An Opportunity to Love

It’s the last assignment for Compassion Blog Month 2013, and this week the Compassion bloggers have been asked to think about a quote from Johnny Carr.  Having pastored several churches and written a book on caring for orphans, he says::  “Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve.”

To be honest, I don’t find the quote particularly inspiring.  I know I’ve shared this video more than once before on the blog, but it is good to think how far we’ve come in the last 30 years and that we, as a generation, could end poverty in our lifetime.  For me, poverty is an issue to solve, and it’s also an opportunity.  Johnny says ‘An opportunity to serve’, but I wish he’d chosen a different word there; I wish he’d said:  ‘An opportunity to love’.  Because service to my mind is work:  Maybe waitressing in a restaurant, preparing a sermon or teaching a class of children, but the way Compassion tackles poverty is so much more than that.

Yes, they have tutors at their centres, but their focus is on the individual child – ‘Changing the world, one child at a time’ as the slogan says – ‘Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name’.  Jesus is like that too.  He spent hours talking to crowds of people, but what do we remember most about Him?  We remember how He treated the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), healed the blind man (John 9), and spoke respectfully of the woman who cried on His feet and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:44).  We remember His focus on that life … or that life … or that life – one life at a time.

Will you sponsor a child through Compassion?  In your prayers and the letters you send, will you be Christ-like to them, and make it your opportunity to love?

Story Behind the Child: Allan

“We don’t want you on our team!  You’re too slow!”  He still heard the words in his head as he watched his friends play on the field.  The boy who said them had been cruel, but it wasn’t far from the truth and Allan knew it.  Tears stung his eyes at the time, but he bravely stood and watched the game before going home to his family and acting as if nothing had happened.  Now he was watching again, but he didn’t feel so hurt today – because he knew there was a place he could play, where it didn’t matter that he walked with a limp.

“Allan, what’s wrong?” a tutor at the centre had asked one day, as he stood on the side-lines looking sad.  Allan explained and, seeing the hurt on the boy’s face, he gave him a reassuring tap on the shoulder.  “You like soccer?”  Allan nodded vigorously.  “Well, here everyone gets to play.  We’ll put you in as goalkeeper.”

Allan never forgot that first game of soccer – how he couldn’t stop smiling, and the ride home on his bike couldn’t pass quickly enough.  “I did it!  I played soccer and I stopped the other team scoring!” he shouted as his bicycle sped into view.  His parents could hardly believe their ears, but his father smiled as he went to meet Allan.  Cycling and soccer.  Neither seemed fitting for a cripple, but they were top on Allan’s list.  Sometimes he would wince in pain as he rode, but today the boy looked happily exhausted as he climbed off his bike and leant on his father’s arm to walk to the house.  Allan flopped down by the fire and his mother handed him a piece of hot toast.  He told them more as he ate and they listened, full of admiration for the love and compassion his tutor had shown him.

* * *

The story is only imaginary, but Allan is a real Guatemalan boy.  He’s nine years old and crippled in one leg.  You could sponsor Allan or another like him.  On Compassion’s website, you can select a child with special needs and be a supportive influence in their life.

Story Behind the Child: Fiski

It had been raining nonstop for days, but today, the damp was furthest from Fiski’s mind.  He imagined himself walking down that dirt track, caped in mud up to his ankles, but clutching a precious message from someone special.  His friend, Melki, knew all about these messages because he’d had one just a month before.  “Happy 7th birthday, with love from your sponsor.”  That morning, Fiski had walked into the centre full of hope.  Just days ago he, as an unsponsored child, had joined in the Christmas celebrations with all the others.  Today was his birthday!  Surely there would be a card waiting for him?  But there was no card; no news that he finally had a sponsor.  He rounded the corner, pushed his little shoulders back and held his head high, as raindrops dripped cold onto his neck.  There was still hope.  No child could spend two birthdays without a sponsor!  There would be someone – next year.

* * *

The story is only imaginary, but Fiski is a real Indonesian boy.  Born on 27 December 2005, he was an unsponsored child on his 7th birthday, and in fact, he’s been waiting 442 days (that’s nearly 15 months) for a sponsor.  Will you end the wait for Fiski and make sure that, on his 8th birthday, he feels loved and cared-for?  On Compassion’s website you can sort the children by longest-waiting, and find the ones who’ve waited over a year for someone special.

5-Minute Friday: Mercy

Who’s ready to write for 5 minutes without worrying whether it’s just right?  This week’s theme is mercy and I was a bit stuck initially, but then I was thinking about Habakkuk and the word ‘Mercy’ came back into my mind, so I read it (only a short book) and then wrote for 5 minutes:

* * *

Who do I think of when I think of mercy?  Today I thought of the one who told God:  I have heard of Your fame, I stand in awe of Your deeds …  In wrath, remember mercy, but that wasn’t the beginning.

 

That prayer was a response – to God’s response – to this same man who poured out his heart to Him.  He wasn’t afraid to say what he thought.  “How long do I call out for help?  And You don’t listen!”  So God answered that the Babylonians were coming.  Most people might have said fair enough, but he argued.  “Are we only fit to be caught and killed?” so God responded again.  Had He not promised?  It might seem slow in coming, but wait patiently.  He was giving reassurance that He was in control, and that’s when Habakkuk said:  “In wrath remember mercy.”

 

Are you trying to pray the right prayer but not really feeling it?  Maybe it’s time you were honest with God.  If you feel like He doesn’t listen say so, because maybe you won’t be able to pray the right prayer until you’ve had His reassurance.

For Better for Worse, for Richer for Poorer

I was reading Psalm 22 just now, and these verses stood out to me:

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.  He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help” (verse 24).

 

“The poor will eat and be satisfied.  All who seek the Lord will praise him.  Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy” (verse 26).

 

“Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.  Bow before him, all who are mortal, all whose lives will end as dust” (verse 29).

God cares for us – in good times and bad, and His kingdom is open to us all – rich and poor.

Link

“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17) is a verse that encourages me in my child-sponsorship, and one of the other Compassion bloggers also urges us to be generous in her post.  I wrote about glory this week; she chose poverty.

I’ve loved being able to write my own post, then go to the #CompassionBloggers hatchtag on Twitter and read other people’s.  The Compassion Bloggers network was formed 5 years ago, and it’s a real privilege to be part of it.  If you’re a blogger, would you like to join us?  September is a particularly good time because it’s Compassion blog month (and the focus more than ever is on getting children sponsored), but you can join the network any time of the year.  I saw a tweet just today from someone who said they didn’t have a purpose for blogging before they joined.  It might seem like I’m really piling on the pressure this month, but I wouldn’t have known about the Compassion Bloggers network if someone hadn’t told me, and I’ve had a lot of enjoyment out of it – pretending to be a mosquito for World Malaria Day amongst other things.

What about you?  Do you blog?  What’s the cause closest to your heart?  Maybe like me it’s helping children in poverty, or maybe not.  I know not everyone’s calling is the same, but I’m interested in every one of you reading and I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

3 Things About 1 Word

That’s our assignment for week 2 of Compassion blog month, so my word?

 

It’s glory.

 

One important aspect of glory is that it’s the reason why we were created.  Here’s a good verse to remember:  “Bring to Me all the people who are Mine, whom I made for My glory, whom I formed and made” – Isaiah 43:7 (New Century Version).  I’ve written here before about the time somebody told me the most important thing was to glorify God in whatever I did, and so it is.  It’s the very reason for our existence.

 

Another big thing about glory is that it’s present in the small things.  Don’t you think that’s true?  Take a butterfly, for instance.  If it stays on your hand it’ll only stay for a moment.  You won’t feel the length of its wings or how many there are, and yet so many appreciate them and their beauty, and God (who’s bigger and more glorious than we can imagine) is pleased to associate with smallness.  When Jesus talked about little children, He said their angels always saw the face of God (Matthew 18:10), and He told us that to come into God’s kingdom, we needed to be like one of them (Mark 10:14-16).

 

A third part of glory is that to glorify someone requires action.  I can’t be glorifying God if I wake up in the morning and lie in my bed the whole day thinking about nothing, but if I chose to read my Bible, or pray, then I would be.  Through the choices we make, we can glorify God in all sorts of ways:  In what we read or listen to, how we use our time, and how we spend our money.

 

Would you like to use your time to write to a child on the other side of the world, and to pray for them regularly?  Would you like God to use your money to help meet their family’s needs?  Would you like to sponsor a child?

Link

As it’s Compassion blog month, I thought now would be a good time to post this.

 

Have you ever heard of LZ7?  I had because they did a single with Matt Redman to raise awareness about human trafficking.  Well, I’ve just found out they’ve done the same with Compassion.  The song is called “Give out the Love”.  I’m really not into this sort of music (one positive thing is it makes me think about getting on the exercise bike!), but I love that they’re using their songs to do others good, so have a listen if you like.  Or if you want to give your ears a break, you could just sponsor a child!

Living the Dream

Ten years ago I had a dream.  I was in my 20s then.  Maybe you’ll think it was a stupid dream; so yes, you can laugh and yes, you can tell me I should have known better, but here goes:  My dream was to be a chaplain to the Formula One drivers – to travel with them, and organise a short worship-service they could come to really early on Sunday mornings before all the busyness of race-day started.

 

I didn’t talk about it to family or friends.  I guess I knew they wouldn’t take me seriously, but I did write it in a letter once.  I’d just got in-touch with an organisation called Christians in Motorsport, and I’d had a couple of phone-conversations with the guy behind it, so I wrote and told him what I wanted to do with my life.  Predictably, he replied that a woman being chaplain to male F1 drivers was out of the question, but we kept in-touch.  Eventually the organisation voted in someone else as chairman, and I decided to step back from it.  So, end of story?

 

Let me tell you what happened today.  A certain driver didn’t have a great qualifying.  People have said in race-commentaries that he’s had problems in his personal life, and he sounded very dejected after the session today.  I felt I really wanted to send him my favourite Bible-verse (Jeremiah 29:11) about the plans God has to give us hope and a future.  Lots of celebrities are on Twitter now, so I was able to write just a couple of sentences, telling him God had good plans for his life.

 

Then it dawned on me that I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing ten years ago.  I wasn’t getting paid for it; I wasn’t travelling the world or talking with drivers face-to-face as I’d imagined, but I was encouraging one of them to think about God in his situation.

 

So, it wasn’t a stupid dream:  The way I wanted to live it out might have been stupid and totally impractical, but God had it all in-hand.  How was I to know that in 2013, social media would make it so easy to interact with people who before would have been out of my reach?

 

Are there any dreams you’ve had that you thought would never happen?  What if you’re wrong?

5-Minute Friday: Red

Oh yes, it’s 5-minute Friday time again – a time to write for 5 minutes without worrying whether it’s just right, and this week’s theme is ‘Red’, so why not go to Lisa-Jo’s blog and join in for yourself?  And don’t forget to visit the blogger whose post’s before yours and leave them some encouragement:

* * *

Dresses and strawberries and people wearing plastic noses, wanting to do others good.

A feel-good colour.

The cord that hung out through the window to rescue Rahab and her family.

Red is for rescue:  Because Jesus died on the cross, and His blood was poured out for us.  That wouldn’t make you feel good unless you knew the end of the story.  But when you know the end, when you know He’s won and it’s finished and He’s praying for you and cheering you on, doesn’t that make you feel great?

Thank You for the blood; thank You for brightness.  My bright future.  Sometimes the clouds of life hide it from view, but it’s there.  Help me to break through the clouds and take hold of it.