May 9 2012

We Have Room

room for one more I can get passionate about most things.

Very quickly.

And be all in.

I’m notorious for trying everything and if I’m not good at it right away, I give it up. Likewise with causes. I’m an emotional appeal kind of girl.

Tell me statistics of there being more people currently enslaved than the entire trans-atlantic slave trade combined and I’ll advocate on behalf of anti-slavery movements until I’m blue in the face.

At least, for a while.

But where I am weak is in follow through and sustainability. I’m not an executor beyond the short term. So when the LORD really started changing my heart and I saw the things that break His heart, my heart stayed broken, for a long time.

The brokenness began through many of the causes I participated in throughout various years. And there was always a theme – injustice. Be it child soldiers or slave labor, I walked the line of whatever was happening in current culture.

But I always came back to injustice. Especially against children.

When I began working for the ministry, my heart came alive at fighting for the cause of children in poverty. I knew that in order to truly end the horrors of injustice, it must begin at the root of the problem – poverty.

Poverty is enslavement in and of itself. To break the cycles  of vulnerable children, child soldiers, child brides, sex slaves, etc, we must give these children a chance at life outside of poverty.

I saw this firsthand in India.

Our final day in Kolkata we went to a child development center visit. Before this, I had never seen the ministry’s work in action. I was excited and a little nervous about the experience.

As soon as we disembarked in an unfamiliar urban setting, the eager children shyly put their flower garlands around our neck.

I was one of the last people off the bus, so somehow I ended up with three.

We were taken on a tour of the facilities and saw teachers trying to gently control wriggling children who were so excited about the foreigners they could hardly contain themselves. We played games in the courtyard and got to experience the registration process.

It was a mock registration but insightful and interesting nevertheless.

During some downtime, the center facilitator explained that when they actually register children, it becomes a mad house.

Though children are preselected, when word gets out in the community that the ministry is registering new children, people in the urban slums storm the gate.

Literally.

He explained that the people will shove against the gate of the development center, jump over the walls, and sometimes get violent. Because they know their child’s only chance at escaping poverty is to be registered with us. I curiously asked,

“Well, why can’t you take more children? Are you at capacity? Could more children come?”

The facilitator shared,

“No, no, we could take many more children. We have room, we just don’t have anyone to sponsor them.”

Indignation rose in my chest.

Not on my watch. Not while there is breath in my body.

I vowed right then to tell this story. Because that is the story of this ministry. There is room – there is just no one to sponsor them. It’s really easy to sell sponsorship by making people feel guilty, but that’s not what we do here.

What I learned during my time in India is that what we do works. We are used by God to bring hope and a future to kids who might not otherwise have a chance.

For example, this child.

I got to meet this boy and his family during our home visit.

He’s a sponsored child who lives in a tiny little shack with eleven other people.

But I didn’t see poverty or despair while I was balancing precariously on their bamboo floor; I saw joy and gratitude on the faces of his family.

This family knows their son has a chance at life because of what the tireless staff and volunteers are doing in his community.

That is what I walked away with – we get the privilege to participate in changing the lives of these precious kids. That is the real reason to sponsor a child.

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  1. Shelly
    May 9, 2012
    at 7:06 am

    Beautiful. God bless your passion! :) I am right there with you! Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. May 9, 2012
    at 7:07 am

    India has been mysteriously on my heart lately. It’s a little odd because Africa has always been on my radar and I instinctively read about, pray for and advocate for the children of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the rest. Your post is yet another nudge to pay attention to what is going on in India. Great pictures. Beautiful heart.

    • May 9, 2012
      at 8:44 am

      Julie, funny that you say those words. I was in the same place. I had always loved Africa for years and then the LORD curiously started whispering a love for India in my spirit. I would so encourage you to go if you can!

      • Nina
        May 9, 2012
        at 12:45 pm

        And another funny thing in reverse – my heart has always been in Asia, particularly India and Bangladesh., but recently Africa has been placed on my heart! So a couple of months ago we added a little girl from Burkina Faso to our Compassion family!

  3. May 9, 2012
    at 7:07 am

    I am emotional and passionate about a lot, too, and learning to listen close to what’s a for me. Praying you listen close and that He protects you from the discouragement of fear and thoughts that say you can’t make a difference. Because, you are!

  4. May 9, 2012
    at 8:45 am

    Amy, thank you for your prayers! I hope you’re able to fight through those lies as well!! Thanks for supporting Compassion!

  5. May 9, 2012
    at 10:07 am

    I’m so glad I read this post. For a few days, I’ve been feeling God prompt me to do more with Compassion and my arguement has always been ‘I can’t sacrifice any more, I can’t afford it, I can’t take any more!’ which has been really hard because Compassion is totally where my heart is right now. This totally changed the perspective from me to these kids and to a God who has provided for me so I can in turn provide for a child. Thank you :)

  6. May 9, 2012
    at 3:18 pm

    Shelley, what a great story!! I love how the LORD works in crazy ways. These kids are incredible and you’ll be blessed even more than you can imagine. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  7. May 9, 2012
    at 5:48 pm

    How sad and how shameful that Compassion has the room to help more children, just not the sponsors to do so.

    • May 11, 2012
      at 1:24 pm

      Hi Gail. I do think it’s a really unique opportunity and story to tell the Church. The Church has been known to respond to the call. We just need to tell people the need is there!

  8. Mary Ricciuto
    May 10, 2012
    at 6:37 am

    Thank you for sharing your story and your heart. Your story lets us know how important that our sponsorship is, but lets us know that God is using US to tell others about these children. I am motived to take the next step…speaking up for these children and recruiting more sponsors for these children that are “waiting at the gate” for a better life! It doesn’t cost a cent….to tell others, but could save a life. God bless you.

    • May 11, 2012
      at 1:37 pm

      Mary, thanks for your willingness to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves! Telling the Compassion story is vital to helping release children from poverty. We appreciate your heart and willingness to share your time and effort to share the hope Christ brings to these precious kiddos.

  9. Lorraine
    May 10, 2012
    at 10:55 am

    This is great, the work you do to provide for these children.
    But remember to spread the message to these little ones who need Jesus Christ. Help these little ones recognize that they have a need for their sins to be paid for through Jesus Christ. What do we do if we provide for their body but say nothing to their souls about the salvation of Jesus Christ.

    • May 11, 2012
      at 1:36 pm

      Hi Lorraine! That is one of Compassion’s greatest strengths – sharing the love of Christ with the kids. Holistic development is a beautiful thing! We’re caring for their bodies, spirits, and minds!

  10. Jun 5, 2012
    at 6:20 pm

    What an awesome post!!! I often through myself into things too.

    This is kinda off topic, but did you visit IN460 during your trip to India? I jsut sponsored a girl from there today.

    Lizzie :)

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