Let’s talk about Burkina Faso.
If you’ve spoken with me in the past three months, you’ve likely heard passing remarks to Burkina Faso. If you’re unfamiliar with this impoverished nation in West Africa, wikiP has some good basics.
But what does this third world country have to do with me–with a girl from Northern Michigan?
As many of you know, I’ve been involved in some way or another with Compassion International since high school. I cannot say enough about the wonderful work that Compassion is doing to end the cycle of poverty; it has truly been a blessing to be part of something so life-changing, so world-changing. But in 2008, when I became Joseph’s sponsor, I was still fairly naïve about the effects (and cycle) of poverty that is gripping so many people around the world.
I think I first saw it in one of Joe’s letters in 2009. West Africa had experienced a severe rain season, and several countries, including Burkina, faced the problem of flooding. It seems like such a simple word–flood. In America, very few of us have seen flooding that has caused serious damage to land or home. Very few of us have been displaced because of it. And here was Joseph, a boy in one of the poorest countries on the planet, asking me to pray for his family. The flooding had damaged not only their home but their crops–a problem, I would later learn, that can take several years to remedy. I remember praying for Joe and his family one evening, and I was overwhelmed with a sudden realization: A child growing up in a home with the ground as floor, with mud and grass for walls, cannot do anything to prevent a flood from destroying his home or his family’s crops. He cannot hope that his good attitude will help him succeed. He cannot commit his time to learning and studying when his family depends upon his help just to survive. He cannot dream of anything better in his future. He can hope for one thing: To survive.
Somewhere, in the midst of all of this, my prayers began to take a new shape. Of course I continued praying specifically for Joe and his family, for the Center where Compassion worked in his area, for his friend Solomon that he mentioned in several letters. But suddenly that wasn’t enough. Suddenly, I was praying for his community, his neighbors, his church, his government. And somewhere, somehow, in the unsettled places of my heart, I grew to love Burkina Faso because it was the home of this precious young man that God had put in my life.
In March, it was six years since I first saw that little man. He is growing so well, maturing into a loving young man who has an incredible future before him. Two years ago, when I began this new job at the doctor’s office, I knew that I was going to take on a second sponsorship. It didn’t surprise me one bit when I saw Moise’s face, fell in love, and then realized he was also from Burkina. Here are current pictures of both boys.
So how can children living in poverty hope for anything other than poverty? I don’t know, but…
They do. Not only do they hope for the future, but they write to some strange woman in Upper Michigan and ask, “What subjects can I pray about for you?” These boys, so consumed with the tangible reality of poverty, want to pray for me. Have you ever known such a tender heart? There are no walls that can keep such untainted love from my own heart. I am absolutely broken by it. I am absolutely undone.
And that is why I need to go there. I need to see the work that Compassion is doing. I need to meet the children, the lives, the communities that are changing. I need to work and pray alongside other sponsors as we see firsthand the day-to-day issues of poverty and how such devastating conditions can breed such joy. I need this. We need this. America needs this.
And more than anything, I need to wrap my arms around those two little boys and thank them for loving me.
So yes–I am going to Burkina Faso.
And yes–it is going to require a lot of effort on my part.
And yes–I am well aware that there are going to be enormous obstacles to hurdle.
And yes–it is going to be expensive.
And yes–you can help me prayerfully and financially (hover over the “Burkina Faso” tab on the menu on top, click “Prayers” and “Journals,” respectively).
And yes–you can read all about it here on my blog; I’ll link everything pertaining to Burkina here to this section so you can follow along (hover over the “Burkina Faso” tab on the menu on top, click “The Latest” for links).
And yes–I need to get my passport.
And yes–I am absolutely terrified.
And no–I cannot wait. :)