I have been sponsoring a child through Compassion International for almost three years now. Her name is Thalia. She is 10 years old and is from Colombia. God brought Thalia into my life during the summer between my junior and senior years of college. I was working in NJ as a youth ministry intern. There was a beach festival one weekend, where we met an advocate for Compassion International. We hung out with him quite a bit during that weekend, and were often at his table, which was covered with packets of children awaiting a sponsor. I watched those packets disappear throughout the event, but there was one sweet little girl who had caught my eye. At the end of the weekend when the photos of unsponsored children were about to be packed away, I couldn't let Thalia go. So I became her sponsor.
You'd hope that everything was joyful and Thalia and I had an instant connection. Sadly, that isn't so. Thalia has always written very nice letters and I love receiving those envelopes, but I confess that I had no idea how important my letters would be to her...and I really never wrote. I think during those three years I wrote a few brief "emails" to Thalia, and last year filled out a postcard to her which must have been the first she'd ever seen of my own handwriting. Needless to say, I wasn't very committed to the organization, but God was still at work in my heart. He knew it wasn't hopeless yet.
Recently, Mike and I got plugged into a small group. It's the first I've ever really been a part of, and it's been great for both of us. Back in mid-February, I was also especially convicted by a sermon I'd seen on lifechurch.tv...Craig Groeschel spoke about making dramatic changes. He challenged me to think about what GOD wanted me to change about my life (not what I wanted to change), and why he would want me to change that. Then he said "you do what you can do, and trust God to do what you can't do." It's the only sermon I've watched/ listened to twice.
I knew my spiritual life needed to be shaken up, and at the core of that was the fact that I have never, ever been "good" at reading my Bible. I didn't know it very well, despite minoring in Biblical & Theological Studies in college, and it had never quite taken hold of my heart. So I committed to reading through the Bible not in one year, but in 3-4 months. That's a goal that definitely requires me to rely on God's strength, and NOT my own.
2 months into this project, I've read over half of the Bible. And, let me tell you, I will never be the same. It was very slow going at the beginning. But now my heart and mind are coming in line with God's, which is changing the way I see everything. It's ignited a fire in me that I hope will never be put out.
This brings us back to Compassion, and Thalia. I started to read the Compassion blog and learned about how important and treasured our letters are to our sponsored children. I'm happy to say that I have since completely changed my outlook and attitude. Thalia must be in for quite a shock as the letters start pouring in! In February I mailed my first hand-written letter with 2 photos of myself, so she would at least know what I looked like. In April I began writing weekly. And, also in April, Mike and I decided to move our finances around and have since chosen to financially sponsor 5 other children, and we have 1 correspondence child too. Wow!! Let's just say, I NEVER imagined that one.
There is so much more to this story, and there is so much more I could write about at the moment, but I'll leave it at this. I can't wait to introduce the many members of our Compassion family, who hail from so many different countries! I haven't even received sponsorship packets for most of them yet, but my heart is practically overflowing with love for these children. God is most definitely at work, and this is the greatest adventure I could have ever asked for!