• Jesus loves the little children… all the children of the world.

    Date: 2010.09.12 | Category: faith, parenting | Tags: ,,,,,

    I love my children so very much.  I want to provide the very best for them.  An opportunity for them to know and love Jesus and to walk with Him.  An education.  Good health.  A proper diet.  Love, laughter and the making of happy memories.  I hope to provide them with a childhood that will enable them to grow into intelligent, content, thriving adults.  With few exceptions, isn’t this really what all parents want for their children?

    I’ve been thinking the past few days about how fortunate I am that I can provide these things for my children.  That we have enough money to buy them shoes and books and food.  That we have a happy and stable home environment.  That we are safe when we leave our home.

    So many parents cannot say the same thing.  I cannot imagine living in a neighborhood in which we had to skirt drug deals and prostitutes.  Or not being able to afford shoes so that my children could attend school.  Or watching my children’s stomachs grow, not from a healthy meal but from severe malnutrition.

    Don’t all mothers have the same hopes and dreams for their children?  Doesn’t every mother want to provide their children with everything they need to grow into a healthy and successful adult?  What makes my family any more deserving of good things than those families?  Is it a blessing or a curse that we have so much abundance that we are not wholly dependent on God’s provision to make it through each day?  Maybe a little bit of both?  Does Jesus love those children less than He loves mine? How do I reconcile the reality of their poverty with my abundance?  Not just abundance of wealth, but of opportunity and safety and health care.

    I recently read a blog about Compassion sponsored children in Guatemala.  http://www.incourage.me/2010/09/if-you-like-your-dreams-and-miracles-explained.html It made me think about how slim the difference between hope and despair.  Life and death.  It put faces to three boys who have hope for the future… who have the very possibility of a future because someone was willing to share out of their abundance.  Their sponsors wrote a check for $38 and these boys received life.

    This morning my pastor told of the laws in place to keep the people of the Dalit caste in India downtrodden.  The very term “Dalit” means “those who have been broken and ground down deliberately by those above them in the social hierarchy.” (www.dalitnetwork.org)  Parents were required by law to give their children only one name- and it must have a derogatory meaning.  Can you imagine being forced to name your child Ugly?  or Stupid?  or Unwanted?  Can you imagine knowing that your child will never rise above extreme poverty- that he or she cannot legally do so?  Can you imagine knowing your child will never be educated, never get out of the slums, never have access to medical care?  Can you imagine the shame and the crushed dreams of these mothers?  Mothers who are just like me and you?

    One of my favorite blogs is written by Katie who was so moved with compassion during a mission trip to Africa as a high school student that she cancelled her college plans, left her family and her boyfriend, and moved to Africa to serve the people there.  She has given up everything she hoped for herself to be Jesus to people who desperately need Him.  She has opened up her heart to the children of Africa.  She has adopted 14 girls.  Yes!  A single woman, living in a foreign country with 14 adopted daughters.  She started Amazima Ministries to provide the tuition and materials needed to send hundreds (yes hundreds) of children to school.  On top of all of this she opens her yard, her home and her shower to every single one of the children she sends to school.  She provides them with a meal and a place to shower and use a real bathroom with plumbing.  Every day.  She regularly takes in, cares for, feeds, and provides medical treatment for people in her community- in addition to her own children and the hundreds of children she supports through Amazima.  You can read more about this amazing woman and her life and her ministry at http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/.

    I just interrupted the writing of this post to get my son up from his nap.  I took advantage of the fact we’re the only two awake right now to hold him and play with him and share snack time with him.  How many mothers never have that luxury?  Ever?  How many mothers are never able to provide a snack for their hungry child?  How many never have an extra hour of time to spend playing and being silly with their children?  Ever?

    I have been challenged by this question: “What is the opposite of poverty?”  Is it wealth?  Plenty?  Abundance?  No, the answer is enough.  The opposite of poverty is enough.  This makes me realize- I have wealth.  I have plenty.  I have abundance.  And there are so many who do not have enough.

    In so many ways I wish I were 19 and had the freedom to sever my ties with my comfortable life.  Jump on a plane and spend my life for Jesus in Africa or India or Guatemala.  Of course this is wishful thinking.  Even if I were in that life stage I would find it extremely difficult.  And just because I am married with children and a mortgage doesn’t mean that I couldn’t do it tomorrow.  But it seems so hard.  It’s so painful to say no to all of the things I want.  The things I want for my children.  The comfort that is so darned comfortable.

    I feel God stretching me and nudging me and challenging me, but I don’t know where to go or how to start.  I keep praying that He will open the doors for me.  That He will show me the way He has for me.

    Matthew 25:31-46

    31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    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.’

    41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”