Monday, 17 July 2017

When God Says Yes

There is a saying that you may have heard me repeat from time to time. It's just this... when God says Yes, don't say no!

What this means to me is, when God decides that He has a "mission", or something that He wants you to accomplish, He will make sure that you do it! There's no point in saying "No", or "Not now Lord", or "I can't afford it", or "it's too difficult"... believe me, God will find a way of gently nudging you (or hitting you with a thunderbolt, whichever you prefer).

I'm sure He chuckles at us.

Anyways, I have felt for a long time (more than five years, in fact) that God was calling me to sponsor in Ghana. And it just didn't happen right away for whatever reason... I ended up taking over the financial sponsorship of a couple of my correspondent children, and then requested other correspondent children from different countries, and Ghana just kept getting overlooked for whatever reason.

A few of my friends sponsor in Ghana, and some of them have had difficulties in building a close relationship with their children there... one of my friends has gotten the exact same drawing from her child over 20 times! I'll admit, that saddened me a bit. I'm a relational person... I'm all about the personal relationships.

"But God," I argued. "I have children in Kenya and Indonesia that write me amazing letters. The need is so great in so many countries. I have friends in Rwanda. I speak some of their language. I feel connected to my kids there. Why Ghana? I don't know anybody in Ghana. I don't know anything about the culture. Why Ghana?"

And my heart continued to be broken as I read about how common the practice of child slavery is in Ghana, and as I saw how rampant the poverty and how dire the need. During this time, my heart was really moved by the account of another Compassion sponsor who has traveled to Ghana several times to meet her children and raise funds for a library in her children's community... here's the link if you want to read for yourself. Compassion Can ~ Beyond Measure

And still I felt God wanted me to sponsor, or correspond, with a child in Ghana. "I'm having a hard time coming up with letter ideas now," I told God. "I have already replaced the two of my children that are graduating with new correspondents. Surely You don't want me to go back on the waiting list again?" And I put it off yet again.

And then, I checked my Compassion account to see if there were any letters on the way to me... and I saw a new face!

A 15-year-old girl. From Ghana.

Wait a minute... I wasn't even on the waiting list! Then it must be a mistake... she must be meant for someone else.

I refused to get excited. The office was already closed for the day, so I had to wait until the following day to find out if she was actually my child and if I could actually keep her. I told myself I wouldn't get attached to her... she may have been assigned to me by accident, maybe through a computer glitch or someone entering the wrong account number, and perhaps she already had a loving sponsor who wanted to write to her themselves.

And as I continued to tell myself I wouldn't get attached to her, I tried to ignore the fact that I had already fallen head over heel in love with her sweet, patient face. That night was a difficult one... I got about two hours of sleep as I tossed and turned, trying to convince myself that she might have been assigned by accident and knowing I would be heartbroken if she wasn't mine. I have never spent a more restless night in my life!

Of course, you already know that the news turned out to be good, or I wouldn't be writing this post! She was indeed mine... after my last child, Gifty, had been assigned back in March, someone simply forgot to remove my name from the waiting list. And of course, they were overjoyed when I begged (yes, I was desperate at this point lol!) to keep her!

So, I have my long-awaited child in Ghana... who has had only one sponsor for her entire time in the program and has never received a letter or gift. That has already changed, of course!

So without further ado, please meet Jessica, who sometimes goes by the nickname "Sister" at home. I have all of her photos since she was registered in the program.... isn't she precious?

Welcome home Jessica! 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Passing The Torch

Those of you who have followed my sponsorship journey for a while, know that I place a big emphasis on discipleship. I long for my children to grow into men and women of God, and who become adults with a passion for learning and a passion for helping others. I love sending letters with a moral or lesson that they can apply in their everyday lives.

With this in mind, I recently sent a letter to all of my children, telling them the famous "Starfish Story" and including the graphic above. If you are not familiar with this story, you can easily do a web search for it!
Along with the Starfish Story, I included this paragraph:

"The lesson behind this story is that every person has been gifted with the ability to make a difference in the world. Maybe your gift is telling others about Jesus. Maybe your gift is teaching and mentoring children. Maybe your gift is caring for the sick, or praying for others, or encouraging leaders (pastors, teachers, and others) or maybe your gift is making friends with people who have no friends at all. No matter what your gift is, I hope you know that no one is too small to make a big change in the world! 
I love you and I am so proud of you! God has big plans for your life!"

Of course, as many sponsors do, we tend to wonder if our children are grasping the lessons we try to teach; if we are making an impact at all.

And yesterday, I received this letter from my young man Papi, in Indonesia.

I sponsored Papi when he was 19... he is now 22 and preparing to graduate, if indeed he hasn't already. I am expecting to see him disappear off my account any day now, which is why I was so thrilled to receive a new letter from him! Papi was my first child to ask if he could call me sister, and we share a love of sunsets, the ocean, long walks on the beach, and the Newsboys.

I am always excited to hear from my Papi... but this letter, brought me to tears.

Dear Hannah,
Shalom. I am thankful for writing my sister again. I am blessed with your letter told me about the starfish. I see starfish here often. What you told me made me realize that God has a great plan for me through what He gives to me to make a big change in this world. I find out now that I am precious. I want you to know that what He gives to me is being a teacher. I want to be a teacher, not only to teach knowledge, but also to build a character building of my students, to make them to be a leader who fear of God. May God be with you and bless you my sister. Love, Papi.

Floored. Speechless.

If you have ever wondered if our letters make a difference, if we are really changing our children's lives... this. This is it.

I cried when I read his letter... because I felt that in someway, I had passed the torch. My greatest desire is to see my sponsored children, grown up and making an impact in other children's lives. And now, I am seeing that come to pass, right before my eyes. And by the way, Papi is an above-average university student who is just completing his courses in Civil Engineering... I would not be surprised at all to see him become a professor some day. And I could not be more proud of this wonderful young man, and amazed at the fact that God has allowed me to influence his life in some small way through sponsorship.

This is what makes the sacrifice ALL worth it!