Saturday, February 24, 2007

Our Ethiopian "Daughter"

Her name is Derebe Bekele and she occupies my heart and mind. She Ethan's age (almost to the day) and we're her sponsor parents. Yes, parents. She speaks of us as such. Jim and I have made a commitment to provide financial, emotional, practical, and spiritual guidance for her, at least until adulthood. We do so through a group called Compassion International. The organization is unlike many of the other sponsor programs you might be familiar with in that the money that we provide goes DIRECTLY to the child and the family--with very little subtraction for overhead. The total cost per year will be something in the way of $1000. This includes a monthly amount devoted solely for her schooling. It also includes gifts for Christmas, birthdays and other occasions. The family also receives a contribution, to help with home improvements and to provide useful animals such as a chickens and goats. All of this may seem like very little to us. But it can mean a world of difference for Derebe and can literally change the trajectory of her life.

We are also asked to pray for her on a regular basis and she does the same for us. We encourage her to have a continuing devotion to our Lord and to trust that he has a plan for her as he does with each and every one of us. We consider this prayer support to be as important, if not more important, than any financial or practical assistance we can provide. This is Compassion's stance:

Poverty sends a defeating, painful message into the heart of a child--a message that says, "I don't matter". Introducing children to their loving heavenly Father is the most powerful way of reversing that message.

I have been asked why we have not chosen a Catholic organization (Compassion is non-denominational, evangelical). There are a few answers to that question. First, I am very impressed with Compassion's ability to get the money straight to the source. Second, their processes to maintain communication between sponsor/child are very state-of-the art and sound. As a former business manager, I'm always attracted to groups who utilize best practices. Third, perhaps most importantly, Jim and/or I will have a chance to travel to Ethiopia to actually visit her and speak to her (through translators--she speaks Oromigna). This is very much encouraged.

This is such a worthy use of your money and your time. Please consider a sponsorship in Ethiopia or many other places around the world where children are in poverty. I would be thrilled to guide you through the process.

Please pray for Derebe and her family.

"...and whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me". --Matthew 18:5

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