciation. It blesses in a way I cannot even describe. What a healing this young man had on your heart! I am so glad that not only were you able to be a help and a blessing to him but he was a tremendous blessing to you!

  15. Judith Tremblay March 13, 2009

    Yes, what a clever God we serve! And on the flip side of the coin, how dense we must be at times! Well, ok. I know I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but aren’t we described as “sheep” on more than one occasion? :)

    SO glad that God provided Tony for you, just when you needed him.

  16. Sara Benson March 13, 2009

    I do live “out west” but I am living with my Parents and siblings. I wish that we could host some students but there are just too many of us going in different directions.

  17. Vicki Small March 13, 2009

    It’s times like this when I wish I lived in Colorado Springs, or nearby! Southern Arizona is too long a commute. :o(

  18. Brittany March 13, 2009

    It’s times like these when I wish I could live “out west.” I’m over on the east (Virginia…about 2 hours west of DC).

  19. Jill Foley March 13, 2009

    I love your insight that sponsoring Compassion children releases us! That’s exactly how I feel. I’ve been “released”. I started sponsoring thinking I was doing something great for someone else…but God definitely had and continues to have his own agenda for my life!

    Great story…thank you for sharing.

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