What Reduces a Child to “Professional Beggar”?

Children wearing thin T-shirts fiercely guarded the sprawling stone entrance to the Forbidden City. Some no higher than my waist, but well trained in the art of begging, they could spot a tourist a mile away.

They gathered in droves, glazed brown eyes darting from me to other possible dollar carriers. Their small, dirty hands patted my arm and hungrily opened and closed in front of me like they were grasping for a better future.

I hated myself for not wanting to make eye contact. But even more, I hated the thing that reduced these precious little ones to professional beggars — poverty.

poverty around the world

Child begging in Nicaragua

Life gave them no chance. They had most likely been born into poverty and, unable to gain an education, were trapped in a ruthless spiral to do whatever it took to fill their tiny tummies.

The injustice breaks my heart. Why them? Why a child, who should be protected, safely playing and learning, instead of sniffing glue to escape the hunger and hopelessness?

Sometimes the problem of poverty seems impossible to stop, as if parts of the world are being consumed — poverty eating it up like a monster on the loose.

Yet hope remains. I am encouraged by Lamentations 3:22-23:

“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

The monster of poverty will not consume all. God’s mercies shield; His compassion protects. And it is compassion that drives us — drives me — to act.

Tomorrow is Universal Children’s Day, a day observed by many nations to honor children, and to promote the basic welfare of children across the globe. Basic objectives are to protect children from exploitation, to ensure they have access to education, and to reduce the spread of diseases among them.

It was established in 1954 to outline children’s rights throughout the world. The intention of the observation is noble, and I am encouraged that many countries are committed to protecting children.

For Compassion International however, every day is Children’s Day.

poverty around the world

Each new morning Compassion fights to release children from poverty by offering an ongoing holistic care approach.

Giving money to the kids who pleaded with me and crowded me in China would not have greatly improved their situation, but I am grateful I have the opportunity to provide another child the education and basic care that could prevent him or her from slipping to such a station.

By sponsoring a child I am taking a whack at the poverty monster and giving one precious little soul the chance to climb out of its grip.

Tomorrow, on Universal Children’s Day, please join me in praying for children all over the world who desperately need to know that there is a God Who shows unfailing mercy and compassion.

And if you don’t already sponsor a child, it would be a great opportunity to take that step. Join me tomorrow in celebrating God’s compassion for children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Evelyn Rennich is a Compassion sponsor who loves being mom to two young boys. You can read more from Evelyn at Smallish.

6 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Tondja Colvin November 25, 2012

    Winston-Salem, NC

    I always give money when in the US. I feel the need to provide in my heart and I honor that feeling. This article may help me rethink my position. Thank you

  2. Kees boer November 19, 2012

    This is a very difficult thing for me too…. When I go to Bolivia, I’m always confronted by this on a daily basis and all over the place. It’s so hard to know what to do, because there is no end to the poverty. I think that the best thing is to build in the ones that I sponsor with the hopes that they will change their own country. But I do remember one time when I was walking through Cochabamba with a few little children and some staff members of the CDI and someone came up to us and asked for money and the little girl Raquel, she dug into her pocket and gave the other person her one Boliviano (about 14 cents)

    1. Shital Joshi September 27, 2014

      Sir, do you sponsor kids like this? I am still a student and even one day I want to do something. I really think that if I can change one life then its worthy of me living. So thank you for doing good work.

      1. Susan Sayler September 29, 2014

        Hi Shital! We help find sponsors for children who grew up in our program from age 9 and we work in 27 countries. If you believe that you may qualify, please email us at [email protected] for more information. God bless you!

  3. Vicki November 19, 2012

    Wonderful, sad, heartbreaking post, but the scripture verse you used is perfect. Thank you for the reminder that we–and the children assisted through Compassion–have good reason to hope, in Jesus. His mercies never fail.

    I know that He loves the little professional beggars, too, and it must break His heart to see them reduced to that kind of life. I often wonder what He thinks. . . .

  4. Addison Cooper, LCSW November 19, 2012

    Great article. I also struggle almost every time someone directly asks for money. In the urban parts of the States where I’ve lived, it’s hardly ever a kid and usually a grown man. My heart hurts to say no. Even when I do say yes, I am probably the most helpful when I take time, and offer a listening ear rather than just a buck.
    That said, I’m glad for Compassion providing a way for me to be a help in important ways, not just a random dollar that might do harm instead of good, but a directed dollar. And a way to invest time and a listening ear, too, through letters.

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