I have always thought that calling the day my Jesus suffered in unimaginable and humiliating ways GOOD was plainly wrong. There is nothing good about suffering. Not his. Not mine. Not yours.
The more I grow and deal with my own heartache the more that I realize there is a lot of good in suffering. It teaches and shapes us. It helps others. The very hurt I so despise is the same hurt that has given me all the attributes I admire in myself–patience, perseverance, acceptance, HOPE.
But, that is not why I think Good Friday is good. A small bit, maybe. But, not the real reason. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew they would strip him naked, beat him until he could barely walk, whip the skin off his back, and spit in his face. He knew what that was going to feel like. I suspect as the time drew closer he imagined it every time he closed his eyes. He wept out of fear of the upcoming pain and pleaded with God to do something else instead. He was BROKEN. And he would do it again. He would do it again because he did it the first time knowing exactly how much it would hurt. That is LOVE. That is GOOD. Good is a God who presented himself to be tortured because it was the best way He could love me.
That love calls me to be GOOD in my world too. Would I be willing to relive my darkest suffering if it helped someone else? If it helped me? I cannot truthfully answer that question. But, I can say that I hope so. I hope that I am able to die to myself every single day by presenting my whole self for God to use however it will most benefit others–even if that means PAIN. Even if that means loneliness. Even if that means being poor. Even if that means losing people I love. Even if that means being rejected and despised and made fun of. I hope I will do it. I hope I will do it because someone did it for me.
And He did it for me on THIS DAY–GOOD Friday.
Togo is a scary place. It SHOULD scare us. It is a culture overrun by voodoo and forms of idolatry most of us have never had to stand in the face of. Voodoo and witchcraft have impacted my life in a very personal way. It is because of this personal connection that my heart has always been drawn to Haiti and Togo. Both cultures (ironically both settled by the French) uses Christianity to hide voodoo practices. They justify their inhumane actions toward children, animals, and each other by the tenants of voodooism. This breaks my heart. The more I learn of its deep roots and hurtful practices, the more of my heart LONGS to help these children broken in these environments.
Today, the compassion blog is all about a little girl from Togo who comes from a voodoo practicing family in a voodoo enriched town. It talks of how amidst all of the evil she is brought to compassion and now has been transformed. God is redeeming her heart in the same way he redeemed mine. Today, I m praying for this special girl as well as for my sweet Togolese sponsored girl Yayra and correspondent boy Benjamin. May God rescue them completely and create a NEW spirit within them.
Epilepsy Is Not a Curse From the Gods.
Shortly after I received Yayra’s letter, I was given 5 wonderful correspondence children. I had told Compassion that I would take as many kids as they would like to give to me. although I wasn’t expecting five, I was BEYOND DELIGHTED!! I so enjoy loving on these precious kids. I was jumping for joy to meet me new precious kids.
They each have their own stories and I will share them individually. But, i must say that this new influx of kids came at a perfect time. I am battling in court on behalf of one of the kids I work for and struggling in my internship for school. I was getting discouraged in my work with hurting kids. It seemed like there were no happy endings. These kids were exactly what I needed to be reminded that there ARE happy endings and that Compassion is so often a part of them.
And when I looked at their faces I was renewed with hope and encouragement. They were the PERFECT kiddos. I knew it from the moment I saw their faces!!
I received my first letter from Yayra next. it was an introduction letter telling me about herself. She is ten (and oh so precious!). First she tells me about her favorites. She likes red, corn dough, cats, playing with dolls and an African games called ampee. Her dream is to be a seamstress. This is not only a great dream, but a very realistic one. Togolese women can make a good living as a seamstress because of the value placed on brilliant clothing in Togolese culture. She walks on foot to her project every Saturday. I wonder how far she has to walk? I am going to have to ask her in my reply letter!
Next she send me a wonderfully colorful drawing:
I love how she drew it out in pencil carefully ad then added in the color! She took so much time and care to draw! Isn’t that precious? It means the world to me to know that she cared enough for me to take her time drawing a “just right” picture!
Lastly she writes “May the grace of the Lord be with you. Please pray for me and my mother (what she calls her grandmother who she lives with). How is your area called?” In typically young girl fashion, she doesn’t even sign her name (probably distracted on to something else). CUTE!
I am so excited to get to know this sweetheart who looks like she is crying in her photo. I hope that she finds a sense of love and connection through my letters and through her time at the compassion project.
My next letter came to my from East India. Sweet Dharmu in East India wrote me a precious first letter describing his community and expressing more genuine affection than I have ever seen come from a 15 year old boy!
First he tells me the names of his family members, including his two little brothers, Silas and Philip. His favorite color is green and he loves soccer. His favorite food is sweets (typical teenage boy!). He is from the Malto tribe.
He starts the next page with his beautiful drawing:
His art is certainly better than mine! Then he writes such a sweet letter:
“Dear Beth, Loving greetings to you in Jesus’ name. By God’s grace I am fine and doing well. Thank you for your love and concern for me! I belong to the Malto tribe in Jharkland, India. Generally, in our community people are poor and illiterate. Mostly, people are working as laborers. I am the first generation to attend school. My family members thank you. Your loving child, Dharmu.”
He wrote the entire letter in perfect English in his very own handwriting! I am so proud of him and my heart is in love with him already! What a sweetheart I have been given to love!
I got my first letter from Sterlanda in the beginning of February. Because she is a little tyke, it is mostly a check-box form letter. But, I learned so much about her.
In case you forgot, here is her cute face:
I learned that she lives in the mountains (actually, she lives on the little mountainous island Northeast of the main part of Haiti). She gave me two names of people for her parents names. I have no idea whose names these are. Her parents gave her up to live with her grandmother and have no contact with her. But, I, more than most, realize that we choose our family and these may be the names of her chosen family. 🙂 Her best friend’s name is Darline (so if you have a little one named Darline in HA219 let me know). I laughed out loud when she wrote that her only sibling, her sister who is a little over a year younger than her, is named Sterlandina. Sterlanda and Sterlandina huh? Poor grandma having to keep them straight!
Then, she tells me of her favorites. Her favorite food is spaghetti. Who knew they had spaghetti in Haiti? Her favorite part of school is when she gets to draw. Her favorite color is orange. She loves to play with dolls. She likes to sing. her favorite verse is Genesis 1:1. Go right to the beginning girlie! She would like me to pray that she does well in school.
She ends her letter with this picture:
My kiddo’s precious hands drew that. 🙂
From the time I saw her face, I fell in love with a beautiful Kenyan Angel.I knew I wanted to sponsor her, but I was convinced I could not afford her. There were reminders of her everywhere I looked. I had a long talk with God and told him if she was to be mine, He had to make it crystal clear. The NEXT DAY I received quite a sum of money I was not expecting. I put that entire sum of money towards her sponsorship. She is covered for quite some time.
Welcome to my Kenyan Angel, Anastacia:
Anastacia is a 17 year old young woman who lives in the Muthare slums near Nairobi, Kenya. She was abandoned by her mother (with no known father) to live with her Aunt who works as a sex worker. Anastacia carries the water from a tap that supplies all 300,000+ residents of the slum across the sewage filled lands to her home every day. She only likes group games and does poorly in school. (I wonder why!) Since sponsoring this Kenyan angel, God has affirmed this sponsorship many times and has woken me up on many occasions in the middle of the night to pray for this special young woman. It is my honor to be in her life–and I don’t even know her yet!