"...You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
"Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor."
I first heard about Compassion International right after Caleb was born.
Ever since then, sponsoring a child has been on my heart...I guess I am a little stubborn sometimes.
Yesterday evening, my heartstrings were tugged yet again.
Seth was sitting on the sofa with the computer, so I sat down beside him and showed him the website.
He was immediately interested in sponsoring a child.
Seth is the giving one in our relationship. It just comes naturally to him. Especially when it comes to those in need and this time was no exception.
He spent a month in India on a missions trip when he was in college. That, paired with his year in Iraq has really given him a realistic view of the poverty there is in other countries.
He tells the story of his favorite memory while being deployed.
I will try to give it justice.
While Seth was in Iraq, he and his soldiers were constantly on missions...pretty much the majority of what they did. One town they frequented was a town that made bricks. All the families worked in this brick factory, leaving the children to fend for themselves during the day.
The work was hard and the pay was essentially nothing.
Their homes were huts and the children ran around with no shoes on.
Seth always loved when his missions brought him through this town though because he and his soldiers were able to pass candy out to the kids...and of course the kids loved when the soldiers came.
Right before Seth was scheduled to finish his deployment, his troop received a truck load of shoes from the U.S. to pass out to the people in this village.
Seth was really excited to go hand these shoes out but when they got there and started unloading the shoes, his excitement turned to disappointment when he realized the shoes that American's had donated were very used and some in bad condition. He said they looked like shoes that we would use to do yard work in.
However, to these kids who had no shoes at all, much to Seth's surprise, were ecstatic about our used, American shoes.
There was one little girl Seth remembered vividly. She was his favorite. He saw her every time he was in the village. He though she looked about 2 years old.
While they were unpacking the shoes, Seth came upon a pair of pink, sparkly tennis shoes. He immediately snatched them up, thinking of his favorite little girl and praying that they were the right size for her.
He was able to find the girl and helped her put her new shoes on. He said she was grinning from ear to ear, so happy for the pink shoes that fit her perfectly, not even thinking once about the fact that they once belonged to someone else.
Seth is a tough guy but every time he tells this story, he can't fight the tears.
Yesterday as I browsed the Compassion website, I looked at face after face of children who were and are in need of help. We narrowed our search down to a male and decided to opt for one who had been on the waiting list the longest.
Two pages of children popped up.
We waited until Caleb woke up from his nap and let him come in to pick our new child.
He looked at the rows of faces and ran his finger across the computer screen, stopping on one little boy.
He picked Richard.
Cute little Richard.
Richard melted our hearts immediately.
We think Caleb and Richard would be best buds..Caleb even asked to go to Richard's house later that night ;-)
We sat there with Caleb and told him that Richard needed help. We explained to him that Richard didn't get presents for Christmas like he did and that Richard needed money for food and clothes.
Before we could even finish talking about Richard, Caleb had jumped off the couch and was running for his room.
He came back with two big handfuls of change from his piggy bank, saying,
"I help friend Richard get toys".
We really wanted Caleb to feel like he was giving his money to Richard, so we grabbed an envelope and let Caleb put his money in there. Then we took it to the mailbox and let Caleb put it in and close it up.
Later, we snuck the coin filled envelope out of the mail box, but Caleb will never know that.
In his heart, he went through every motion to help his friend and that's the way we want to keep it.
The cost for us is $38 per month.
Richard's family makes $150 a month on average.
$38 for us isn't a huge deal. It may mean cutting out a cup of coffee and a dinner out, but sending Richard that money is huge.
That is roughly a 1/4 of what they make in an entire month's time.
I started thinking about how blessed we are and how much we have.
Richard is 10 months older than Caleb and I can only imagine how different his life is.
I'm not writing all of this to toot my own horn.
I will be the first to admit that giving isn't my forte, especially giving above and beyond.
I am selfish when it comes to money...after all, it's mine!
But really, it isn't mine. God gave it to me so how can I look at a child like Richard and not give to him?
We are very excited to begin this journey of sponsoring Richard.
Our wish is to allow each of our children the opportunity to help others, starting by teaching them about the needs of others around them and I can't think of a better way to start.
I myself am learning the lesson of giving. Giving up my Starbucks and a dinner out on the town for a 3 year old without food...wow, I am so ashamed to even write that.
So long latte, hello Richard!
This year, my resolution is to be more aware of others need's around me and to spend more time thinking, praying and doing for others. That might mean sponsoring Richard in Africa or that might mean taking 5 minutes to write someone a "just because" note and sticking it in the mail.
My goal is to start each day asking God to show me where and how I can help someone else.
I feel like I'm about to be taught a lot of huge lessons...starting with Richard, our new little friend.
God, help me this year to see others through your eyes. Help me to look beyond my wants and see other's needs. I pray that you would help me be more aware of how I spend my money. Keep Richard and his family in my constant thoughts as a reminder of how blessed I am and how much you have given to me, so that in return I can give to others. Thank you for opening my eyes, even if just a little. Open my eyes even more so that I can turn my selfishness into selflessness and forgive me for how caught up I can become in the things of this world. Thank you for Richard and for the lessons he has already taught me and my family. I pray that you would continue to use him in our lives!
*If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please visit compassion.com
**I have not been compensated in any way to write this about Compassion.