A Blessed Smile

Compassion International is a child sponsorship organization that has my heart. In June of 2008 I had just graduated from high school and went to summer camp with my youth group. At this youth conference, they highlighted Compassion and gave us all an opportunity to sponsor a child. I’ve always had a love for children and felt a stirring in my heart to go to the front and pick a child. Some people discouraged my decision because I was about to go to college and let’s be honest… You aren’t exactly rich when you’re in college. In fact, I got behind by 3 payments at one point… Totaling $96. That may not sound like a lot to some of y’all, but to me it was a whole heap! I contemplated ending my sponsorship because I couldn’t make payments, and I especially couldn’t catch up. However, I couldn’t BEAR the thought of my sweet Judy receiving news that her sponsor ABANDONED her…(I doubt they handle it like that, but that’s how it went in my mind). Now, this next part may seem like a ridiculous exaggeration, but I’m telling you– this really happened! It’s engraved in my brain because it’s such a “God thing!” I had this outstanding amount of $96 to pay and definitely didn’t have the money to pay it. I went to my UU mailbox one day… SEVERAL months after I graduated. As in about 8 month after. My aunt and uncle had sent me a card for graduation. I sort of chuckled because it was quite late, but nonetheless, I was so thankful. Tucked away inside the card like the sweetest little God kiss in the world, was a check for $96. I couldn’t make that up if I tried! Nobody even knew I needed this money because I was ashamed to tell anyone! At that moment, I knew EXACTLY where that money needed to go.

Fast forward to November of this past year. I received a text from a friend who was taking a trip to Kenya with Compassion, and she offered to take a backpack for Judy if I’d like to pack one up for her. I jumped on that so fast! I packed up a pink backpack with a bunch of goodies…soap, toothbrushes, hair bows, fun activities, etc. I was so excited for her to get something tangible from me! I didn’t know if I’d ever see effects from that but was so thankful for the opportunity. A couple of months went by. Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about it, but on Monday I received a letter from Judy. Lo and behold, there were pictures attached! Now, I receive an annual picture of her which is protocol for all sponsors to receive, but these pictures were different. The typical pictures I receive are of Judy standing by herself without even a smile on her face.

3

But these pictures… These were full of joy and happiness! I saw her beautiful smile that spread from ear to ear!

5

And how beautiful is she?! My eyes began to burn with tears, and all I could utter was, “thank you, Jesus!” None of this is to toot my horn, by any means… I just want to encourage you to look outside of yourself today. Where can you give? Where can you serve? I have received great blessings and joy from being a part of an organization that encourages me to show Jesus to someone less fortunate. To be a friend, pen pal, hope giver.

There are 400 million children who live in extreme poverty conditions. An estimated 57 million primary-school-aged children worldwide q=who don’t attend school. About 2.4 billion people live on less than $2 per day. 18,000 children under age 5 die each day due to conditions of poverty.

We have to do something about this! We are called to:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9

It’s a blessing to play even a small role in helping someone see Jesus! I was so blessed when I received those pictures this week! Look for opportunities to give and serve in the days ahead. Jesus commands us to!