I’m amazed how God makes children so unique.
My oldest son is 10 and is a great drummer who is fascinated with Legos and space travel. My daughter is 7, loves to swim, and has the charm and savvy to convince you that Earth is flat and we’re all robots. My youngest excels at soccer and loves to read more than just about anything else on Earth.
Liz and I love our kids, and like most parents, we pray for their future. Who will they become? Who will they marry? What does God have in store for them?
We pray they would respond to Christ and allow God to lead their lives. We pray God would shape them into exactly the people He designed them to be.
And although we love all kids and sponsor many children with Compassion International as a family, never once did I pray those kind of prayers for them. A chance encounter with a waitress in a Dominican restaurant changed that forever.
Liz and I visited Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in the spring of 2009. We were there for one reason — Raquel.
At the time, Raquel was a vibrant and beautiful 7-year-old girl who lived in the slums of the Dominican Republic’s largest city. A year earlier, we had decided to sponsor her and I was in awe that this picture hanging on my refrigerator was a real-live human being who was guiding us on a tour of her neighborhood.
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We ate with her in a local restaurant. We shared Cokes on the sidewalk in front of the corner market. We visited the local church where she attends the Compassion program.
A few blocks beyond the church, we visited the two-bedroom home where Raquel lives with her mother and eight siblings.
We had an amazing visit with her family, exchanged gifts, prayed and laughed together — then said goodbye as we headed across town for dinner that evening.
We arrived at the downtown restaurant to meet a group of about 20 or so Compassion volunteers, staff and additional friends for a true Dominican feast.
As we sat down, the gentlemen next to me told me that when he called to make the reservation, he informed the restaurant hostess on the phone that a large table was needed for a group from Compassion International. Immediately the girl interrupted him and responded,
“I was a Compassion child! I now work here at the restaurant, and I would love to come by and meet you and your friends from Compassion.”
As he was telling me about his phone call, a beautiful 24-year-old Dominican woman approached our table and introduced herself.
“Hello everyone, my name is Maria. When I was 8 years old, I was sponsored by a girl in the United States named Lauren, who was also 8. She and her family sponsored me for 10 years. They live in Green Bay, Wisconsin.”
Maria immediately turned to me, the obvious American at the table, and asked if I knew her sponsor. I started to explain the distance between Wisconsin and Texas and how Texas was almost like its own country, but soon resigned to simply say that I would look for her the next time I headed north.
Maria went on to tell us,
“I graduated high school, the first in my family to do so, and attended the University here in Santo Domingo. I work part-time here at the restaurant to help pay my own way for school and my dream is to enroll in medical school and become a pediatrician right here in the Dominican Republic.”
As she thanked the group for the work of Compassion in her life and in thousands more around her country, she held up a stack of letters, maybe 200 thick, bound by a rubber band.
“These are letters written to me by my sponsors over the 10 years of being in the Compassion program. These letters are like treasure to me.”
I don’t recall what we ate for dinner that night, the topic of conversation or much about the restaurant itself. But I will never forget Maria.
I had planned to get on a plane, fly down to the Dominican Republic, and meet a 7-year-old named Raquel. We did so and she was an amazing kid.
What I could never have imagined was that I would look into the eyes of a 24-year-old Domincan woman named Maria and see 7-year-old Raquel. I was seeing who Raquel might be.
I was not envisioning Raquel as a photo on my fridge or a child stuck in the cycles of Domincan poverty. No, I was seeing her as young woman with a future and a love for Christ.
Before this trip, prayers for Raquel sounding something like this,
“God, protect her tonight. Give her the meals and love that she needs. Help her family to find work. Help her to stay healthy.”
These are valid prayers, especially for children in countries where poverty is so widespread and children are often neglected.
But once I met Maria, those prayers changed.
Who would Raquel become? Would she know the love and Christ and choose to walk with him in life? Would she be a mother? A teacher? Would she enroll in medical school one day or work at a restaurant like Maria?
I have no idea, but our prayers for her now go well beyond food and shelter.
God made her unique and has a plan for her life and by His moving in the work of Compassion, we believe God will finish what He has started in her.
Our family has since sponsored multiple children in the great country of Haiti.
We’ve had the joy of meeting two of our boys there — David and Jhelolove in recent months.
I love these boys and their country and pray for them daily.
I recently read about a Compassion child who grew up in Haiti and was elected Senator — proof that there is no telling what God has in store for these two boys!
One of the things I love most about what I do as a musician and songwriter is that I have a microphone and platform to invite folks at concerts, online or in a coffee shop to join me in sponsoring a child through Compassion.
Today, my hope is that you’ll consider sponsoring a child in Haiti who is currently waiting for a sponsor.
And if you do, pray for these children. Dream for them. God has plans for them that we could never imagine.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbie Seay is a Compassion artist and the lead singer of the Robbie Seay Band. Robbie has been a sponsor since 2004 and sponsors four children.