If there are two things that you should know about me, they are that I LOVE Jesus and I LOVE Scripture. There are few things in this world that make me feel closer to my Creator than reading His Word. And that’s why I’m so excited that 2020 is the Year of the Bible!
As you may already know, there is a worldwide movement of people who are dedicating this year to digging deeper into the Scriptures. I love that. And I also love that we’re approaching a holy season, specifically set apart to draw closer to God and His Word — a season called Lent.
This year for Lent, I’m doing something special, something a little different. And, as you dive deeper into this Year of the Bible, I’d love to invite you into this journey. But before I do that, let me explain why Lent is so meaningful to me.
Lent is …
Lent is a beautiful tradition that has been practiced by Christians for thousands of years. In many churches, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is observed by fasting for the 40 days leading up to Easter (excluding Sundays). This season of fasting is often linked to Matthew 4, the account of when Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:1-4, NIV)
Not all Christ-followers practice Lent — and that’s OK! But over the last couple of years, I’ve grown to deeply appreciate the opportunity it gives to set apart time for the spiritual practices of prayer, reflection and fasting.
You may have heard about people “giving up” something — like chocolate, coffee, shopping or gossip — for Lent, and replacing it with an intentional spiritual practice. Well, that’s a form of fasting! And they serve as small reminders of the bigger reality of Jesus’ sacrifice and love for us.
For me, Lent has become an important reminder for me to actively pursue relationship with God and to intentionally know Him more. Last year, I spent 40 days focusing on the specific attributes of Jesus, and it truly brought me closer to the heart and character of God. This year, I’m motivated to dig in even deeper and to find out what more God wants to reveal to me in this holy season.
What I’m giving up for Lent this year …
Before I tell you what I’m doing for Lent this year, I want to tell you a story.
Have you ever been to a church service where your world gets rocked a little bit? Maybe your pastor shares something especially powerful? Or God moves in your heart in a new way? Well, that’s happened to me a few times — and one of those times was on Compassion Sunday.
The first time I learned about Compassion International and the ministry of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name was on Compassion Sunday at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale in 2005. On that day, I sponsored three children. And since then, my heart for children in poverty has only grown as I’ve had the opportunity to see the need firsthand.
My first trip with Compassion International was almost 10 years ago, to the Dominican Republic. While there, I witnessed the power of child sponsorship. However, what was perhaps most impactful was meeting moms — many of whom were very young women — and their newborns. I was struck by the intense need and injustice these women faced as young mothers in poverty, and by their dedication to raising their babies well. I was overwhelmed with both heartbreak and hope.
The second time I traveled with Compassion was much more recent. Last year I went to Guayaquil, Ecuador, to meet two of my sponsored children, Ketzia and Mia. On this trip, I was struck yet again by the power of child sponsorship, but also by the specific challenges that girls in poverty face. In the neighborhood where Ketzia and Mia live, they are at constant risk of abuse. And once again, I was overwhelmed by both heartbreak and hope.
Over the years, my passion for helping children in poverty has continued to grow. However, more recently, I’ve pursued a new, even more specific passion — to care for girls living in poverty.
Poverty is unfair to everyone, but it’s especially unfair to girls. They face a unique set of challenges, including child marriage, education discrimination, sexual abuse and exploitation, lack of access to proper feminine hygiene care products, and more. I’ve seen it firsthand.
So, in light of this passion, I’ve decided to dedicate this Lenten season to doing all I can to stand up, advocate and fight for girls living in poverty. Throughout this holy season, I will be “giving up” some of my normal social media posts in order to speak up for girls living in poverty.
You can join me for Lent this year.
I have a really big dream for Lent this year. And it’s one that I need some help with.
My dream is to build a community of love, protection and safety around girls living in poverty. I want to lean in to God’s call to care for the poor in a big way. I want to give up some of my comfort so that girls around the world can experience some themselves. Isaiah puts it so well …
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6-7, NIV)
So, as you continue to engage with the Year of the Bible, it might be worth considering participating in this holy season of Lent. To learn more about joining me in doing just that, watch the video below.
If you’re interested in spending this Lenten season speaking up for girls in poverty, click here.
Editors’ note: Lent is a practice embraced by many evangelical Christians as a means to deepen their faith and draw closer to Jesus. While not all Christians participate in Lent, we believe the Bible teaches us to practice prayer, reflection, fasting, and giving all as a means of better understanding God’s redeeming work in our lives. While we recognize not all Christians will choose to practice Lent, we are pleased to share Candace’s conviction with you as a testimony and encouragement.