“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:4a
When my wife, Andrea, and I were married in 1996, we soon thereafter went through a financial bible study. In that study, we were challenged to pray for a poor person to come into our lives.
As we began having children, this challenge continued to impress us and we asked the Lord to show us one way in which we could live this out in our family. Then along came Compassion International. Compassion is a Christ-centered ministry who works within local churches around the world to help children in poverty grow into all God wants them to become spiritually and physically. They do this by matching children with families through a monthly financial contribution.
When our oldest daughter, Hannah, was 7 years old, we went to the Compassion website at www.compassion.com and began to explore how we could make an impact in a child’s life. Compassion’s website allows you to search by geographical area and age in order to choose a child to sponsor each month.
Hannah picked Jessica, who was from Brazil and close to her own age. We sent in our first month’s support and two or three weeks later received a packet of information about Jessica, her family, her city and the program to which she belonged.
Jessica lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil and attended Edcuacional Gente Humilde (translated as “Humble People Educational”), which was a children’s development center established and run by a local church in the area. Those children, like Jessica, who attended the center were facing incredible challenges at home with their parents’ financial situation. Good jobs were difficult to come by and this impacted everything from family life to medical situations. The children were often the ones most needy. The center had a focus of sharing the good news of Christ to Jessica and her friends who attended the center.
Hannah wrote to Jessica for many years and she would, occasionally, receive a letter in reply telling her what was happening in her own life and in the lives of her family. Early on, Jessica would, for example, send a picture she drew and, as she grew in age, the letters were more informative.
When Hannah was 13 years old, we received a letter from Compassion that Jessica’s father’s work situation had changed for the better and she was no longer in need of the program. They thanked us for our investment in Jessica’s life. After about six years in a friendship with Jessica through Compassion, she moved on, but we rejoiced with the Lord that we could be used in this way through a monthly financial gift as well as prayers and encouragement through writing.
In the weeks to come, I want to share the stories of the others that we support through Compassion to encourage you and provide a glimpse into the lives of others around the world who need Christ.
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at www.OneMaster.org.