Our tendency, when we get a little more money, is to live up to our means. A slightly larger house or a slightly larger car, and we have the same stress each month when our bills arrive and the same feeling that we’re poor compared to so and so up the road.Continue Reading ›
Here’s a photographic look at what some children around the world consider their most prized possessions. And it’s not their toys.Continue Reading ›
Perspective is in low supply here in the States. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way. It’s just a fact. We live sheltered. We don’t live without heartache. We don’t live without pain. We just live with limited perspective.
One sentence from a little girl an ocean away immediately and forever changed my perspective.
Even though I was excited that I found money in my pocket, wouldn’t it have been nice if it was more? Then I’m reminded that over 1 billion people on this planet will work all day today and not get paid what I just found in my pocket.
So there’s this stain on the carpet in my living room. Right there in front of the sofa. It’s a blotchy, brown spot where my 3-year-old son, Morgan, spilled some food. Oh, I’ve tried to clean it. But it’s a stubborn stain. I think it might be there for good. And that’s frustrating.
Becky is going through a difficult time right now. Her husband has survived cancer twice, but the doctors have found another spot on his lung. Scared that the cancer has returned, she described her feelings to me.
“I remember walking around the office and thinking ‘Does anyone know that my world has collapsed today? Does anyone even care?’”
Haley Birdyshaw, a supervisor in our contact center, took a group of employees on an exposure trip to Guatemala. The trip was a life-changing experience.
As I write this, there are tears splattered on my keyboard and mascara smeared on my cheeks. I’m not much of a crier, perhaps being desensitized as a result of reading painful stories every day. But this video of Jimmy Wambua meeting his sponsor has made me cry like a baby.
The reason why is I know Jimmy. Jimmy stayed at our house for two weeks, so he went from being a former participant in Compassion’s sponsorship program, an African, and someone with a different culture and accent, to being a friend. To a human.
As much as we don’t want them to, our differences — culturally, geographically, economically — can separate us. “Others” can seem so very other. So unlike us. So “unrelatable.”
Yes, we have compassion for them. But it’s hard to really relate to them. Understand them. View them the same as we view ourselves, our neighbors, our family.
But Jimmy is my husband’s age. The two of them sitting on our couch talking about girls made Jimmy so utterly real to me. He’s someone who despite all our differences is so like us. Someone who simply had a sponsor who loved him, who told Jimmy that Jesus loves him, and set his life on an entirely new path.
So when I watch this video, I don’t just see some African who some Canadian “saved.” What I see is myself in another situation, another time, another circumstance. I see that this could have been me. And I see that this can be my sponsored child.
You can also view this Catalyst 2009 video on Vimeo.
Recently, my husband and I had the opportunity to have one of the Leadership Development Program Moody scholars stay with us. You’ve met Richmond, Michelle and Tony. Well, “Jimmy from Kenya,” as he likes to call himself, is our newest scholarship recipient.
With Jimmy from Kenya (a.k.a. Jimmy Wambua) as a house guest, we were treated to the first reactions to life in America from the perspective of someone who had grown up in poverty.
After the first couple of days, I asked him how it was going and what struck him most about life in America. It was the cheese.
“In America, you are so particular about what you want. You take me to Subway and they ask, ‘What kind of bread do you want?’ ‘What type of dressing do you want?’ ‘What type of cheese do you want?’ In my country cheese is cheese. It’s this or it’s nothing.”
The variety in general was a bit overwhelming to Jimmy.
“When I asked Mike for tea, he opened the cabinet and there was so much. Tropical tea, dessert tea, tea cocktail. Even in cars you have variety. You have a car for different kinds of weather and different activities.”
At every turn, we seemed to be asking him to make choices. And let’s not even talk about our trip to Walmart.
He was also quite struck by our home and our neighborhood. We live in a fairly typical middle-class American neighborhood and home.
Before he came, I had felt a bit self-conscious because the other hosts of the students were older with nicer homes. I secretly thought he’d be disappointed to stay with us. I know this is a silly worry considering he was coming from a one-room home without indoor plumbing, but I was thinking about the Joneses.
His perspective was different than mine.
“This is the home of a politician. These are the couches of a politician … . This is what I’ll call stinking rich. You live in posh environments, but you don’t feel they are posh.”
Jimmy stayed in our basement, which has an attached bathroom. He said,
“When you first showed me my room, I thought, ‘This must be the main part of the house, the best part of the house.’ Then I saw it was just the basement. In my country, I could work for years and still not have something as nice as your basement.”
I asked Jimmy if it frustrated him or made him angry to see people with so much. I always wonder that when visitors come — are they secretly judging us? Jimmy was gracious.
“Someone without my background who is struggling might be angry. But my feeling is biased because of Compassion. I understand why God blesses Americans — what you give. I believe that spirit of giving has gotten into American culture. You’ve been able to be content with what you have and give to others instead of keeping it for yourselves. Because of your generosity, God has blessed. God rewards you for listening to his call.”
I hope I can live up to Jimmy’s generous attitude toward us.
Abortion. War. Recession. Poverty. Terrorism. Injustice. Abuse. Hate. In a world full of so much evil, it’s easy to forget that God is still sitting on the throne. That He hasn’t abdicated His power. That He hasn’t forgotten or abandoned us.
Warning: This post may be bit uncomfortable…
Before I sponsored my first child back in college, I had a lot of questions:
Wow! Those questions are somewhat embarrassing to write out, but I want to be honest with you. And honestly, the answers to those questions were about to dictate my opportunity to glorify God and bring hope to a precious little girl.
Since that time and over the years I have learned that I often ask the wrong questions, which can be a problem when I am looking for an answer.
Ever notice how Jesus would often answer a question with a different question? That is one of the reasons why I am so wondrously captivated with Him … His initiative to give us new understanding. He knows the answer but He also knows the question we need to be asking.
Our questions can be very critical to how we are living our lives and what we are putting our hope in.
I’m curious, what questions do you find yourself asking? Be honest, I won’t judge.
If you need a little nudge, I just so happen to have one.
This is Eric Timm. Listen to what he has to say.
You can also view the Question Game on YouTube.
Did you get that? Instead of continuing to ask, “Why is there poverty?” he is now asking, “Where are God’s people?”
This clip, which I saw awhile back, has challenged me to keep my mind focused on the things above when everything in me starts producing a list of questions.
Here is what I believe I should have been asking when it came to sponsorship (or my spending in general):
- Am I glorifying God with how I use my finances?
- Will I be faithful to encourage and support this precious child?
- Am I obeying God in how He has asked me to use His money?
- Do I really need all the stuff I think I need and spend my money on? And if I don’t, who does?
How is that for a dose of perspective? I think it is challenging but in a refreshing kind of way!
OK, here’s your cue. Remember those questions I wanted to know you were asking? Well, through this lens, what questions are you asking now?