Josephine's Baby (3 of 8)

Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:16–17

After breakfast and before our conference began we loaded the bus for a project visit. Pastor Nay greeted us with smiles and laughter, grateful for our coming. He's led the church and the Compassion project for 13 years and serves 165 children. 

Although the projects for education, health, faith and life skills are located in a church building, 80% of the children sponsored are not from the church, but from the neighborhood. Compassion's strategy is to reverse poverty by supporting the development of 1.5 million children worldwide who in turn impact their families and their communities. 

We talked with the director who showed us children's notebooks with birth certificates and health records, educational standards and letters from sponsors. "Letters are so important to the children, yet many of the folders remain empty."

It's important to remember that for Compassion International all projects are churches. The local church, their pastor, and their people lead the project for the community. On the building there is only the sign Bible Baptist Church and nothing about Compassion. Compassion's focus is exclusively on children from birth to college age, and they want to introduce children to a relationship with God through Jesus. 

We met children of all ages from 4 to 16, all extending a hand of welcome and greeting us in English. The children sang and we played games to crazy laughter and competition with children and adult visitors. We heard testimonies from program graduates who are now helping with the project. 

One woman shared how her husband was selling drugs, and now they sing together in the church choir. Children come to faith, their parents and siblings are changed because they are welcomed into a community of hope and transformation. 

The teenagers Amy talked to were looking forward to the Valentine's Day prom. They giggled as they talked about getting secret cards from the boys. Beautiful young girls with dreams of their future as a model, artist and teacher. They want to visit our country one day. They spoke beautiful English.

We walked through the neighborhood to a brief home visit in a small cluster of shacks overlooking beautiful green hills covered with banana plants. We were passed by tricycles--motorcycles with sidecars--buzzing by with three or four passengers. 

We were supposed to visit the home of two newly sponsored children: Jomar, a 16 year old and his 4 year old sister Nico. We knew the father would not be there because of his construction work.

Nothing was really as we planned: Jomar and his mother were not there, because Jomar had to work with his father to support his family. His eldest sister Josephine greeted us, with her son Carlo along with teenage sister Grace, four year old Nico and seven other children in between. 

"This is their home," our teenage guide explained, "come in." So we stood in their shack, asking about the impact of child sponsorship on Jomar and NIco--the $38 monthly commitment covers their school, health check ups and life skills training. Sponsor gifts to the family help them buy food, which is a great help.

We asked how we could pray for the family. "Pray for our father's health so he can continue to work," Josephine offered.  

I led us in prayer for the family and for Josephine and her beautiful boy she held in her arms. I told Josephine her son Carlo was beautiful. She lit up, just as I would with my own child, and wanted to see the picture I took with my iPhone. 

She's a daughter, but also a single mother living at home, caring for her siblings who are more like brothers and sisters than nieces and nephews to Carlo. We missed mom and Jomar but we entered in and were warmly received by this young, single mom. 

Amy and I have walked into hundreds of homes of poverty over the years and all over the world, and they are all the same and they are all different. Hospitality to strangers, love for their children, gratitude for the visit, prayers offered in faith and an opportunity for mutual blessing. 

For information on making a difference through sponsorship:


Popular posts from this blog

Sending and Blessing

Camino de Santiago Day Thirty-seven and Thirty-eight: We made it!

My Love of Spain