What Hope Looks Like
T. Suzanne Eller

"Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them." Mark 10:16 (NLT)

I love visiting other countries to serve in missions work. But there are many times I've left a beautiful country overwhelmed by the needs of its people. People standing in line for medical care. Children on a street corner selling candy, or worse – their bodies - so they could eat a meal. I've wept on the plane home, hiding my tears from other passengers behind the thin airline blanket.

Recently, however, I returned from a missions trip to Ecuador with Compassion International. Our travels to this country left me filled with hope! There are 52,000 children that are ministered to in 200 Compassion International projects across Ecuador.

I met Eric, a little guy who is 13, but looks seven. He was born with a syndrome that affects his motor skills, as well as his ability to communicate. Eric wasn't given a lot of hope. His mother has two other little boys, ten and six. Their home is nestled in a concrete cave honed out of rock and cinder block. I had to bend to enter the dark two-room habitat. Along one wall there is a small refrigerator, rusted by the years. A couple of cook pots sit by an open fireplace darkened by soot. Eric proudly showed me how he washes his clothes, beating his red shirt with a brush and suds.

Little Eric has had surgeries that allow him to run in his own makeshift fashion. His inability to communicate with words would lead you to believe he's not educated, but he is very intelligent. He and his brothers eat nutritious meals and receive schooling. And it's all because of Compassion International.

Later I met Jonathon, who became a Compassion International child at the age of five. He remembers proudly showing his first letter from his sponsor to his classroom. He held it high for the other children to see. "Jesus sent me someone who loves me," he said.

Next July, Jonathon will graduate from a university with a degree in physics. He wept as he tried to explain what Compassion International, and his sponsor, have done for him. A person he has never met gave him health, hope, and the opportunity to change the lives of many children. He plans to go back to his former project area as a teacher.

I often pray and ask Jesus how to spend my time, my finances, and my talents. But the funny thing is, I don't pray over the everyday expenditures that have very little lasting impact. I weigh them. I think about them. But pray about it? I don't. I believe I will start praying about my everyday expenditures, and asking God to reveal to me opportunities to invest in the things that really matter.

As I boarded the plane for home, I declined the offered blanket. I didn't need to hide my tears - not this time. Instead I praised God for a renewed vision of hope: a child who wasn't supposed to live who can now run and read; a little girl waving her hand in the air to be called upon in class to quote a scripture; a young man wiping away tears as he expressed his desire to educate little ones facing the odds he once faced and overcame. I settled back in my seat and smiled, reveling in the beautiful pictures of God's hope in action.

Dear God, You love the hungry, the poor, the hurting. Thank You for the opportunity to be Your hands and feet, whether in my own community, or around the world. I pray that I will invest my heart and life in those things that burn on Your heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Learn about sponsoring a child through Compassion International

Visit Suzie’s blog where she shares pictures of her trip to Ecuador and answers your questions about Compassion International and missions.

Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford,

God sees you too! Find hope with the free devotion When Self-Rescue is Not an Option

Application Steps:
Pray: Ask God to reveal a need.

Prepare: How can you respond with one tangible action, small or large? Is it your time? Your talents? Your finances?

Proceed: Take action today!

Childhood—we get only one pass at it, and yet it dictates the quality of the rest of our lives. Dr. Wess Stafford, President of Compassion International

Power Verses:
Deuteronomy 15:10, "Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do." (NLT)

Matthew 25:37b-40, "'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" (ESV)

© 2009 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Mommy Melback said...

So glad to hear about how the long term effects help the children. I am always a skeptic on what to donate and I am glad to see the blessings this brings.Can't wait to head over to the blog for photos and more info.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing about this! I sponsor a child through Compassion and have been sporadic in writing her and sometimes have wondered if my meager amount was helping. God used this to confirm that it does and that I'm investing in things that are dear to His heart. You have given me a renewed heart and vision for this young lady and a reminder to pray for her more consistently.

Anonymous Suzie Eller said...

The letters you write to your child are treasures. I saw that over and over. They tack them to their wall, or carry them in their pocket, or share them at school with friends. I wrote a letter to Buli (my Compassion sponsor child) within hours of returning home from Ecuador.

Anonymous Suzie Eller said...

Mommy Melback, I also am cautious, and we should be. It's good stewardship. The reason that Proverbs team is behind Compassion is because of their integrity toward the children. They have an "open door" policy, and I saw that throughout my trip -- how carefully they considered every dollar that comes through Compassion. It's truly one of the most child-centered, faith-filled organizations I've ever encountered.

Anonymous Ramona said...

This Story really touched me, for soo long I wanted to help people who really need & appreciate it. I have Nothing, but I do have my heart & compasion for others, and will pray every day for people like you that can travel & do these things for others. Thank You sooo much for sharing this. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to visit another country. But for now...My prayers are with you & those who do, and especially for the needly and the ones who except Jesus love. Thank God for his son "Jesus" who loves us.

I just love it when God speaks like this. I blogged on almost the very same topic today and also used the same verse you used here.

Lee Ann

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me how rich I am. As I sit in a warm home with 4 TVs, 3 DVD players, every kitchen appliance imaginable, and foods, galore, to chose from, you've reminded of what the 'real' world is like, and I'm ashamed. I haven't "thought" of using my money in many years, how utterly selfish and sinful. I've been worrying how to pay off the credit cards!

I began, minutes ago, asking the Lord to help me, to pray before every penny is spent. I must get to the place where it is GOD'S money, and his money will go where HE tells me it should.

Thank you for bringing me back to reality. The Lord used you today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the devotion. I am convicted. This devotion has touched my heart about how I spend the money that God gives me. Yeah thats God's money and thats stewrdship. Personnaly there are times when I have not been careful with my expenditures and tend into impulsive and unplanned spending. Thank you for reminding that thats God's money and reminding me to pray say a prayer before every expenditure whetehr small or big and to remember those who need and to ACT. I pray for the gift of self-control. God bless you.

Anonymous K T said...

This story hit home for me personally as I have been blessed by a dear friend just yesterday! She discovered my family's desperate need for food ... and even though 1,400 miles separate our locations, she was able to orchestrate a food delivery to our front door! What a tremendous blessing for our family. She was faithful to her calling to be used by God to be a blessing to us. I am extremely humbled!

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