Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday's Child, or Here She Comes Again

Ok, first I have to admit that I succumbed to discouragement and busyness and quit with my Tuesday's Child posts. One reason turned out to be that Tuesday was bad timing as Compassion adds and subtracts kids from the website on Mondays and Tuesdays. As it turns out it is sometimes hard to know at what time on Tuesday the new kids come on. Enough of the excuses though!

My conscience has been bugging me ever since! As I may have mentioned before, I have a big heart for Togo, Africa, for reasons that remain a mystery to me? I have decided God has a reason and that is good enough for me! Last week, all but four kids on the Togo pages were "Red Heart" kids. For the uninitiated that means they have been waiting 6 months or longer for a Sponsor. That little angel on my shoulder started whispering in my ear, "do something, even if you just help one." Today when I checked in with what I have come to think of as "my Togo kids," every last one of the 44 kids was a "Red Heart." As you can imagine that angel on my shoulder started yelling at me, so here I am again.

In the poem I shared with you previously on the inaugural edition of Tuesday's Child (you can read it here) the familiar poem tells us that; "Wednesday's child is full of woe." Many of these children are full of woe, they believe the lies that poverty tells them, that there is no hope, things will never change, never get better. You and I have a chance to change all of that. We can turn woe into joy. Watch this short video of a Compassion child receiving the news that they have been sponsored:

Sponsorship reaches way beyond just one child. Because of your sponsorship a whole family will be lifted from poverty and given hope. Here are some of the Red Heart kids from Togo:

Roland lives with his grandmother. He is an above average student, and he likes playing soccer and group games. His grandmother is sometimes employed and the average monthly income where Roland lives is $40/month.

Marcellin lives with his father and mother. There are 7 children in the family. Marcellin is not attending school right now. Frequently parents can not afford the school fees for all their children and must choose which children, if any, will attend school. Your sponsorship help cover Marcellin's school tuition. He likes soccer, group games, and playing with cars. Marcellin's parents are subsistence farmers. The average monthly income is $40.

John, age 8 and James, age 8 are twin brothers. They live with their parents and there are three children in the family. They are both attending school and enjoy playing soccer. It would be really awesome if the same person, or maybe family members could sponsor these two boys, but that isn't a "have to."

Fogan is one of 10 children! He lives with both parents. He is not attending school right now. He likes to play soccer, marbles, and with cars. The average monthly income in this area is $33.

Delphine likes to play games and play with dolls. She is living with her grandmother. She isn't in school yet. 

Akuele lives with both parents. She is one of  children. At home she helps carry firewood and helps care for children. She is not presently attending school. She likes playing jacks and with dolls. 

Thanks for taking the time to read about these special kids. Maybe God is calling you to make a difference in the life of one child. 

Proverbs 19:17He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Live Simply

It is no big secret in my family that I have been on a big "Simplify" kick over the last few years. It's a mentality partially born out of necessity, I don't have a money tree in the back yard, and partially out of a genuine desire not to let my "things" define who I am as a person. I have this sign over my door as a reminder:

As I have become increasingly aware over the last year of the plight of children in poverty, my heart has been broken. I'll be honest, sometimes I wish I could un-know the things I know now. Life was more comfortable before my eyes and my heart were opened. I look at a new outfit and think that what it cost me equals four months of a child sponsorship, or that that amount would have been multiplied 6X if I had donated it to World Vision's Plumpy Nut program. Just so you know, vanity prevailed and I still bought the outfit, but it is bothering me.

I shared a quote this week on my Facebook page:  "Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world, when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid He may ask me the same question." Anonymous.

Do you ever get the feeling that God keeps sending you the same message in different ways, hoping you will eventually "get it?" Today I listened to a message from Richmond Wandera, in which he encouraged us all to "Live simply, so others can simply live." What a convicting thought when I look at my 4 bedroom house with dissatisfaction because of the old, stained carpet. I have three beds in my house, for one person. I hate to even think about the food that I waste every time I clean out the fridge.

One person who has inspired me is Michelle DeRusha at Graceful. Michelle is winding up her "Shop Not" year. You can read about it here. She has gone a year without shopping for clothes, shoes, jewelry, purses, accessories, make-up, or pj's. I am going to follow her example and do a "Shop Not" year of my own. Since I really am not that much of a shopper anyway, it really isn't that much of a sacrifice, so, in order to make it hurt a little....... I am not going to buy any books or magazines for a year, as well as the previously listed items. You may all hold me accountable. It's time for me to get re-acquainted with my library. I am going to put the money I save towards a trip to Togo next summer to see my girls. Check back here from time-to-time to see how I am fairing!

Linking up today with Michelle Derusha at Graceful: Hear It on Sunday Use It On Monday.

The idea is that we write about what we hear in church on Sunday and how we will put it in practice in our daily lives. We all link back to Michelle's blog and support and encourage each other!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Forgive One Another

I want to share with you part of Compassion president Wes Stafford's message on forgiveness. What follows is an excerpt of what he said. You can watch his whole message on the Compassion Blog or I have posted the video at the end. Being a word person, and a note-taker type in class, I like to have things written out, so here are my notes of the highlight of his message.

Forgive One Another, by Wes Stafford
Forgive, as you have been forgiven.....

Satan's strategy is divide and conquer. He wants to break God's heart, and at the time of creation he wondered, what does God care about the most.... light from dark, land from water, plants from animals....? Finally on day six he gets it! God didn't just speak man into existence, He fashioned him with His own hands, in His own image, and breathed life into man with His own breath. So the devil realized if he wants to break God's heart he attacks what God loves most, he attacks people. He knows the best time to attack people is when they are small and vulnerable, so he is extremely cruel to children.

He attacks us to separate us from God. He attacks us to separate us from one another. Forgiveness is at the heart of the kingdom of God. It is at the very core of the Gospel message. Sin is all about separation, from God, and from one another. Forgiveness is all about restoration bringing us back together. 

The first chance Satan had to separate was in the garden. He separated Adam from Eve, and separated them from God. One of the most important things as Jesus was teaching, preaching, leading and discipling, was teaching about forgiveness. In the Lord's prayer,"This is how you are supposed to pray. Forgive us as we forgive others." His words on the cross, "Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing."

The attack continues today, with every generation he renews his divide and conquer strategy. He separates husbands from wives, parents from children, brothers and sisters, friend from friend, co-workers, and churches. All of us are vulnerable, all of us are susceptible to attack.

We all know about the need to be forgiven and the need to forgive, but what does forgiveness mean? 
Forgiveness doesn't mean that what happened to you isn't important or that it doesn't matter.
Forgiveness doesn't mean that there shouldn't be consequences for the hurt done to one another.
Forgiveness doesn't always mean that you have to reconcile with the person who hurt you, but the ideal forgiveness that Jesus was calling for is restoration of relationship. Jesus said, "If your brother has hurt you, go to your brother, and if he will hear you, you will have regained your brother." Mt. 5:23
Forgiveness doesn't mean that you are able to forget. We say "forgive and forget" so glibly. If you have been deeply hurt you can't forget. But you will never forget what you willfully will not forgive. 
Forgiveness also doesn't mean that it won't happen again. Jesus said forgive seventy time seven.

Here is what forgiveness means:
Forgiveness means that you unclench your fist, that you give up your right and your desire for revenge.
Forgiveness is a choice, but the cost of unforgiveness is great. you can not expect to live fully at peace with God or to experience His true blessing in your life, if you refuse to forgive those who sin against you.
Forgiveness is hard. Sometimes it's harder than the original pain of what you are needing to forgive. It is not humanly possible without God's grace coming through you, but it is possible.  No matter what has been done to you, no matter what has been done against you, it is possible to forgive. 

We have to forgive God's way. Forgive as you have been forgiven. How were we forgiven? God could have easily snapped His fingers and said, "You're all forgiven," but He chose to come into our pain. Emmanuel, God with us, was by design, He came in to experience all of our pain, all of our sorrow, all of our temptation. He never forgives anything he didn't first taste, this incredible Lord of ours. 

If we we're to forgive, we actually have to have the courage to enter in to the pain of the person who hurt us, because it is usually the wounded who hurt other people. It is a sin not to forgive. It is not an option, it's not a choice  "If you will not forgive other people, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive your failings."

Compassion means "to suffer with." So if we are going to forgive we need to enter in to the hurt of the one who has hurt us, and we need to know them, and to understand them, we ultimately need to value them and eventually love them enough to do this forgiveness work, even if it is seventy time seven. 

When we harbor resentment and anger, and we are unwilling to forgive, it's like saying, "God, I put my life on your altar, but not all of it. I reserve the right for this anger, I reserve the right for this resentment. You can have everything but that." You will never experience the joy available to you until you put it all, all the hurt, everything on the altar and forgive.