Six times he stepped over the little bundle on the streets of Korea. Six times he ignored God’s call to respond. Six times he closed his eyes. But God would not give up; finally the businessman picked up the child and took him to a Compassion Project, which was an orphanage in those days.
This is the amazing story I was told following a Compassion Sunday presentation in my own church recently. A friend that had moved away was back to worship with us. After I shared about the need to sponsor children, she came up to tell me that her adopted brother had been one of those children in Korea that was rescued by Compassion’s ministry. I was delighted to hear this personal account. Her brother’s rescue from certain death was in 1959, and later he was adopted by her family; their father had served in Korea during the war.
The fact that God never stopped calling out to this businessman gives me hope for this world. The fact that God did not stop calling Everett Swanson, the founder of Compassion International, to this ministry to children, gives me hope. As a member of the Advocate’s Network, God will lead me to those He has already spoken to about helping a child in need. It’s His work, and we are privileged to join Him in this great ministry.
I’ll never forget one of the first Leadership Development Students I met, in Haiti. She said she wanted to be an Administrator of Teachers, because in her country, they used punishment rather than rewards for motivation; hopelessness instead of hope. For instance, a teacher was considered a success if they failed their students. This young lady wanted to teach others how to teach with positive methods. Amazingly, we were told that when she interviewed for the LDP position she was withdrawn and shy. She would hardly lift her head throughout the interview, but she had a teacher beside her saying, “She can do this. I know she can. Give her a chance. She has potential.” Yes, she had a teacher and a sponsor that believed in her, and now she is achieving God’s plans and purposes for her life.
This LDP Student gives me hope. God had given her skills, passion and opportunities. He gave her Advocates who believed in her. I can give hope to others that God places on my heart. Hope comes alive in these partnerships.
“Shalom” is a Hebrew word that is usually translated “peace,” but it means much more — wholeness, well-being and harmony. There is a physical shalom that means your body is healthy and all its parts are working together properly. Social Shalom is when all parts of the fabric of society are fulfilling what they were created to do — i.e., the wealthy are helping the poor, the strong are supporting the weak, the rich in faith are praying for those who are spiritually poor. ”Shalom” means to give hope to someone who has no hope. To say “Shalom” in greeting, in its deepest level, is to pledge to live for another’s well-being, to covenant with them to seek God’s favor for them. We need the poor as much as they need us — we need their contentment, joy and faith. Without them, we die in greed and materialism. We desperately need their prayers and examples of godliness.
We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The children I sponsor give me hope. I am encouraged by their letters, inspired by their lives and supported by their prayers. I can’t imagine life without this relationship; it is part of the tapestry of my life. Without it, I can’t imagine any wholeness in my Spirit, Health, Finances or Social Relationships. Odd — those are some of the very same areas we focus on for the children, according to Compassion’s Poverty Wheel.
What happens when someone ignores the need? The social fabric of that society or family is torn (Isaiah 58); it is no longer complete or whole. Why are so many suffering today, and why do many situations seem hopeless? It’s because of injustice and selfishness; because some are pursuing personal shalom at the expense of other human beings. Many are not doing their part for the poor and homeless, and cannot possibly find peace, even for themselves.
One of the Compassion Bloggers described “A Room Full of Hope” in the Dominican Republic recently. What was the reason for this Hope? These children are not alone. They have the support of teachers, pastors and sponsors. They have someone to love, someone to support through prayers and letters. There is Shalom in these relationships, in the truest meaning of the word. It’s a win-win situation.
My friend, Jane, had to have knee surgery shortly before her trip to Ghana to visit her sponsored child, Georgina. She had written and asked this child to pray for her surgery. When she met Georgina and her family, she thanked them for praying for her and told them she was doing well. They said, “We have not stopped praying for you. We have continued to pray and fast every Friday for God to heal you completely.” Jane was stunned. This is “Shalom” in all its glory. Imagine how blessed both families will be by this Covenant of Peace (Shalom) they will continue to share through the years.
I received word two days ago that my sponsored child’s home in Haiti was completely destroyed in the hurricanes this summer. They lost everything. The father of nine is a Pastor who walks 4 1/2 hours every weekend to minister in his church. I assume most people in his congregation lost their homes.
I have hope in this situation because I know Compassion has already been there to assist before I even knew about the loss. We can have hope for Enold’s family because the Lord is present through the supportive ministry of his church, project, country office and sponsor. I’m thankful Compassion has notified me so I can pray and support emotionally and financially.
There are many more children awaiting sponsors, and their faces can be viewed online. You can also read about their personal situations, needs and lifestyles. Which of these children is hoping you will sponsor them today? Which one will help to bring God’s “Shalom” into your own life?
But seek the welfare [Shalom] of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare [Shalom] you will find your welfare [Shalom]…For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness [Shalom] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:7, 11 (ESV)