“I Wept Tonight…”

I’m taking a break from the What I’d Like For You To Know series today, but it will be back next week.  Instead, I wanted to remind you about the upcoming Compassion bloggers’ trip to the Dominican Republic.  On the one hand, I’m so excited about the big picture–I know that these bloggers will be seeing some powerful things, and their words will change lives.  But on more personal level, my heart tugs with the memories of the days leading up to trip of that scope.  I know these bloggers are scurrying around, ready to leave their families, unsure of what they will see, and eager (frightened? ready? hopeful?) that they will be changed. 

And it’s this idea of being "changed" that is on my heart this week.  Just last week, one of my posts from our trip was published in Compassion‘s quarterly magazine.  It was a huge thrill, of course.  It’s always fun to open something up and see your name in print.  But reading my own words back to myself, all these months later, felt a little jarring.  Despite the changes that took place in my heart, it is so easy to slip back into old ways.  I read that article and heard my own voice and thought, "Please, never, never let me forget."  I even flipped through my photos, trying to smell the dust and remember those faces.

In yet another providential turn of events, the following e-mail landed in my in-box at the same time I was thinking these thoughts.  It was so lovely and stirring that I wrote back the author to ask if I could share an excerpt with you.  Please read her compelling words:

I wept tonight…

Its getting colder here in Chicagoland, and I came in from a shopping trip, turned on my heat for the first time, and started to clean up a week’s worth of "piles" around the house.  Sometime this week the Compassion magazine had come in the mail but I just found it tonight.  I laid it aside to read after I finished putting away groceries, cleaning out the fridge and doing the long list of other chores that are needing to be done.

In the depths of my heart, when I feel a twinge of guilt for all I have and all I let myself have, I know I avoid seeing things like that magazine.  Ironically, there was a picture of a t-shirt on the back cover that caught my eye and I decided to take a closer look.  Before long, I had sat down to flip through the pages.  My conscience was stirred by the article about hunger in Africa, my mind was broadened by the story of a Compassion boy on trial for crime he didn’t commit, and my heart was outraged by the news of the disdain for the life of little girls in India.  By the time I flipped open the back of the magazine, I was surprised to see your smiling face and the grin of a little boy I’d seen before on your blog; the hardness and nonchalance that I find so easily slips into my heart was crumbling, and melting into tears down my face.

You see, even though I’d read your story before, tonight again my heart was stirred.  In February, while you were in Africa, God brought into my life a business opportunity.  I felt like I was stepping off a cliff into the unknown but one thing I knew I wanted to do with the new part of my income was to sponsor a child.  I even wrote to tell you about it because when her picture and first letter came, I was so excited.  Her name is Mary, she’s from India and she’s beautiful!

When Compassion sent a bumper sticker, I proudly put it on display in my back car window.  As I fight my way through busy traffic, and glance in my rear-view mirror, I am often reminded to use that time to pray.  When you posted a link to a friend’s blog about submitting to the tugging of our hearts to sponsor, my heart tugged. Just like that friend, I had seen a boy on the Compassion site who I thought I should sponsor, but I decided to wait and went back to find his picture missing.  You would think I would just forget about it, but I can’t.  I had tried to justify that I was already sponsoring one child, did God really want me to sponsor two?  I rationalized about money, the economy, "fixing" my debt first, and a whole host of other selfish thoughts.  I know that’s what it boils down to…selfishness.  I think tonight, deep in my heart, that’s why I cried.  I cried to God for the plight of so many of his children in need and for so many of his children that could help but don’t.  I cried because I knew what I needed to do, and what God had been prompting all along…for me to trust him and give!

Thank you for your reminder that sponsoring is not just a symbolic gesture of momentary selflessness, but indeed a commitment to sharing what God has given us, both things tangible and things unseen.  

Please, my friends–even though I know so many of you faithfully and generously followed along on our Africa trip, please open up your hearts to follow this new set of bloggers to the Dominican Republic.  Tell your friends, perhaps friends who don’t know about Compassion’s work, and let’s help these bloggers reach a whole new audience.

Please pray for Melanie, Mary, Tim, Marlboro Man, Jennifer, Brian and Shaun, and for their families back home.  And most of all, pray for the children around the world who are waiting for a sponsor family.  Like yours, maybe? 

18 thoughts on ““I Wept Tonight…”

  1. Angie says:

    I have that Compassion magazine sitting in my kitchen. On the counter where it has been for the past 2 weeks. I ravenously read every article when it arrived, and I wept through them reminded that there are those whose needs are staggering. I don’t want to put that magazine away into a rack or the “circular file”. I don’t want to forget that need is world away, or even a neighbor’s house away. May we never forget… may we never become so filled with the glory of our bounty that we forget. There are always those who need. And we can be vessels to fill that need.
    Amen to your words and the words of this email. May we NEVER forget. And even more, may we NEVER forget the Gospel that compels us to act for those in need.

  2. Brenda says:

    I live in Paraguay, and the children in my neighborhood will often call me out to chat and then end up asking me for some bananas or bread. The other night when they rang the doorbell, I was SO tired and told them I could not come out to chat. They pleaded with me to out to my gate (I was speaking to them from the intercom in the kitchen) but I stubbornly refused. It was dark, late, and I was tired.
    As I went to bed that night I realized that those children were probably hungry. Everyone, no matter how needy, feels shamed when they have to beg all the time. The children were hoping that I would appear at the gate with some food and maybe some milk for them.
    Even though I was exhausted, I did not rest that night knowing that children may have gone to bed hungry because I was “too tired”.
    Children are victims. We, who are big enough to do something, need to do all that we can. And it happens best in relationship.

  3. Stonefox says:

    I am an overseas worker and I am ashamed to admit that I have thoughts like, “How much is enough? Aren’t I doing enough already?”
    But recently the Lord has shown me that it is not the amount that I do…it is whether or not I take the opportunity that is in front of me. As I have started doing that, it is amazing what it adds up to at the end of the day. In the process, I am finding my own life to be incredibly enriched.

  4. Jenni says:

    I nurse my fat, healthy six month old and think of how horrific it would be to watch him waste away before my eyes…through Compassion we have the ability to change the world. It’s that simple.
    We have been blessed in order to BE a blessing. As Stonefox said above, we are to take the opportunities that are in front of us; those good works that God set up for us to do from the very foundation of the earth!
    I saw your article, Shannon, and thanked God for your conviction and advocacy on behalf of these little ones. Although I don’t have near your readership, I know for sure that two people have decided to sponsor a child because of my Compassion posts. Which is enough to keep me talking about the need!
    I’m praying for all those on the DR trip.

  5. Philippa says:

    Shannon thank you for all you do for Compassion. I didn’t know about them before I read your blog and we recently sponsored a little girl in Columbia. That little girl would have still been waiting for a sponsor without you. Thanks.

  6. Lynnebee says:

    Shannon, I wept and prayed for you all thru your trip to Africa, and I wanted so much to sponsor a child, but I thought my husband would say no. Well, we were at The United Tour last night, and MWS spoke about Compassion and my husband raised his hand to recieve a packet and sponsor a child!We didn’t pick or choose…God did! The little boy is from Tanzania and is named Victoria…the “God” thing was his birthdate…one year after my kidney cancer…while I was celebrating still being alive…this little boy was born into poverty. Thank you for bringing Compassion to the front of Bloggy-world.

  7. Jennifer, Snapshot says:

    Reading these thoughts and experiences at once comfort and encourage me and simultaneously scares me to death!
    These comments are incredible, and I am so thankful to God that He has replaced my anxiety, fear, etc (all those things you mentioned!), with some excitement. It’s going to be amazing, and it’s a privilege to go.
    Thanks for supporting and encouraging us.

  8. Peggy says:

    Dear Shannon, I’ve visited here before and not sure if I left a comment or not but this time I know I must. I followed your links and read all over about this upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic. I’m from Minnesota but volunteer in Mexico. I started a meme and then made it a blog in September called Mission 4 Monday. I would like your permission to link this story on this upcoming Monday(actually Sunday night).
    I would love to write on this but you have done so well. God bless your heart! I do not get alot of participants but perhaps it will help to get the word out. I do have Compassion in my sidebar and did a post before when I read a devotional by Amy Carrol from Proverbs 31 team. I will be praying for the bloggers above during this next week. Please let me know ether way.
    Thank you. I’m so glad that God has touched and changed your heart to LOVE a child or many for HIM through Compassion. God bless!

  9. Melanie says:

    I have been praying that, in this economy, when many people are truly struggling in this country, that we will not let that stop us from helping people in other countries.
    The poorest here is still the richest.
    Thank you for sharing. I hope people will keep letting Him tug them in!

  10. veereg says:

    Shannon , I am an Indian Living in the US due to my husbands work. I live a very comfortable life here,and just the other day I threw a birthday party for my 1 yr old and orderd extras of everything for fear that it might fall short for the 30 something guest….only to end up with lots of left overs which went into the dump after a day.I was very shameful for the watse, I thought about the misery of so many of my countrymen for whom a basic meal is a struggle and here I am wasting away all the bounty I have.
    My Mom on the other hand celebrated her grandson’s birthday in India by providing dinner for all the inmates of an institution which took care of AIDS orphans….I resolved ,that every other bday in my childs life will be celebrated by some act of compassion by me,also make it a part of my evryday living.Thank you for your post and for spreading the word on compassion….I am sure it has got many of us thinking.

  11. Marian says:

    I cried through that issue as well. Having a daughter from Ethiopia, I find that her face is transposed on every photo I see of struggling children there.

  12. MountainLamb says:

    We currently sponser 2 little girls (actually, I guess they are quite big girls now). One in Ethiopia is the second child that we have had matching our oldest childs birthday (although both girls have been older than her.) Our first girl vanished from the program. Then our second girl is from India and shares a birthday with our younger daughter. We look forward to finding a little boy with our sons birthday at some point. But since November of 2000 (we’ve had both our girls since before that date), we have been hard pressed to keep our own two girls paid up. Thankfully, our daughters have willingly done without so we can make payments each month. We would so LOVE to go see our girls, they are both special members of our family. My girls write their “twin sister” every other month. They enjoy it. Although our little India girl was quite alarmed when V wrote to her that our door had fallen off of our house (it had due to severe water damage). I had to assure her we were alright. We consider being able to sponser them a great priveledge.

  13. Robin ~ PENSIEVE says:

    I can’t wait to hear their stories; and I’ve already been praying for changed lives–both the Compassion team and those to whom they’ll minister the hands and feet of Christ.
    Simply beautiful.

  14. owlhaven says:

    Shannon, my friend,
    I leave for the Dominican in 9 hours and my heart, though ready and willing to go, is sad at the thought of being away from my loved ones for a week. Thanks for writing this…I so much appreciate the prayer.
    Mary, mom to 10

  15. Amanda says:

    I too can’t wait to hear the stories, and will be praying for the bloggers as they go and the kids they’ll meet. (On a completely irrelevant note, I love fall blog look!)

  16. Farrah says:

    We sponsor two children through Compassion. I will probably never meet mine since my health is so up and down, but I was very touched by your story all those months ago and SO excited when I recognized you in the last Compassion magazine! I am thankful for your posts on this topic. More Christians need to give much more.

  17. Tania says:

    Earlier today I blogged on our decision last week to sponsor a child. This evening I found your site, and sat and read and wept over your Africa experience. I don’t doubt for one second that we made the right decision. I only regret not making it sooner.

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