"Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart's cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?" ~Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr
I love this quote. We live in a broken world; it's never going to be completely "fixed" on this side of paradise. And since we can't fix it, we might as well sit back and let things worsen, right?
Well, no, I don't think that's the way God intended it. We might not be able to solve the problems completely but we can see where our service can make a difference, whether that's by planting one tree, or by feeding/clothing/educating one individual.
We get tangible proof of the difference we are making in sweet little Elian's life whenever we receive a picture and letter from her. She thanks us for the little gifts we send her and tells us what she spent her birthday money on (she was born just a day after our Gigi). She lives worlds away, but we are able to bring her a little hope every month through our sponsorship.
Last week Gigi went to her first American Heritage Girls meeting. Have any of you done this with your daughters? It seems like a really sweet group to belong to-- think scouts-that-sell-cookies but Biblically based. (AHG girls sell candles. I'd prefer cookies. But I digress.)
At each meeting the girls eat lunch together (props to Gigi for joining a group that is with all girls she didn't know at a private Christian school), and then do some kind of project, usually service-minded.
The girls each decorated a brown paper bag and then stuffed it with snacks, and a little strip of white paper with verse on it. We chose Philippians 4:13 from the pile of verses for her bag.
Then the leaders talked about how sometimes we see people standing on the street with a sign, and sometimes we don't know how to help them. We can pray for them, first and foremost, the leaders said.
But now we would take the lovingly-decorated bags and leave them in the car. Next time we passed someone in need, we would have something tangible to give them. It was so simple; the girls understood the need and how they'd be helping.
Of course, a snack bag doesn't solve homelessness. But it's a way to give, to serve, and to bring a little light to the darkness.
We headed to Trader Joe's right after the meeting, and for the first time ever after shopping there weekly for years, there was a homeless woman and her daughter sitting outside in the parking lot. We were able to bless her with the bag Gigi made.
Such providence to have us there at that time right after making it. Gigi was nervous and had me hand over the bag, but I think she could see the woman's gratitude. And it was great to talk with her in the car afterwards about how God used us right then and there after she made the bag to bless that woman.
Elian is a budding artist. She can't write her own letters to us yet, she dictates them to her tutor, but it amazes me to see that what she lacks in academic skills, she makes up for in artistic talent. I can't wait to see how going to the child development center regularly helps her in her studies.
By sponsoring her, we not only enable her to get more educational opportunities, but also
- Food and clean water
- Medical care
- Important life-skills training
- Most important of all, hearing about Jesus Christ and being encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.
My hope is that by sponsoring a child (or children, as we plan to sponsor one for each of our children as they grow a bit older) as a family, my own kids will learn the value of serving the poor-- the seemingly small things we can do to make big impact. And as we give, serve, and invest of ourselves as a family, our kids will receive first-hand feedback on how they are making the difference in the life of another child.