I can get passionate about most things.
And be all in.
I’m notorious for trying everything and if I’m not good at it right away, I give it up. Likewise with causes. I’m an emotional appeal kind of girl. Tell me statistics of there being more people currently enslaved than the entire trans-atlantic slave trade combined and I’ll advocate on behalf of anti-slavery movements until I’m blue in the face.
At least, for awhile.
But where I am weak is in follow through and sustainability. I’m not an executor beyond the short term. So when the LORD really started changing my heart and I saw the things that break His heart, my heart stayed broken, for a long time.
The brokenness began through many of the causes I participated in throughout various years. And there was always a theme – injustice. Be it Invisible Children and child soldiers, to Not For Sale and labor slavery, I walked the line of whatever was happening in current culture.
But I always came back to injustice. Especially against children.
When I began working for Compassion, my heart came alive at fighting for the cause of children in poverty. I knew that in order to truly end the horrors of injustice it must begin at the root of the problem – poverty. Poverty is enslavement in and of itself. To break the cycles vulnerable children, child soldiers, child brides, sex slaves, etc, we must give these children a chance at a life outside of poverty.
I saw this first hand in India.
Our final day in Kolkata we went to a project visit. Before this time, I had never seen Compassion’s work in action. I was excited and a little nervous about the experience. As soon as we disembarked in an unfamiliar urban setting, the eager children shyly put their flower garlands around our neck. I was one of the last people off the bus so somehow I ended up with three.
We were taken on a tour of the facilities, saw teachers trying to gently control wriggling children who were so excited about the foreigners they could hardly contain themselves, played games in the courtyard, and got to experience the registration process. It was a mock registration but insightful and interesting nevertheless.
During some down time the project facilitator explained that when they actually register children, it becomes a mad house. Though the children are pre-selected, when word gets out in the community that they are taking new children, people in the urban slums storm the gate.
He explained that the people will shove against the gate of the project, jump over the walls, and sometimes get violent. Because they know their child’s only chance at escaping poverty is to be registered with Compassion.
The idea of locking people out and turning them away struck too close to home. It reminded me turning away mothers with outstretched hands, begging me to take their babies. I shuddered at the memory. Here I was finding Africa in India.
“Well, why can’t you take more children? Are you at capacity? Could more children come?” I curiously asked him.
“No, no, we could take many more children. We have room, we just don’t have anyone to sponsor them.” he responded.
Indignation rose in my chest.
Not on my watch. Not while there is breath in my body.
I vowed right then to tell that story. Because that is the story of Compassion. There is room – there is just no one to sponsor them.
I had heard the Compassion / World Vision appeal many many times in my life. It took me until I was 24 to finally sponsor a child. It had nothing to do with the venue I was at, the flashing lights, or the emotional words used to describe a life in poverty.
I knew all that.
I sold that.
I was numb to it.
I argued with the LORD telling Him I didn’t want another guilt trip. I couldn’t afford it, my income was too unstable, I was trying to get out of debt, reason after reason, I threw at Him in my mind. Fine, I conceded, I’ll sponsor a child if it’s a little Asian boy.
A child packet was put in my hands and my heart softened.
Africa. Female. 7 years old.
And then gently He asked me, “Would people know what you’re passionate about if they looked at your finances?”
There was no condemnation, no guilt, no shame, just a quiet question that hit a little too close to home. If you took a microscope and combed through my finances you would see Target, Chick-fil-a, and Starbucks. Occasionally a pair of TOMS Shoes or a Sak Saum purse. All good things. But all things that I received some sort of direct benefit from.
Part of my problem was that my passion didn’t require sacrifice. I didn’t have to give of the thing that impacted my life on a daily basis. My finances. Without a return on investment.
It was a sacrifice. When I made that sacrifice, it all changed.
Passion without sacrifice is empty words.
Passion with sacrifice sets the world on fire.
If you want to sponsor a child, check out Compassion.