I have a very special and most important message to encourage you with today. Just as I mentioned in todays P31 devotion, we all need to know that we are being held by God, and that He is holding our loved ones in His arms during difficult trials.
We also want to know that He is taking care of us, watching over us and meeting our needs. However, sometimes we forget that the way God meets our needs is through other people, not just supernatural miracles.
Have you ever considered that YOU could be the person that God uses to hold one of His children in His love? Let me tell you a story of how God is using me to hold someone special.
Last August, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the city of Quito, Ecuador. I participated in a vision trip with Compassion International, and although I looked the same on the outside when I boarded the plane to come home, I was a completely changed, different person in my heart.
Prior to leaving for Ecuador, I was complaining to my husband about the emerald green carpet in my home. I had chosen that carpet nearly twelve years ago when we moved into our new home, and at that time, jewel colors were the trend. It seemed like a treasure then, now it had become a major thorn in my side. I hated my green carpet!!
Although I complained relentlessly to my husband that I wanted to replace the carpet with a neutral color, he had yet to succumb to my wishes. I knew it was not a completely necessary expense, but it seemed extremely important to me.
It seemed really important, that is………….until I visited the home of Gabriella.
Sweet Gabriella is a child participating in the Compassion International program. She lives in a small mountain town in Ecuador, with her ten family members, including her mother, cousins, brothers and sisters, grandmother and aunt. They all live in a four room dwelling, made of concrete blocks, plastic ceilings, and a hard dirt floor.
(Here is me and Melissa Taylor, my P31 sister, standing behind the family).
Furniture was sparse, and what was there was shabby, broken and falling apart.
The entire family slept in two beds, which were merely a few blankets draped over some wooden slats on a bed frame. One light bulb dangled from the ceiling, which was the only light for the entire home.
The family cooked every meal over a little fire of small logs, which sat directly on the dirt floor in a hole – in the front room INSIDE of the home. A thick hot smoke filled the home so intensely that my eyes burned and watered from the sting. They had a stove, but it was useless, so it was simply used as a cabinet instead.
The children’s feet , even those of a tiny three year old little girl, who hid playfully behind a pole while I took her picture, showed skin of tough leather – an obvious sign that no shoes had ever covered their little feet.
Their sunburned faces, dirty noses, taut skin and tattered clothing told a story of a lifetime of poverty, insufficient shelter, hunger, and desperation.
But their hearts showed Jesus.
The mother of this family was so excited we had come to visit her. She could not wait to show us her home, teach us how to pull corn from the stalks and show us how she milked their cow.
She explained through our interpreter that her husband had left her many years ago. Her brother had taken responsibility for the care of she and her family, but unfortunately he had died two years earlier, leaving this large family with no men to help work the fields or provide for their needs. They were doing the best they could with their circumstances.
But their hearts showed Jesus.
The mom explained how God had so blessed their family with this new “home” they lived in. Their other home, which was merely a pile of rubble (pictured below), had caved in on them, barely missing the grandmother who was sitting inside (also pictured below).
As a result, they were left homeless – until Gabriella’s sponsor sent a gift of $400, which allowed them to build their new residence.
But their hearts showed Jesus.
I held a precious little baby boy in my arms who was about two months old. I asked what his name, and was saddened by the response. Apparently the people of this community do not name their newborns, due to the infant mortality rate being so high. Once the baby survives for several months, then they will give him or her a name. That was heartbreaking.
Not once did I see the mother of this family lose her beaming smile.
Not once did I see any of the children whining or fighting with each other.
Not once did I hear the young daughter, probably nine years old, complain that her back was hurting from carrying the baby in a sack on her back for hours – every day.
Not once did I hear anyone groan about what they didnt have, and I most certainly did not hear anyone complaining about their flooring – despite the dirt and rocks they had to step on in their bare feet every day.
They were excited that we had come to visit and proud to show us the new home God had given them through the miracle of their sponsor. They felt blessed to show us how they made home made grain tortillas, and even more pleased when when we ate them.
Their smiles beamed love and gratefulness for what they did have, not discontent for what they did not have.
And their hearts showed Jesus.
Throughout the week, as I visited several homes of different families in similar situations, my heart began to ache……not only for these sweet people who were happy with so little, but in such need of so many basic things, but because I realized the sourness of my own heart.
I realized the severity of my discontentment, even though God had blessed me more than I could ever imagine.
I realized that as I complained about my plush carpet, they were walking on bare dirt and rocks inside their home.
I realized that as I complained about changing light bulbs, they were so thankful for having one light bulb.
I realized that as I wasted money on frivolous things, they were going hungry that night.
I felt so ashamed for not being content with the enormity of blessings that He had bestowed upon me, and God changed my perspective on life through these precious people of Ecuador.
In prayer, with tears in my eyes, as I lifted up all these sweet families and this country up to God, I asked God to engrave the memories of this experience and these people so deeply into my heart, that I would never, ever forget them and how they changed my heart.
In America, we live in such a self-centered culture. We take things for granted, and are rarely truly thankful for our blessings. We are brainwashed by the media and the norms of our society to try to keep up with the neighbors, get all we can get, do all we can do, make the most money we can, spend as much as we want, and in a nutshell, always strive for more, more, more.
Discontentment seems to be the heartbeat of our society.
But as Christians, we do not have to be like the world…….. we can choose to set ourselves apart. It is a choice we have the power to make.
We can choose to allow God to use us to do something incredible for someone else. We can choose to to be Jesus to those who need to feel His arms around them.
If this post today has touched your heart in a special way, God may want to give you a special assignment today – an assignment that could be the miracle for someone less fortunate. An assignment for you to help a child feel held in His arms.
My current God assignment, is named Marlon. Marlon is a five year old little boy, and is my sponsored child. I had the rare opportunity to wrap my arms around him and feel his sweet lips on my cheek during our visit in Ecuador. I met his mom, and wiped her tears as she thanked me for caring about her little boy from so far away. It was the best gift I have ever received.
Are you willing to let God use you to do something amazing for someone else? Are you anxious to be the miracle that a little child is waiting for? Do you have a desire to be Jesus to someone in need?
I want to encourage you today, to consider and pray about sponsoring a child through Compassion International. For a mere $32.00 per month, you can make a life changing impact in the life of a needy child and his or her family. Think about it, for the cost of a few lattes, or one night out at a restaurant, you could improve the lives of an entire family.
Their family will be blessed, but trust me, you will be blessed even more.
It is an blessing for me to be a part of Marlons life, to read his sweet letters, to see the pictures he has drawn, and to hear about his two little brothers. It is an honor that I don’t deserve, to be able to help this family put food on their table and clothes on their bodies.
And most importantly – I know that Marlon and his family are learning about Jesus through their involvement with Compassion. Their physical and spiritual are needs being met. That is why every speaker at Proverbs 31 Ministries has sponsored a child, and our ministry also sponsors a child.
If you will take just a minute to click on the link below, you will see pictures of children who are in need of sponsorship right now, today. These are real kids, with real needs. This is real life. They are not just photos on a card. Compassion International is an amazing Christian organization that can help meet the needs of the kids through your kindness and sponsorship.
They need someone to be Jesus to them…someone to hold them from afar.
Could that person be you?
Matthew 25:40 The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’