I’m in Ontario this week, doing a Girls Night Out speaking tour sponsored by Faith Life Financial and World Vision. I’ve done several dozen such events in the past three years, and I find it fascinating to see how different communities respond to an invitation/challenge for child sponsorship.
My family has sponsored children through World Vision for nearly 15 years. Presently we have an 8-year-old boy, Ankit, in India and a 12-year-old girl in Nepal. Two years ago, we had the privilege of meeting Ankit and his family. I tell ya, the joy level in my heart that day nearly went through the roof.
I will always cherish the memory of holding Ankit on my lap and seeing the delight on his face when we shared balloons and candy with him and his friends. I’ll always remember the moment he ducked into his mud-and-rock house and returned with the Christmas card I’d sent him three months prior. And I will also cherish the memory of speaking with his mother. Our hearts truly connected that day. After all, we share the same goal of trying to make life better for her little boy.
When I speak on behalf of millions of impoverished children around the world, I challenge Canadians to value what God values. Scripture contains more than 2,000 references to helping the poor, the orphans, and the widows. His heart breaks for them; ours ought to break, too, and we ought to do what we can to help in practical ways. Isn’t that what pure and undefiled religion is all about?
In some communities, I see women respond with open hands. They “get” it. They understand the need and they do something about it, even if it means giving sacrificially. In other places, I see them respond with skepticism. On this tour, one little girl – maybe 10 years old – said to her mom, “We should sponsor a child. Let’s do this, okay?” The mother replied, “No, it’s just a scam.” Ouch.
When I heard that, something inside me rose up and wanted to say, “Tell that to a child who goes to bed hungry every night, or to his mother who watches helplessly as her child dies of malnutrition or water-related disease. Or tell that to the national World Vision staff dedicated to working in these needy areas despite the sacrifices required of them to do so.”
This morning I read Daniel 4:27 – “Break from your wicked past by being merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.” This verse suddenly takes on a whole new meaning for me. It makes me wonder how much of our sinful behavior is dictated by selfishness – a desire for convenience, comfort, instant gratification, and so forth. However…
Being merciful to the poor means we take our eyes off ourselves and our wants. We focus on the needs of others and do what we can to meet those needs. We start thinking about what really matters to God and to eternity. We break from our sinful behavior and start living in a manner that pleases the Lord. And when we do that, perhaps we prosper in unexpected ways. After all, God says we reap what we sow.
As for me, I’m going to sow into eternity. I’m going to continue being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves…those millions of kids living in poverty, affected by HIV/AIDS, struggling with diseases for which there are no easy answers in their situations. I’m going to continue asking God to break my heart over what breaks His. And I’m going to keep praying for God to move the hearts of Canadian women to value what He values.
How about you? In whatever circumstances are yours, how can you show mercy to the poor?