A father to the fatherless,
a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families... (Psalm 68:5-6 NLT).
Have you ever wondered what the disciples did after that first Sunday of experiencing the resurrected Jesus?
How was life different for Jesus' disciples on that first Monday after Resurrection Sunday?
Maybe an even better question is this: How am I different this Monday after celebrating Resurrection Sunday yesterday?
We have just been reminded that our Lord conquered death and "brought immortality and life to light" (2 Timothy 1:10). So what do we do with this gift? How do we celebrate our victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:56-57) through Jesus' resurrection?
I'd like to suggest a very practical way of celebrating our gift of grace through Jesus' victory over the grave: Compassion!
I'm all for sharing compassion in all of its forms, but today I'm talking especially about sponsoring a child with Compassion International and helping that child get to know Jesus, receive proper inoculations, go to school, and have food to eat as well as medical care access. This is important to me for several reasons.
First, sponsoring a child is personal for me. Six years ago I went to Uganda with several other internet bloggers and writers on the first Compassion International Blogger's trip. My wife, Donna and I, already were supporting one Compassion child, a little boy in the Dominican Republic. One night, Donna said to me, "Phil, I believe the Lord is calling us to help a child in Africa. I really would like for us to find a little girl in Africa that we can help through Compassion."
The Lord did not wait long to confirm Donna's conviction. The next morning, Tom Emmons, a friend of mine who works with Compassion, called and asked if I would interested in going to Uganda with Compassion International. I told him that I would need to check with Donna, but to go ahead and mark me down as a "Yes!" because of our conversation the previous evening — I knew she would want me to go.
In February of 2008, I joined a group of others going to Uganda with Compassion International. By then, Donna and I had been assigned a little girl named Doreen. She had just turned 3 and was available for sponsorship. Up until then, Doreen had been in the Child Survival Program because her mother had active AIDS and her father had already died from this dreaded disease. Without this program, Doreen would have never made it to her third birthday to have a chance to be sponsored. The gift of Compassion gave her a new chance on life she would have never had otherwise. So for me, Easter is always a reminder of the importance of Compassion because it is all about celebrating the new life we are given in Jesus Christ.
While in Uganda, I met Doreen, her mother, her grandmother, and her siblings. She wore a skirt shared by one family in their neighborhood, shoes shared by another, a little shirt shared by another, and socks shared by still another family. Her hair was done in tight braids and corn rows. She was excited to meet me, but a bit nervous and scared when I arrived. She didn't know what to think, but by the end of the visit, she was holding my hand, sitting in my lap, and smiling sweetly as she danced with delight. We visited for several hours, then before I left the area, I was able to visit with her mom and talk about the serious wishes of her life for her children. I also went to the church project where Doreen went to pre-school, a weekly activity, and church services. I was able to look at her file that detailed her doctor visits and inoculations and also learn about her story in more detail.
Now, six years later, we still sponsor Doreen. She lives with her grandmother and her siblings. Her mother has since passed away — a shocking reminder to Donna and myself about the importance of our participation in Doreen's life. Thankfully, I was able to send her pictures of her mother in one of our Compassion communication letters. She has since moved away from the old neighborhood, but her grandmother made sure to move to an area where there was another Compassion church project so she can receive the same care as she had in the old neighborhood.
I encourage you to help Compassion International on this first Monday after Easter for a simple reason: we know the joy we have received from helping a child through Compassion. We now sponsor three children. We know one thing for certain: our participation with Compassion has given Doreen a new chance on life she would have never had. What greater way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus than to give a child a chance at life?
A second reason I want to ask you to consider helping a child through Compassion is tied to our work with Heartlight. Over the years, Heartlight.org and VerseoftheDay.com (our two primary websites) have helped over 875 children receive long-term sponsors through Compassion International. On April 3, 2016, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary on the web and we hope to be over 1,000 children sponsored. We have a handful of ministries with whom we partner and we believe in this partnership with Compassion International. Please help us in this way. Yes, there are other ways to help with Compassion, and we will highlight those at different times of the year, but please consider sponsoring a child by clicking on any of the Compassion sponsorship links on our sites or in this article!
A third reason that I am asking you to prayerfully consider sponsoring a child is because you will be blessed! How do I know this? I know because the Bible talks about caring for the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner among us all throughout the Bible (Deuteronomy 24:19-21; Psalm 68:4-5; Malachi 3:5; James 1:27). When we care for these at risk groups of people, we are doing what is close to the heart of our Father in heaven! I know because Jesus has told us that when help with the least of these we have helped him (Matthew 25:31-40). I know because our family has been blessed as we have sought to share God's blessings with others (Genesis 12:1-3; 1 Peter 3:9-12). I know because it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I know because your children or grandchildren can learn to pray and save and share with others in the name of Jesus. I know because many of these children will be part of our grand reunion when Jesus returns for us in glory!
So on this first Monday after Resurrection Sunday, why not give the gift of new life to a child who is waiting for someone to help them experience grace, know Jesus, and help deliver a child out of poverty in Jesus' name! Join our family in sponsoring a child through Compassion International.