My sister and I were sitting across from each other at breakfast the other day, and out of nowhere she contemplated aloud, “Do you ever think about how lucky we were to have been born in the United States?”
It's like she's in my head.
“Every single day of my life.”
We didn't have the most idyllic upbringing. I've talked at length about some of my struggles as a child, from physical abuse to financial instability. In the midst of all that, though, I remember having an incredible amount of compassion for other people's hardship.
The church I grew up in was hugely geared towards children's ministry, and one of their big initiatives was sponsoring individual kids in need from other countries. Each of their Sunday school students was matched up with someone from across the world. Through this program, my friends and I got to help children with problems that were initially hard for us to even fathom: issues like clean drinking water, food, tsunami relief, health care. On my worst days, I can remember going outside with a picture of my child in my hands and thinking, “At least I have a bed to sleep in and a school to go to.”
Traveling has instilled a little bit of that perspective in my own three boys. We go to different towns and see how other people live, comparing and contrasting so they understand that our life isn't the sum total of how people live. As Some Boy has gotten older, I've struggled with a desire to let him embrace childhood while also expanding his understanding of society. World Vision reached out and asked to partner with us recently, opening up the perfect opportunity to make an impact in another's life…as well as our own.
The photo of our sponsored child arrived and I presented it to my own five-year-old in an envelope. I explained that there was a little boy across the world who needed help. My son's eyes widened slightly as I told him about Menua and his mother, who had lost everything in an earthquake and now struggled to support themselves. They live in a tin building with heavy-duty plastic for windows, bracing themselves against the cold air each night. They survive on less than $100 per month and prioritize utilities and work transportation, as health slips to the wayside. Only with the aid of World Vision have they been able to make headway with things like clothing and critical appointments for Menua's rapidly-declining vision.
Sight. Warmth. These are things that my family takes for granted. My kids say prayers thanking God for things like Lightning McQueen and trips to the zoo. Menua sends thanks to God as well as to his sponsor. He eagerly writes about his long-anticipated trips to summer camp through World Vision, and the spiritual education he brings home to inspire his mother. “There have been times,” she says, “When it was Menua who has drawn a path in front of me.”
In Armenia, Christian faith was nearly snuffed out after the Soviet Union absorbed the war-stricken region in 1921 and sent thousands of priests into exile in Siberia. Sanctuaries were converted to barns. Atheism was enforced by the KGB. Three generations later, I'm proud to serve some small part of rekindling religious freedom. Entire communities now rejoice at the thought of praying to God.
Meanwhile, here at home, I rejoice that my kids have compassion for a child thousands of miles away. My own prayers are answered as a sort of deep perspective settles into our home, and we find peace in understanding.
You can watch a video to learn more about child sponsorship through World Vision, and follow World Vision on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Every dollar donated equals $1.30 in impact, thanks to grants and product donations. Their program benefits entire communities, and is open to all children regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity considerations.
I was compensated by World Vision for my time in writing this post. All opinions are my own.