Solve versus Serve


This month, I’m participating in Compassion Blog Month, an opportunity to raise awareness and interest in child sponsorship through Compassion International. The goal is to find sponsors for 3,160 children. There are just four days left in blog month. Four! Please click a link and look at the faces. How are you being prodded to help?

My fourth (and final!) prompt was to respond to a given quote–watch for it in my post! This one took a lot of thought, but I’m loving the quote. Read on!

Standing in that house, I felt entirely helpless. This home smelled of filth and sadness. Piles of trash covered the dirty, discolored carpet, and expired, moldy food filled the kitchen. The day’s work of my youth group seemed to do little to nothing to make a dent in the need I saw. I remember starting to cry that night in a debrief time with the whole group.

I remember telling the group that I was frustrated that we’d spent the entire day cleaning this home, but I “knew” as soon as we left, the sweet little old lady who lived there would go back to living the same way she had been, existing in the same filth we’d cleared away because she was unable to keep up living along as she did.

I then remember my ever-wise leader telling me, very kindly, that the point was to bless this woman. The point was to show her the love of Christ through our actions, through the discarding of moldy food and the cleaning of gag-worthy messes in the bathroom. This project was less about the visual results and more about the spiritual ones.

That lesson stuck with me, as many lessons from those work weeks did. I learned that, while an action of love may not erase a problem, it will always bear fruit in the heart of the recipient AND the giver.

When I think of this lesson in terms of Compassion, I recognize that my sponsorships will not eradicate poverty worldwide, or even countrywide in the countries I’m supporting. My $38 dollars a month will not completely solve the problems of malnourishment in third-world countries globally.

But I will change the life of Yvonne. Yvonne whose favorite color is red. Who tells me of her best friends and her plans to be a teacher…or a doctor (it depends on the letter).

The sponsorship will change the life of Kimberly, who loves to draw and who asks me to pray that her parents will play with her in the park.

Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr, wrote, “Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?”

Compassion International has given me an opportunity to “give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor.” Compassion seeks out the poorest of the poor, serving them in the name of Jesus to change their lives and their futures. They usher hope into what can otherwise be a dark, unhappy place.

This afternoon, I began reading An Invisible Thread, the true story of a NYC business executive who befriends an 11-year-old panhandler. When she asks the boy what he wants to be when he grows up, the boy tells her that he’s never thought about it. He’s never thought about it, because in his young life, he’s been forced to focus on the present moment, the survival of day to day.

I think of my sweet sponsor kids, who write to me of their hopes and their dreams. I see that while I can’t break the chains of poverty alone, my contribution is breaking the cycle for these children. I see that hundreds of thousands of other people are making that same contribution in millions of children’s lives across the globe. I am filled with hope.

Maybe, as Carr writes, we need to change our perspective on poverty from merely a problem to an opportunity.

How will you treat these opportunities today? Will you face them with courage and grace? Click on a picture for more information about that child.


This is the final official Compassion blog month post for this year on my blog! Be assured that I’ll mention Compassion in future posts–I can hardly get through a conversation without mentioning it, so I’ll try to rein myself in–but I’m also brainstorming other exciting ideas. I do hope that this series has at least planted a seed in your mind and heart about how you could become involved in changing the life of a child who may, right now, be afraid to dream of a better future. Your encouragement may be what he or she is waiting for…


4 responses »

  1. I really enjoyed your post!! What an excellent reminder to us all…I especially enjoyed reading what your ever-wise leader told you–to bless the woman. I think it’s such a good reminder to all of us who want to minster to others!

  2. You’re reminding me of how much I want my kids to have a Compassion “brother” or “sister”. Beautiful telling of how our little bit doesn’t have to do the whole job and how we are there to spur on and uplift. Heading over to the site now….

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Darcy! My experience with Compassion has been more blessing-filled than I could imagine.

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