I haven’t been to Kenya.
I haven’t watched the cows grazing on the hills or heard the rooster crow in the morning. I haven’t felt the red dirt under my toes or the hot African sun on my back. I haven’t heard the women beating on calf skin drums or the tribal voices lifted up in worship to the God who saves them.
But I feel like I have.
Because I followed the recent team of Compassion Bloggers who did travel to Kenya. Some of them went to meet their sponsored children. Some of them brought their own children along and watched their eyes open in wonder. Some of them went to have their own eyes opened. All of them went to share God’s love with the poor. And watch. And learn. And write.
And I can almost hear the beat of the drums as I read author Shaun Groves’s story from his trip:
“The women kick up red clay dust, dancing with babies tied to their backs.
One mother takes my hands in hers, cranes her neck up at me and shouts “dance!”
So we dance.
Up the drive from the van toward the little pink church.
All the mothers are bending side to side, bending low, breaking into song about a God who sees even them.”
Their joy is so deep because it has rescued them from a despair equally great. And I can almost hear their worries in my mind as Shaun writes about the way Kenyan women and children have been mistreated, devalued, disrespected, lied to, in a culture that didn’t see their worth.
I can almost feel their relief in my heart at hearing for the first time… Yes, God loves even me. He has a plan for even me. At hearing the truth for the first time, how the worries must roll off like bricks off a shoulder. How joy must have room to bubble up.
No, I haven’t been to Kenya. But looking at Shaun’s pictures reminds me of another country, the one I visited with YWAM all those years ago. The Dominican Republic. A beautiful country, with warm, sandy beaches and clear turquoise seas and blue sunny skies and palm trees and grilled plantains and friendly markets and tourist spots. But in between it all… hidden throughout, in the hills and the valleys and the nooks and the crannies… hidden…hidden, in the places we went to… the poverty. The poverty. When I close my eyes I can still see the piles of trash. The piles of trash that were taller than a man, that the children were living in. Living and sleeping and eating in. Eating from. When we were ten minutes from Haiti, that’s when it was the poorest. Corrugated metal houses filled with voodoo dolls and statues and thin, wondering faces. And children hungry for love.
Those images flash back from my memory, and remind me to be grateful for Compassion. Because today… today, I’m not a missionary.
Today I did the most important job that God has ever trusted me to do. Today I held little hands and kissed little faces and took little people to the park. I fed little tummies and I read one more story and I comforted them in the dark. And there’s nowhere else I’d rather be… nowhere else He’d have me be.
But I know these happy faces… these clean hands… these full tummies… this is not the reality for every child. It’s not even a hope for every child. And the poor… they are our sisters and our brothers. Dearly created and loved by God, each one.
And I stare at their stories after my sea of exhausted days and I think, What can I do?
You, too? Just keeping your head above water? All spent-up, mama, meeting the needs at hand?
What can I do?
Compassion answers that question with one simple word. Sponsor. You can sponsor a child.
Compassion’s mission statement is simple: Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Why did they choose the word Release? Why not Rescue? Or simply Help? Poverty requires release because poverty isn’t just a state of being; it’s a state of mind. It’s a state of spirit. I remember it in their hungry faces. It’s not just a physical can’t. It’s a generational, spiritual, lie-in-the-marrow-of-the-bones kind of can’t. That’s why Compassion doesn’t just provide a few meals or some simple tools and then move on to the next mission. Compassion stays. Compassion builds relationships. Compassion not only cares for children with basic needs and with the gospel, but empowers the local church to continue the caring.
Compassion doesn’t just take your donations. Compassion facilitates relationship between the sponsor and the child. Our little sponsored child, Wisline, is from Haiti. The people I remember. And I hold her letters tightly, and our children look at her drawings. They write and send her pictures. They are beginning to understand.
And I look at Wisline’s letters again. The pictures from Kenya one more time. Read Shaun’s story once more. And my own worries fade away into the night like clay dust. Perspective, yes. But more than that.
Thanks to Compassion, we CAN be part of God’s story of sharing hope with the hurting.
Yours in His Love,