I received a handwritten letter from Albania yesterday! It was, of course, from K, my World Vision sponsored child. He is literally growing up before my eyes. Every new photo or update, he is taller- no longer the little boy he was in 2007. Now he plays football (soccer to us Americans) every day after school. He's healthy and does well in school. Unfortunately, his father is now unemployed. What awful timing to be unemployed right before the holidays! What do you say to someone who tells you his father is now unemployed and that the family is having hard financial times? That's a legit question. I really don't know what to say. He's never commented on the family's needs before.
I do know how to respond though. With compassion. Prayer, And action. Frankly all three are difficult at times.
Living in a large city, it is so easy to lose compassion for fellow humans. Several times a week I am "hit up" for money, cigarettes, etc on the street or parking lots. I know never to give money and I try to keep some info handy of ministries who will help the truly needy. The aggressive pan handling can just get exhausting though.
Prayer for someone in a far away land can be challenging as well. Not knowing specific needs and just the busy-ness of life can make dedicated prayer challenging. In reality, it's probably the best thing I could ever do!
Action is easier for me but, frankly, I'm stretched pretty thin at times. There's always the desire but the bank account says no. So I'm working on this area of my life.
As we move into the end of the year, I want to focus on those three areas in my life. I want to be compassionate- even for the scammers. If not for the grace of God, I could easily be in their shoes. Maybe offer to buy a meal for someone. Even now, my inner voice/cynicism rears its ugly head and says "they don't want food, they want beer/drugs!" But what if they take me up on my offer? What if they are truly hungry? Maybe no one has showed them love or kindness in a long time.
I also want to pray more. This means effort. Taking time to talk to God about problems so big that there is no earthly solution. Learning more about K, Albania, Igor (in Moldova) and other people's needs so I can bring those needs to a God Who IS big enough to meet them.
And action. World Vision allows you to send special gifts to your sponsored children. They had a cool video explaining the process that I blogged about here. I want to do that this year. The process takes up to 2-3 months so I need to jump on that. They also have a gift catalog- to send special gifts to the neediest this holiday season (or anytime!) Watch the video below and see the difference it can make in a poor family's life.
I also want to find a way to be involved more locally. I don't know how I can find the time but I know there are so many great missions here in this city who do a great job meeting people's needs- short and long term- and help people help themselves.
What is one thing I can pray more about this year?
Who is one person I can show compassion to this year?
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? James 2:15-16
What is one way I can demonstrate this compassion?
Keep it simple but don't make it too easy! Let me know what you will try to do this year..