I am notorious for my high-maintenance sleeping issues. I have the hearing of a bat, so any slight noise wakes me up. But my sweet boss and friend, Faith, took one for the team this week and agreed to room with me.
Our small team here in Guatemala was teasing me about it—jokingly, of course—at dinner after a very full day. After we arrived back at the hotel, and I climbed into my large and clean bed, the Holy Spirit spoke to me: How difficult would it be to sleep in a hot 8×10 hut with six other people?
Our first full day in Guatemala held so many humbling experiences, one of which had a significant impact on me: meeting a family of seven who lived in a small hut with a dirt floor.
They were beautiful, kind, warm, content, and living in outstanding poverty. And so I answered the Holy Spirit: Yes, it would be difficult to sleep in such conditions.
But Nancy, the sweet mother of five, has lived in that hut her entire life, so you might look at those kids and assume that a bright future was far out of reach.
But there was plenty of hope in that tiny house with a dirt floor.
The hope of a boy named Joshua who loves to sing with the children at the Compassion project in town. And his brother Christopher, who is seven, loves learning the Scriptures. He teaches his parents about prayer and even reminds them to pray before going to bed each night.
Joshua’s favorite verse is 1 Samuel 3:1. Ironically, he is the one in the photo just below with the name Samuel on his t-shirt.
The boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.
Christopher’s favorite verse? Luke 5:20.
Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
Children not only find hope in Jesus Christ in the church where they meet for the Compassion project, but they take that hope home with them. Some 44,000 children across the country of Guatemala. Boys like Joshua with dimples and Christopher with mohawk hairdos.
Miguel and Clara
I loved meeting Miguel Waldemar, the Mayan boy I’ve been sponsoring through Compassion for four years. And I was just as excited to meet and get to know his darling mama, Clara. They took a six-hour bus ride to meet me.
Miguel is the oldest of four boys and asked me to pray that he would make it through high school and graduate. That was also sweet Clara’s prayer.
So many dreams of the future. So many hopes.
They thanked me again and again.
It all should have been so real to me before, with photos of Manuel on my refrigerator. But meeting them face-to-face has made it so much more real.
Manuel is a real boy with real challenges who lives by a beautiful lake in Guatemala. He has real dreams to one day be a teacher. And he has a real mom with real dreams for her son. The monthly financial gift I send gives Manuel and Clara the chance to dream.
Dream, Doris, Dream
Our team met Doris and two of her peers one morning for breakfast. Doris is a student in Compassion’s Leadership Development Program (or LDP).
I didn’t expect them to just press on my heart with stories of how their Compassion sponsors had given them a chance to dream.
Doris wept as she told us that most girls in her situation don’t even get the chance to seek education past the ninth grade. But she had bigger dreams—and an even bigger God—who helped her overcome every obstacle she would face. She’s now studying business administration at the collegiate level and wants to one day have her own business in her hometown where she can give people jobs.
I am not a gifted enough writer to capture in words here on the blog the impact her testimony had on me.
But we just all quietly wept as she shared her miraculous journey and her passion to dream freely.
She was a tangible representation of the possibilities we as sponsors give the children through Compassion International and God’s overwhelming and beautiful grace.
I saw the beginning of the journey in that little hut in the woods on the hopeful faces of Christopher and Joshua as they told us their favorite verses. I saw the continuing journey of Miguel, beginning the ninth grade and praying that he would make it to graduation. And I could see the finish line just ahead with Doris and Marcus and Cindy who are incredible young people with a hope and a future.
All of these have come to know that God knows them and sees them and has a plan for them.
Each and every one has what God grants to all of his children:
the freedom to dream.
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? – Romans 8:31-32
Click here to learn more about Compassion International and how you, too, can get involved with what God is doing in the lives of children all around the globe.
Paige Greene is the director of Adult Live Events at LifeWay. She is also the proud aunt of eight beautiful nieces. You can follow her on Twitter @PaigeGreene.