Friday, February 1, 2013

Why Should I?

Why should someone sponsor a child in a third world country?

I recently signed up to become an advocate for Compassion International. As an advocate, I will be encouraging other people to sponsor children, and sharing with others the mission of Compassion International. So, I've had to put a lot of thought into the question above: Exactly WHY should someone send money to support someone else's child in an unfamiliar country? Why is it important? What makes this any more important or valid than any other "cause" cluttering up our mailboxes and inboxes on a regular basis?

I think Wess Stafford, the CEO of Compassion International, offers an amazing argument for the importance of ministering to children at a global scale in his book "Too Small to Ignore." Wess grew up in a family of missionaries, and spent most of his childhood in a small impoverished village in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). His idyllic memories of his time with his West African friends and family are interspersed with time spent in a boarding school where he suffered abuse at the hands of the very adults assigned to nurture and protect him.

In his book, Wess makes a very clear case for the importance of children to Jesus Christ, and thus to followers of Jesus. Not only were children used as examples for the disciples to follow (And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3), but Jesus issues a strict warning to his followers "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Matthew 18:6.

In a world where more people are victims of slavery than at any other time in history (including the pre-civil war "slave" era), children are at the highest risk of exploitation. Unfortunately, a great number of people exploiting these children are Americans. Even more unfortunately, some of these profess to be followers of Christ. How dare someone take advantage of the most precious gifts given to us by God and then claim to be a follower of that God!

Children everywhere deserve our protection, our encouragement, our love. Many organizations help children here in the United States and abroad. I support Compassion International because I appreciate their stewardship of resources, I appreciate the way they approach poverty (by treating the whole person, not just doling out money), and I appreciate the way they support developing relationships between sponsors and children.

That said, I would never want anyone to sponsor a child out of a feeling of guilt. I believe that "Someone who does not know and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required" (Luke 12:48), but I also believe that Jesus wants us to give out of a desire to bless others, and out of our love and commitment to His word, not because we feel guilty that we were born in an affluent nation with a world of possibilities. We have a lot of money, but we are poor, ourselves, in many ways. My prayer is simply if you feel a tugging in your heart when you see the children featured on, or if you read "Too Small to Ignore," or if you feel that you spend a lot of time and money on things that don't really matter, that you would simply meditate on it for a while. And if you hear Jesus speaking to your heart, please answer that call and develop a relationship with one of these dear, sweet blessings to the kingdom. There truly is no higher calling than to love the little children.

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