When the Light Comes On
By Beth Flambures
A pathway of mud welcomes you. A door-less entryway is your greeting. As I entered the house that was only 10 feet by 10 feet, I was overwhelmed by the absence of almost everything you expect to see when you enter a home. No electricity, no plumbing, no furniture and little light. The sense of scarcity was quickly replaced as my line of sight captured the young boy sleeping on a small mattress covered not by a soft blue sheet but a layer of dirt. The boy looked to be about the same age as my son, between 2 and 3 years old. I was paralyzed by his presence, my eyes never far from focus on the small corner that created his nap room.
The most compelling element of this picture was not the mattress, the heat, the home or even the boy himself. It was the swarm of flies that surrounded his sleeping body as his mother hovered over him tenderly, waving her arm to coerce their departure.
There I was, a mom from Colorado, standing in the heat of the Dominican Republic understanding the term “children of God” like I had never understood before.
The light came on. I got it.
I stood there and knew that I had fallen far short of what God had intended for me. There was no sense of guilt, no urge to rush home and sell all of my belongings, but there was a definite clarity about the true opportunities that God had presented to me.
We are all presented different opportunities in our lives; some of us have the opportunity to attend certain schools, others to travel the world and still others to live in a small mud home in a remote rural area in the Dominican Republic. Where do our lives intersect? What do I possibly have in common with the mom whose responsibility at that moment was to swat flies away from a sleeping child? Everything.
As we spent more time with this mom, I saw her in me and me in her. Her prayers, her dreams, her hopes, all mine. There was no longer a distinction between black and white, young and old, D.R. and U.S. The barriers between my “safe” life back in Colorado and the “impoverished” life in the Dominican Republic were gone. I was now spending time with another mother, hearing the impact that a family had made in her life through their participation in a Compassion program that sponsored one of her children.
I know that I have been given gifts from God in many forms; my faith, my family, my friends, my job, my home, I could (and should) go on and on giving thanks for all that I have been blessed with. But what I learned that day was that I had never fully utilized or appreciated one of the biggest gifts of all, the opportunity to help others.
Yes, I should be helping my son and my husband and my neighbor and my coworker but to stop there would be a misuse of the opportunity that was given to me. There is a global need and as a citizen of the kingdom of God, I have an opportunity to share.
A light came on that day, shining brightly on a realization that we are all created by a loving God who provides us with different opportunities. I no longer have a choice to sponsor a child in another country — I have an obligation. There is so much beyond the borders of our home and no reason to miss the chance to experience it. We can’t all visit third world countries, but we can pick up our heads, look beyond our “safety zone,” and seize the opportunity to offer support and help with the blessings that God has given us. I challenge you to turn the light on.
Turn the Light On for a Child
Compassion International is dedicated to children in need around the world. Compassion’s programs help release children from poverty in 21 countries, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled adults. Unlike a short-term relief organization, Compassion focuses on the long-term needs of children — spiritual, physical, economic and social — through programs that provide tangible benefits. Compassion’s work aims to equip children for the future.
Through the MOPS partnership with Compassion International, MOPS groups and moms can sponsor a child facing significant barriers to growth. Many children in poverty feel unloved and worthless. The child you sponsor will know your name, write to you and benefit directly from your monthly sponsorship. Moms and their families can exchange letters, photos, and prayers and turn the light of hope on for a child … forever.
Sponsorship is a powerful developmental tool that encourages children that they have value. Sponsored children receive:
- Educational opportunities
- Health monitoring and supplemental food when necessary
- Learning and developmental opportunities, including skills training,
- Christian teaching and social development
To learn more about sponsoring a child visit the Compassion International website or contact Compassion at (800) 336-7676, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MT).
Becoming a sponsor will profoundly change the future for your sponsored child — and will change the lives of your family members in the process.