Where I went:
This week, my family went on vacation. Since starting my 2012 experiment, I’ve known that I would be away from home for a week this July. When setting up parameters to serve once a week for a year, I was unsure how I would continue to learn to have a “nature of a servant” while away from home.
How could I feed the homeless in a resort town? Or find a food pantry by our friends’ remote cabin on a lake? And then I remembered about Elias.
What I did:
Elias is the child our family has sponsored through Compassion International since January, 2003. Every month, $39 is deducted from our checking account to help feed, clothe, and educate this boy in Columbia.
Compassion International is a ministry that exists to provide needs to those living in poverty around the world so they can grow to be healthy, educated adults.
As a sponsored child, Elias writes to our family 3 or 4 times a year. We are supposed to return letters as well, letting him know what is going on in our lives and giving him assurance that we are praying for him.
The key phrase in that paragraph is: “supposed to.”
I have not been fulfilling my part of the bargain. I’ve maybe written to Elias maybe 3 times in 11 years. Earlier when I received his letters, I’d read them to my daughters. We’d talk about how difficult his life is compared to ours. The intention would be to write him back later. But “later” rarely came.
In the last few years when Elias’ letters arrived, I’d read them and stick them in my “to do” box knowing I really needed to write back. And in that “to do” box they still sit.
Thankfully, Compassion has recently made communicating almost effortless. Letter writing and photo sending can all be accomplished online through their website. Now there is little excuse for me not to step up.
This week, while I’m away from home and daily responsibilities, I served a boy we’ve been financially helping for a long time. Not with more money, but with a little time to let him know I’m thinking of him.
I brought all of Elias’ letters with me on vacation, just to re-read them in succession. I’d really forgotten just how hard this boy’s life is, living in poverty with his blind mother, his siblings, and his grandparents. In every letter, he says he hopes his mom will get her sight back. And in every letter, he writes, “Please don’t forget to pray for me.”
I’m embarrassed to admit that I have forgotten to pray.
This is my favorite letter from Elias. It came with photos of all of the things he was able to buy with the Christmas money we sent. Pictures of him with clothes, shoes, and sports equipment and his family accompanied the message. But I love this photo of him with a bike and his Spiderman bed.
It’s time for me to get my act together and become a true sponsor to Elias. Not just with monetary gifts, but with prayer support and communication as well. If I’m trying to learn to serve like Jesus, I’d better be learning to pray like him as well.
Here is what a page of a letter looks like when written online. My message is written on the left side and a translator will transcribe on the right. Compassion has many templates to choose from. I picked one with a soccer ball because Elias loves to play “futbol.”
How to help:
Hundreds of children are waiting to be sponsored around the world. With today’s technology, making a difference in someone’s life can be done with a few clicks on the computer. For the price of one dinner out, our money can send a child can to school and make a difference in his or her life. With reputable organizations like Compassion, it’s simple for anyone to begin to have the “nature of a servant.”