"This is how we know what love is. Jesus laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18
At different points throughout the year, the Word resonates with me in different ways. Lately, the gentle nudging of 1 John 3:16-18 has been on my heart ... “Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth”.
In November, twenty volunteers from across the country (and many from Buffalo Covenant Church) will travel to Ethiopia to work with the kids at “Kind Hearts” and “Trees of Glory” care-points. (There is still room on the team if YOU would like to join us!!) We now have 400 orphaned and vulnerable children enrolled at the care-points who rely on their sponsor family for the provision of nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship.
Several years ago when I first began volunteering with Chlidren’s HopeChest, these children were sickly and hungry, and worst of all, their eyes told the story of their hopelessness and poverty. We think of poverty as materially poor, but when you get to know them, and dwell with them and love them, you find out their situation is much more grave.
Their condition is one of shame, inferiority, powerlessness, fear and hopelessness.
God commands his people to care for and love the most vulnerable (and remember, the Word says to love with ACTION and truth) because each and every one of us is made in His image. And poverty strips us of that human dignity.
This became real to me as I got to know and love our sponsor child Dirbe at Trees of Glory. A shy, quiet little boy with huge brown eyes, Dirbe hid behind his mother’s skirt when I first visited his small, mud and stick hut. His mother could barely meet my eyes as she listlessly but politely and with some embarrassment, gestured for me to step into their hut. Filled with smoke from the cooking fire, the children rubbed their eyes and coughed deep chest-rattling coughs, as they sat around the perimeter of the walls. The interior was dark but sunlight filtered through holes in the roof that let the sun peek through but also let the rain in and turned the floor to mud.
There was a pervasive air of hopelessness that had its claws in this family. Even though the care-point had opened its doors right down the hill and her older 3 children were already enrolled, she feared for her future and the lives of her five children. I could see it in her downturned face and her sagging shoulders and vacant eyes, the hopelessness that seemed to have a crushing weight across her neck.
I have a photograph of the day we first met this family - and a photograph from last year. And the difference between those two photos is astonishing. One speaks of hopelessness, the other of HOPE.
Every one of the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory have their own story and their own brush with hopelessness. These kids, made in the very image of God. These kids, alone and vulnerable and hurting and hopeless. These are God’s sons and daughters and he implores us to love with action and truth.
We are the body of Christ, his hands, his feet, his heart. God calls himself a Father to the fatherless. He rescues the weak and the vulnerable through his body. THAT’S US. That’s you and me. And if we are not doing it, then nobody is.
We are willing, God. Burden us to fight for what is yours, to redeem what is yours. Break our hearts for what breaks yours.
For more information about sponsorship or the trips to Ethiopia, contact via e-mail team leader Karen Wistrom. For updates about the ongoing work being done in Ethiopia, visit Karen’s blog.