Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Million Reasons Why

In my experience, people usually have one of two motives when they ask you why you do something. The first is genuine curiosity, usually because they're considering trying something out for themselves. "Why did you pick that particular vacuum cleaner?" "Why do you go to that church?" "Why did you upgrade your phone so soon after getting your last one?" The second reason is usually a questioning of motives. They might be trying to find out what makes you tick, or they might think you have some sort of secret plan in mind. But have you ever noticed that, if you're doing a "good" thing and someone asks you why, it's almost always the second reason?

We don't ask why people apply for promotions when they are happy with their jobs, but we ask why they'd pay for the car behind them in the drive thru lane. We don't ask why a family of three needs a four bedroom, 2,000 square foot house, but we ask why people give up their weekends for community service. We don't question our friends if they share their purchases on social media, like makeup that requires a carefully timed pre-order or a subscription box to have snacks delivered to your door each month; but they will ask you why you're loaning money to a stranger on Kiva or packing a bag with Christmas gifts for a child who "may not really need them."

People ask me why I sponsor so many kids, and why I write to even more. I think that when people ask me why, they're falling into that second category. Not maliciously, but they really don't understand why anyone would do that. They might think it's kind of weird. They remind me I could pay off my bills a lot sooner if I didn't commit so much of my income to sponsorship. They wonder aloud how I have time to take care of my responsibilities AND write a hundred letters every week or so. They ask why I can trust a large charity to use my money wisely when they've been burned by non-profits themselves in the past.

The answer to all of those questions is the same. Why? Because I've seen what Compassion is doing. I saw a glimpse of it in the letters I received prior to March 2014, when I took my first trip with Compassion to Tanzania. But I really, truly saw, with my own eyes, on that trip and the one that followed, in Honduras last October. Why do I give so much of my paycheck to Compassion? Because with my money, they're giving life. They're feeding hungry bellies and hungry souls. My money is buying food, providing medicine, keeping people safe.

Why do I spend so much time each week writing letters? Because the recipients of those letters are living, breathing human beings who deserve to be encouraged, prayed for, and dearly loved.

Why do I write to so many kids? Wouldn't just a few be enough? Because I've held the hands of kids who are living with unimaginable burdens, dealing with things no adult should live with, let alone children. And I've heard them talk about their friends and classmates receiving letters, while they receive none. I've heard the project staff share that some kids pray to God to receive letters, ask why their sponsor doesn't love them, confide that they worry God doesn't care, either, because he doesn't answer those prayers.

Why do I trust Compassion to be good stewards of my money? Because they've been doing this a long time- more than half a century, actually- and they do it well. Because I've seen the facilities and the offices and the homes of the beneficiaries and I know that smart people are using that money in smart ways. I've spent time with the office staff, the project facilitators, and the pastors who are dedicating their lives to eliminating extreme poverty by making life better for these children, making sacrifices of their time, their skill, and often their own money to lift them up.

Why do I do these things? After seeing what I've seen, how can I not? How can I ignore the teenager shoving half eaten pieces of chicken into her bag to take home to her hungry siblings? How can I ignore the little girl giving a tour of her neighborhood, casually pointing out who's been murdered at which home? How can I ignore the young lady who shares that she was used in local witchcraft practices and rituals- some that resulted in death- before the project rescued her and showed her Jesus? How can I ignore the boy who humbly opens his tiny home to visiting sponsors, admitting that he lives there by himself, in the dark, because his family moved on and didn't want him to join them? How can I ignore the family of seven living in the earthen house roughly the size of my kitchen? I can't. Knowing what I know, I can't NOT do anything. My heart, my conscience, my faith won't let me.

I hope that someday all my friends, family, and acquaintances will go from asking me "why" out of incredulity and start asking "why" because they want to get in on this themselves. Maybe it's time I start asking why not? Why don't you carve out a little space in your budget for an embarrassingly affordable commitment? Why don't you take a look at the children waiting for a sponsor sometime, praying over them and keeping your heart open to the possibility that God might want you to welcome one of them into your family? If you're already a sponsor, why not take the time today to write a letter or card, or even send an extra gift to your sponsor child- you'd be amazed at how far even $10 can go! These days you can't even get a fast food meal at some restaurants for that amount of money. Why not skip the carry out or the coffee run, just once, and provide your sponsor child with a new pair of shoes, school fees, or food for their family?

If you have your own "whys," know that you can always share them with me, and I'll do my best to answer them. If I don't know the answer, I'll find someone who will! And in the meantime, indulge me and take a look at these sweet, precious faces of kids who are waiting for their own sponsors. Maybe you're the answer to their own "whys."

Patrick in Rwanda has been waiting 416 days for a sponsor.

Richard in Tanzania has been waiting 365 days for a sponsor. 

Leidy in Colombia has been waiting 307 days for a sponsor.


  1. Awesome! I can relate 100%. Having seen what I've seen, to do nothing would be unimaginable. Thanks for your passion and generosity Jessi :)

  2. Beautifully said!!! It's like once you know the reality of what's going on, it can't be ignored....and so we fight and sacrifice.


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