I’ve had the great privilege this week to take what Compassion International calls a “Vision Trip,” and it has become crystal clear to me why they have aptly named it so. A Vision Trip is where Compassion takes you to your sponsored child’s country to meet him or her face-to-face.
I thought I had an idea of what this week was going to bring, but nothing could have prepared me for the new “vision” I have of Compassion’s work around the world.
It’s real, it’s relational, and it’s personal.
Look at these two definitions of VISION:
- the faculty or state of being able to see
- to imagine
The first definition is pretty obvious at first glance. My friends and I have seen with our own eyes the poverty and depravity of the beautiful nation of Guatemala. But—more importantly—we have seen a people who are grateful beyond their means. Hard working, giving, and full of peace and joy.
My eyes have seen little 4-year-old Nicole, who I started sponsoring just about six months ago at a LifeWay Women event. I had been scouring the tables at our events for many months looking for a girl with the same birthday as my granddaughter, Addison. Compassion’s wonderful staff offered to find me one in their database online, but I knew it was important for me to search for her. To find her. My special girl.
And it happened, just as I had hoped.
When I looked at her sweet face on her packet and the birthday matched, I was hooked.
And so our relationship began.
She lives with her single mom and spends about eight hours a week at the Compassion Child Development Center hearing about Jesus and receiving health care, tutoring, and a meal. The center is also a source of support and encouragement to her mom by visiting their home and bringing supplies when needed.
When I told her mom the story of my search to find that one special girl, her Nicole, the tears welled up in her eyes and she thanked me. The tears came quickly for me as I told her what a great privilege it was for me invest in the life of her little girl.
I have a vision for this stunningly beautiful child. She can grow and learn about the God who created her for Himself. She can study and learn and have opportunities that many girls in Guatemala will never have. My prayer is that she will be strong and realize her full potential and purpose in the Lord.
Though miles away, I’ll walk with her every step of the way.
A Vision for a Community
Pastor Saul and Laila believe God for big things. As they are moved by the need they see all around, God unveils a plan before them. They are not afraid to walk into it by praying, working, and asking for resources. Compassion’s Complementary Intervention Fund has been a critical part of God’s provision for their vision.
They lead the ministry of the Christo Es El Camino Church in Guatemala City, which also houses the Compassion Child Development Center. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the gigantic vision of this couple to not only meet the needs of the families in their community but to engage the resourcefulness of the people in their community.
Here are some of the things their church is doing in Jesus’ name:
- They support and supervise the CSP that’s housed in their church.
- They employ men and women who take plastic bags and other materials from the city dump and make them into purses and jewelry.
- They give clean water to the community.
- They feed and minister to homeless and outcasts.
- They teach young men and women vocational skills that empower them to be able to provide for their families.
And this is only part of their story. Saul and Laila speak with the passion and deep love for their people who are hurting and searching for a way out of the hopelessness that plagues the impoverished.
I have seen with my eyes the light of hope that results from this pastor and his wife’s courage to imagine great things.
Proverbs 29:18a embodies their ministry: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Saul and Laila see beyond a perishing community and are embodying the active, hands-on love of Christ.
Compassion began as a vision, and that vision continues in the hearts of pastors, teachers, tutors, sponsors, and kids who participate in Child Development Centers around the world.
My eyes have seen first hand not only the beautiful, dark eyes of my little Nicole and her mama but hundreds of other children who are being given the chance to hope and dream of a future that would have never been possible for them without the ministry of Compassion.
My eyes have seen the faces of the pastors and heard their God-given visions for their communities. I’m jealous for them to fully realize those visions. I’m jealous for our own churches to do the same in our communities.
Poverty takes on many forms. It may look one way in Guatemala, but I’m reminded of the great poverty of soul in our American culture. We would be wise to learn from them.
Vision births hope. Hope births opportunity and an entirely new way of thinking. ”I can” becomes a real possibility in a culture that would say, “I can’t.”
I understand more fully the circle of vision that includes people like you and me using our resources to reach across land, sea, and cultures to join hands with brothers and sisters we have never met but who are teaching and cooking and cleaning and mentoring and a myriad of other things—in Jesus’ name.
Betsy Langmade is an event coordinator on the Adult Ministry Live Events team at LifeWay. She also manages the corporate sponsorships who have a presence at the events, like Compassion International. You can follow Betsy on Twitter at @BetsyLangmade.
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.