How can I say “thanks” for all that you have done for me and given to me? You have redeemed my past into something beautiful, though I am definitely still a work in progress! Thank You for your patience with me and for the promise that you won’t give up on me. You will be faithful to complete all You have started in me. You have always known what I would be when I grew up, You have always known my heart and my passions. I remember as a child always looking out for the underdog, or those who seemed forgotten or lonely. And I never really thought much of that until now. You were showing me Your heart for those same people, even before I knew You…how cool is that?! And, now, You have given me a heart of passion for the ministry of Compassion…a ministry whose heart beats with Yours. I have always loved children, and always tried to see the best in them, especially those from tough circumstances in life. So, besides the three beautiful children you gave me by birth, the nieces and nephews, and all of the children who You gave me to teach at church or help at school, You also have seen fit to bless me and my family with 11 Compassion children. You knew how my heart broke when we lost two of them, and You allowed for two more to help fill the void, though they never could be replaced. I can’t get over how You have entrusted these young people to me and my family. You have given us such great responsibility to nurture them in the ways of the Lord, to encourage them to keep going when all the odds seem stacked against them, to pray for them as f they are our own. An extended family that spans the world! I like that! Thank You so much for giving us that gift. I pray, Lord, that we will also be faithful to complete the work You have given to us. May we never grow tired or weary, and may we always have room for more as You lead. And as I pray this prayer, I also pray that You will lead others to this ministry, so that they, too can be blessed by all that You do through it. This is what I was made for…and I know that there are more people You have made for this special purpose as well. Open their hearts, Lord, and help them to know that this is what You have made them for, too! And when my time here on earth is done, I pray that I will hear those beautiful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Thank You, Jesus! I love You! Amen.
We all need it. We all struggle in one way or another on any given day. But honestly, in my life, those struggles are sometimes…many times…blown way out of proportion compared to the beautiful people I have met in Ecuador.
I am so grateful for having met Rosa–a beautiful widow raising 6 children in a humble home on the mountainside in Otavalo. Her winsome smile as we worked alongside her was one of those pictures that is forever etched in my mind. She was proud of what she had. She was willing to share even in her lack. And the way she clutched to her chest the devotion book I gave her as a gift showed me that she was holding onto hope. She was not going to give up.
I also met Anna Maria. A mother of 5. A widow and also a woman who had the father of her 5th child leave her. But Anna Maria has found hope. While she was pregnant with her 5th child, she saw a sign inviting young pregnant mothers to register for Compassion International’s Child Survival Program. She was accepted and through the help she received, was able to deliver a healthy baby girl. She has come to know Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior, and now opens her home for small group Bible studies on Sundays. A woman who could have chosen to be bitter and angry is holding onto hope.
And Ricardo. He is a young man in Compassion’s Leadership Development Program (LDP). Ricardo took free music lessons at his local church as a child. Through those lessons, he learned about salvation found in Jesus. He received Jesus as his Savior and, at 9 years old, was enrolled in Compassion’s child sponsorship program. A missionary prayed over him as a child…that he would be a great leader in his community. After he completed the child sponsorship program, he was accepted as an LDP student. He believes in dreaming big and allowing God to help those dreams come true. As the leader of his LDP division, he and his fellow LDP students visit children in local hospitals and share the love and hope of Jesus with them.
All three of the dear people have experienced what it is like to live in very hopeless conditions. But each one of them has decided to hold onto hope. There are countless others who are facing hopeless situations all over the world. Most of them are children. But you have the ability to encourage them to hope and to dream big and let God do the rest. Won’t you please look at these faces today? Each face has a story. Each face has a dream. Each face needs hope. You can pray for those children as you look at their pictures…that would be wonderful! But if God tugs at your heart to be the ANSWER to their prayers for a sponsor who will lead them to hope, please don’t delay. Give HOPE to a child today.
Hope. We all need it.