Tag Archives: world help

How we can help bring hope

While I was traveling in Europe a few weeks ago, it was nearly impossible to escape the news stories about the refugee crisis. The initial reaction I had was “this is so overwhelming!”. It seems like an insurmountable situation. It is hard to imagine that there will be enough resources to meet the vast needs. But then a story would arise of people taking in migrant families, or people meeting them on the streets with diapers and clothes. These people are fleeing unspeakable evil and for all they know, it won’t be over even after they cross the many borders to the places they are trying to seek refuge. I have been reading “Counterfeit Gods” by Timothy Keller the last few days and was struck by his explanation of hidden idols outside of our hearts – these are the idols of our culture and society. He quotes an American theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr who wrote about the corporate egos of entire nations and the idolatrous power of pride and prosperity. When we let our national pride and striving for prosperity become so important in our lives that it is an idol, something we put before God, then it leads us so far from God’s call. So when I ponder why European countries and America have such a trepidation about openly accepting these people who need our help, it stands to reason that our fears that we will lose our national identities or the security of our lifestyles are what makes us want to push this off as someone else’s problem and hope that our lives won’t be effected.

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We can sit around and hope that politicians and governments will solve the problem, but we need to realize that this is a humanitarian emergency. Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the Middle East, many on the run for a year or longer, and they lack basic resources. The majority are women and children, and most are Christians. Thankfully there are organizations like World Help who are set up in key areas to help provide food, water, shelter, and basic medical care. As they leave their homes and jobs to try to avoid death or capture, most having witnessed horrific and traumatizing events, they are starting to lose their hope along with their dignity. As Vernon Brewer wrote

I cannot relate to being brutally persecuted for my faith. I won’t even pretend to know the kind of suffering they endure. But as the body of Christ, we are all part of the same family.

If one part hurts, we all hurt. This is a sign of solidarity…of unity…of hope in a God who is strong enough to comfort and protect His people.

It reminds me to pray. It reminds me to trust. It reminds me that I cannot afford to be complacent in my faith when my brothers and sisters are dying for theirs… When people are dying you don’t need to ask more questions or weigh the cost of inconvenience — you simply need to help

Even if we can’t understand the massive struggles these people face, we can’t be complacent and hope someone else will act.

I strongly encourage you to check out the various ways in which you can be part of returning hope. Prayer is a vital component of this.

And also read some of the stories to better understand just how dire this is:
Defeating ISIS with the word of God

Fleeing ISIS: One Woman’s Firsthand Account

The Christian story is one of hope. We share the Gospel when we are bearers of hope. When we restore hope to the hopeless. By being the hands and feet of Jesus, lives can be changed and the impact is eternal.

#whysponsor: Giving hope, one life at a time.

In the last year and a half, child sponsorship has been something I have grown to be so passionate about. I decided to start sponsoring a child in Ghana last year and now nearly 2 years later, I sponsor 3 children around the world. These are real children, in real places, with real needs.

In addition to helping meet the physical needs of the child you sponsor, you also nurture their emotional needs. While it’s not a requirement by any means, there is so much joy to be had from exchanging letters and photos with him or her! I even hope to meet my sponsored child in Guatemala when I am there in October! And of course prayer. Praying for your child, their family, their city, and their country not only connects you deeper to them and helps them, but it’s amazing what a powerful filter it is through which your own personal prayers pass.

I love this quote from a woman in the child sponsorship community about her connection to the child her family sponsors:

“Just because you don’t know someone doesn’t mean you can’t minister to them . . . and just because you’ve never met doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t genuine. These children love their sponsors even though they’ve never met them. I think it’s very symbolic of our relationship with Christ—we love Him even though we can’t see Him.

“What I’ve realized is that it’s really not about money,” Joy said. “For the child, it’s about knowing there’s someone out there who loves them and cares about them . . . even if it’s someone they’ve never met.”

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I encourage you to visit World Help’s website and see the children who are available for sponsorship. Invest in a life. By making a small monthly donation, you are saying to this child, their family, and their community, that they are not alone, their needs are not being ignored, they are loved by you and by our Lord, and that there is hope today and hope for tomorrow. Your small monthly donation becomes an investment in a life. I couldn’t say no to that and I hope you won’t be able to either.

Investing in hope.

One thing I love every month is making my donations for the children I sponsor around the world. As of last week, that number is now at 3 and it makes me so excited! Child sponsorship never used to be something I felt personally called to – all that came to mind were sad commercials and pictures on a refrigerator. But friends, it is SO much more! My heart was stirred to sponsor a child about a year and a half ago. I went on a mission trip to Lesotho, Africa with my church and one of the girls who led our trip told us at one of our first pre-trip meetings that a child she had been sponsoring (since well before this trip was ever on our radar) lived only an hour or so from where we would be, and the sponsorship organization was working with her to plan for them to meet. As crazy as it feels to say, that was the first time the dots were really connected for me. And it also makes me delight in how beautifully God weaves our lives together – in our human minds we would think that the chances that a random selection to sponsor a child would ever result in a face-to-face connection is basically non-existent. But God knows, and he knew all along. So while we were in Africa my friend got picked up by the organization and driven to the school where this little girl attends classes every day, she got to meet all of her classmates, and then got to go to her home and spend time with the whole family. The girl’s family had been working in the months leading up to the visit to make my friend a beautiful handmade gift that they were SO proud to give to her. They had all the letters my friend had sent over time and they enjoyed looking at them together. It was truly a wonderful day for all of them and our mission trip team was so excited to hear all about it when our friend returned that evening.

So after we got back from Africa, I knew this was one way I could make a difference. I was trying to make sense of all the children we had seen and loved on who needed help and when the need feels overwhelming to us, and makes us feel like there is no place to start to fix it all, the best way to act is to start with ONE.

In the last year and a half I have loved getting the sweet letters in the mail from my sponsored children and I delight in getting to write letters to them. These kids are SO much more than a picture on the refrigerator. They are linked to you, and you to them.

I love this thought from Suzanne O’Dell, a senior staff writer with World Help

There’s more going on here than a $35 a month transaction, or a child moving from point A to B on the poverty spectrum. We don’t get to walk away without being affected.

As a sponsor, you’re a part of a relationship that is mutually beneficial, mutually encouraging, and mutually needed . . . whether you realize it or not.

It’s a symbiotic relationship that thrives when both parties recognize and appreciate their need for one another—to support, to teach, to encourage, and to inspire.

Let’s give our sponsored children a little credit . . . they have more to offer than we could ever imagine!

We cannot forget to share this side of the story.

The idea of even one life being changed is a beautiful thought. But stories cannot be experienced alone. Each one of our stories is composed of reflections—of people who have poured into us, invested in us, and made us who we are.

If you want to read some great information about how effective child sponsorship really is, this is a great article to check out.

As you may know, I am heading to Guatemala on a mission trip with World Help in October, and so with the topic of child sponsorship in my heart lately, I felt like God was calling me to sponsor a child there. So here is Jeymi!

Jeymi Sarai Garcia Perez, Age: 10

For many people, the thought of a monthly financial commitment can seem like a lot – there are a lot of things we could do with $35 each month. I know there have been months for me where I feel like I really need that. But God is always faithful at meeting our needs – just like He is meeting the needs of children in distant places with my donation, He is capable of meeting my needs as well. No month has ever passed where I wasn’t able to make a donation despite the circumstances in my own life. In a way, we are ALL God’s sponsored children. Child sponsorship is such a circular blessing. I find myself now, more than ever, aware of just how abundantly God blesses my own life as I see how He calls me to pour them out into the lives of others. My perspective on the things I feel like I want and need have changed so much. The things I treasure has changed. As it says in Matthew 6:21

…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Putting treasures in the lives of others is definitely a heart-changer.

There’s no better time than right now to begin impacting the life of one child.

Sponsor a child

I’d love to hear stories of children you’ve sponsored! Have you met them? Do you write letters? Where do they live? What do they want to be when they grow up? How has it changed you?

And if you have never sponsored – what questions do you have? Maybe now is the right time!

Have a blessed week!

Have you forgotten?

Happy Wednesday! As this weeks chugs slowly towards the weekend (which I’m convinced is because it’s a 3 day weekend and I’m just very excited!) my mind keeps drifting, especially in the slower moments, towards the compassion and concern in my heart for the ongoing devastation in Nepal. The news has gone pretty silent with coverage, but it doesn’t mean the need has gone away. So I hope you’ll join me for a few minutes in bringing our awareness back to them and a few easy but VERY impactful ways you can help.

I think this quote from the book Awake by Noel Yeatts is a really powerful connection between compassion and action.

“Compassion is not pity. It is not simply feeling sorry for someone. It is not sadness or an emotion that we feel.

Most dictionaries define compassion as the awareness of need and the wish to alleviate it. I would take it a step further. True compassion—the compassion that Jesus had in the Bible when He was ‘moved with compassion’ (Mark 1:41 NASB)—is more than awareness and a wish. This kind of compassion requires movement, advocacy, and action.”

If you choose to make a direct donation, there are many relief organizations that are providing ongoing and immediate assistance in every way possible. World Help is one of these, and you can see more about how your donation could help here.

You can also read here about 4 Ways to Help and what life looks like on the ground in Nepal after the earthquake on April 25th and then the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that followed last week. More than 8,000 people are dead and that number is expected to continue to rise, and over 500,000 people are now homeless. But God is at work. Networks of help are in place and hope is rising from the rubble. We just need to be a part of that after the news headlines have turned to something new.

Nepal Disaster Relief - World HelpWorld Help - Nepal ReliefYou can PRAY, you can GIVE, you can ADVOCATE, and you can FUNDRAISE. Imagine how the Nepali people will be strengthened if we all chose even just one of these ways to make sure they aren’t forgotten in their suffering. That we are pouring out compassion. That we are taking action.

Hope for Nepal - World Help

I’m also committed to donating ALL of my commissions this month (25% of every dollar spent) on all purchases through my Stella & Dot eBoutique — an easy way to multi-task your shopping and support the relief efforts! If you want my suggestion of a meaningful gift for yourself or a friend, pick up this Interlock Cross necklace (sterling silver or gold plated) — it’s one of my favorites and a piece I wear every single day.

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3/22 is World Water Day!

Maybe you already know that today is World Water Day, and maybe this is the first you are hearing of it, but I hope you’ll join me on a little virtual journey to a village in Africa where their awareness of water isn’t limited to a special day, or a few times a year, but every single day. A blessing that is so easy for us to enjoy without any real thought, is the difference between life and death for so much of the world’s population.

If you have read some of my recent blog posts since the holidays or follow me on Facebook you know how my heart beats for this area of need in God’s kingdom. (I can’t thank all of you enough for your support in prayers and donations to help me donate my birthday to clean water last month.) We turned to this scripture in church this morning (Matthew 12:34) and I have been praying all week about what this blog post would look like, and this verse reassured me that whatever words I chose to write would be coming from the full heart I have for the urgent need for clean water – especially as it is directly linked to poverty.

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So now let’s take that virtual trip — to Kirinda, Uganda. You can read more about Silvano here — his story is a beautiful example of how our financial support can change the course of lives for the better. And most importantly, how a small portion of our abundant blessings saves lives, sets us on a course to eliminate extreme poverty in our lifetime, and how we answer God’s call with our obedience to care for those with the least.

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Look at these statistics of Uganda:

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1 in 9 people in the world lack clean water, 2,200 children die every day from water-related illnesses.

For children like 15 year old Silvano, there is a daily struggle between attending school as a path to trying to make dreams for a prosperous future a reality and standing in long lines to wait for water that will inevitably cause short term and/or long term illnesses that will perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Imagine how different your life would look without a reliable source of clean water. It’s hard, isn’t it? To really fathom life without something we just expect. Just like we expect a chair to support us when we sit or that we’ll wake up tomorrow, we also expect our water to quench our thirst, be refreshing, and most of all be safe.

What if this was in your glass? It’s what Silvano and his village have to drink.

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I ask you to join me in prayer, in awareness, and hopefully in finding whatever amount of financial support you can share. The best news is that we can cause change. We can break the cycle. We can prevent needless tragic death. The challenge is to choose to do so. This year for World Water Day, World Help is hoping to raise enough funds to provide this community with a comprehensive, multi-faceted, clean water system that will connect key locations like the school, clinic, church, and market. This will be an answer to prayer for over 2000 people. Check out more info here

I want to leave you with these powerful words from Amy Grant that I came upon in a book I’ve been reading this week.

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Put your love on the map!

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A friend of mine posted this on Facebook this morning and it practically jumped out of the screen at me. It’s funny that I think practically all of my Valentine’s Days my whole life have been spent single, and yet I think I love Valentine’s Day more than most people who actually have a significant other to spend it with. Maybe it’s because my birthday is on the 17th and for me it’s like Valentine’s Day is really just part of the month long week long celebration for as long as I can remember. I’m always amazed by how grouchy people can get about Valentine’s Day! I have heard at least 4 people today alone grumbling about how it’s just a Hallmark holiday and they won’t give in to a made up day. I don’t care, haha. I LOVE love, and not just romantic love, but every kind of love. I get giddy when I walk around and see stores decorated in hearts and flowers, all the heart shaped candies and accessories and knick knacks. It’s just so cheerful and happy! How can you resist?! How can you not want to hug everyone?! (Is that just me? Maybe? Ha) And the origin of Valentine’s Day wasn’t even about romantic love but Godly love. A sacrificial love.

So this Valentine’s Day weekend, if you’re finding yourself grumpy for whatever reason, I challenge you to focus on the LOVE mentioned in the words above “the giving of ourselves to God and to those he has placed around us.” Go out into the world on this long holiday weekend and be on the lookout for people who need some extra love! Don’t worry about who is going to show you love this weekend, think about who you’re going to BE love to. Put your love on the map, my friends.

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After all, the greatest commandments we received were to Love God, and love people.

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Here are some ideas!

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A new adventure!

Happy New Year my sweet followers! And also a “Happy Almost February” (time is flying at an unreal speed lately) I hope 2015 is treating you well thus far and that any and all of your resolutions or goals are still going strong!

I like to try to be conscious on a daily basis of what sorts of goals I am working towards. Usually they’re not big things – more like: “Go to the gym every evening this week” or “get to bed by 9:30pm tonight so that my 5am wake up isn’t so hard the next day” or “try to stop at just eating 1 sleeve of Thin Mints today”. You get it, right? But I save the big goals for God — what’s that saying…’you want to make God laugh? Just tell him what your plans are’. Something like that. And if you know me, planning is in my nature. But I have been trying for quite some time to just go to God in prayer and give over my need for control. I never knew what weight I was carrying by trying so hard to have my way until I really let go. Big and amazing things happen when you can cross that barrier of fear and say “God, I’m yours. You made me, You know me, You know what you’ve made me for and I want you to use me to further Your kingdom however you need me. I’ll go wherever you lead. Help my heart and eyes to be open to your guidance and discernment.”

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There is a point to this 🙂 and it’s that God has picked up the pace big time this past year and I felt like my big leap came on the mission trip I took to Africa last Thanksgiving. It took me a little while to catch up, and get used to just how deeply He was working in my heart but something about being there made everything fall into place like I’d never felt before. Telling you that my heart has been absolutely broken for the needs of others is an understatement. If you’ve experienced that then you know what I’m saying. The part of me that could shut off my emotions when something/someone started to make me feel a little TOO much has been shattered. I can’t just say a prayer and hope for the best anymore. It feels like I have a permanent lens on my eyes now through which I see everything in a way I never had before.

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I can’t cast aside the remnants of a glass of water on my nightstand that I deem “too dusty to drink because it sat there overnight” without thinking of the thousands of people who will die that day because they don’t have access to clean water. Or when I want to dump the pennies out into the trash that I found at the bottom of my handbag mixed with other purse shrapnel that I’m about to discard and am overcome with the reality that mere cents a day is the difference between a child going to sleep with a deep aching hunger in their little belly or he and his family getting food and healthcare.

All of these emotions are constantly swirling around like a giant storm inside of me.

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It’s almost never comfortable, but I wouldn’t change it! I feel so alert, so alive, and eagerly anticipating whatever God will bring me to each day. One of the exciting opportunities that I felt called to do is apply to be a Christian humanitarian blogger with World Help I got accepted right before the holidays but have felt a little stage fright about jumping in and making a post. I didn’t know where to start. So this is it 🙂 this is me telling you my why and that I hope you’ll continue to read this little lifestyle blog of mine as I add some posts that explore topics and needs that all of us should pay a little more attention to.

Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!!
xoxo

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