Are you struggling through fear? Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the suffering and bad news that seem to surround us on all sides. If this is you, take courage. God is with you! His Word says:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NIV)
Need more encouragement? These 12 stories of bravery and courage from around the world will inspire you!
Florence Lomariwo’s lifelong crusade against female genital mutilation, or FGM, started with her own narrow escape when her family tried to marry her to an older man.
This Kenyan bravely defied the tradition and is now actively rescuing other girls from the same fate. Florence now runs a school and rescue center for girls who escaped FGM and early marriage!
Karunia from Indonesia was born with Apert syndrome, a congenital condition in which the bones fuse together too early in the womb. It affects the skull, hands and feet. While treatment is available, there is no cure.
Rather than becoming discouraged by the bullying she has experienced, she is standing tall and helping her whole community learn the beauty and worth of people who are born different.
Chompuu was walking along the dirt road toward home, her shiny black hair neatly tucked behind her ears. In just a single moment, Chompuu was kidnapped. After three days of captivity, in keeping with the tradition of the Hmong people, Chompuu was declared the wife of her kidnapper.
Imagine bravely standing up to centuries of cultural tradition to advocate for the rights of girls in your community. That’s what individuals in the Hmong tribe in northern Thailand are doing to stop the practice of bride kidnapping.
People living below the international poverty line go to extreme measures to earn a living, risking injuries and even death. Often, they have few to no safety nets — figuratively or literally. It takes acts of courage to make it through each day.
Meet four people in Asia who do extreme jobs to make sure their families are fed. Though their occupations are incredibly hard work, they can teach us the dignity of work and the beauty of sacrificing to care for your loved ones.
Because of a superstition in Ghana, this precious 8-year-old girl was never allowed outside. In her village, the tenth child in a family was believed to be cursed and had to be kept inside to be safe.
But the local church knew they had to help Sabina so she could go to school, make friends and have a normal life. Together with her father, they acted bravely to defy a tradition that would supposedly bring death.
In Tanzania, many attacks have occurred against those with albinism. Their body parts, believed by some to possess magical properties, are being sold on the black market.
Tanzania is where Yona was born. Struggling under the weight of poverty and fearing for his life, Yona’s parents couldn’t afford to send him to school. The shy young boy faced harassment and was bullied often. But at 5 years old, Yona’s parents enrolled him in our program at their local church.
Yona, now a determined and confident high school student, is overcoming his fears. His family, Compassion staff and his sponsor are making sure he knows his true value and worth in Jesus.
Becoming a mom at the age of 14 is difficult, no matter where you live. Couple being a teenage mom with the gripping realities of poverty every day, and you’ve got a situation that is life-threatening for both mom and baby.
Even though they knew it would be difficult, teen moms Cindy, Nicole and Jennifer are raising healthy babies with the assistance of the Child Survival Program. They’re determined to see their new little families blossom every day.
8. The Courage to Defy Gender Inequality in Burkina Faso
Zangre was told that soccer was a boy’s sport. Her father didn’t want her to play. What would have happened if she had listened? If she didn’t have her brother and Compassion staff to encourage her to be brave and use her gifts?
She certainly wouldn’t have been selected to play in the World Cup Qualifiers on the Burkina Faso women’s national football team.
From his hospital bed in Colombia, a pastor undergoing chemotherapy worked to ensure that families would not go hungry when they lost their incomes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Bolivia, a tutor made hundreds of calls to check on children in the Compassion sponsorship program.They’re just two of the heroes who, despite facing their own hardships, have refused to give up on the children they know, love and protect!
Throughout the pandemic, our Frontline Church Partners sacrificed to care for the children and families affected.
Compassion tutors Noemi and Lili were faced with an unthinkable disaster in Piura, Peru. While they taught some of the mothers and babies in our program, torrential rains consumed their community and flooded their streets.
The brave tutors helped the moms and babies to the safety of their homes’ roofs. And it was there that they spent 12 hours waiting for the waters to recede and hoping for rescue.
Meanwhile, Compassion Partnership Facilitator Adrian was doing everything he could to get to the families and the tutors. He and three men from a neighboring church built a makeshift raft to rescue them and others from the rooftops. This story shows that sometimes courage means never giving up hope.
More than half the people in Togo practice Voodoo, and Alkobessi’s parents were no different. They served regularly at their shrine, partly out of devotion but also out of fear.
“If we dare to leave the idols, we don’t know how it will be. Some of us tried it and they died. That’s why we are afraid, because we are intimidated every day,” Lossou, Aklobessi’s father, explains.
Struggling to provide for his family, Lossou bravely enrolled 4-year-old Aklobessi in our program at a local church in their community.
A month after she was registered, the priestess at their Voodoo temple kidnapped Aklobessi to undergo training rituals to become a vodun apprentice — rituals that included consuming raw meat and drinking blood. It was there, in the recesses of the temple, that Aklobessi stayed for almost a year.
When the director of the child development center, Fernand Hloinvi, found out, he took immediate action. He mobilized 11 other church partners in the area, petitioned the government for assistance and reached out to the priestess to persuade her to release Aklobessi.
After 11 months, the fight paid off. Aklobessi is now back with her family and friends! She’s receiving the love and support she needs to process her traumatic experience. And most importantly, she got her childhood back.
“It is easy to get discouraged in a world full of evil, murders and lack of opportunity. It is easy to take our eyes off God and see our weakness and limitations. But with God, there are no limitations.”
These are the wise words of 17-year-old Meryl from Lima, Peru. Meryl has been attending Compassion’s program since she was 3 years old and is the first in her family to go to college. Now in her second year of studies at university, she’s also a volunteer at her local Compassion center and a private math tutor.
“Before applying to the National University of San Marcos, I was very nervous and I thought I couldn’t do it, but one week before the admission exam I got a beautiful letter from my sponsor. She sent me this verse in Joshua 1:9 to be strong and brave, don’t be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go. And I entered the university in the first try, and now I am studying biology!”
It takes courage to battle the lies this world tells us, like Meryl did. And sometimes it takes our community to remind us that we are brave, like Meryl’s did!
These short stories of courage remind us that we are stronger together. We are braver together. We find courage and comfort because God is with us and we have each other. This is what it means to be part of the Church.
When you feel discouraged or fearful, or when you’ve begun to believe the lies, hold tight to Joshua 1:9 and let these stories of godly, courageous people remind you that you’re part of a bigger community — a fierce one!
Deliver Hope & Inspired Courage to Those in Need Today
Want to do your part in delivering hope to children in need? By partnering with Compassion International, you can help us inspire children to show courage in the midst of poverty. Sponsor a child today!
Meryl’s story and images by Betsy Grandez, Compassion Peru.
A version of this post was original published August 1, 2017, and has been updated with current stories of courage.