With barely a breeze coming through the open door last summer, I sit at the kitchen island writing checks to our church, mission organizations and our local crisis pregnancy center.
“What are you doing, Mom?” My three sweaty children stand peering into the freezer searching for a cool treat. “I’m giving our money to God.”
“How do you give God money? Can he spend money in heaven?” Hands grasp fruit ice pops and eyes watch me in wonder.
“Well, no. We can’t really give God money, but we can give it to people who show Jesus’ love and it’s like we give it to him.”
“Does God know how much you give? Does he really need your money?” These are big questions for such young children. Strawberry juice drips down their sticky hands.
“You see God gives us everything we have. I know it’s hard to understand, but our house, clothes, cars, furniture and money are really owned by God. He’s just letting us use them, and we have to make sure we use everything wisely.”
Water spills on the floor as six hands struggle to be the first under the faucet. Red juice slides down the drain. “How do you know how much to give God?”
“The greatest thing about giving is the Bible tells us what to do. It says God wants us to give ten percent of all of our money, and we can give even more if we want.”
“What’s ten percent?” The youngest looks up trying to remember if she ever learned about it.
“Well, if you have one dollar, then it’s ten cents.”
“We’re going back outside to play. Come watch our cool routine on the swings.” The screen door slams closed as they run into the backyard.
I sit on the steps watching, but my mind still on money, God, giving and somehow teaching this journey to my kids. They don’t understand giving because they can’t see where the money is going. They can’t make the connection.
After late night games, reading, bedtime stories and drinks of water, the kids are finally asleep. My husband and I talk. Words about vision, training our children and making an impact flow easily as we sit on the sofa.
“How about supporting a child through Compassion International?” My first thought since I’ve long known about the special children who receive food, clothing, tutoring in school and love in Jesus’ name. “Our kids can see how God can help a child with our money. Wouldn’t it be so great if the child writes us letters.”
“We’re going to support a child somewhere in the world.” My husband shares with the children the next night at dinner. We get to pick what country they live in and how old they are.”
“What country do you want?” Without waiting all three shout in unison. “Ethiopia. Remember just like our neighbors when we lived in New York. They are from Ethiopia and we love them.”
“What age do you want?” “We want someone our age. It will be more fun because maybe we can send letters to each other.”
Dinner dishes cleared we clamor in front of the computer. Pulling up the Compassion International website we quickly find where support a child. “Ethiopia. Choose Ethiopia.”
Immediately pictures surface showing beautiful and needy faces. A list appears with children who have waited more than six months for support. “Let’s support one of these children.” My husband suggests seeing longing in their eyes.
“I like him! A boy stands alone without smiling. He’s the same age as our oldest and we immediately feel connected to him.”
Simply and easily this special boy enters our life. We journey together now sending letters and pictures. He sends report cards showing improvement every quarter as he receives help in the Compassion International community center. He receives food, love and tutoring every week in a village with so little hope.
We send post cards of vacations and pictures of soccer games. With letters we include stickers and bookmarks. He writes, “thank you” through a translator.
He writes telling us his father just died. Somehow he expresses “Praise God! My family is well. Thank you for supporting me.”
Our children draw pictures and write cards. They ask to give their allowance money to help him. “He needs the money more than we do. God knows what he needs.” We pray for him and we know God hears us.
There is a boy in far-away Ethiopia who the Maker knows intimately. What an amazing privilege we have to show him Jesus’ love. God provided money for us so we can make an eternal difference in the life of a child.
Three children are learning that helping someone else is even better than getting something for themselves. They see the miracle of God taking our money, and using it to change the life of a boy. They understand a little more each day we are only the managers of our Master’s resources. I can see they’re grasping true happiness doesn’t come from what we have.
They can see this truth every time they look at a picture of an Ethiopian boy who is extremely poor, but who is grateful for what he has.
If you would like to make a lasting impact on a child’s life, please visit Compassion International.
Copyright © words and photos by Jane Carole Stein