Take Your Glasses Off
What does your day look like? My alarm disturbs my dreams at 4:30 am where after what always feels like too little sleep wakes me next to my guy and Charlie, our black lab, who has his head resting on my feet and snoring peacefully. (Oh, to be a dog and not worry about alarms) My back hurts because we need a new mattress. But, we will have to save up for that. I stretch a little before sleep walking into the bathroom for a hot shower to wake me. I blow dry my hair and use the various lotions that are supposed to help in one way or another. Downstairs, the smell of coffee speaks directly to my soul. I take 20 minutes to drink my coffee, eat some breakfast, and ease into the day before waking the two youngest offspring and continuing my beautification process. (Some days get more effort than others.) I help Emmie get dressed in one of her many sparkly outfits, and she goes down to eat her choice of breakfast that morning. I check that Jordan has actually gotten out of bed, and I kiss everyone goodbye before heading out for my drive to work. I listen to music or a podcast on my Iphone to make the drive more bearable. Some mornings I give another call to my family to brighten my day. Fast forward through the day at a job that while it can be stressful, I am so thankful to have, and people I am so thankful to work with and for. Depending on the day, once I am home we will turn right back around and either head off to dance, church, small group, or a friend's house to be surrounded by people I am so thankful are in my children's lives. We come home and fall into our beds to start the process all over again. It's hard to see everyone we would like as often as we would like. Our lives are full and busy.
Sunday mornings are no exception. They are chaotic, tiring, and so fulfilling. We all head out around 8:15 so I can be there in time to teach the best bunch of 11th and 12th grade girls you have ever met. (For real. Also, where is their awkward stage? They are all so incredibly gorgeous and mature. I went through at least three awkward stages, but apparently they don't have them anymore.) I drop Emmie off at her class and after about 67 hugs, I head to mine. After class, I grab another cup of coffee and meet my man and mini man (Jordan) at our seats. (Like a good Baptist, we have the same ones each week.) We get our worship on and settle in to listen to the sermon of the week. But, last week was different. Pastor Ronnie opened by reading (watch the sermon here) Proverbs 31:8-9:
Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.
1. Our problem: Knowing the need
Globally, 10.9% of the world live on less than $1.90 per day. 767,000,000 people living on less than $2 per day. Every day, about 800 children world wild die of malaria, which is preventable AND treatable. About 45% of deaths in children under 5 are linked to malnutrition. 19.5% of the world's children live in extreme poverty. 75% of that is in Africa. I may not have always known the facts, but I have heard the need. I know there are people much less fortunate. But, we as a culture have become to insensitive to these things. Brushing them under the rug because they make us uncomfortable, or we haven't seen it firsthand so it's probably a scam.
2. Our responsibility: To love the poor and needy
We are all created in the image of God. Every one of us. The man who cut you off in his car this morning, you (even with the thoughts you thought after he cut you off), the girl who bullied you in 8th grade, the boy who broke your heart, the movie star who has so many opinions on social media, and the little child in another country who wonders if today will be the day he will be able to eat. Proverbs 22:2 says:
The rich and the poor have this in common: the Lord made them both.
3. Our Model: Jesus, Who meets our greatest need
We heard from our guest speaker David who grew up in Kenya, and whose amazing transformation story he credited to God and being sponsored through Compassion International. We saw a video following one of Compassion International's centers. It looked a little different than videos I have seen online showing children in poverty and a celebrity asking for money. I could feel my heart begin to ache. I am not a crier. Or rather, I cry at all the wrong times. Being frustrated or just a random bad day causes tears to fall, but I usually hold everything together in times of crisis, funerals, and TV shows that bring most people to tears. I know exactly the moment that caused the damn to break and waterfall come. The little girl was wondering why she has not been sponsored after waiting for 18 months. She had waited and prayed while everyone else's name was written up on the board. And when she finally was told she had a sponsor (spoiler alert), I felt her tears of joy. I swatted away the first few tears, but when they kept coming I gave up. I looked over, and Bryan had started to cry at the same moment. There were packets on our seats when we sat down, and I reached down to look at mine. Tears started all over again when I saw the face of a little boy from Kenya who had the same birthday as me. I held him close to my heart and knew that I had to sponsor him. I was working on the words to say to Bryan, who is usually very apprehensive and logical in these situations. He is the reason to my spontaneity, so I knew I had to come up with a good way to phrase this. We had already redone our budget to allow Emmie to take dance classes, so other than telling her that we could no longer do that, we didn't have a whole lot of wiggle room. But, when I blurted out that I had to sponsor the one I was holding, he looked at me with his amazing blue eyes and said that there was no way that he could put down the one he was holding simply because he did not share a birthday with him. "Guess we will have to do both." He said. Let me tell you something. There are few times in our marriage that he has ever been sexier. So, floating on cloud 9 and already praying for these two sweet boys who are now in our lives we thought - well, we have two boys and a girl. Let's sponsor two boys and a girl. So the hunt for a girl card began. Emmie found the one in a girl her age from Kenya named Rebecca, and our search was complete.
So much in our culture we see people pushing others down and away if they do not look like them, act like them, live like them, or dress like them. But, Jesus wasn't an elitist. He brought the brokenhearted, poverty stricken, sick, and young near him and loved them as they should be. He did not wear comfort glasses to shield what we are not ready to see. My glasses may have been tinted so I could see some of the need, but they are off now.
"Throwing money at poverty will not fix it. What Compassion is is not a relief organization. What we are is a child rescue and development organization." It starts with Jesus and ends with Jesus.
$38 dollars a month to rescue a child. To give them medical attention, food, the ability to go to school, and to learn about Jesus? Heck, yes.
Falling asleep that night my thoughts returned to needing a new mattress, and then they spiraled. But, I HAVE a mattress while they are sleeping on dirt floors. I have a home, a job, a car, a cell phone, a blow dryer, make up, a TV, delivery services, Netflix, a huge pantry of my choice of food each day, and my children are able to go to school. We have dogs, whose food costs more each month than sponsoring all three of these children. And we have Jesus. I had tucked Emmie in that night and sat with her while she said her prayer. "...and thank you for our two new brothers and sister. I love them. Keep them safe and give them food and help them learn about you." More tears. Apparently, I am a crier now.