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.
It was 1999 and I was a thirteen year old kid who loved Jesus. I had a rocky childhood and I knew so much pain. I also knew joy–joy incomparable at the same depth I knew pain. That joy was found through the knowledge that God loved me and treasured me. More than anything my thirteen year old self wanted to share that love with others.
I was at Acquire the Fire–a gathering of teenagers worshiping God–when I heard about Compassion International. Compassion International pairs you up one to one with a hurting kid in poverty so you can help them with basic necessities–including a mentor relationship. I looked at the table of ALL the MASSES of kids who needs sponsors and love. I just kept thinking “HOW IN THE WORLD can I pay for this? I’m just a kid!” But, I knew I had saved up a decent chunk of money from my myriad of babysitting/pet walking/house sitting experiences. At the time my parents were not supportive of my faith. I knew they would be appalled that I wanted to sponsor a kid across the world. I talked to God and told him that I would LOVE to mentor a young girl. If He thought it was a good idea, my parents would agree to let me sponsor one. I called my parents, and to my genuine surprise, they thought sponsorship was an excellent idea.
The next day I picked out Linda Kristiyani from IO968 in Indonesia. Actually, God picked her out for me. Little did I know we would grow up together! Linda was 7 years younger than me. Her first picture is on the left. The picture on the right is the last picture I received fro Linda, my guess is that she was about 17 in that photo. I have no idea what drew me to her. Over the years, I came to consider her a sister. We signed out letters with “I love you” and we meant it. God provided money in crazy ways throughout my sponsorship. I got a “real” job at 15 and paid for her with only my own money the entirety of the time I sponsored her. I would have loved to sponsor her forever.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. When I was 22, in college, I became very, very sick with an autoimmune disease and was practically paralyzed for many months. I had to drop out of school, quit work, and ended up living back with my parents while I was ill. My savings ran out and although Compassion worked with me on payments, I eventually had no more money to give them. I had to stop sponsoring her. It was heartbreaking. At the time I was told I could not even write her a goodbye letter (this was not true and I would have been allowed to write a goodbye letter–if only I had known)
I was heartsick over losing my friend and not being able to follow through on my commitment until she graduated the program. Linda had been a part of my life for over a decade. I LOVED her. I prayed for her every single day. I still do. However, my heart HURT because of my failure to provide for her as I wanted to, and I withdrew from sponsorship for many years. This very blog is my journey back into sponsorship, of God redeeming hurt and turning my mourning into dancing.
I have had a heart for kids since I was one. I have been moved by hurting kids since I was also one. For as far back as my memory goes, I have looked into big, innocent eyes of pain and been spurred to action. The passion has always been present in my world.
In 1999 I was thirteen years old and struggling to hold on. I was deeply moved at a concert by an organization called Compassion International. They pair up an encouraging wealthy (and let’s face it, we are ALL wealthy compared to most of the world) individuals in first world countries with kids in third world countries who need encouragement and financial assistance. They were all about relationship. It just so happens that Jesus was all about relationship too. And so began my journey of child sponsorship…loving kiddos across the world, one heart at a time.
Today, I begin documenting that journey. My ambitions. My motivations. My encouragements. My joys. My sorrows. My loss. All of it (I hope!) will be documented and shared so that you may know a small portion of the immense joy in loving God’s kids, even when we cannot see them, even when they are far away. (Isn’t it amazing how that mirrors our own relationship with God??)
Ready to journey with me? Let’s jump in…