You guys. Cool story.
Shaina and I are in Ecuador this week. Long story short: because of what God is up to with City Campus Church and because of how the people of that church have given and served, C3 was honored with the 2015 Wess Stafford Award. Among the perks of this honor is a trip for Shaina and I to visit our Compassion International sponsor child.
Back story: when we planted C3 in Columbus we decided to jump in on a new initiative to plant a church globally. Compassion is one of the more effective organizations at releasing children from poverty around the globe. Their strategy is to only set up Compassion Centers through local churches. Stadia, the organization that helped us start C3 approached Compassion and simply posed the question "What happens if there is no local church in an area?" Compassion's response was pretty simple...no local church...no compassion center. Somehow through continued dialogue a new idea emerged that combined Stadia's expertise at planting churches with Compassion's expertise at breaking the cycle of poverty in the developing world. Stadia would plant a church where there was no church and Compassion would come in simultaneously and set up a project that would immediately provide 40 kiddos age birth-3, along with their moms, access to Compassion's Child Survival Program. In addition to those 40 households, 200 kids age 4 and up would be enrolled in a sponsorship program in which people with means would invest in the life of a kid for $38 a month. The kid and the sponsor would then develop a relationship through letter writing. The pilot run of this in Ecuador has rapidly moved to multiple new churches/Compassion centers being launched in 5 countries with another 30 on the horizon in 2016.
So C3 helped launch New Dawn Church in Ecuador in 2012. We also sponsored over 30 kids from the project. We took our church's first ever mission trip in 2014. 14 folks from C3 spent a week in Ecuador and many got to meet the kiddo they sponsor. Pretty amazing stuff.
As 2016 has begun, I've been asking God to help me trust in his supernatural working more. Jesus healed people, cast out demons, spoke words that awakened hearts and he told his disciples that they would be able to do what he was doing and much more. And then the disciples saw it start happening in and through them. I want to take Jesus at His word, so I've been asking him for opportunities to live into this supernatural gig a little more. I have no idea what I'm doing.
All I know is that a little girl that was destined to die, has had her story drastically rewritten by the infusion of God's power. A heart that was medically deemed dead has begun to be swallowed up by life. We prayed...begged...pleaded for God to do this thing...to make a stony heart become a heart of flesh.
And He's doing it. Our daughter. Life and Joy.
So back to today!
We went to visit a mother and her family who are part of the Child Survival Program. Floors of jagged stone and dirt. A kitchen with no food in it except a few leaves of lettuce. A single bedroom where Blanca, the mom and her one year old Diego slept in one bed and five year old Jonathan slept in the other. Two dogs roamed around inside and outside the house, one missing a leg, filthy, but likely used to keep even filthier creatures away. No running water. No indoor bathroom. Flies everywhere. Just a few toys and a kid's Bible.
And the only thing more disheartening than the living conditions was the family situation.
The mom was alone. The father of Diego left, just as the father of Jonathan had done. The woman, who looked if she was barely 20 was so broken she could not bring herself to lift her gaze from the floor. She shared through translators that because of her kids, she couldn't find employment, so she washed people's clothes. She could make $10 a week doing that.
Her self esteem was trampled, broken and spit on and it seemed that her path would inevitably lead her to the same cycle of some punk guy who would dangle value and worth to someone desperate to feel valuable and worthy.
And then she shared on top of all the other trials that Jonathan had some significant heart issues and had to have surgery but it didn't do everything it needed to and he was not well.
And there it was again. Ezekiel 36:26. Dead hearts. Desperate to come alive.
A woman that has more poverty in her heart than she does in her home (which is immense). A kid who physically needs healing to his heart.
And I started thinking as we're standing in her home, what God, our loving Father would want to give this family of his kids.
And so we prayed. That God would supernaturally heal Jonathan's heart. And that he would do the same for his mom.
And would He do the same for you and me.
The poverty of the soul takes many forms, but we're all in need of resurrection.
From tireless pursuit to prove our worth.
From fear and unforgiveness.
From isolation and lack of meaningful relationship.
From the addictive chase for validation. The endless suspicion of other's intentions.
I guess what I'm getting at is that this abject poverty thing isn't a continent away or even on the other side of the tracks in the place you don't dare travel after dark.
It's me and it's you.
And God wants to make it right.
Maybe we should join Him.