Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Opportunity Strikes!

There is something all Compassion sponsors have in common – we all do a “Happy Dance” at the mailbox when we receive an envelope marked “Message From Your Sponsored Child”. Our family even takes guesses as to who the letters are from before they are even opened. We often read the letters while gathered around the table at meal time, discussing what we’ve learned through our Compassion child’s letter.

With talks of a Canadian postal strike happening in the near future, there may be an interruption to the letters we receive from our Compassion children. While that is disappointing for us, the thought that the letters the children receive could be affected is an even greater concern...

Read my Compassion Canada guest post to see how opportunity "strikes" in this situation!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Healing Hearts

Thousands of miles away from my little corner of Canada, God has blessed me with a sister named Sonia. Sonia's daughter, Lizbeth, is our Compassion daughter from Bolivia. Lizbeth and her twin sister were born on March 25th. It was their birth date that God used to connect me to Lizbeth and her family -- we lost a baby girl on March 25th years ago, and celebrating Lizbeth and her sister's birthday on March 25th has helped my heart heal.

Lizbeth and her sister are idential, inseparable, and ridiculously adorable... see for yourself!! (Sonia and her two precious daughters -- just don't ask me which one Lizbeth is!)

Sonia and I have not yet met, but through the letters she lovingly writes on behalf of her daughter Lizbeth, the connection has been instant and very strong. We are family in every sense that ever mattered, and in ways that weren't expected...

The letter we received from Lizbeth today, written by Sonia, began as most of their letters do... sharing greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus, offering their prayers to our family and to our Africa mission trip.

Then, I noticed something that stuck me as unusual... "Lizbeth is in good health, along [with] her sister and my husband."

What about Sonia's health? She hasn't mentioned it... so I made a mental note to ask in my response letter, and kept reading.

She spoke of the girls' schooling, her remembrance of March 25th, how their holidays were... she answered some of my questions about her marriage and relationship with her husband.

Then, the unexpected. "I ask your prayers... I have problems in the heart, I had tests done and have "Chagas", there is no cure in our country for this sickness."

Such a simple, quiet, heartfelt prayer request, followed by shared scripture, gratitude for our letters they received, and affectionate goodbyes and blessings to our family from theirs.

I never imagined that I would have this in common with Lizbeth and her sister... my mother also has a life-threatening heart condition.

Unlike Sonia, my mother has access to great doctors and treatment, and they are able to keep her healthy and doing well.

Sonia does not have that "luxury".

Chagas is an infection transmitted to humans by insect carriers of the disease. Initially, it is an acute infection which can be treated by anti-parasitic medication. Even with treatment, after 4-8 weeks of acute infection, it becomes a chronic situation which in 20-40% of individuals eventually develop life-threatening heart, nervous system and digestive system disorders. This is the case with Lizbeth's mother, Sonia.

The prognosis is not good. Without treatment, she could face sudden death. Without treatment, she may not get to see her daughters grow up... the thought makes my heart hurt alongside of hers.

Over the years with Compassion, I have seen the importance of correspondence in building relationships; relationships not only with our Compassion children, but with their families. Through these letters, we develop trust in one another, and through that trust, our hearts -- and our heart problems -- are shared.

Without that relationship, we may not have been told about this serious issue, and perhaps we would have missed on the opportunity to help.

My relationship with Lizbeth and her mother has brought healing to my heart. What if...

What if somehow, this sponsorship can bring healing to Sonia's heart as well?

What if, by sharing this prayer request with you and our other Compassion kids, God answers our outpouring of prayers and helps bring healing to Sonia's heart?

What if, by contacting Compassion tomorrow morning and explaining the situation, a field inquiry can be initiated, and a potential solution can be found?

What if... every sponsor saw the impact that letters can have on Compassion relationships and began a change reaction that reached into every corner of the world for Him?
Friday, May 27, 2011

Freedom for 116 Children

What a tremendous time of progress in the Lake Volta area of Ghana. Our dear friend George Achibra called and wrote 2 weeks ago to share with us that 116 children have been recently rescued from slavery in the Lake Volta area. These children, some as young as four, had been sold into slavery by their parents.

What is different about this rescue operation is that 28 slave masters were taken into custody, sending a strong message to the other slave masters in the area that slavery has serious consequences.

Of the 116 precious children rescued, 20 are in the care of George. While I am celebrating their freedom, I am also aware of the increasing resources needed to care for these children.

Please continue to provide prayer and support for our fundraising for the children's 3 classroom unit. While the fundraising goal has not changed (it will still only take $30,000 to build the school) the need has increased, it's more important than ever for this to be built.

We have created a new blog button for our Ghana project. Please feel free to circulate it!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Ghana Update: May 2011

Less than 170 days until we leave for Ghana!!

Our application with a non-profit organization Interlink Ministries has been approved. This will allow U.S. donors to make tax-deductible donations to our project through a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

Please check with your employer to see if they have a funds matching program for double the blessings!

If you've been waiting to donate... Here is the information you need:

Make checks payable to Interlink Ministries, attaching a note stating that the funds are for the Ghana Orphans Project.

Mail to:
Interlink Ministries
P.O. Box 460
Apple Creek, OH 44606.

Support letters will be going out to friends and family. Please pray that these letters will find favor and that the fundraising efforts will be blessed. Your prayers are a crucial part of this mission trip, please continue to pray.

Stay tuned for an important update on the progress being made in breaking the cycle of child trafficking in Ghana.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Never Underestimate

It has been said that the words can build up or destroy, that the tongue has the power of life and death. In one sentence, we hold the choice to criticize and condemn, or encourage and uplift.

Since words are a reflection of the contents of our hearts, if our words do not point to Him, perhaps it is wiser to silence ourselves until our hearts are changed lest we are held accountable to the destruction we will cause -- seen or unseen.

It's not unthinkable that our words and lives may be the most powerful resource we have as witnesses to Christ. What do our words say about Who we serve? Who do they point to, ourselves, or Him?

By using words that honor Him, we are a light in this broken world, a positive difference that builds up, encourages, teaches and leads. It's much more than words, but how we live our lives -- words not lived are empty words.

Ato Sam, our Compassion son from Ghana, beautifully illustrated how crucial words are to every relationship we're entrusted with. In the letter we received from him tonight (another 6 pages!), he shares the following treasure:

"He said that he thanks God for not allowing your enemy to overcome you. He says he was astonished about what you have told him. He says that this shows him that God truly exists. Ato adds that he now knows that with God, all thing are possible and he would join you in battle to win over the enemy."

Not allowing satan to overcome me, not giving in to fear and disbelief... caused a boy on the other side of the world to believe that God truly exists. There was no way of knowing that what God led me to share with Ato Sam in my letter to him would present itself as proof that He exists...

Now, how will I find the words to tell him how blessed I am that the heart and life of a child of such tender years, a child I haven't yet met, has helped shape my life and encouraged and fueled my faith? I have only known this ten year old boy through his words, and I feel a great responsibility to let him know that his words have had a tremendous impact on me, that through his words, my life has been changed for the better, my faith has been fueled, my love has grown...

God will give me the words Ato Sam needs to hear. Again. He has, and will continue to do so. I must simply continue to seek Him and surrender to Him.

How have you used your words to heal, to uplift, to share Christ, to give joy today?
Monday, May 02, 2011

The Way Home - Review

It could happen to any of us. A moment of distraction, and the unthinkable happens -- a child goes missing.
Many of us can relate to being pulled into different directions all at once. How do you cope as a family when the head of the household repeatedly puts work ahead of family, and as a result, a two year old child in his care vanishes?

Will the missing child be the breaking point, or the saving grace?

We received the movie "The Way Home" from BookSneeze to watch as a family in exchange for an unbiased review.

As described on ChristianCinema, Dean Cain stars as Randy Simpkins, a husband and father torn between the demands of his job and family. Asked by his wife to watch their two-year-old son Joe for a few minutes, he becomes distracted by work. When he returns, Joe is gone.

Personally, as the mother of a child on the autism spectrum who has disappeared a handful of times, this movie hit very close to home. My heart was in my throat -- I have felt those same emotions, and the movie brought it all back full force. In spite of the familiar topic, the movie still gave me much to reflect upon and really brought home the importance of the ultimate order of priorities -- God, Family, Other. The characters were well played, especially the role of the father. Even though it would have been instinctive to be upset with him, my heart went out to him -- it can happen to the most attentive of parents too.

Although it was a really emotional and suspenseful movie, it was appropriate for our entire family to watch, including our youngest who is 9. The way the story included the faith and the church community without being overly preachy and religious was perfect for watching it with members of my family who aren't believers.

All in all, I found it to be a great movie, but I'm not sure that it'd be a movie I'd want to watch over and over again. It'd give it 4/5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this DVD free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”