A Letter from Jesus

It’s awhile since we’ve had a Compassion-related post, so if you’re new to this blog, you might wonder why ‘Compassion’ features in the title. Compassion as an organisation seeks to bring children out of poverty through child-sponsorship. Maybe you’re sceptical about child-sponsorship and thinking: How would they make sure my money got to the right place? To answer that, Compassion is Christ-centred, child-focused, church-based, and committed to financial integrity, so Compassion’s centres are run by local churches – those on the ground, who are best-placed to know the specific needs of their communities. My own Compassion-family are all around the world and I love them dearly.

One area I’ve never sponsored in though is South America. I’m delighted to be a Compassion-blogger and this week, some of my fellow-bloggers have gone to Ecuador. They’re there primarily to put their experiences into words – to share with anyone who’ll listen what it’s like in one of the 26 countries where Compassion works. Perhaps their posts are aimed at newbies, but as a seasoned sponsor myself, I find them just as encouraging. Ashley met a man whose sponsor had asked what his dream was (I think I’m going to ask my eldest that), and Ruth’s post on the theme of letters reminded me of something Paul said in the Bible.

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone,” says Paul. “You show that you are a letter from Christ sent through us.” Every time we show love to someone, we’re a letter from Jesus straight to them. My fellow-bloggers get to show that love in person this week in Ecuador; I get to do it through child-sponsorship.

And the exciting part?

You can too. Bri wrote that she waited too long to sponsor her first child. I know it takes some thought because it’s a long-term commitment, but please, don’t wait too long. Maybe now’s the perfect time to choose a child and start writing those letters of love, from your heart to theirs.

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August Compassion-Joys and When I Couldn’t Sponsor any More

Every month, Jill over at Compassion Family lists her Compassion-joys and asks us to join in. So, at the beginning of August, there were letters from Junior (Haiti) and Cindy (Philippines). I also had an updated photo of Cindy wearing a pink dress and jacket. At the end of the month (just a couple of days ago), I saw a new member had been added to my Compassion-family. Excited? Yes – very.

I didn’t feel I could commit to another financial sponsorship, but knew I loved writing and wanted to get more letters. On Compassion International’s site, they have an arrangement where if the financial sponsor doesn’t write, someone else can. Those people are called correspondent-sponsors and I E-mailed ciinfo (at) us (dot) ci (dot) org to ask about becoming one. Do you remember my Ugandan Compassion goal? Well, that’s now been achieved because my correspondent-child is Maureen from Uganda – a 12-year-old Ugandan girl to love and get to know! I look forward to when her first letter and photo arrive in the post.

Are you a sponsor? Would you like to share your joys from this month? Why not write a post like I have, then go over to Jill’s blog and put it in the linkup?

Link

So, I’ve told you about the Compassion Bloggers’ trip to Uganda, and about all the posts that were going to be written.  I had quite a few to catch up on, and one of the stories that really stuck was of a mother called Sarah and her 11-year-old son.  Shaun and Jeff tell it so well. If (like me) you’re moved by this story, how about sponsoring a child?

Because Love is the Most Important Thing

Wednesday was a sad day for me.  I had the unexpected news that Jennylyn had stopped attending her Compassion-centre, so I couldn’t sponsor her anymore.  According to Compassion, they visit a family on several occasions to remind them of the importance of their child being at the project.  Do you remember the post I wrote last June, giving an example of a child-letter?  How I loved that letter!  We seemed so close then, but things went very quiet after that and I had the feeling something had changed.

I don’t want to share too much personal information about Jennylyn or speculate as to why this has happened, but I thought you might be interested in the process of writing a final letter (Compassion do their best to make sure these reach your child).  One huge plus on the part of Compassion is that because I’ve written regularly to Jennylyn for several years, they’re willing to pass on my contact-details once I’ve signed a consent form, so perhaps we will stay in-touch, but that’s not guaranteed.  It might be difficult too without someone to translate for us, so I tried to put all I wanted to say into this last letter.

I wanted to get across how precious she is to me, so I wrote that I’d enjoyed her letters and told her a couple of my favourites.  I said I’d never forget her and would always love her.  Then I thought about what I wanted her to remember from her time at Compassion:  I wanted her to remember God and the love He has for her.

I’ve recently discovered that Bible Gateway allows you to search for verses in different languages, so I looked up a verse for her in Tagalog (the main language spoken in the Philippines).  I was thinking of my favourite Bible-verse, but it didn’t seem to fit, and I really felt to tell her God cared, so I decided on 1 Peter 5:7:  “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

* * *

I don’t know whether I got it 100% right, but in the end, letting someone know they’re loved and cared-for – isn’t that the most important thing?

If you like, you can join in Holley Gerth’s “Coffee for Your Heart” series too.  This week, she wants to see how we’ve gone about telling someone they’re loved.

When Nobody’s Looking

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might remember last year’s Compassion blog month.  Well, this year it’s back, and our first challenge is to write to our childhood self.  So, what would I say to me 25 years ago?

* * *

You’re probably sitting on the floor right now, in between the bed and the radiator, where you do all your thinking.  You spend a lot of time there by yourself, pretending you’re not really you at all, but you’re Australian and your name’s Charlene.  Well, let’s think about something different for a minute …

 

Let’s think about school.  Maybe you don’t like school that much, but you do like being given something to do, and the feeling that you’ve done a really good job at the end!  That’s right isn’t it?  But there’s a little problem.  Not many people can see it, but your favourite teacher can.  She sees you narrating in the school play, talking really posh because you know your mummy likes you to speak properly, and she saw you the other day when you handed her those pieces of paper.  “I’ve written four pages!”  She told you to stop showing off because she knew that if you let yourself, you could become proud, unkind to other people, and not a very nice person.

 

You see, you can do a lot, and you can feel good when people notice what you’ve done, but the most important things are the ones you do when nobody’s looking.  I say ‘When nobody’s looking’, but really there is someone looking.  God is always looking at you, and He likes the inside of us more than the outside.  When He sees you being really kind, really taking care of somebody else, just doing things quietly even when people don’t see, then He’ll be happy because He knows what’s really important.

* * *

Did you manage to stay awake to the end of that one?  Maybe you’re wondering what the point is of writing to your childhood self.  It’s not as if you can turn the clock back and teach yourself a lesson – well, no, you can’t … but maybe you can teach another child.  If you sponsor through Compassion, it’ll take time to build a relationship with your child.  Not every sponsor can talk to their child in such a personal way, but perhaps in time, you will be able to share some of the lessons you’ve learnt.  I know I have.

A Sponsor for her Birthday

Today is a very special day.  It’s Jennylyn’s birthday!  Jennylyn is my first Compassion-child, and I started sponsoring her when she was almost 6 years old.  I think sponsoring through Compassion’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  I love that I can tell someone on the other side of the world she’s loved and cared-for, talk about our families and friends, and share Bible-verses I hope might help her in the tough times, but the letters I receive from Jennylyn mean far more to me than the ones I write.  (I’ll never forget when she said at my age, my skin was smooth like a fresh fruit!)  I’m not sure when a new photo will arrive, but I always keep her latest on display so my family and friends can see what she looks like.  Sponsorship makes a big difference in the life of a child – a Bible, education, school supplies, medical care … but the sponsor benefits too.

 

I wonder if you’d like to do the same:  Start sponsoring a child who’s almost 6 years old.  If you would, I’ve found a little girl on Compassion UK’s website.  Her name’s Kristina Cassandra (what a mouthful!) and she’ll be 6 tomorrow.  Why not click on her name, read all about her and see whether you’d like to become her sponsor?

Example of a Child-Letter

I don’t often share the letters from my Compassion-kids, but today’s was such a lovely one from Jennylyn that I thought I would.  She wrote it in April and told me something she had done every month from December to March.

In December, they had a Christmas party at her school.  I think they must have chosen presents for one another because she said:  “I bought gifts like clothes and watch for the one I picked, Mary Grace.”

In January, she acted in a play at school.  Her character was an old woman, so I said in my letter back that I had played an old lady too when I was at school.

In February, she took an exam, and she thanked God that she passed.

And in March, the school-year ended.  I think they start back again in June, but I want to find out a bit more about how the school system works in the Philippines.

So that’s an example of a child-letter.  She also asked after my family and wanted me to pray for her health.

What are your thoughts on sponsoring a child?  I’d really recommend it, specially on days like today.

For When you Struggle to Relate

You know some blog-posts have such an impact on you and nearly bring you to tears?  Well, this one did.  It’s about a lady’s trip to Haiti, the connections she made and the contrasts between her life and theirs.  She mentioned the boy who couldn’t read, whose sponsor sent a picture of them as a couple, smiling and hugging in Central Park.  He stands in the doorway of a darkened, windowless shack, holding a picture of a happy couple in Central Park?

It made me think of my Jennylyn in the Philippines, and how I’m just the same.  How can I relate to her?  “Pray for my parents,” she writes, “that they’ll be healthy and happy.”  I think of my parents and sister on the bank-holiday weekend – how we enjoyed lunch together and the warmth of the garden.  We’ve had our struggles, but we’ve come out the other side.  I wish I could tell Jennylyn her life will be like that too – that 20 years from now, she’ll be sitting in the sunshine with her parents and brother, grateful for one another’s company, but how do I know her life will change for the better?  My parents’ marriage was never under the strain of poverty.  One never left the family-home just to find work to put food on the table.  What comfort can I give her?  What promise can I make to her that won’t disappoint?

Any promise that doesn’t disappoint has to be one based on truth.  In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  I’ve found it comforting in the past to know that even though I don’t understand how, if I love God, He’ll bring good out of whatever situation I’m in.  The LORD delights in the wellbeing of His servant (Psalm 35:27).  Even though Jennylyn’s circumstances might not be ideal, God delights in her wellbeing.

Are you a sponsor?  If you are, tell your child some of the struggles your family’s endured if you want to; it’s lovely to share your lives together, but accept they might still be a million miles away from the problems your child’s facing, and sometimes the only sure answers you’ll be able to give are the ones from God’s Word.