I'm taking a break from the What I'd Like For You To Know series today, but it will be back next week. Instead, I wanted to remind you about the upcoming Compassion bloggers' trip to the Dominican Republic. On the one hand, I'm so excited about the big picture--I know that these bloggers will be seeing some powerful things, and their words will change lives. But on more personal level, my heart tugs with the memories of the days leading up to trip of that scope. I know these bloggers are scurrying around, ready to leave their families, unsure of what they will see, and eager (frightened? ready? hopeful?) that they will be changed.
And it's this idea of being "changed" that is on my heart this week. Just last week, one of my posts from our trip was published in Compassion's quarterly magazine. It was a huge thrill, of course. It's always fun to open something up and see your name in print. But reading my own words back to myself, all these months later, felt a little jarring. Despite the changes that took place in my heart, it is so easy to slip back into old ways. I read that article and heard my own voice and thought, "Please, never, never let me forget." I even flipped through my photos, trying to smell the dust and remember those faces.
In yet another providential turn of events, the following e-mail landed in my in-box at the same time I was thinking these thoughts. It was so lovely and stirring that I wrote back the author to ask if I could share an excerpt with you. Please read her compelling words:
I wept tonight...
Its getting colder here in Chicagoland, and I came in from a shopping trip, turned on my heat for the first time, and started to clean up a week's worth of "piles" around the house. Sometime this week the Compassion magazine had come in the mail but I just found it tonight. I laid it aside to read after I finished putting away groceries, cleaning out the fridge and doing the long list of other chores that are needing to be done.
In the depths of my heart, when I feel a twinge of guilt for all I have and all I let myself have, I know I avoid seeing things like that magazine. Ironically, there was a picture of a t-shirt on the back cover that caught my eye and I decided to take a closer look. Before long, I had sat down to flip through the pages. My conscience was stirred by the article about hunger in Africa, my mind was broadened by the story of a Compassion boy on trial for crime he didn't commit, and my heart was outraged by the news of the disdain for the life of little girls in India. By the time I flipped open the back of the magazine, I was surprised to see your smiling face and the grin of a little boy I'd seen before on your blog; the hardness and nonchalance that I find so easily slips into my heart was crumbling, and melting into tears down my face.
You see, even though I'd read your story before, tonight again my heart was stirred. In February, while you were in Africa, God brought into my life a business opportunity. I felt like I was stepping off a cliff into the unknown but one thing I knew I wanted to do with the new part of my income was to sponsor a child. I even wrote to tell you about it because when her picture and first letter came, I was so excited. Her name is Mary, she's from India and she's beautiful!
When Compassion sent a bumper sticker, I proudly put it on display in my back car window. As I fight my way through busy traffic, and glance in my rear-view mirror, I am often reminded to use that time to pray. When you posted a link to a friend's blog about submitting to the tugging of our hearts to sponsor, my heart tugged. Just like that friend, I had seen a boy on the Compassion site who I thought I should sponsor, but I decided to wait and went back to find his picture missing. You would think I would just forget about it, but I can't. I had tried to justify that I was already sponsoring one child, did God really want me to sponsor two? I rationalized about money, the economy, "fixing" my debt first, and a whole host of other selfish thoughts. I know that's what it boils down to...selfishness. I think tonight, deep in my heart, that's why I cried. I cried to God for the plight of so many of his children in need and for so many of his children that could help but don't. I cried because I knew what I needed to do, and what God had been prompting all along...for me to trust him and give!
Thank you for your reminder that sponsoring is not just a symbolic gesture of momentary selflessness, but indeed a commitment to sharing what God has given us, both things tangible and things unseen.
Please, my friends--even though I know so many of you faithfully and generously followed along on our Africa trip, please open up your hearts to follow this new set of bloggers to the Dominican Republic. Tell your friends, perhaps friends who don't know about Compassion's work, and let's help these bloggers reach a whole new audience.
Please pray for Melanie, Mary, Tim, Marlboro Man, Jennifer, Brian and Shaun, and for their families back home. And most of all, pray for the children around the world who are waiting for a sponsor family. Like yours, maybe?