Saturday, April 29, 2006

Compassion Sunday

It's that time of year again. Time to step way outside my comfort zone at church and speak on behalf of impoverished children around the world. Here is the presentation that I am making tonight and twice tomorrow. Please pray for me (that I won't faint or cry too much), and, most of all, please pray that hearts will be moved and sponsors will be found for these precious children living in constant need. Peace to you all.

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I want to thank the pastoral staff for this opportunity to share something that is on my heart everyday – the plight of children, born and unborn, across the world.

The most amazing thing to me about our amazing Creator is that He sees each and every one of us as an individual – known by Him, loved by Him, accountable to Him. He is not blinded with partiality for the wealthy, for the strong, for the powerful. That is only our all too human failing. In fact, our amazing God has a heart that is big enough for every man, woman and child to have a safe haven therein. I think often of this quote from Philip Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew:

In a nutshell, the Bible from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 tells the story of a God reckless with desire to get His family back.

And, when we realize that, around the world, we have members of His family – our family – in desperation, in degradation, in dire straits, how can we not be moved with compassion? And, it is for the sake of compassion that I address you today.

In unison with churches across America this weekend, we are observing Compassion Sunday. Let’s take a moment to consider the state of children in the world today. Millions of children live in extreme poverty – unable to attend school, constantly exposed to hunger and disease, and too often neglected or abused. The most heart-rending lack in their lives is, perhaps, the most important need of all: Hope.

When we look at the stark, bare numbers, well, they can be overwhelming. We wonder: How can I ever make a dent in this suffering? How can I change this crazy, messed-up, fallen world? And so, we, in our frailty and weakness, so often sink into ineffectualness and impotency. And yet, what we can really change – the difference we can really make – is in the life of the most important person in the world – an individual child! Poor, obscure, often oppressed – this child, this little boy or girl, to whom we can reach out in love, has every single hair on his or her head counted by the Lord.

Jesus held children so close to His heart that He said that to welcome a little child in His name is the same as welcoming Him. When we reach out to a child living in poverty, we reach out to the Lord Himself.

For over 50 years, Compassion International has been ministering to impoverished children around the world. Compassion partners with evangelical churches in over 20 countries to provide the basic needs of more than 600,000 children. When you sponsor a child, Compassion links you to an individual child who needs you help. You receive his or her photo and personal story, and you can build a relationship with that child through letters and prayers. Sponsorship costs $32 a month – that’s an investment of little over a dollar a day. Sponsorship helps meet your child’s health, educational, and social needs. Most important, though, is that each child has a chance to hear and respond to the gospel of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ. How amazing is that?

I have been a sponsor with Compassion International for the past eight years. The current child that I know and love through Compassion is Tigist Zenebe in Ethiopia, whom I have been sponsoring for six years. I have seen her grow from a child of nine years old into a beautiful young lady of fifteen. It’s fun to get her letters – about four per year – and read about her life, her family, and her country. But, by far, the most exciting thing is hearing about her favorite Bible verses, her love of the Lord, her growing faith. The most humbling thing is knowing that she prays for me and my family. Only our amazing God could connect people across miles, cultures, and language to form bonds that are eternal.

Today, I want to invite you to experience the joy of changing the life of a child in need. I truly believe that sponsoring a child through Compassion International is one of those works we can do in our vapor of time on this earth that will translate into gold and precious stones in God’s kingdom. The support, love and hope you share with a child today will not burn away. It is eternal, because God has built us for eternity. And that is why taking the time and making the effort to change the world for one, individual child is so very important.

There is a table in the hallway where, after this service, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about my sponsorship experience with Compassion International and assist you in signing up a child to help today.

I thank you for your time and attention.

1 comment:

CrazyJo said...

I'm sure you did a great job. :)
I'd like to do this sometime. Right now our tithe is going to VOM and a couple other ministries, but hopefully if our web business picks up we'll be able to support more ministries.