God’s Shameless Love for the Poor

Today as I type this post I feel as though I am trying to take just a little sip of water out of an open fire hydrant.  There are so many stories that I will never get the chance to tell.  My heart and mind are processing so many things at one time that I am having a hard time sleeping at night even though I am beyond exhausted when my head hits the pillow.  I can honestly say that this trip is one of the hardest things I have ever done but absolutely one of the most meaningful. 

Yesterday I got an email from Amanda and she asked me if I could keep my eyes peeled open for a special child for her to sponsor.  So, Amanda, what do you think about Latangi?

Is she too much or what?  I met her today on one of our home-visits in an extremely poor village.  She totally could have fit in my suitcase but I figured Living Proof wouldn’t completely support kidnapping so I relented.  Amanda, you would have seriously died.  Her Mother has the daunting task of raising four children singlehandedly since her husband died three months ago of a heart attack.  Latangi, her Mom, and two of her siblings sleep in two tiny beds in a one-room 8×8 bamboo structure while her older brother sleeps on the hard cement floor.  She currently has no sponsor with Compassion and while her Mom works during the day she is left all alone.  She is four years old.  Four years old and left alone all day to do heaven knows what.  Just think, Amanda, if you sponsor her, Compassion International will provide the opportunity for her to be in school under the umbrella of the local church studying and learning skills during the day to dramatically boost her chances of survival.

There are hundreds of faces, hundreds of Indian children, who are just as precious and in just as dire circumstances who are in need of sponsors.  You can take a look for yourself here or you can just click on the Compassion India banner on the left of our margin.  The Compassion East India office partners with the local churches in a rigorous selection process to choose children who are in the greatest need of sponsorship.  They are generally among the poorest of the poor in their area.  I can assure you, every child you browse through on the Compassion website has a story that has the potential to change your life. 

Today the Compassion East India office briefed us on some administrative issues.  I’ve always wanted to use the word “briefed” because it makes me feel so Jack Bauerish.  And now I have and it was fun.  Anyway, each child has his or her own binder and inside that binder is a thick stack of papers that record everything from medical records to the complete log of child/sponsor correspondence.  My new and absolutely hilarious friend and fellow blogger Pete Wilson and I were shocked to see that one of the children had been co-sponsored by two High School girls.  Can you imagine?   Instead of buying an expensive designer handbag or a new pair of heels, these two seventeen- year-old girls combined their money to bring some hope to a child in India they have never even met.  It just downright blew our minds. 

Can I just tell you that the more I fall in love with the people in Calcutta the more grateful I am that we serve a God who cares deeply about the poor?  I could list verse after verse as far back as Genesis all the way through Revelation that reflect God’s concern for the poor and oppressed. I could quote the striking and slightly scary beatitudes in the gospel of Luke like “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” but right now I am far too consumed with Isaiah 58, especially the first eleven verses.  My Mom and Amanda both encouraged me separately with this chapter before I set off last week and I have been meditating on it throughout the week. 

These verses have spoken to me in so many distinct ways over the past few days but I am especially stricken by Isaiah’s definition of true religion.  I hope you’ll take some time to study this passage on your own but in brief, the people of Israel cry out with frustration because they do not feel that God is responding to their pious fasting.  The text goes on to convey that, in fact, God really isn’t all that impressed by their outlandish religious demonstrations like bowing their heads in “humility” or laying in sackcloth and ashes. 

No. 

His definition of fasting is cast in remarkably different terms.  If the people of God want to fast in such a way that they just might get God’s attention then they need to start being agents of justice in a broken world.  They need to stop believing that humility before God and apathy toward their fellow human beings, especially the poor and oppressed, could ever co-exist.  They need to loosen the chains of injustice.  Set the oppressed free.  Share food with the hungry.  Clothe the naked.  The incredible part about this passage is the promise that if the covenant people of God would really truly fast in such a mind-boggling and earth-shaking way, then light will break forth like the dawn.  The Lord will turn his ear toward them and His very glory will be their protection.  I take so much heart in the fact that our God is a God who loves the people in Calcutta who are bound by the tight grip of poverty.  That He thinks that caring for them is essential, that it is at the very core of our personal and corporate spirituality.  What a vivid picture of the bountiful and impartial love of God.

Now I think we all know that God does care deeply about the poor.  Scripture is blatantly clear about it but why do you think that God cares so deeply for the poor?  Why would Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor” or why would James ask his readers “Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom”?  What is, in your opinion, at the bottom of His love for the poor? 

I am personally still thinking this through but I read something recently that Richard Bauckham wrote and it really rocked me.  He said, “Poverty, in a sense, exposes the truth of the human situation in its need of God.  It dispels the illusion of being self-sufficient and secure, with no need of God.  The poor are those whose material condition enables them to see more clearly than most the human need to be wholly reliant on God.  It is in this sense that the biblical poor are understood as paradigmatic in their faith.” (Richard Bauckham, Wisdom of James, disciple of Jesus the Sage, 190).   I’m not sure how exactly to explain it, but this statement really resonated with me.  Perhaps Jesus speaks of the poor as the paradigmatic people of God because the poor, kind of like the chronically ill, are most likely to recognize their utter need for God’s saving power.  Perhaps the Lord commands the rich (which in context of our global economy is you and me, even the poorest among us) to empathize and identify with the plight of the poor and care for the needy so that they too can glean this truth. Humankind in its totality is completely dependent on God’s power and provision.  There are no exceptions.  All material wealth is fleeting and fading quickly.  

What do you think? 

I can’t wait to read your thoughts and opinions.  I cherish you all.  I mean it.  I’m so grateful for all of your different personalities and perspectives.  I’m deeply privileged to walk this journey with all of you.

One of my favorite shots of the children’s little shoes: (P.S. Keely Scott, Compassion Photographer, rocks my face off)

Subrata and me.  He wants to be a Policeman when he grows up so that he can take care of his Mom and she never has to go to work anymore.  She cleans houses and he wants to do all the work for her so that she will be able to relax at home.  He is seven.  Seven-year olds shouldn’t have to think about taking care of their Moms.  But Subrata does.

A precious girl named Rinky Roy’s little box where she places the treasures her sponsor has mailed her.  She has the best sponsor ever.  Her sponsor faithfully mails letters and has even bought her clothes and paid for a piece of furniture in their little tiny home. Rinky’s sponsor repeatedly tells her how much she loves her.  Rinky loves to study and has dreams to be a Doctor.  Tell me Compassion International didn’t have something to do with that. 

Me talking with the little women about their favorite movies.  They all apparently love Jurassic Park I, II, and III.  Who would have thought?  When did the third one come out anyhow?

Share

Tags:

199 Responses to “God’s Shameless Love for the Poor”

If you'd like your own pic by your comment, go to Gravatar.com. Click the first button "Get your gravatar today ->", and it will walk you through a simple process to select a picture.

Comments:

  1. 50
    Robin ~ PENSIEVE says:

    Melissa,

    Oh, my…this is about three posts beautifully wrapped in one! Have you heard from Amanda yet? Did she say “yes”? After hearing about Latangi, I cannot imagine anyone being able to say “no” (you know where your sister’s Achilles heel is, huh? 😉 ).

    I hear your heart beating throughout this post; and I think it’s wonderful for you to have experienced this kind of trip so early in your marriage. I know you’ve grown up in amazing ministry at home, but this thing is yours. It’s shaping who you are, further refining who you’ll become…and it’s a beautiful work in process.

    Your exposition of Isaiah 58 caught my attention; I love how God refuses to “be” the expected, to be the God of our making. We want to fashion Him in a way that makes sense to us, forgetting that’s impossible pursuit. Or maybe being too arrogant to believe it.

    Oh! And I almost forgot–the Jack Bauer reference? Ha! Loved it! You’re quite the spy-girl ;).

    Looking forward to the rest of our week together, realizing our time is running out fast!

    xo

  2. 51
    miranda says:

    praying for the rest of your time there Melissa. What a blessing to see first hand at the Love passing through these children who have wonderful families in the US to support them. My husband and I sponsor one child now, and are praying for a possible second. I know that I never feel like what we are doing is enough for this little one, but I guess God will continue to stretch me in this process. Maybe someday I will venture that direction and have the experience of being there in Person to love on all of those Children of the King. Keep Shining for Him!

  3. 52
    Bobbie says:

    Oh, Melissa–you have a huge heart and I'm sure it's growing by the minute. The children are beautiful and to think the one little girl saves her treasures like so many of our own children.

    Thank you for sharing with us, I have a feeling that Compassion's sponsor list is going to grow a great deal after your trip.

    Love & Blessings, Bobbie

  4. 53
    Lauren Kelly says:

    wow, wow, wow….AMAZING!!!!!! :O)

    And we love walking this journey with you!

  5. 54
    The Reeves bunch says:

    Melissa, I am so glad that God is using you. Each of these children are precious. Will continue to pray for you while you are over in India.

  6. 55
    Valerie says:

    Melissa WOW is all I can say!

    God bless!

  7. 56
    lavonda says:

    I typed and erased 4 answers already. This is so real and so to the core, that there’s not one answer I can pin it down to. When you have absolutely nothing, you don’t need to impress others, be something you’re not, put on and take off masks for appearances — the dependence on Him for your everything is REAL. The way He wants us to want Him and need Him. No matter what’s in our closet or our pantry or our bank.

    I spent 2 hours last night pouring over the children in India on Comapssion’s site. Reading their stories, looking in their eyes… I didn’t sponsor one yet, because honestly (here come the tears) I couldn’t pick one. How do you click on one when all those other precious eyes are needing you to click on them too?
    So I decided to let my children get on here one night this week and look at them all. My daughter is 8 and has been BEGGING me for 2 years to have another baby. She wants a sister so badly. I think I’ll let her pick her sister herself. And help me write to her and support her through Compassion.

    Thanks Melissa, for being a do-er, and sharing the stories.

    much love,
    Lavonda
    Atlanta, Ga

  8. 57
    Honea Household says:

    Wow. So beautiful. Praying for you still…

    I feel really convicted right now though. We sponsor a child in Africa through World Vision. (I’m not sure what the difference in between WV and Compassion.) I feel like a terrible sponsor. I never write. I never send pictures or packages. I guess I should do so.

  9. 58
    Teri~Facedown says:

    My heart was tugged for India while listening to a Caedmons Call CD called Share the Well. The whole CD made my non-missionary-called and hate-to-travel-heart yearn for the day when I will be able to share the hope of Jesus while serving the poor. Specifically in India. I am drawn to the people. I can’t wait to serve them someday.

    I was just watching “Measureless Love” this morning, your mom said something that jumped out at me. “All excess is rooted in emptiness.” This is not a new thought for me, but coupling it with your post, it has made me very contemplative this afternoon.

    We (and I am making a generalization) sit here in our homes, with our television(s), computer(s), ipod(s), cell phone(s), xbox, closets full of clothing, warm/cool air coming from our registers, cupboards full of food,-yet we still want more. –The poor, yes, they realize their need for God, probably because the distractions that keep people from recognizing their need are not there. Their blessing truly is because when they come to Him, they are FILLED!

    Sorry if this is redundant to what others have posted, but it is on my heart. I want to be SO filled with the Spirit of God that the anointing pours out onto others! I want the “things” in my life to ALWAYS be low on the priority list and the needs of PEOPLE always supersede my desire to have more stinking STUFF!

    I pray that you will be so filled with the Spirit of God that it will leak all over! Praying for the team too!

  10. 59
    kctibs says:

    How overwhelming the need of these little angels is for me. I have looked at the Compassion site sooo many times and I just can’t bring myself to choose just one (or 2,3,4,5,6…) How do you really figure out which one? I am praying like crazy and am going to talk with my kiddos when they get home today. I think we can swing sponsoring one child by collecting popcans. I guess I will let the kids choose who they want to send special gifts to.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking this journey and allowing us to peer in via your posts. It is amazing to and for me!

    Blessings
    Kelli in Colorado

  11. 60
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa,

    Praying for you at least 2 times a day. Is there a certain prayer that you have now that you didn’t before you left. Please let us know.

    Loved your comment.. blows my mind… it hurts to think outside of our protected world. Thank you for being the eyes, ears, and loving warm hands for us.

    Love, Amy -GA

  12. 61
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa;
    I totally understand about your trip being one of the hardest things you have ever done and yet the most meaningful. Having been to a third world country it is so mind boggling. It is so hard not to come home change in some way. And I agree a seven year old should not have to worry about his mother like that. We sponsor a child in another 3rd world country. You comments definitely have this girl thinking, Kim B. in AZ

  13. 62
    Jill_in_AL says:

    Love the pictures and the post.

    Isaiah 58 is a little deep for this over-busy and over-the-top day I’ve already had but sometime I’ll camp out on it, pinky promise.

    Your stories and pictures and testimony have completely inspired me to sponsor a Compassion child. Thinking it may be a be just the substitute for my Mother’s Day gift that will be something I don’t even need anyway! What do you think?

  14. 63
    drea says:

    Melissa, We could be friends, for real!!

    You asked what we thought, I think that the Lord is serious about the poor, widows and orphans. Just read Exodus 22:22, I cried my eyes out when I read this.

    In Acts 2:45 we are told that after they received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they were selling their possessions and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

    And then…
    In Acts 4:34, we are told that so much grace was upon them, that as a result of all the belivers selling their possessions, “There was not a needy person among them”.

    Oh God, give us that grace!

    My husband and I have taken seriously this call to sell our possessions and give to the poor. It is such a burning desire in me, that the Lord Jesus, had nothing. He was not lofty, He was a servant, and a servant is not above his master.

    Melissa, we (my husband and I) by no means have arrived, oh how I am learning. But I tell you this only to show you how horribly attached to my possessions I was.

    We have been raising money for our adoptions for our 3 Ethiopian kids. We had asked people to pick and item in their home and sell it and donate the money. We went a step futher and asked them to sell a “first fruits”, as David said, “I will not sacrifice something to the Lord which cost me nothing”.
    It worked, people did!!

    THEN, the Lord asked us to do the same. We had sold some things, but this one HURT. We learned of a ministry called “With This Ring”. The ministry is focused on digging well’s in Africa using the money from the sale of wedding rings!

    We prayed and I cried and sold both of our sets, and ALL of our fine jewelry including my grandmother sets and my mom’s (she died last year). I am embarrased to say, that I mourned this “stuff”. I can’t believe how hard it was.

    Then…God blessed. People read our blog and the Lord moved. Friends came and gave us gold jewelry to sell. I think that we raised about $4000 with this. I do miss my rings at times, they meant so much, but with our rings, we have brought hope to the hopless. IT IS WORTH IT!!

    Imagine what could happen if we as belivers, let go of earthly treasures, and held on tight to the heavenly ones!! We could affect the lives of millions, for the Kingdom of God! It is not enough to say “Jesus Loves you” to a starving child, we must ACT.

    Oh…I feel like jumping out of my skin, I am so…excited!!! Thanks for sharing your heart and thanks for letting me share mine.

  15. 64
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, thank you so much for posting this. I feel like I am with you on this trip.
    I am praying for you and the others, too.

  16. 65
    Marc and Charity says:

    Well words seem so insignificant right now, I don’t really know what to say. Thank you blogging through this, it’s been eye opening to read!

  17. 66
    Shannon says:

    Hey Melissa–

    This is one of those topics where I have thought about it so much I can’t condense it to a few words…but I’ll try.

    I think in part God hates suffering. Hates it. And the poor suffer disproportionately. I think God created an earth that has enough for all of us and he is angry when some don’t have enough, because it means, in essence, it was stolen from them. As Dorothy Day once said, “If you have two coats, you’ve stolen one of them.” (By that measure I have stolen, like, seven people’s coats.)

    I think God is basically on the side of the underdog, whether it’s Gideon or the woman caught in adultery or the kid in India (or the South African township–you know where my heart is). That’s my liberation theology kicking in. 😉

    I think God created us not to be independent but to be interdependent. We need each other. We are supposed to do this thing together. The Bible wasn’t written to individuals, but to people–to the people of Israel, to the churches in various cities; even Philemon is to Philemon “and the church that meets in your house.” We are inextricably bound up with each other. And when some among us are poor, then the rest of us have abdicated our responsibility.

    I don’t think the poor are “pure of heart” or innocent or any other Dickensian terms, and if we think that, then when we actually encounter them we’ll be disillusioned. They aren’t all those big-eyed kids in the Keane paintings. Hard lives can make hard people, and I think God hates to see that too. It creates such a distortion of the Imago Dei.

    But I keep coming back to the idea of what we were created for–birthed in Eden and ending in the new heaven and new earth. And in between is a world twisted by our own greed and grasping and selfishness, and the poverty of our neighbors reveals that more clearly than anything else.

    But to be honest, my theology is as much visceral as intellectual here. My kiddo–not my Compassion kid, but a kid who’s been with me on and off for years, since he was barely 6; he is 13 now–is from Congo and his immediate family are the only survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Phen still has night terrors of men banging at the door in the middle of the night to take his father to jail. *Who else’s* side would God be on in that situation? You can bet it’s on the side of that terrified 4-year-old boy. (By the way, he is an honors student in the 7th grade who plays football and soccer and excels at African drum and dance…and still has night terrors. But he is a sign of resurrection power in the world.)

    This is going to be as long as your post soon so I’m signing off. I’m so excited for you!

  18. 67
    Susan B. says:

    Melissa,
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Eye opening is an understatement. Much to consider. Much to pray about. You are all in my prayers.

  19. 68
    lori says:

    Hey Melissa I just got my girl

    Preeti from India, she is a beautiful 6 year old and has four siblings.

    My kids wanted to pick them all, so did I.. I often would look at the compassion web site and feel hopeless because there are so many kids, but close your eyes and pick one………..They all need us. I can not wait to write her a letter.

  20. 69
    Deanna Gott says:

    Beautifully Written! How could anyone resist such sweet faces!

  21. 70
    Anonymous says:

    First of all, yes, I am a guy who peeks in on the LPM blog from time to time. I’ve even “listened in” to Believing God – hope that’s okay (we actually did a co-ed study at work a few years ago…the guys even sported a blue silicone FAITH bracelet, of the manly sorts of course). Now that I’ve outed myself, I’ll share my reason for writing today.

    My wife is head over heels in love with Jesus, and He has used Beth Moore in ways that I cannot effectively communicate with words (and by the way, is BethMoore all one word? Not sure why we can’t just all say Beth…instead of BethMoore). 🙂 The LPM blog is linked on our family blog, so it’s easy for me to, once again, check in to see what’s up in Beth-land…or Siestaville…or whatever this place is called. When I found out that you, Melissa, were going to India, I knew then that I would be following your journey…and that I have. On a very personal and serious level, you have captivated me and encouraged me with your words. I have and will continue to pray for you and the Compassion team as you continue on in your God-filled journey.

    My wife and I, along with our kids, are moving to that part of the world very soon, not because we’re Xtreme Christians, or that God needs us…but because He has told us. As we prepare to finish up our work and school here in God’s country, uh Texas, your post today is what He knew I needed to finish up strong as one chapter closes and a new one opens. To hear stories of such poverty…and to see their smiles anyway – seriously, am I honestly going to complain about giving up my truck in a few weeks…my microwave, my bed with the most comfortable mattress/box springs ever!!?!? Shame on me. Shame on us. I don’t think that God necessarily had you post your journeys so far to make us feel shame (but maybe). I do, however, feel that He is using your words and your journey to Calcutta to remind me, and perhaps others, that our material things are not the end all, be all. We need a reality check and our stuff ain’t it. Madame Blueberry, where are you???

    What I love about Compassion is that they recognize how it can sometimes be difficult to reach someone spiritually when basic physical needs aren’t being met (not saying God’s not capable of that – He is). I love the story about the newly adopted Latangi…how her basic educational needs will now be a part of her reality…but more important from an eternal perspective, she will soon be “in school under the umbrella of the local church.” Yes, she will receive an education, but God’s up to something bigger in Latangi’s life, I just know it. Bless you, Curtis and Amanda. Little Latangi’s life is about to be rocked in a huge God-way!!

    I apologize for going on, but my heart is full and I just needed to thank you, Melissa, for sharing the details of your mission. My wife and I were just talking about your journey. You’ve got to know that you have a family here in TX that has a vested interest in that part of the world…a love for a people they’ve never even met. We will be praying with you, and for you, as you journey on.

    In closing, I’m not sure if I’ll ever get brave enough to post again, so I’d be remiss to not thank your family for who you guys are in Christ. I know, I know, your family is just a normal family, but I also know (and have witnessed first hand) how God is powerfully working through you. Granted, there are some who are more “behind the scenes” than others, but you are each making a difference. Would love the opportunity to meet you all one day. Curtis, a special shout-out to you, my brother. Looking forward to finals being over next week so I can check out your Podcast!!

    Until all have heard,
    Steve

  22. 71
    JW and Susy says:

    WOW, what an amazing experience you are living! I’ve been wondering what the poor means in the beatitudes too. This part of your quote spoke to me,”The poor are those whose material condition enables them to see more clearly than most the human need to be wholly reliant on God.”

    Here’s my question, I live with a continual guilt/fear because of ‘the poor’ in other parts of the world. I mean we live in America! I feel guilt for wanting a pottery barn this or that for my baby. I mean is it sinful and shallow to want nice things, since there are children that have no shoes or food!?!

    And a fear that, “Well, is God going to turn the tables around one day? Will the USA one day be in poverty too? Will we lose it all?” So is wanting/having nice things an affront to the poor?

    An affront to Jesus who had no place to lay his head? Should we live way below our means instead of trying to have a nice this and that?

    Do you ever struggle with this?

  23. 72
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, I have been just this week reading some Abraham Heschel, and what he calls divine pathos – that God is a God of emotion and feels deeply. I am so taken with this! Perhaps at the bottom of God’s heart for the poor is that He really does, literally feel their pain and hunger and difficulties. His heart is for them because His heart is broken with theirs – their pain is His, their hunger is His. And perhaps He is letting you in on a teensy bit of that. I don’t know if I am right in this – just putting it out there because I have been thinking about it so much. Heschel may have shuttered at my attempt to discuss his very deep ideas with my shallow interpretations!!! But you asked!!

    Cara

  24. 73
    amberburger says:

    friend.

    vernon and i have been praying for you on this amazing trip. our hearts are beaming that you are being able to share the stories of these children. you know our heartbeat is to care from orphans and widows in their distress. (james 1:27) it is what we have given our lives to.
    i loved the Bauckman quote. every trip to sudan, every email from them, every call and every story i am reminded of our false securities here. we fight hard against the ways of the west yet it is so easy to quickly forget that GOD is the provider and giver of ALL things.
    just the other day a girl pointed out that I always wear the same pair of heels on sunday morning to lead worship in. i relpied to her that i am simpleton. why do i need more than one or two? she was astounded. BUT now each week when i get ready for church, i feel the pressure to buy more shoes…”what if EVERYONE is noticing?” I want to run out and get what i am told i “need.” I love that in Luke 12 Jesus speaks to our food water and being clothed…nessecity not excess.

    Melissa. we are so proud of you for going. we are praying for Colin, for I know how hard it is for Vernon to be away, I cant imagine the intensity when it is the man who stays and he lets the one he is protecting go!

    anyway, keep telling their stories. thanks friend!

  25. 74
    Becca says:

    I love this so much. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s funny because Isaiah 58:11 was my “life verse” ever since I became a Christian – it’s such a beautiful promise! But it was only about 2 years ago that I took the time to read the part that comes before it . . . the part about IF you love and care for the poor, then you will be blessed with His promises. Ever since then, my hubby and I have been trying to really live out the words and commands of Jesus – and He said, more than anything else, that we need to LOVE and serve the “least of these”

  26. 75
    Anonymous says:

    Wow, Melissa! Loving reading your posts…..It IS so easy to get so overwhelmed when you see SO much poverty….The last time I was in India, I met a lady named “Annapurna” which means “sufficiency”….God used her to remind me that only HE is sufficient to meet the needs of the world….and we get the blessing of being used, if we let Him use us!

    I also can’t resist throwing out the other verse that came to my mind about God’s heart for the poor and needy, the verse from James about caring for widows and orphans…That’s surely what Compassion enables Western believers to do, and in a way that allows children to remain with their families….

    And if someone is REALLY ready to go a little deeper, I know of 5 ADORABLE little ones in India that NEED families to adopt them and save them from growing up in institutions that are NOT going to tell them about Jesus….If anyone is interested, please email me privately:

    bhenderson@q.com

    Praying for God’s hand on you!

    Lisa H.

  27. 76
    Sharon says:

    Yes. Compassion.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Melissa.

    Much love,
    Sharon, NC

  28. 77
    firstinmyheart says:

    Thanks you for taking this trip and allowing us to get a glimpse as well. When you get back home, please write lots of blog entries about this trip. I want to read your about your experiences and insights!
    I’m praying that a LOT of kids get sponsors.

  29. 78
    too_i says:

    Wow. Thanks for speaking to us at the deepest places! I am so guilty with Israel for piousness and religion without heart. Who among us haven’t been? God’s heart for the poor is overwhelming. Mine has not been so much. I can see I’ve got some repenting to do for being calloused. I pray God will continue to show Himself to you on this ever-so-important-journey! Thanks for letting us tag along.

    I have four children of my own, and due to debt had to go to work part-time about a year ago. The sin issues have been worked through, but the consequences still linger. I cannot stand leaving my little ones knowing they are being taken care of. My heart breaks for these mothers! May God bring deliverance through many Compassion Sponsors! Praise you, Jesus for caring!

  30. 79
    Anonymous says:

    Awesome! thank you, Melissa. I think it is so cool that you got to pick out that girl for your sister. So sweet! What a special bond.

    I love Pete Wilson, too. He is an amazing Preacher. I listen to his sermons each week on their website.

    Thanks for he blog!

    Shawn, Georgia

  31. 80
    Warm in Alaska says:

    Busy shoes, dinosaurs, and Isaiah. Wow – I’m loving your trip so far!

    Warm in Alaska (but clearly not as warm as you)

  32. 81
    Janae says:

    Wow. Melissa, you have made us speechless and prayerful. Thank you for sharing.

  33. 82
    Tara G. says:

    I wonder if it’s (in part, in whole?) His absolute, unabashed delight that they “get it.”

    What a precious little girl!

    Melissa, I don’t know how to convey this accurately in words, but I am praying for you and your team to be able to get your minds and hearts around this experience to the extent God allows- not only now, but more realistically in the coming weeks and months. God bless, sister.

  34. 83
    Beth.. One Blessed Nana says:

    Wow.. what a wonderful post and what a wonderful thing that you are doing Melissa! I am going to that website and sponsor a child. I saw that 4 year old little girl and thought of my precious grandchildren and how I would feel if they were LEFT ALONE! Oh, my. Lord, forgive me for turning a blind eye to the needs of this world. Give me a heart of compassion for others.

    Beth

  35. 84
    a2fourmom says:

    Melissa,

    These children are precious. My thirteen year old daughter has been saving money to sponsor a child. Upon opening money from her Paw-paw for her birthday, she was counting and took out her 10% to place in her jar. I was overwhelmed with her love and care for those in need. She is so young and the Lord has impressed on her heart. Praise the Lord! Our children are open to the voice of the Lord. I will show her these faces. May God continue to bless you on your journey.

  36. 85
    Lynn says:

    Oh how these pictures touch my heart. I want to hug these sweet faces.

    I love your thoughts and insights regardng the poor. I think you are absolutely right – our affluent culture seems to have no need for God – we have everything we need. But truly we are some of the most bereft people spiritually.

    Thank you for letting us see through your eyes.

    You are in my prayers.

    Sister Lynn

  37. 86
    Theresa says:

    Melissa:

    I want to cry and leap for joy after seeing the pictures and reading your blog today!
    I am going to the Compassion link and get it goin’. Thank you Melissa for sharing these great pictures and your scripture revelations. Most of all thank you for taking all of us along with you. I wanted to be right along side of you in that circle of friends. How utterly beautiful are all of you.
    God Bless you girl and may God continue to pour out His majesty on you and the kids!
    Peace and love,
    Theresa
    Pace, Florida

  38. 87
    Dara says:

    Melissa – thanks for sharing your trip (and heart) with us. I know this is life-changing for you.

    I was just whining today about having to cut back on spending and how I am unable to buy a Grande Starbuck’s White Mocha Decaf everytime I turn around. Then I was struck by the thought that I should hope for more money to help someone in greater need and not be worrying about my Starbuck’s addiction. :o)

    Your posts have touched my heart. May I move on from compassion to action! Thank you.

  39. 88
    Leah says:

    Melissa,

    I think God loves the poor because we all ARE!! We all come to Him poor in spirit and in grace and He longs to give us wealth of spirit and abundant grace.

    Let me give you a quote that so fits your post. It is from Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love” and it says, “Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens–they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them–they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t depend on God on a daily basisi–their refrigerators are full.”

    I believe that God loves the poor because they are not like that. They need Him and all too often, we rich Americans don’t NEED Him!

    Doesn’t that just slay you?

    Leah

  40. 89
    Jackie says:

    Sweet Melissa,

    All of this brings back special memories of my trip to India in ’04. These people are so precious, so loving, so giving. Reflecting back to your first India blog post – I too received honor that was not due me. It was for the many who had come before me, doing the more strenuous work of love. But I was the one (with the 7 others I was with) whom they gave a trophy too. Can you imagine? A trophy! I silently bawled. Tears streaming down my face that I couldn’t stop. Beautiful people suffering so much thinking I should be thanked for simply coming to them just blew my mind. I have that trophy in my hutch, ever reminding me of those precious people and of God’s amazing grace to let me go on that trip. I have pictures of me with the children too – my favorite pictures.

    Melissa, God spoke to me through your words about fasting. I believe he wants me to fast in this way: Whatever I would normally spend on myself, I need to spend on helping those in need instead. Fast from spending on me! Goodness knows I have everything I could possible want already and yet I find more to spend my money on. Thank you for being God’s instrument there and here, in Alaska. 🙂 Keep writing and sending your pictures. You are in my prayers. Love U much, Jax

  41. 90
    Marla Taviano says:

    Thank you, Melissa.

  42. 91
    texasinafrica says:

    You’ve got to read Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. He spends a long time explaining the theology of God’s special concern for the poor.

  43. 92
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, I’m still pondering your words and quotes. I was struck that we are totally dependant on God-all of us. Last summer we had made the decision to sposnsor a 3rd
    child. Several months ago my husband was laid off. Our prayer at the onset was to be able to keep up with our tithes and giving commintments. God has been God and we are testifying to His provision in enabling us to give. We’ve had to make sacrifices and it’s alittle scary at times but the months come and go and we are paying our bills and are still able to give. I’ve been doing the Esther study and the last time I wrote my girls I told them about Esther and I told them that I believe God will use them to help their people. I really believe that for them. To whom much is given much is required, I take that very seriously. Praying for you to get some sleep tonight and for continued safety for the team and for all the children to be blessed by God’s love coming through you all. In Jesus’ Love Kathy Knoblock

  44. 93
    Donna says:

    Melissa, I must confess that until your trip and blogs, I had never heard of Compassion International. I went to their website and started viewing the children that need sponsors. I am leaning toward a 13 year old girl with the same birthday as mine. She has Asthma, which I have had in my lifetime. She is smart and beautiful. I may never be able to travel to another country but I can try and make a difference in one child’s life. Thank you for making me aware of this need and organization. I admire your dedication and strength to do what you are doing. 1Corinthians 15:58 and Hebrews 6:10

  45. 94
    HIS Daughter says:

    I can’t find the right words. For once I am speechless as well.

    Mother Teresa said, “Love, to be real, must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.”

    She knew what you are feeling there…the love and the pain..and the emptying of self.

    Every American will have to answer for what they have been given and what they have done with it, I’m afraid.

    We cry poor when we can’t afford a new outfit, shoes or handbag.

    I want to slap my ownself hard and make myself go face down before a HOLY GOD who has always been on the side of the oppressed.

    Father forgive us for our selfish, spoiled natures and let us be poured out for you.

    I love you, Melissa…you are my kind of girl.

    Father protect her and grant her wisdom, insight and more love through this time so she can teach us more fully.

    In the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost
    Amen

  46. 95
    Ashton says:

    Hi Melissa!

    I always enjoy reading the insights you come upon. The pictures are so wonderful!!
    I’m reading a book called, “Forgotten Among The Lilies” Learning to Love Beyond Our Fears by Ronald Rolheiser. His writing collects thoughts that make me think of our need to feel significant and these poor people need to feel significant but need just the necessary things in life that I take for granite. Lessons to learn. Here is a quote from the book:

    “Given our infinite depth and our infinite hungers, in this life we will always be on fire. The fire inside us will never be extinguished by attaining the right experience – the right partner in love, the right job, the right city, the right friends, the right recognition. Our choice is not between restlessness and restfulness, but between two kinds of restlessness, between two kinds of fire – “pyre and pyre.” A great book.

    Look forward to hearing more of your journeys there!

    Allison

  47. 96
    jes says:

    You said before you left that you weren’t an activist. Reading that post…You are becoming one. YAY for you!

    -from a fellow activist and wannabe missionary 🙂

  48. 97
    Tami says:

    You have no idea how blessed we are to see these children through your eyes.

    I am not quite sure how to articulate my thoughts about God’s love and compassion for the poor. It seems over simplifying things to say that it’s his very nature. But to me that’s the answer. I think about Jesus, weary from ministry and learning of John’s death, having compassion on the multitudes who were like sheep without a shepherd. I believe that we aren’t always compassionate with the poor because we are not always able to see the value in human beings apart from “things.”

    I long to see others’ value through his eyes. I think the journey you are taking right now places you at the very heart of the Father’s business!

    Tami in LA

  49. 98
    Tammie Head says:

    Melissa-Girl,

    Been keeping up with your trip, little sis. Words can't even describe how much I am there with you in Spirit. Having gone to Zambia twice, I know firsthand some of the kinds of feelings you are processing. I am praying for you and cannot wait to talk with you when you get home. It's a must.

    Hugs ♥,
    tammie

  50. 99
    Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife says:

    When I see these sweet faces and consider once again the plight of the truly impoverished, I am freshly outraged at the health and wealth “gospel” of the west. If that same ‘give a dollar and you’ll get ten’ message can not be preached in the slums of India, then it is no gospel at all. When will we wake up and realize that? When will we send those dollars to the people who need them instead of hoping for a monetary return for our ‘investment’.

    Sorry for the soapbox.

    I’m just loving your perspective, Melissa. Keep it coming..I hope to see if you got to visit Annavaram where our child Palivela lives!

Leave a Reply

To receive a daily digest of comments on this post, enter your email address below: