This is the last post for Compassion’s Blogger month. Over 2,000 new children have been sponsored so far this month, which is fantastic. To meet their goal, Compassion is still seeking to get another 1,000 children sponsored before the end of the month. Surely we can get this done. It is our absolute duty to care for these children in need (James 1:27; Matthew 19:14). We have been entrusted with much so that we might serve much. It’s only $38 per month. What could you give up to save the $38 and sponsor a child today? As you consider that, remember that whatever you are giving up is being traded to provide a child with education, healthcare, clothing, food, self-confidence, and most importantly the opportunity to learn about Jesus. They will understand first-hand what it means to live like Jesus as they see you model Christ in your own life.
Its blogger month at Compassion International, and a group of bloggers are banding together to raise awareness of children in need. The goal is to get 3,108 additional children sponsored this month. You can read more about sponsoring a child in a previous post I wrote (“Sponsor a Child through Compassion”). Each week Compassion is giving the bloggers an assignment or “theme” about which to blog. This week the challenge is to write a letter to God about child sponsorship. Not being quite certain how to go about this, I just began to pour out my heart to God concerning this topic. Below are the words that spilled out as I talked to God about the issue.
I recently had a conversation with Annette Biggers of the ministry, Heart4Africa. I came away amazed by the work they are doing and wanted to share a bit of their vision with you. Annette is a professional photographer who, along with her husband Mike, started the ministry six years ago. Mike and Annette attended Saddleback Church in California at the time, and were encouraged to reach out to other nations through the teachings of that fellowship. They soon developed a heart for Africa and have hosted many African pastors at their home over the last several years. Upon visiting Uganda, their hearts were broken by the very poor conditions of a local orphanage.
Knowing they had to do something, they pulled together funds to purchase a new home in a safer area in which to house the children. They partnered with a local pastor to run the orphanage for them. I cannot do their story justice in such a limited space, so I encourage you to check out their web site at www.heart4africa.org. Watch the mini-documentary detailing the creation of the orphanage by clicking here. [Read more…] about Heart4Africa
In the last post we started looking at Matthew 25:31-40 as we endeavored to determine what our lives should look like if we would truly reflect the love and mission of Christ. Today I want to finish that thought, so we can all be clear on what the life of a disciple really looks like. As we saw last time, following Jesus is all about giving of our time and resources to carry on His mission and to follow through on the commands He has given us.
While our closets swell with the amount of clothing in them, millions of people in the world have nothing to wear. They spend their days naked and without shoes, many of whom literally live in garbage dumps. These aren’t word pictures to shock you; they are simply the truth. All of us can donate clothing to area ministries that provide for those in need. Also consider giving a portion of your money to ministries who provide the same service globally. There is no excuse for someone in this world to go without clothing or shoes. How sickening to see images of children in foreign countries basically wearing rags, and then taking a walk through our local shopping mall. We have the resources, we simply lack the will. Instead of buying ourselves some new jeans or shoes, consider donating a pair instead.
In Matthew 25:36, we are commanded to take care of the sick. I confess to not handling sickness well. If someone so much as coughs in my direction I freak out a little. This is not the reaction that Jesus had. He lovingly touched those who were ill. He didn’t turn away, He embraced them. We need to be mindful of when our neighbors are sick and be a welcome help to them. Visit nursing homes and hospitals to share a few moments of your time and a kind word to those who are not only sick, but lonely as well. Give to, or go with, organizations that are providing medical care to people in other countries. Be a part of the solution. Be the Good Samaritan; do not pass them by.
The final command in the passage above tells us to visit those in prison. All over the world, Christians are persecuted, thrown into prison and left to die. They are tortured and deprived of food and sleep. Our fellow Christians are both sick and imprisoned and we should support ministries who care for these people and who seek justice on their behalf. We can either join them physically or support them monetarily. Be the hands and feet of Jesus, and care for their needs. Many of us know someone with a family member in prison. Go with that person to visit the one locked in a cell; give them your support and love. Be a mentor for someone in jail. Don’t judge them, but show compassion instead. In all ways, serve others and by doing so you will reflect the love of Christ.
There are many ways to follow the commands of Christ, both by joining forces with ministries or supporting them financially. We in the West have been blessed with significant resources and I believe it is our duty to fund those ministries who are carrying out the commands of Jesus. We don’t necessarily need another new ministry; we need to support the ones that have already established a foothold in helping those in need. May I suggest The Voice of the Martyrs, Persecution Project, World Vision and Compassion International? As you plan your giving for this year, see how many ways you can fulfill the commands of Matthew 25:31-40. Spend your money wisely in acts of service for Jesus. The Bible tells us that where we spend our money is a reflection of our heart. As we give to the service of Christ, our hearts will be transformed to look like His. As our hearts are transformed, it will overflow into our daily lives. The simplest way to live a life that looks like that of Christ is to do the things He told us to do. Give generously of your time and resources. Everything we have is His, so give it all back in service to Him. Give like there is no tomorrow. For the love of God, give!
As we embark on this new year , what plans have you put in place to live a life that more clearly resembles Jesus, a life that is devoted to service to others? If you desire to follow Jesus more authentically this year but aren’t quite sure what that looks like, may I suggest that you start with reading Matthew 25:31-40. Here Jesus lays out in plain language what it looks like to serve Him. If we do the things he tells us to do out of love for Him, our lives cannot help but be transformed more and more into His image.
We are commanded to feed the hungry (Matthew 25:35). Almost every area of our country has a food bank that is utilized to provide food to those who cannot afford it, and giving a gift there can help feed a family. Serving meals at a shelter will bring you face to face with hurting people who are in desperate need of not only food, but also love. Sharing a warm bowl of soup with an even warmer smile can do wonders for someone in need. I know people who make up sandwiches at home and take them downtown to distribute among the homeless. These are just a few of the ways you can feed the hungry right in your city. There are many ministries around the world that provide food for children and adults who are on the verge of starvation. Consider volunteering to work with one of these ministries or supporting them financially. In all these ways we can give the hungry something to eat.
Clean water is something you and I probably take for granted. We think nothing of going to the sink and pouring a glass of water or firing up a hot shower in the morning. Yet nearly one billion people in the world today (that’s 1 out of every 8 people) live without access to clean drinking water. This leads to all sorts of illnesses and fatal, yet totally preventable, diseases. We have the technology and the resources to make sure that every man, woman, and child can have clean water whenever they need it. This planet teems with life-giving water, and it is inexcusable that many have no means of obtaining it. Locally, you can take bottled water to the homeless or help pay the water bill of someone who is poor. Globally you can again volunteer or give to a number of organizations that are working to bring clean drinking water to the nations. Don’t turn away from such a desperate situation that has such an achievable solution. Make it a priority this year to give water to the thirsty.
You don’t have to look far to see the problem of homelessness. In the downtown areas of most cities you will find a community of people that have no place to call their own. More and more we are seeing people standing on the street corners of even the affluent parts of town in search of a helping hand. Broken homes result in children living on the street, tired of the drama in their homes. Single mothers find themselves without the ability to both provide childcare and hold a steady job, and soon find themselves without a place to stay. If the Church will not take in these hurting individuals, then who will? As our homes and places of worship expand, it seems we have less and less room to accommodate and care for the needs of a stranger. I think this is one of the greatest tragedies of our generation. We love to build buildings but have no room to share. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will take in those who are homeless.
In the next post we’ll wrap up our quick journey through Matthew 25:31-40, and look at some additional ways we can begin modeling our lives to look like Jesus. We have been blessed with many resources, and it is our duty as trusted stewards to give of ourselves to that which Christ has called us, or to give so as to enable others to carry out the mission. Ideally we will give of both our time and money. If you are looking for ministries that faithfully carry out the commands we’ve talked about today, check out World Vision, Persecution Project and your local homeless shelters. Give of your time, give of your money, give of yourself. For the love of God, give!