Getting Beyond Your Daily Life and Into God’s Plan

I want to share with you, to somehow put into words, what Compassion means to me.

I struggled to write this. With my blank pad of paper in the orthodontist’s office, surrounded by a reception area with magazines filled with royal weddings, advice on how to lose weight, and the best athletic feats, I felt anesthetized.

woman in hat standing next to young girl

I tried again in a doctor’s waiting room, but only could think of the fact that in America we take it as a right to go to the doctor. But in Kenya, where my Compassion story began, many die without the ability to see a doctor.

How have I come to being anesthetized to the poor in our world?

It takes great effort to remember that on a daily basis the United States spends more on garbage bags than 90 of the 120 countries in the world spend on everything.

I cannot truly express what I have received through Compassion. This year’s Compassion Sunday theme is {Start small. Think big.} I suppose that is how it worked for me, but without too much thought.

My Compassion story began in 1986 with an 8-year old girl named Jewel. At first her letters were very simple, pretty flat to be honest. But one day I received a letter full of life and scripture.

I knew then that Jewel had changed her citizenship sometime between the last two letters. She was now a member of God’s kingdom.

I often have told the story of sending her money for a birthday gift one year and being surprised she had bought a goat. The Compassion staff knew just what her family needed. I would have gotten her a dress that she would have outgrown.

The goat was the family’s first livestock. I was excited to hear later that her goat had produced offspring, which allowed them to buy a calf as well to grow their new farm further.

I met Jewel in Kenya in 1995. I got to see the goat and the cow as well as the long walk she made down to the spring to carry the water back to her mud hut … on her head.

The most surprising God moment was when her mother embraced me with a hug full of meaning and gratitude and the spirit of God. I will never forget it. I felt like the heavens opened and God said,

“I am using both of you two women to raise this beautiful daughter of mine.”

In one letter Jewel sent me, she wrote.

“For those who trust in the Lord, will find their faith renewed. Your contribution towards my life has enabled me to know how to read and write. It has dragged me from poverty and illiteracy. For since my father died my future remained dark and uncertain, but through your care I look special, pretty and educated. My family members and I love you and pray for you too.”

Jewel graduated from the Child Sponsorship Program in 1997. I sent her a final letter and to be honest, would think of her at times, but really hadn’t thought of her daily or deeply much at all until 2009 when we reconnected.

I will let Jewel express to you this part of the story through excerpts from several of her e-mails.

Dear Longtime Friend,

From the bottom of my heart I have always been praying for you and your entire family. … During my free time I do voluntary jobs like donate something small to the less fortunate children in children’s homes.

My mother’s animal farm has also grown a lot. I do go to church and as well take Gerald to Sunday school since it is a blessing to bring up my son in a God-fearing way.

I always tell my son I have a friend and a mum who is of white skin, and he really feels good about that. He keeps on going to my album every now and then just to see your pictures. I mean those which we took when you came to visit me. Gerald is a God-fearing boy and it’s my prayer that the Almighty may ordain his way.

You really mean a lot to me, my angel, and may God continue pouring his wonderful blessings upon your family. I lack better words to describe this but just to say THANK YOU! THANK YOU! AND THANK YOU!

I give God all the glory and honor for having chosen you as my friend/angel since I was 8 years old. It’s through Compassion that I am this far academically. You have been there for me since my primary education, high school and as well after 12 years of our separation when we revived our friendship. WHAT a faithful God.

Not forgetting, I still remember your sacrifice to Kenya on 21st/ Jan/1995 when you paid me a visit. Believe me, it was so touching, and this is one of my best memories. Mum, you are God-given angel to me and I have promised myself that one day, should I grow in my financial status, I owe a poor child a sponsorship in the way God will direct me.

woman and young girl kneeling by flowers with two older women in background

That is why I am sacrificing a lot to make this dream come true. God normally rewards cheerful givers, especially if you give to someone who is in need. You have always been in my daily prayers and I do pray God to continue showering His endless blessing upon you and your family at large. May He grant you good health each and every day of your life. Your positive sponsorship has been very influential in my life, and God is always merciful and compassionate to the needy.

God ordained a decision I made in 1986 to sponsor this girl, a small decision really. It was ordained by God, not only to bless Jewel, but to bless me.

My first thought when I read Jewel’s e-mails to me is that God provided a prayer warrior for my family and me, even when we did not know she was praying.

Through some very dark times in my life, where I could not pray myself, our precious sponsored child Jewel was praying for us and making a difference.

Our lives have been forever woven together and we are making a difference in each other’s lives. The {Thinking big} part has begun.

I am very humbled to learn about a growing farm, a new child being brought up in the faith and a commitment by Jewel to better herself financially to touch yet another child in poverty to begin another legacy — to break the cycle of poverty, through one sponsorship, a resurrected future.

One small decision 25 years ago, which is still producing fruit today.

There is no doubt in my mind today that God is at work through Compassion and we have the privilege to meet God there and be a part of it.

We are called to be disciples, to go to the ends of the earth preaching the good news, to take care of the poor. We can do this today through Compassion, one avenue to do God’s calling.

Some people may say that I have been ministering through Compassion for 25 years, but the truth is, that for the past 25 years I have been ministered to through the work of Compassion in my life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurie Frey became a first-time Compassion sponsor in 1986 and a Compassion advocate in 1994. She has traveled to more than 25 countries with her husband and they have five children, three of whom were adopted internationally. Laurie is a substitute teacher at a special-needs school and lives in Palatine, Il.

16 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Linda Shinn June 22, 2011

    What an amazing and beautiful story. To God be the Glory, for the great things He has done in your lives and for what He continues to do in the lives of thousands of children and their sponsors through Compassion’s ministry. Amen!

  2. Catherine Hilger June 21, 2011

    Thanks for refreshing my sponsor experience Laurie. Your story has re-engaged my hope in the “bigger picture.” I confess, I was losing sight of it.

  3. Nancy Young June 21, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your story, Laurie. It was wonderful!! I share your thoughts on being so blessed as a sponsor and advocate.

  4. Jill Foley – Compassion Family June 21, 2011

    What a touching story – thank you so much for sharing! I can also attest to being a life changed because of sponsorship – and my first child was also in Kenya and is also now a parent. Although it’s been 11 years since she graduated Compassion, I still pray for her and her daughter.

  5. De June 21, 2011

    I am always encouraged to read of God’s amazing work in people’s lives. To be reconnected with your sponsored child long after she finished the program is such a wonderful gift. Isn’t that just like God? : )

  6. Debra Martin June 21, 2011

    Wow!!! is all I can say, what a story of redemption and the grace of God. This story touched me in a profound way. Many of us have just began are journey with Compassion Intl. I feel so encouraged to continue the sacrifice what a reward for the sponsored child and the sponsor. God bless Compassion Intl. and all the sponsors……

  7. David Edmisten June 20, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. We’ve only been sponsors for 4 years now, but I love what you said about seeing the changes in your child. We look at the first pictures of each of our kids, and now look at the smiles, the light that wasn’t there when we started. God is amazing and He is doing an amazing work through Compassion!

  8. Sherry W. June 20, 2011

    Super story – it’s helpful for a newer sponsor like me to see the longer view. You are both Jewels!

  9. Julie Patterson June 20, 2011

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your beautiful story that God has woven. It has been an honor to know you and your family and thank you for all the days (including today) that you have spurred me on in my advocacy for the past 20 years.

  10. Lori Mills June 20, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story about God’s transforming power in both lives. This is also how I feel. My first sponsored child, Jackline, will graduate in a few years. She, too, has an amazing story of overcoming odds and I will rejoice with her on the day of her graduation. But recently the fear of loss crept in when I realized that one day I would no longer be able to correspond with her. Thank you for the hope that God will make a way. He provides the love that binds and transcends distance.
    He is at work in a mighty way! Thank you again for sharing.

  11. Laure Krueger June 20, 2011

    Thank you, Laurie. Your testimony is powerful as is Jewel’s. I thank God for you both. In the very short time I have been a Compassion sponsor, the Lord has done a deep work in my heart. I don’t think I shall ever be the same.

  12. Jenny June 20, 2011

    Thank you for sharing your story! God is so good! I also was able to reconnect with my former sponsored child a little while back and it has been such an incredible experience. It has reminded me how faithful God is and how He answers prayers. I pray you will continue to be blessed by your correspondence with your Jewel!

  13. Cheri Duchrow June 20, 2011

    Laurie awesome story. I cried the first time I read this when Rick shared this with the NW Advocates and you had me in tears again. Blessings!

  14. steph June 20, 2011

    Loved this blog- thanks for sharing.

  15. Nina June 20, 2011

    Awesome blog! Thank you for sharing. I am curious as to how you were able to reconnect in 2009 with Jewel. What a blessing to be able to see your sponsored child in her adult life.

  16. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies June 20, 2011

    Wow, can I relate to this!! I had no clue, when we sponsored our first child in 2009, how much this experience would change *our* lives. I knew we would be helping Precious in Ghana, but in reality, our family has been changed in many, many ways. It has been incredible.

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