I walked up to the table expecting to look over the photographs there, to pray and be open to what I felt God wanted.
And there she was.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Hers was the first picture I saw; there may as well have been no others. There she was: arms extending from her orange-striped, Hello-Kitty shirt, thumbs stretching over her jean-clad thighs. Pink-bobbled pigtails framed her sweet, curious face. Her eyes drilled straight into my heart.
How could I go home without her? The answer, of course, is that I could not.
Later, I told a friend: “Don’t you think she looks like me?”
My words were met with a raised eyebrow.
“Sure, her skin’s a different color,” I said. “But look at her long arms and legs and slender build. I used to stand just like that when I posed for a picture, my head slightly down. And who doesn't like Hello-Kitty?!”
If my friend didn’t see the resemblance, it didn’t matter. In a heartbeat, this little one was part of my own heart. Destined to be part of my life.
My pastor chose to talk about Compassion that Sunday morning, but it wasn’t just talk. He lives what he preaches. On his refrigerator, you’ll find pictures of several sponsored children. He and his wife pray for these kids and have even travelled to meet them.
His passion is contagious and inspires others to take action for social justice and missional living.
It’s an amazing feeling to be part of church that strategically plans to make a difference in the world. Rivertree started church in the village where Emile lives. Now, Compassion is partnering with that church, and people from Rivertree are “adopting” there. It’s a beautiful thing.
Like the warm glow of candles at Christmas.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to give. People are in the spirit, and besides, it’s nice to get that year-end tax write-off.
But children have needs all year long. May I encourage you to be a part of the Spirit that gives all year?
I’m so excited to share info about three of my favorite global organizations: Compassion, World Vision, and Women at Risk, International. If you’re in the giving mood, would you consider one of my faves?
Compassion’s programs are organized by age level.
Sponsorship (3-22 years)
This is the most well-known arm. For $38 a month, a child is connected with a church-based program that provides food and clean water (clean water is a HUGE issue!), medical care, educational opportunities and more. My family and I have sponsored Jossue from the time he was very young. For years, we have written and received letters and watched him grow up. I can’t wait for you and your child to have a similar experience!
Help Save Babies (0-3 years)
I recently learned about the Child Survival Program of Compassion. Your donation of $20 a month helps provide prenatal care, nutritious
food and supplements, infant training for mothers, and the loving support of a local church. Can you imagine what a difference this could make to a young woman who is having her first baby and has no idea how to take care of her little one? The mentorship aspect is so needed!
Leadership Development Program (ages 22-25 years)
No matter what their economic situation, bright students want to make a difference in the world. You can help students develop their potential through leadership training and higher education.
You can also sponsor a child through World Vision’s programs, but one of the things I love best about WV is that it has programming around the world (including the U.S.!) I have had the opportunity to do “missions” work with World Vision Appalachia for years. Plan a vacation with a purpose this year for your family, community or church group, or go as an individual. It is truly life-changing!
Oh, and I have to tell you about World Vision’s Gift Catalog!
Shopping for a Cause
The only thing better than “getting” someone’s goat is giving one!
For $75, you can give a dairy goat that will help sustain nutrition. For $25, you can give two chickens, which could multiply into a sustaining gift. When you give your gift, World Vision supplies cards, informing
your recipient that “two strong oxen and a plow” (a bargain at $575!) have been given in his/her name. World Vision also has programs that help women through small- business loans and fight sexual exploitation.
Women At Risk, International
Hands down, my favorite holiday shopping spot is WAR International. WAR fights human trafficking by literally hiring a prostitute’s time but for an unconventional purpose: a job interview. They offer girls and women a better way to support themselves, through making clothing and jewelry. WAR’s safe-houses are not “sweat shops” but places where women can work together, develop relationships and get away from a dangerous way
of life. Plus, they make really cool fashion merchandise! Every time I wear
something from WAR (I have two skirts, a scarf, and several jewelry items) I get raving compliments.
I have highest regard for this organization because its workers are in the thick of the sex-trade-world, often in dangerous and horrific conditions, fighting the fight up close and personal. They make a real difference, one girl at a time.
Take time to stop and consider what kind of giving is best this season. Does your child (or her parents or grandparents) really need one more
I’m not suggesting that we deny our children good gifts. Bless them with some of the things they desire.
But can we not give material gifts in moderation in order to support something more lasting? Consider giving gifts that will impact lives and hearts.
If you’re going to do it, make your kids a part of it. Including them in the planning for a Different Kind of Christmas will be one of the best gifts you can ever give your children. It will also be the best kind of giving they can experience.
An eight year old from a little village in Ecuador allowed her light to shine all the way to this Mama’s heart, in a small town in Ohio. Her picture is under my tree, and if I could not give or receive any other gift this year, it would be enough.
Is there something yet to be found beneath your tree?
Who knows how far your child’s light will travel ...