Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble, as I get older? Am I exhibiting the life that men take knowledge of as having been with Jesus…?
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”
Acts 4:13 ESV
“Outsiders define us by what we do, not by what we say or by what we believe.”
Steve Bowen as quoted by Doug Pollock in the book “God Space”
When most people say they love someone, they do not mean “I’ve made a commitment to place your needs above my own.” They usually mean “I like the way you make me feel or what you do for me.”
James MacDonald (not a perfect quote)
This is probably my favorite story/illustration of all time. I believe it is a story that circulates around YMCA day camps and the like as group devotional material. I had heard it sometime in the past but my brother retold it in a mission trip prep meeting in 2015 and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it again.
The Old Man and the Starfish
One day an old man was walking along the ocean shore, and thousands of starfish had washed up on the beach. As far as the eye could see, there was starfish upon starfish upon starfish. Sadly, the tides were receding and all of these starfish were being left behind on shore where they would eventually die. Then, one by one, the old man began leaning over and picking up the starfish and tossing them, one at a time, back into the ocean.
Watching this scene from a distance was a young man. Concerned at the futility of the old man’s effort to save more than a few of these starfish, the young man approached him. “Old man!” he says, “Why are you bothering to toss these few starfish back into the ocean? There are so many of them! You want be able to rescue them all! What you’re doing won’t amount to much. Why waste your time? What you’re doing doesn’t matter!”
Hearing the young man and reaching down for yet another starfish, he turns to him and holds the starfish for him to see and says, “It matters to this one.” And he tosses it back into the ocean and then reaches down for another.
The lesson is obvious. Our world is full of problems and needs. More problems than any one person could overcome on their own. We will never solve all the worlds problems or provide aid to all in need. But instead of being overwhelmed with all we can’t do and give up, we can look to the person and need nearest to us and do what we can for them. What we do will matter to that one.
Day 3 was more of the same. Impressed. Wow. Conviction.
We left the city today and drove about an hour and a half into more rural parts. We past Mayan ruins and fields of volcanic rock leftover from some eruption from like 1500 years ago. We arrived at another Compassion Project to another rock star welcome. The focus of our visit to this project was not the Child Sponsorship Program (CDSP), but the Child Survival Program (CSP). This program is for women with children ranging from in the womb to about 3 years of age. Once a child reaches 3, they are eligible for the sponsorship program.
This project had about 35 mothers and children who are receiving assistance with prenatal health, medical checkups, groceries, sewing training, stimulation opportunities for the kids to help with their development, and more.
After a great welcome, worship, power point presentation about the CSP, and tour of their facility, we were taken to visit one of the mother’s and her son at their home. The situation was the much the same as yesterday, but even more dire. The young mother, 22, who was married, looked wonderful, and dressed well. We saw her at the project before we visited her home. The home she lived in did not belong to her or her family. It was borrowed. It was a tin shack. Maybe 12×12 in size. She lived there with her husband and son. Her mother-in-law and father-in-law lived next door in a similar situation. They had something of an outhouse they shared. They really had next to nothing. Her husband worked loading trucks somewhere, for very little and inconsistent income. They depended on rainwater for most of their water, or had to walk nearby to a neighbor who must have had access to some running water.
This sweet young girl welcomed us to her home. It was so hard to sit and listen to her story, and see her life situation, especially compared to all we have in the United States. Why are we blessed with so much, and she with so little? Am I being a good steward of the resources God has given me? Am I grateful? Am I generous? Can I do more? I certainly have done nothing to deserve all the God has blessed me with.
But thank God for Compassion International. This young girl is receiving so much value from her involvement with the program. Her son is helped in so many ways. Right now, the CSP is not a one-to-one sponsorship program like the CDSP. They are piloting a one-to-one sponsorship for the CSP program now, and it is quite likely to be offered as such very soon.
If you’re not sponsoring a child already with the CDSP program, please do so. $38 a month. You will change a life.