God is Real–Part Five

How do I know God is real?  It simple: I’ve experienced Him in amazing ways.  Today’s example is pretty zany and funny.  I was in the Dominican Republic with my friend, Mindy, to introduce her to her sponsored child (I had already met him on a previous trip, and Mindy had become his sponsor).  We were headed to the Haitian border the next day but on this particular day we were returning from a trip by van into the country.  During a rest stop I went to get back on the bus, not knowing that they were hosing it down on the opposite side.  With a great whoosh! all the mud, grease and grime came flying up from under the van and splattered all over my khaki pants.  They were blackened from the grease and mud.

In the morning, after my shower, I said to Mindy, “I’m going to wear the same pants that got splattered yesterday, because I’ll just get them dirty again today,” and put them on.  She said, “Those aren’t the same pants; they’re perfectly clean.”  I looked down and she was right.  She didn’t believe they were the same pants, and we argued while I let her look through my luggage because I didn’t have any other khakis.  But they were now spotless.  She exclaimed, “Jesus did the laundry while we were sleeping!”  Now, I know that seems ridiculous, but think about it:  as we discussed, we were heading to child development centers to visit precious Compassion kids near the Haitian border.  Perhaps it was important that we appear clean and spotless, representing our Lord, and also give honor to the children, by giving them our best.  That was the only reason we could think of for the little “miracle” that day.  Our God is real!  But the next story is going to be amazing–watch for it on Friday!

For previous posts in my “God is Real” series, click below:

God is Real–Part One (a baby that nearly didn’t make it to birth)

God is Real–Part Two (a specific healing, and one that was not a healing)

God is Real–Part Three (a hurtful e-mail)

God is Real–Part Four (pain)

Sing Over Us

I’m happy to share the latest video from my friend Caitlin Jane. Think about how much the letters can mean to a child that you sponsor.

Catching Up on the Journey

It’s time to share more of the quotes from my Word of the Year — “Journey.”  I see this word all the time in written form.  Here are some of the ones from Compassion contacts that I have recorded in my journal:

In my journey in the ministry, I was taught that God’s best gifts came slowly.  We could not use them if they did not…growth and strength in waiting are results often greater than the end so impatiently longed for…Perhaps you’ve been waiting for something for a long time, and you’re weary.  You’re not alone!  Let’s ask the Lord to renew our hearts and desires today and give us a fresh infilling of strength to wait on His perfect timing.  Good things do come to those who wait.    —One in Sprit, Isaac Jabaseelan, Partnership Facilitator, India

We we walk through the journey of life, we might experience some kind of pain…But in the midst of our sorrows, the Lord promises to comfort us, look on us with compassion, and make our deserts like Eden.  —One in Spirit, Patricia Medina, Tours & Visits Specialist, Dominican Republic

This has been quite a spiritual journey for me.  — Jimmy Mellado, CEO

When a new chapter of life begins, with an unknown future, it helps to have a traveling companion.  Though some prefer to journey alone, there is a desire deep inside every person’s heart for correction — a desire to be heard, accepted and understood.  —Mink Tuangporn Wiroonchatapunth, Compassion Blog, 4/11/13

As a mother, I journeyed in the minds of these sponsored children and revisited my way of educating my own children.  —Translator, Burkina Faso, Compassion Blog, 4/11/13

God, as we make our own journeys, exhausted and wondering about the impact we are making, help us to remember the questions of Jesus:  “What led you to travel?  What moved you to compassion?  What fuels your passion?”  —One in Spirit, Agus Yunus, Training Specialist, Indonesia

It has been a long journey full of struggles and scarifice towards achieving my goals, whereby I hope I am now very close.  Letter from sponsored child, Jerica Wanyaga, Kenya, Jan/2013

 

Educating Fathers

Fathers are really critical in a child’s life.  Compassion includes fathers for training in good parenting habits.  I have seen fathers take part in many events that occur at the projects, such as these in the Dominican Republic.

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Not only can the fathers learn how to be better parents, in some areas they can actually obtain an education, or vocational skills alongside their children.  Imagine the difference this makes for a family.  Sometimes they are helped with small business loans.

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This father (below) came to know the Lord because of his daughter’s sponsorship.  He not only became an effective and loving father, but he also became a pastor and leader of a Compassion project.  His life has a tremendously positive affect in his community now.

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These fathers have been supplied with books and educational material, support and spiritual instruction.

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This is a father who’s son was sponsored when I returned from Thailand.  The needs in this family were obvious, but I could also see that the father was loving and gentle with his children.  I was only too happy to return home and ask a friend to sponsor the little boy.  I knew this was a great family to come alongside with support and encouragement.

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There is nothing more that a father wants for his children than to be healthy, well-educated, spiritually discipled and taught good manners.  All of this is supplied through sponsorship, and I am confident that this family, and many others, are truly grateful to the sponsors.

Fathers That Get Involved

Compassion gives fathers many ways to be involved with their children.  These fathers are helping at the project their child attends.

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These are helping with letter writing.

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These fathers attended their child’s graduation from the Leadership Development Program.  They had all been involved in Compassion’s ministry for many years, and this was the final achievement of their child.  It was wonderful to see the joy and pride on these fathers’ faces.

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It was also special to see these fathers in Ecuador meeting their child’s sponsor along with their child.  It was a moment they did not want to miss.

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Family is important in Compassion’s ministry.  When a child is sponsored, the entire family benefits.  This partnership has changed the future for all members of the family.  What a great ministry!

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Samuel

Here is another great video about one of our formerly sponsored children — this is Samuel, from the Dominican Republic.

I love this story for several reasons:

  • I’ve been to the Dominican Republic three times
  • Samuel was saved from life on the streets
  • He gives God the credit for saving his life
  • He talks about the importance of letters from his sponsor
  • Samuel is a professional musician today
  • He and his wife now sponsor two kids!

Wouldn’t you love to follow his example and sponsor a child today?

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I Had a Vision

A Dream

I dreamed I was back in Haiti — with the precious children I visited through Compassion International in 2002.  As I wrote in my journal then, “I will never forget the sweet faces, the laughter, attempts to communicate, holding hands or hugging a preschooler on my lap.  What an awesome day!  But what extreme and desperate poverty!”

A Game

We played “Duck, Duck, Goose” — and used their language:  “Kana, Kana, Zwa.”

I also remember the loving country office staff, and the sweet times of praise and worship we had with them:  “Mwen pa ko ne, Kisa wap fe, Me mwen map lo ue, le signor Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, Allelu.”

A Young Man

Most of all, I remember meeting Josue for the first time, a boy I’d sponsored for 16 years.  He was about to complete his sponsorship, and we were so excited to finally meet.  We fell into each others’ arms easily, like long lost friends.  Now, I fear he may have been in Port-au-Prince, where he was working previously.

A Group

I also recall each of the precious LDP students we met, already working in their communities in their chosen fields.  What an impressive group!  No doubt, they have been powerful leaders in many ways.  I don’t know their names, but the vocations they chose are (left to right):  a Diplomat, a School Administrator, a Medical Doctor, an Accountant.  I wonder — where are they now, during this crisis?  No doubt, they are helping the victims.

A Song

Yesterday morning, I was walking and listening to a song, thinking of all the personal losses that we, as an organization, will inevitably hear in weeks to come.  These words spoke powerfully to me:

I Have a Shelter

by Steve & Vicki Cook , and Bob Kauflin

I have a shelter in the storm

When troubles pour upon me

Though fears are rising like a flood

My soul can rest securely

O Jesus, I will hide in You

My place of peace and solace

No trial is deeper than Your love

That comforts all my sorrows.

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I have a shelter in the storm

When constant winds would break me

For in my weakness, I have learned

Your strength will not forsake me

O Jesus, I will hide in You

The One who bears my burdens

With faithful hands that cannot fail

You’ll bring me home to Heaven.

A Vision

When I heard that final chorus, it was as though I had a vision:  I saw children in the rubble:  some being rescued by relief workers, pulling them back into a “world of sorrows.”  Others were being rescued by angels — bearing them gently away to Heavenly places.  Next, I saw Compassion staff and children — those who had preceded them — welcoming them into that Safe Haven and taking them into their arms.  What a great reunion it must be (and will be for us as well)!  This truth can be our peace and comfort.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.  — Psalm 116:15, NIV

A Word

Chris, of the Compassion blog, said that his word for the year is “Shine,” and I came across that word three times this week, in very timely devotions:

Onto the pages of every trial there are narrow shafts of light that shine.  Thorns will not prick you until you lean against them, and not one will touch you without God knowing…He sympathizes as no one else can and watches to see if through it all, you will dare to trust Him completely. (L. B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert)

We have seen shafts of light this week — Dan Woolley’s rescue, the report that Wess’ lawyer friend is alive, news that Compassion Haiti’s President and 40+ staff members are well, the Canadian team getting out of the country safely, and the Dominican Republic sending in rescue teams quickly.  God’s Spirit shines!

God’s voice demands the silence of the soul.  Only in the quiet of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God brush by him.  His still night became his shining night.  My soul, have you pondered these words:  “Be still, and know” (Psalm 46:10)? In the hour of distress, you cannot hear the answer to your prayers.  How often has the answer seemed to come much later!  The heart heard no reply during the moment of its crying, its thunder, its earthquake, and its fire.  But once the crying stopped, once the stillness came, once your hand refrained from knocking on the iron gate, and once concern for other lives broke through the tragedy of your own life, the long-awaited reply appeared.  You must rest, O soul, to receive your heart’s desire…His rainbow will extend across the subsiding flood and in your stillness you will hear the everlasting music.  (L. B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert)

In the weeks and months ahead, we will have to face news of tragic losses.  Compassion will have a heavy task to undertake.  Many voices cry out for help and consolation.  But we will also hear God’s inner voice of peace to our souls, if we listen.  He is still in control; still on the throne, and we can trust Him.  In the stillness, may we hear His voice like a light shining through the darkness!

One of the great themes of Christianity is triumphant hope.  Not just hope as in a distant, vague dream, but triumphant hope, the kind of hope where all things end right.  In the midst of the struggles and storms and the sufferings of life, we can advance our thoughts beyond today and see relief…triumph…victory.  Because, in the end, God does indeed win…

You and I enter this world screaming…From the moment we’re born until our final breath, pain is our companion…Ultimately, no one sees the benefits of our pain clearer than Christ.  He sees through the dark, winding tunnel of your Gethsemane all the way to the end.  He sees beyond it into the shining light of eternity.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Encouragement for Life, Pg. 171-173)

A Tree

Finally, Wess Stafford, President of Compassion International, mentioned that the only thing left standing at the Montana Hotel was a mahogany tree, under which he had proposed to his wife 31 years ago.  God always leaves a remnant in the land, a “holy seed”:

And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste.  But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land. — Isaiah 6:13, NIV

Well, in this case, God left not only a stump but an entire tree!  Normally it would take a miracle to bring a stump back to life, but ours is already alive and well.  Perhaps this is a symbol for us that He is still present in Haiti, and that He will raise up leaders out of the rubble — those whom He has chosen to continue the work of Christ in this precious, hurting country.  May we have true comfort, unending trust, quiet rest, and triumphant hope — even in these difficult days — and may we know His presence, love, sovereignty and peace.