The Healing Power of Hope
By Amy Carroll

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

Our whole table was doubled over with laughter. The meeting had begun somberly with formal introductions, but all it took was a little fun to make my diminutive tablemates relax into our time together. Last summer on our team’s trip to Ecuador with Compassion International, we had the opportunity to share lunch and craft time with a group of elementary school aged children at a Compassion project near Quito. Each child had shyly introduced themselves with their beautiful Spanish name. When we got to one shiny-haired, sparkly-eyed boy, however, he announced his name loudly—“Stephen Segal!” The whole group erupted with laughter.

Dr. Wess Stafford, in his book Too Small to Be Ignored, says this about poverty, “More than any other emotion, the poor feel overwhelmed. Without financial resources, shelter, food, education, justice, or skills to address their plight, they succumb to the downward spiral that leads to hopelessness and despair. That, my friend, is the essence of poverty.” As president of Compassion, Dr. Stafford has seen the most extreme poverty and its effects on children all over the world. He has watched the light leave children’s eyes, seen their shoulders begin to slump, and their hearts begin to believe that all hope is completely beyond them.

As I watched these children laugh, I was struck with how little it takes to restore hope. A sponsor’s small, monthly donation of money is only part of the story. There are many other means of building hope in Compassion’s ministry. I entered a home later that day and delighted as a young girl brought out her treasured stack of letters from her sponsor. Each of those letters was a reminder that someone else in the world loves her, believes in her and has found her valuable. The kind words and smiles from the Ecuadorian Compassion staff also nourished the souls of their small students. I hope even their visitors from America stoked the fragile fires of hope in those children’s hearts.

There are children all around us that need an infusion of hope. They are longing for a kind look or an affirming word. It doesn’t take much to rekindle hope in a child, but it does require paying attention to those in need. Most of all, they need to hear about the God who created them and who cherishes them as His own special child. The children in Ecuador had heard The Message and received the hope that would forever save their inner selves from the ravages of poverty even though they still faced great physical need in their communities each day.

Before we left that day, I asked the children what they wanted to be when they grow up. “I want to be a policeman,” my precious sponsored child replied. “I want to be a teacher,” said another. One stunning little girl told me she wanted to be a fashion designer. Tears filled my eyes as I hugged these children good-bye. My heart was full, too, with the dreams and hopes of an amazing group of children.

Dear Lord, I want to be tuned in to helping restore hope in a hopeless child’s life. Will you bring me a divine appointment with a child today who needs a loving smile or a kind word? Help me to be ready to share your grace and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

Compassion International

You Are Special by Max Lucado

Visit Amy Carroll’s blog

Application Steps:
Go to the Compassion link and sponsor a child. The blessings will come back to you as you join with Jesus to restore hope in a child’s life!

Look for a child to encourage today. A child in need could be anywhere—next door, in the grocery store, or even in your own home.

Reflections:
What am I doing to help address poverty in the world?

How does God see people in poverty? (Use your Bible’s concordance to do a word study.)

Power Verses:
Acts 10: 4, “Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’” (NIV)

Proverbs 22:9, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.


5 Comments:

Blogger Melissa said...

Amy,

I loved this devotion! The way you described it, it seems like only yesterday that we were in Ecuador.

I pray that this devotion will encourage many to sponsor a child and bring hope into their lives.

Love you,
Melissa

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amy,

Thanks for the message. I have been praying about being a good steward with what God has provided for out family. We are down to one income with alittle coming in from the sales my husband makes from the house from time to time. God recently nudged us to start giving to the 700 Club again. We weren't sure how we could do it on what we were making but, I know it is best to listen to God when he speaks. I read your devotional and blog. Very heart felt and moving to say the least. Well I prayed that Christ would once again speak to me about weather we needed to sponcer a child. I asked Him to forgive my fears and worries about if we could afford it on our budget and to help us to do like your family and eat in more and make it a family learning and sharing event. I asked Him to keep me and my thoughts still so He could answer me and I would be able to hear. I am a secretary that answers 8 phone lines so for the phones not to ring for a good length of time (especially on a Friday) is a mircle in itself. In that time God nudged me to not be affraid and to sponcer with his blessing. He put 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God hasn't given us a Spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." on my mind. I contacted my husband and let him know that I believed that God wanted us to sponcer a child. He replied that he thought we should to. We will sign up as soon as I get in from work!!

I will pass on the message and hope my friends and family are lead to sponcer too!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
Through Compassion, we have sponsored a child for 22 years now (different ones of course)...They have all been dear to our hearts and we sometimes wonder where our first child (Suk Yong Sub) is and what he is doing now. They are like family. It has been a blessing to us. But in our busy lives we sometimes forget to stay connected. It can feel as though they are almost "not real" ...so thanks for the reminder of what we mean to them...and what a little note of encouragement (along with a monthly donation) can do.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was reading your message I was thinking about a poverty mind set and how I have been in that at times (too often). When you quoted Dr. Stafford, the words ran true in my heart. Especially overwhelmed. My poverty that I have struggled against has not been as severe I am sure...but the emotion of poverty is the same.

There is more than one way to be poor. May the LORD bless those who are downcast and poor in spirit today...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work at a foster home as an occupational therapist. My husband are I are in the process of adopting a 6 month old little boy. He has brought us so much joy. I wish more Christians would consider adopting. It is not for everyone but I believe that if God places it on your heart-HE will provide you with the resources. We have been so blessed-more than I imagined.

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