She stands tall with a bright smile and eyes that sparkle. Her face is one of strength and hope. The backdrop to her picture is one of mute color: browns and tans, but with a tree that shades her with sparse leaves.
To be honest, before we sponsored this young lady who has been growing up before our eyes so quickly lately, Burkina Faso was not on my radar. Limited Western mindset that does not notice things far from my bedside. Even after my wife began writing her letters and this young lady responded with messages of thankfulness, hope, and life, I did not really care too much about her home, her life, her country.
After all, we’re helping. What did it matter if I knew nothing about her culture and life? What did it matter that beyond my wife’s letters, we had no engagement in the world of Burkina Faso? What did it matter that I really didn’t understand why this girl needed our help as long as we were helping?
I guess the best thing I can say is that this mindset, even though I hadn’t thought of it as a mindset, started to not sit so well with me. There probably isn’t a trip to Burkina Faso in the near future for me or my family, but that doesn’t mean I can’t engage more than sending money and looking at a picture.
I have children. I may have mentioned that a time or two, or thousand, on this blog. What would it be like if I engaged them on the same level as I engage the children I sponsor through Compassion International? Money once a month, a letter here and there (written not by me, only my wife) and extra special gifts for birthdays and Christmas.
They might thank me. Thank me for providing a means so they won’t starve, so they can have an education, maybe even some contact through a letter. But, what would my relationship be with them? Would they really think I cared? Would they look on me as someone involved in their lives – someone who loved them?
Is that love?
I have a hard time calling that love.
With my children, I engage them every day. We play games; I read books; we laugh; we talk; we share life.
They don’t doubt my love. It’s not even a question. It’s not something I leave to my wife alone.
It is true: the sponsored children are not my flesh and blood. They have parents of their own, maybe only one, maybe grandparents. But, does that mean they aren’t worth my time? Does it mean they aren’t worth my commitment?
I started to write the post with the intention of sharing some facts about Burkina Faso. I thought it would be nice to get to know the country a bit more and to shed some light for those who are like me and never gave it a thought. However, I guess this post has become a question for me. Why would I do that? Why would I share about a place about which I know nothing? Instead, I think this is a wake-up call to myself. A sort of smack to the back of the head to say “How much do you really care?”
Enough to educate myself on the country? Enough to get me to write letters and engage these children with my wife? Enough to do more than give some money and pat myself on the back and think that I’m doing a great thing?
It’s a process. Want to engage with me?
Here are some great links to find out more:
It won’t happen overnight, but I think it will do us all a tremendous amount of good to actually engage the world around us. I am thankful to at least know that while I may be limited in my awareness and engagement, Compassion International is fully engaged and making a difference where it is needed most. Not everyone is like me. When they commit, it isn’t dipping a toe in the water. For them, it’s diving in deep.
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