26,000 children die every day due to preventable causes. 26,000? Really? That is really hard to wrap my mind around.
Some other alarming statistics:
- Every five seconds a child dies to hunger.
- Every fifteen seconds a child dies due to a water related disease.
- 15 million children have been orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS crisis.
- Every other child that is born is born into poverty. (UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report)
These are heart-wrenching facts.
The good news is that we have the opportunity to help…
I recently felt called to become a volunteer Child Ambassador for World Vision, which means that I am seeking out opportunities to share their child sponsorship program with people and get children sponsored. Growing up my parents sponsored a child through Compassion. They wrote the checks and I wrote the letters to the girl. Now, as an adult, Cason & I have been sponsoring a girl in Guatemala since May and it has been a wonderful experience. I know that we are helping provide her with opportunities that she may not otherwise get. Just last week, we got a letter, written on her behalf from her brother. Part of it said that she was going to hang the stickers we sent her in the house so she could remember us always. It was really sweet. I admit that I don’t remember to pray for her as often as I should. It was a good reminder that we need to be doing that. Anyway…
Why Are We Called to Help?
I so enjoy when God speaks to us in themes. Between our Bible Study class this morning, the sermon in church, and then a few other things happening this week, God has been speaking to me about loving others. Here are just a few thoughts…
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” – Deut 6:4-5 The Shema is the central prayer of the Jewish prayerbook. It is prayed at least twice daily. It is often the first verses that a child learns and it is traditional to be said as one’s last words.
In the Book of Matthew, when Jesus is asked by the Pharisees (who wanted to trap him) which is the greatest commandment in the Law, it is from the Shema that Jesus draws his answer. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” But then Jesus doesn’t stop there. He adds: “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Below is a talk that I shared at my home church after getting back from Guatemala, in the summer of 2004. I found it the other day and it so well embodies my experience there and the valuable lessons that I learned that I wanted to post it. It is longer than most blog posts, but it is really significant to me. I was very glad to find it and read it again, and to have these reminders. I hope you enjoy:
Good morning. The reason that I’m here this morning is I’ve just spent the most incredible 8 weeks on a mission trip in Guatemala and I want to share with you a piece of my experience.
It’s so hard to put something like this into words but I’ll try… As background, I went on a one-week mission trip to Moscow, Russia over spring break this past March, and getting back I was feeling God calling me to do more – something more substantial than just a week. So I prayed about it and within 2 weeks was signed up to go to Guatemala with a group of people I had never met. I was nervous and so excited at the same time.
So, this morning I want to share a story with you all that kind of embodies much of my summer experience. And it happened in just my second week there. After a week of training in the capital, it was our first week going out into the little villages to do programs and evangelism. We were separated into small groups of about 4 plus a missionary to go out to different villages for 4 days. From the starting point, already a village in the middle of nowhere, we knew that one group was going to ride a pickup truck to their tiny village, another group was going to ride an hour and walk for about 30 minutes, and the farthest group was going to have to hike for something like 3 hours to get to their village!!
This is the 3rd in my series of posts going back and talking about how I developed my love of travel, mission trips, etc.
After my spring break mission trip to Moscow, I came home completely consumed in what was next. Within 2 weeks of my return, I found and signed up to spend that summer in Guatemala. Eight weeks of mission work – each week in a different town/village. You might say it was an epic summer for me. We did children’s programs, puppet shows, construction projects, homeless outreach, prayer visits to people in surrounding villages. We led worship & prayed in multiple languages at once (often English, Portuguese, Spanish, and whatever local Mayan dialect of the area). We lived life in a 3rd world country, often living with host families & learning so much from them. We rode in the back of countless pick-up trucks and “chicken buses”. We slept in some less than comfortable conditions, hiked for hours in long skirts & mud boots, sweated uncontrollably while trying to put on children’s programs. [I learned that you can totally do anything for a few days/week.] We ate crazy (& delicious) foods, took naps in hammocks, and learned how to make corn tortillas from scratch… Without a doubt it was the most amazing 8 weeks of my life! It is extremely hard to put this summer in to words, especially trying to keep it relatively short. Looking at my pictures right now I get all kinds of emotions running through me.
A children's program we put on in a village
So here are a few of the things I learned and experienced, in somewhat abbreviated form:
I played with the most beautiful children of God, at an orphanage in Huehuetenango. Continue reading
Well, it is official. We are going on a mission trip to Haiti this summer through the group Adventures in Missions.
The most recent official UN stats say that 192,000 are dead, 212,000 are injured, 453,000 moved out of city, and 1,360,000 are displaced and need aid.
It is such a desperate situation. In some ways, it feels like the news coverage has moved on, but we can’t. I can’t quite figure out the appropriate words to say. I don’t feel like it is appropriate to say I am excited to go. This is a place that has suffered such extreme devastation, destruction, and loss. So I can’t quite put my feelings in to words. I guess I am looking forward to going and even trying to help. Does that make any sense? …I am nervous too for what we will see and experience. Reading about others on trips there in recent weeks I know we will probably be rocked to the core.
Cason & I both have such a passion for missions. We decided last year that it has been far too long since we have gone somewhere to do something. We knew we had to commit to a trip for this summer before other life stuff got in the way. And we knew we wanted to take as many people with us as possible.
As a recap, I’ve posted twice now about World Relief and how we can serve incoming refugees. You can read those here and here. You can also visit the World Relief corporate site here to see if there is an active office in your area.
World Relief helps resettle refugees into cities across the US. These are families escaping their countries due to some type of awful persecution. They are looking for a safe place to raise their families and to earn a decent living. But it is a very hard situation. Generally they leave their countries with virtually nothing and come here to a new land, to a language they don’t know, and an entirely new culture. Some come from places where they’ve never had electricity or running water. They are basically expected to move here and assimilate quickly into a new life, find jobs not knowing the language, and make a decent living for themselves and their families.
This is where World Relief comes in. They help them get an apartment here, adjust to life, and find employment. But they are only able to give them $425 per person, one time only. A family of four comes and only gets $1700 one time and that goes to pay for their deposits, rent, utilities, everything. That money does not last long. How long would $1700 cover your family of four?
And here is where volunteer and donor support comes in. Here are some simple things you can do to help: