Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Thankful

This is Ahishakiye, our sponsored child through Compassion. Lizzy and I had the huge privilege of meeting him, his mother and one of his brothers last Saturday. Some while ago his father could no longer afford the rent on their apartment in town, so he built the family a shelter with a grass roof. Then, one day he was rushed into hospital having fallen ill, and died soon after, leaving his wife and his four children with nothing but a thatched shelter.

Ahishakiye’s mum does her best to look after the family, working in the fields as a farm labourer when she can get the work, which earns her 4,000 shillings per day. That may sound a lot, but it’s about £1, or $1.50. And right now is the growing season, so there is no work, which means she earns nothing. I asked her what she does for food? ‘People help us,’ she answered.

And that sums up the story of this family: the community around them, when Compassion had some new spaces for sponsored children, were asked who the neediest of the needy were: Ahishakiye’s family. That’s when he became a sponsored child. And the community around them helped to build a new home with a metal roof, donated by the local Compassion project. This means they can harvest rainwater so during the wet season they don’t have to travel to collect it anymore. But as the roof is second-hand it has holes in it, which means some of the rainfall comes into the home. Ahishakiye showed us his tiny bed ‘room'; there were holes in the roof above his mattress so it was damp. He shares this mattress with a brother as there are only three beds for the five of them.

Compassion have also given them a goat, which gives them a supply of milk and may, if they can get another, produce offspring which can provide an income.

It was such a joy to meet Ahishakiye, to show him photos of our family, to give him gifts of toys, clothes and a bible (and a Manchester United shirt!), to hear about their life and to pray with them. And it made me so thankful that we were investing into this beautiful family a small amount of what God has given to us, so that their future may look completely different to their past.

That’s what compassion does: it infuses life with hope. And Compassion are infusing hope into the neediest of the needy. Ahishakiye wants to become a pilot. I’m thankful to be a part of the process which allows that to have become a possibility for him.

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Faith and Works

‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ (James 2:14, 16, 17 NIV)

I’ve been in Africa for three days now with Compassion visiting some of their projects and learning about their work. It’s my first visit and in many ways it is blowing me away. But I’m struck each time when the people in the projects say ‘Thank you for loving us’.

For one, it makes me feel a little bit guilty, as I have not sponsored any children from any project that we have visited so far (that happens in a few days’ time). But the people we have met have wanted to thank us as representatives of those who do sponsor the children. However, their thanks isn’t for the money, but for love.

The story of the lady in this picture begins in a way that some might find familiar with: she fell in love and had children with her partner, but then he had to leave because he had no way of repaying some debt and his life was in danger. That was three years ago. He left this lady with nothing but seven children to look after. Family stepped in; her brother offered her some land so she moved and began a new life, and through Compassion’s work two of the children are part of the sponsorship programme, and they were able to build a house comprising two small rooms. They own two stools and eight sleeping mats, one for each person. They had one LED bulb powered by battery. They had a few bowls in the kitchen area (which you can see in the photo behind the house).

Through Compassion their life is beginning to look a little more hopeful. And the mum was full of smiles and gratitude, not for money or for the house, but for love.

Which made me think of James’ challenge. The way we show love is through what we do; works. Without action love is just a nice feeling. But consistent generosity and giving of money through Compassion is a way of loving the neediest of the needy. The project we visited today had twelve children needing sponsorship. Help them by visiting Compassion – and tomorrow I’ll be happy to receive their thanks for love on your behalf.

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‘They’ will be called

Jesus chose Isaiah 61 as his own manifesto. I love it, and it was read at the commissioning service when Glo Church was launched back in 2011. It became our manifesto too; but one little word has changed my perspective on the whole passage.

Back in the day I used to read through the chapter (read it here) and my heart would leap at all the things God has won for me through Jesus: freedom, release, favour, comfort, provision; a crown instead of ashes, joy rather than mourning, praise not despair. And my heart would soar at becoming an oak of righteousness, displaying God’s splendour. Yes, Lord, do it in me!

But then, reading through it again recently, I hit that little word ‘they’.

If I’m honest this passage used to be about me, me, me. And of course in one sense that is true; Jesus really has won those things for me and he really does want me to display his glory.

But when you read the passage through the lens of mission, once we have received the good news, we then become bearers of the good news. And part of the process of our own healing and restoration, of living this anointed life, is to start taking on the manifesto of the one we say we follow.

Which means that whilst it is about me, it’s also about ‘them’. Those who are poor, brokenhearted, captive, in darkness; the mourning, the grieving, the despairing.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, they will rebuild the ruins…

Discipleship demands that we pass on what God has given to us, and we equip, empower and release those who God has called us to, so that many more will hear the good news.

So the question is, who is your ‘them’? They’re not hard to find; just look for the poor, brokenhearted, the captive – but look on them with the eyes of faith, just as God the Father first looked on you.

And work hard so that they can become all that God has called them to be.