Friday, November 6, 2009

Sponsoring Hope.

A couple of years ago, BFF Jami and I found ourselves staring at a table full of faces. We were working summer camp at Crossroads, who had a strong relationship with an organization called New Missions. I had approached Jami to consider sponsorship with me and for a week we prayed about it separately.

Isn't it funny that we had to pray about it? I mean, after all as Francis Chan says, "Did God tell you to watch TV last night?"


So the Table. The Table full of little faces. Some smiling, some looking cute, some royally ticked off because they had to get a picture made. Some whose eyes felt like they were boring a hole through my soul.

As we scanned the Table, it became clear to me in a hurry which little one would be ours. It was a little girl with about fifty baby barrettes in her hair, and they were all neon colored. She had dark brown eyes and she was not smiling. In fact, maybe it was my imagination but she looked like she had a little attitude.

Come to mama!

Without saying a word, a moment later Jami picked up the photo of the little girl with the massive amounts of barrettes. She scanned her profile and said, "Her name is SARAH."

Jami knew that I love the name Sarah because it means Princess. I always call my nieces Princess and I had always wanted to name a daughter that, but it's so popular in the US that I didn't want her to be one of forty Sarahs in her school or something. So the fact that this little one's name was Sarah was complete confirmation!

Her full name is Sarah Prosper. She was four years old when we picked up that photo.

I have never once regretted that decision.

We started corresponding with Sarah and sending her pictures and other things. Our lives have never been the same.

About a year after we started sponsoring Sarah, I had the privilege of going to New Missions to see the ministry firsthand and to spend a week with the Haitian people. I was scheduled to meet Sarah and her mom on Thursday, but God had other plans. People had been fasting and praying for me daily on the trip, and the biggest blessing would come on Wednesday of that week.

My journal:

We came back and had an opportunity to purchase good from the local Haitians. This was partly frustrating because we could not give everyone business and some of them were pretty aggressive.
But then, the coolest part of the whole trip came. I walked toward one of the shops and almost ran into someone as I was looking down and walking (not a good plan) around to find Seth a nativity. I looked up at the man with whom I had collided and immediately began to apologize in the most broken form of Creole ever heard.
He looked at me for a minute.
Then he said, "You have child?"

People, I am a slightly rotund individual, but even I had not had that many bowls of beans and rice.

Trying not to become offended, I was thinking in my head, "Was that a Haitian fat joke?"
Finally I shook my head no. He then said,

"No. You have Haitian child. Sarah."

It took me a second for it all to come together.

"Yes!" I said. "How did you know?"

He responded, "Sarah is my sister. There she is, right over there."

Perched on the wall separating New Missions from the Village of Bord Mer was my little princess, wearing a bathing suit and nothing else. Her brother's name was Charles, and he had recognized me from the picture we sent. What are the odds?

But then again, why am I surprised?

I promised to take Sarah to the clinic later that day due to a skin problem she had (NM covers all healthcare procedures) and I kissed her and told her I would see her then.

So I thought!
We went to a church service and Scott (team leader) tapped me on the shoulder. "Is that Sarah?" He asked.

Sure enough, it was. So I got her and took her to sit with me. As we stood and sang Trading My Sorrows, and as Sarah clung to me like a koala and would not let me put her down, tears of joy rained down my face at God's amazing blessings and His extra grace to give me the chance to meet Sarah and spend extra time with her.


Through my experiences with Sarah, I have learned how amazing it is to sponsor a child. So when my friend Nicole decided to go on the World Race for a year, I wanted to contribute to her mission trip. We were discussing how I could do that, and then I remembered Jose.

Nicole has been sponsoring a little boy from Nicaragua named Jose through Compassion International for a few years now. In our apartment, his picture hung and we spent time praying for our sponsored kids (although not nearly enough!). I saw his sweet face daily and I knew that as Nicole was working hard to raise funds so that she could meet the needs of people all over the world who are just like Jose, someone had to be this little boy's sponsor for a year to free up Nicole's finances. Just for this year, i get the honor of meeting Jose's needs.

Now Nicole is heading to Nicaragua tomorrow on a 17-hour bus ride. She will be spending a month there Would you join me in prayer that Nicole will have the same experience as I did? Please pray that somehow, God would work a miracle and she would get to meet Jose!

Also, I would like to ask you to consider getting involved with child sponsorship. For just a few dollars a day, you can have the blessing of reaching a child with the love of Jesus Christ. With a little sarificial giving, you can sponsor HOPE in a child's life. If you have children, it's a great project to help the understand God's love for the nations and to teach them about giving.

One more thing, some Compassion Bloggers are set to hit El Salvador in the next few days. They will be blogging their experiences and I encourage you to take time to read their stories.

For your comment consideration:
How are you reaching out?
If you're not, how are you going to?

What if we?


Lauren said...

okay - next time post a warning!! I need some tissue in a bad way! I am awe of the way you got to meet your Sarah ... how special and how GOD!! :) We sponser a little boy named Memuti through Compassion - he's 3 yrs old from Tanzania... so precious! I pray that I can meet him some day - until then I just love love love him from afar!!

Thanks so much for bringing attention to this - more sponsers are always needed!!!

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

I sponsor a child through International Child Care Ministries. It's organized through the denomination I"m a part of. Her name is Elancia.. I began to sponser her years before I had my own little girl.. (and confirmationally - as opposed to coincidentally = Elaine is my middle name!).. She is in Haiti also..

Love your story. God is so big and I"m praying for Nicole and Jose!

Susan said...

After the WOF conference this summer I went home and convinced my family to sponsor a child through World Vision. We now have an awesome little guy from Kenya, Nehemiah. The kids just got his first letter this week. All this week I have been watching a show on missions work in Ethiopia and Cambodia. I can't even begin to imagine what life must be like, but I hope someday to get to experience missions overseas firsthand! There are so very many people in this world who need to be seen and heard!

sharalyns said...

I love how you wrote this!

We've sponsored 5 children over the years. Mutinta in Zambia has been with us for 10 years. She was just 4 when we began. We've sponsored 3 boys in Africa, but they all moved out of the service areas after short periods of time. Daisy in Ecuador is almost 9 now, and we began when she was 3. I love having "daughters" through World Vision.

Mutinta will be too old for sponsorship soon, and we are already praying for the next child who will be brought into our lives.

I would love to meet any of our children. :-)

believingod said...

Oh Lauren, How amazing, God is so give you that chance to hold that baby girl princess. I have a desire in my heart to do that to go and see and hug and kiss little children that do not know what it feels like to be loved. I need to begin praying for God to provide me the means to do this. Thank you for your story for sharing, for inspiring me. I love you and cannot wait to see what God will do tonight at Adult Bible School.

mama2K said...

Kaelyn sponsors a child through Compassion from the Dominican Republic named Amitista. She picked her picture out at a MWS concert and they are the same age. They write letters to each other...Amitista understands that K is the same age as her. Kaelyn NEVER forgets to pray for her every day. Yesterday the tv was on and a commmercial for operation smile came on and Kaelyn was riveted. She has such a compassionate heart and she said said we have to help these children get their operations. She wrote down the number for us on a piece of paper and said "call now!" Doug and I were both very moved, and told Kaelyn to think about what she wanted to do. If we were to make a donataion ($250 pays for one surgery in a third world country to repair a cleft palate or lip situation), would she be willing to consider that as part of HER Christmas? She thought about it and today she said that she wants to give part of her Christmas to help these little children. I am extrememly blessed because we are continuously looking for ways to teach them the true meaning of giving at Christmas. I am humbled. PTL. Congrats to you and Seth, btw. So happy for you!
Lisa K.

Kristin said...

What a beautiful story! My 13 yr old son is going to Hayti with my dad in late December for a mission trip. I am praying that God reaches out to him in a BIG way and sets a course for his future following God!! These God encounters can't happen early enough in a young person's life!!
Blessings, Kristin

beverlyj said...

You've never seen a little girl happier than when we gave Grace her little Benitha. Grace has a heart for children that are suffering. She makes crafts for her and will be writing her letters soon. I know I need to prepart myself for the time when she (and most likely Tali!) will be setting off across the world to help those kids first hand. Maybe one day she will be able to go to Rowanda and meet Benitha in the flesh.

Nicole said...

Laur- I'm blessed to have you in my life! So, I just realized with your latest email that I never added your new blog to my list... wow, and that's been forever ago! I'm so blessed to report that I get to meet Jose on Dec 2nd!! God is SO stinkin good.
I love you more than mosquitoes love my legs (and right now I have over 25 bites!) lol.