Archive for the ‘Uganda’ tag
It was such an innocent request with a seemingly simple answer. “What else can I get you for you birthday?” The question was directed to my wife, Donna.
Now let me explain: birthdays are big deals around these parts, so a request like that can get one a might over committed … if you know what I mean. So as Donna thought things over for a few minutes, I waited impatiently, hoping to snag the last of my elusive birthday shopping before the rush.
“I really think I would like another child,” she said almost nonchalantly. The words hung in the hair as we pondered them. Something about the phrasing sounded humorous at first, but then the seriousness of her request tugged at both of our hearts. I knew exactly what she was talking about after a few minutes of reflection.
Now for us to have a physical child the old fashioned way is a bit over the fantasy line. Let’s just say we had several factors working against us. What Donna was talking about was sponsoring another child with Compassion International.
We were currently sponsoring two children at the time, Starlin and Doreen. They are precious to us. As Donna pointed out, “I have pretty much everything I need and I want to do something help a child who has nothing. It breaks my heart to see these little ones who have been on the waiting list so long.”
So for Donna’s birthday, we sat down and looked through children who had been on the waiting list for a sponsor more than six months. Our problem wasn’t finding a child, but having to choose from so many. How do you decide? How can you turn any of them down?
Each face tugged at our heart, but one little boy grabbed much more than our attention. He was trying to stand so straight and tall. He wore his best clothes — or maybe borrowed ones. The earnest look on his face spoke of his desire to impress someone on the other side of the camera lens. Yes, Raymond, your hope has become our gift. Thanks, little guy, for being so much more than a birthday gift. May God bless you on your journey, may Jesus be real to you in the days ahead, and please know that you are gift from God to us.
Since I was blessed to visit with one of our Compassion children in Africa this past February, we feel a special pull to this wonderful continent so full of precious children who face such deep need. So now we have our children on the other side of the world that we keep in our prayers, share messages, and help provide a future for just a little more than a dollar a day. What greater gift than this?
So please, take a look and I think you might just find a child looking for a sponsor that touches your heart and changes your world.
Me talk about dresses? Me? Yep.
Those who know me know that I’m no fashion expert. Dresses are not my specialty. So, I will make one fashion observation about the little girl and the dress pictured here: cute! Okay, I know that’s not overly elaborative, so I’ll add, precious!
This is a 7 pocket dress from the group Pocket of Dreams. You can read about it today in Heartlight.org. It’s an effort to give folks a good product (a cute dress for a precious child) that helps women and children in Uganda in very tangible ways.
As many of you know, I went with a group of Compassion Bloggers to Uganda this past February, so this kind of effort is near and dear to my heart. We sponsor three children through compassion — I’ll tell you more about our third compassion child tomorrow — but this is a way to help families that gives us a real connection and provides real help. I hope if you have a cute and precious little girl or granddaughter or niece or friend or … you will check out Pocket of Dreams and give a gift that touches many more people than you know on this side of heaven!
On Friday, a little over a week ago, I did a funeral and graveside for an incredibly cool man who was everything good about where I live — you can read more about his story in my Heartlight article this week. He was born in Coleman county, Texas, about 70 minutes south of Abilene. He was buried less than half a mile from the little stone house in which he was born. In between, he lived 86 years as a farmer, a vet of WWII, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
When this precious man’s first wife became very ill, he attended to her faithfully and tirelessly. As time passed after her death, he then convinced a sweet lady to marry him — even though she had “sworn off men” completely when her drunken, womanizing husband abandoned her to raise two little girls by herself — which she did masterfully, often working two jobs.
God gave them well over a decade of marriage, but after the last four months of his battling to stay here for his family, she told him it was okay to go home and be with the Lord. He did a few hours later, slipping peacefully away to be with the Lord.
I was honored to officiate at his funeral and graveside. Knowing that I would not take money for a funeral, her “thank you” was for me to send that money to Compassion International to help take care of “our girl” and other children. And that’s where the generous “thank you” will go: to provide mosquito nets for the beds unknown children so that they can have a chance at life, family, friends, and faith.
Some gifts just mean more.
My prayer is that you will add your gift to this one and help us Bite Back against this leading killer of children. You can learn more about Malaria Prevention Day from the following resources:
Yes, some gifts just mean more!
After yesterday’s post and a few bits of feedback and some healthy skepticism about the good of donating to certain relief efforts, I would like share two things with you.
First, my own experience with the child we sponsor in Uganda with Compassion.
What you see are the medical treatment records of our sponsored child, Doreen. These records were more than an inch thick. They were carefully taken and tracked.
Doreen was brought into the Compassion’ Child Survival Program at 1 year old because she was felt to be at high risk. Without medical treatment, immunizations, regular doctor’s visits, mosquito nets for her bed, treatment for her mom, training for her mom and grandmom, Doreen and I would probably have never met because she would have not survived the two and a half years before I met her.
The second picture, of Doreen with me, reveals to you how great a tragedy that would have been for both Doreen and her family, as well as my family and me. Where God will take Doreen, how she will respond to the love of God and the opportunities she has, are really outside my control. But, I can help give her a chance at life, a group of people who will help her meet Jesus, my daily prayers, notes and cards, and the assurance of the basics of life — in other words, I can help release her to have an opportunity at life — for about 110 pennies a day!
Second, I’d like to point you to my friend, Shaun’s blog to learn more about what it means to “release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” Check out Shaun’s clear and vivid explanation.
You see, we’re not donating to a cause or an organization, we’re helping children … we know … we’ve held … and we pray we’ll know forever.
Click the Sponsor a Child with Compassion button at the top right and see for yourself!
Movies, advertisers, preachers, fund raisers, sportscasters, politicians, and a host of others, frequently play with our emotions and generate feelings of empathy, sympathy, and pity for people, events, and situations. Over time, we begin to associate compassion with feelings, emotions, and intentions. Before we know it, just having the emotion makes us feel like we have compassion.
As followers of Jesus, however, we need to hear everything in our Bible heritage remind us of one simple truth: compassion isn’t genuine compassion until intention becomes action.
Don’t mis-hear me on this: our intentions and motivations and emotions ARE important. But, these are not compassion, at least not from God’s point of view.
God demonstrates compassion by becoming human flesh and living among us as Jesus — it was not “tender compassion” until God’s concern for us was demonstrated by His action of becoming one of us (Luke 1:78 NLT). Notice how frequently God’s love, concern, and compassion are identified with His actions on our behalf (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 4:8-10 NLT) and how God’s compassion for us should be completed by our compassionate action for others (1 John 4:8-10 NLT). Jesus even teaches this truth about compassion in two of His most famous parables.
Remember in the story of the “Good Samaritan” how the Priest and the Levite walked on past the man who had been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. But the one who had compassion for this battered man was the Samaritan, who got down off his “high horse” (Okay, it was really a donkey, but “high donkey” just doesn’t seem to have the emotional impact!) and he helped the man. He treated his wounds, bandaged the stranger, put the wounded man on his donkey, put him up in an inn, and paid the man’s way until he was healed. (See Luke 10:30-37 NLT for details, notice especially vs. 33.)
In the famous story of the rebellious son, Jesus tells about the father who had compassion for his wayward child. When the father saw him at a distance, he had compassion on him and ran to meet him, hug him, and welcome this son home. (Luke 15:11-32 NLT, especially vs. 20.)
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, the Lord’s compassion moved Him to actions like, touching and healing lepers, mending the broken and the blind, feeding the hungry masses, teaching the confused and shepherdless crowds, raising from the dead a widow’s only son, and defeating the demonic powers controlling the hopeless. (Follow this link for details in the ministry of Jesus about His compassion — you may want to download the Greek and Hebrew fonts to use the language resources.)In cornbread English, feeling concern and empathy for folks in need is good. We don’t want our hearts to become immune or callused to human suffering. However, we must remember that good intentions don’t become compassion until they move us to action. In the picture above, four key elements of compassion come together with mosquito bed nets for the baby and her mom, a worker from the church to do regular check ups and also Bible mentoring, sponsors who help provide regular support, and medical care with good records — all part of Compassion International’s ministry to kids.
And here is a great way to demonstrate our compassion. April 25 is World Malaria Day. The leading killer of children in many tropical countries is malaria. Having been to Uganda, a number of us know first hand what a huge difference in the life of a child a mosquito net for beds truly can be. I’m hoping your concern will move you to two actions regarding this important issue:First, please make a donation to Compassion International’s Malaria Prevention Fund to provide bed nets for children in malaria infested countries.Second, find out more about the effort to “Bite Back” against this awful disease that ravages the lives of thousands of children every day.
So what makes it hard for you to move from compassionate feelings to genuine compassion in action?
- Seen too many ads and heart too many pleas to really be moved?
- Don’t trust the websites for donating or helping?
- Want to help, but not sure I can?
- None of the above, I’m ready to help right now!
Today we’re joining Randy Elrod for WaterCooler Wednesday and reminding ourselves the ultimate creative active is to give someone at chance at life.
Well, it’s way too late to be posting this. I should have done it much earlier today, but then we all know how plans some days. But since I have to take one of my last anti-malarial pills tonight, I was going to at least enjoy the precious memories of the recent Uganda trip with Compassion International to encourage people to sponsor a child.
God blessed all of us on this trip in so many ways. We had safe travel with few connection difficulties and little or no luggage problems. Health problems were pretty minimal, as well. Remarkably, God took a bunch of very different people and poured us together and blended us into a remarkable cocktail of grace. I personally treasure the folks with whom I spent this time and consider meeting them a great gift.
One of those remarkable people we all met was not a blogger when we arrived in Uganda– but he does now blog regularly and I encourage you to check out his message. In fact, he didn’t travel to Uganda with us. He was waiting for us at the Entebbe airport, and from that first meeting till the end of the trip, he made sure every detail of our time there was well utilized and enhanced. He covered our tardiness, helped make new plans on the fly, and arranged every facet of our time down the most precise detail. (If you have never led an international trip like this with so many different kinds of people, then you will only have to imagine how incredible his work proved to be!)
Dennis is a precious soul, whose soft and mellow voice is deep and rich, but full of passion and emotion. Dennis has a broad smile and a great laugh. Spend some time in conversation with him and you will find out that he has at least three great passions: 1) Jesus; 2) children; and 3) statistics. Dennis’ recent post on malaria as a sniper in Uganda gives you a taste of each of these three interests. He knows Scripture, the country of Uganda, and the issues at stake in the lives of the children we came to see.
One of my favorite pictures of Dennis shows him in the doorway almost portrayed in silhouette, with happy children in the background. I will carry this image of Dennis with me, because I see him as one standing near the door of hope for many children in Uganda. Most of those blessed by his efforts will never know him personally, because he is not going to call attention to himself, but their lives will be forever blessed.
While I know Dennis was sad in many ways to say goodbye to us and put us on a plane back home, I also know he was worn out and needed a break by the time we left. We can’t thank you enough, Dennis, for the great job you and the folks from Compassion in Uganda did. We will not forget you.
I ask all who read this to please pray for Dennis and the Ugandan team. Pray for peace for this country so surrounded by tribal strife on a continent that is dangerously “twitchy” with religious conflict. And most of all, if you have not prayerfully decided to sponsor a child, the greatest blessing you could give to these committed and dedicated servants of children is to prayerfully decide to sponsor a child, today — just click on this link and it will take you to the page to sponsor a child from Uganda.
If you would like to know a little more about Dennis and the children he loves, take a minute or two and enjoy the slide show below.