All About the Mustard: Burkina Faso, part II

I was cleaning my desk this morning, and what did I find?

Mustard seeds.

Mustard

When did I buy mustard seeds? I don’t even like mustard. Why on earth would I buy mustard seeds?

Nonetheless, there they were, just waiting to be found.

What seems like a lifetime ago (but was really only, say, 15 or 16 years ago), our youth pastor gave us mustard seeds as part of a lesson. I wrapped mine up in a little plastic-wrap pocket, secured the edge with tape, and kept it in my Bible for years. It is likely still in my old Bible.

The lesson is one that I needed as a teenager; It’s a lesson that I still need today.

It doesn’t take much.

Matthew 17:21, NIV
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

I don’t know when it happened, friends. I don’t know when my heart shifted from “I want to go to Burkina Faso” to “I’m going to Burkina Faso.” I don’t know when I recognized that seed of faith in my heart that was whispering, “From here to there.” I don’t know when I decided that my finances were going to cooperate with my plans.

It just happened. It just is.

The journey will be a long and difficult one, long before I even leave my little hometown. I humbly ask your prayers and encouragement as I chase this dream God has birthed in me. Maybe if we all plant and water and give light to our mustard seeds, God will grow something of it.

If you’re not already doing so, please consider sponsoring a child living in poverty. You can break the cycle.

Things That Grow: Burkina Faso, part I

Yesterday, I was perusing the conversations over at OurCompassion and learned that Compassion International has posted the expected Sponsor Tours for 2015.

I told you some time ago of my desire to go to Burkina Faso. Though it was not possible for me to make the trip this year, I find myself already quite settled that I need to pursue the possibility of the 2015 trip. I could spend this blog entry trying to explain my desire to go, but I will, perhaps, save that for another blog. It should be sufficient to mention here that I simply long to wrap my arms around the two boys I sponsor, to hug them and play and laugh and love on them. “Simply.” I simply long for this.

Chris Tomlin. There is love. This might be a good time to mention that I’m listening to this song. :)

Anyway, as is my routine, I spent the early part of my Friday evening in prayer. I lit my first candle and prayed for Israel; I lit my second candle and prayed for Syria; and I lit a third candle, and asked God to speak anything to my heart about Burkina Faso. He didn’t. Not in the way I’ve come to expect. So instead of looking for answers, I just allowed myself to be quiet and settled in God’s presence. All alone. It was, I confess, just what I needed. But it didn’t resolve my questions and concerns about the possibility of a Burkina trip next year. It didn’t answer the enormous issue of finances (and if you clicked the link in the first paragraph to look at the upcoming tour information, you know that finances are going to be an enormous issue for this girl). Still, there is something affirming about the silent and stillness of God’s presence.

I awoke this morning with the same questions, the same concerns. How am I ever going to make this happen?

And there is the crux.

It’s funny how God speaks to us, and how He teaches us.

I have a friend who likes to lead the conversation a particular direction to make his point. He will ask me questions and challenge me to think thoroughly about the matter. In the end, I will have come to some revelation about the topic. With human beings, with fallen man, of course there is a danger that I will be misled (even with the best intentions on either side of the equation) or that I will misunderstand. But I’m finding that God does this with me often, and there is such a safety therein because we know (by experience and by faith and by the witness of His Spirit in our lives) that He will not mislead us, that He is not mistaken, that He is patient to continue the dialogue long after we claim we understand, and that He is steadfast and faithful to plant those truths deep in our hearts so that they become convictions.

(Wow. I really do talk a lot, don’t I?)

Anyway, there was the crux: How am I going to make this happen?

I’m not.

I was quite looking for some other passage this morning–the one about us being the temple of God’s Spirit–and I stumbled upon the Growth verse, 1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV);

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

I am so quick to try and figure things out on my own, but the truth is, I can’t.

I can’t raise the money on my own.

Even if I did raise the money, I can’t ensure that nothing in life will prevent me from making the trip.

I can’t determine that there will be no emergencies at work or in my family.

I can’t make politics and weather cooperate with my travel plans.

I can’t force Compassion to offer the trip if I am the only sponsor to sign up.

I can’t guarantee that Joseph and Moise will be excited to see me.

None of it, folks. None of it is in my power.

What a relief! What a blessed revelation! Thank You, God!

But let’s not pretend there is no responsibility on my part. Or yours. If you are reading this blog, friend, you are somehow invested in my life. God brings the growth; and He requires that we plant and water seeds. The question becomes–what does that translate to as we are discussing this Compassion Sponsor Tour?

So what do I need from you, friend? Only you and God can determine what He is speaking to your heart. But might I offer a few suggestions?

  • Prayer – We will talk about this quite a bit in the coming year, as I’m sure there will be many ways you can stand with me in prayer.
  • Encouragement – I would be lying if I told you there isn’t some fear involved in all of this. I need more encouragement than I want to admit.
  • Accountability – Ask me where things are. Ask me how close I am to the goal. Ask me how I’m doing with the plan.
  • Ideas – Thoughts on how to raise the money; thoughts on what gifts to bring on the trip for the children at the Center; thoughts on how to prepare my heart and my mind and my body for this type of experience; packing tips; etc, etc, etc.
  • And what does God require of me? That is a matter for many blogs to come.

    And by the way–this is a good time to mention that there are many, many children waiting for Sponsors. It is not nearly as expensive as you think it is, and there is nothing as rewarding, nothing as wonderful as changing a child’s life. Compassion-dot-com. Go.

    Pax Christi.
    Sar

    The Child You Never Knew I Had

    Did you know that I sponsor a child through Compassion International?

    You may. You may not. It’s not something I speak about often because–if you want the truth–I think our 21st Century Christianity is a bit misguided about what it means to love and give and serve. I don’t do it for recognition; I don’t do it for the tax break; I don’t do it to appease my conscience or because it’s what “good Christians” do.

    When I first began my sponsorship, it was an act of thanksgiving. I was driving in my truck, thanking God for a blessing He brought into my life (ironically, the blessing was temporary and is long gone) and that song came on the radio: Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise. It wasn’t something I prayed about, contemplated, searched…I just decided that I was going to take God’s blessing to me and bless someone else with it–not for feeling good about myself, not for feeling less guilty about being a wealthy (comparatively) American, not with the expectation of praise or having built character or even a jewel in my crown. I just wanted to take the blessing God had given to me and return it to Him in a very tangible way, not with words and ideas, but with action and commitment.

    And I wanted to do so privately. You know? I mean…I tithe, and I give…but this was different. I really just didn’t want people to know that I was sponsoring a child. It’s been several years…and there’s still a part of me that doesn’t want you to know about my child. But. One of my customers today mentioned (quite out of the blue) that he and his wife just sponsored a boy from–guess where?–the same country as my boy! And once we started talking, I didn’t want to stop.

    Today, in light of this connection with my customer, I’m convicted by Compassion’s blog:

    Tell your sponsorship stories.
    When people are important to you, you talk about them.

    Emphasis mine.

    Yeah.

    So I’m telling you today. I sponsor a boy from Burkina Faso. His name is Joseph. He likes to play soccer with his friends, chase his chicken, and play with his baby sister. He makes decent grades. He works hard. He planted a tree, and it died. I just received a thank-you letter and photo from him for a birthday gift I sent.

    I love his letters.

    I love his drawings.

    I love that when I send him stickers, he writes back and puts some of them on the letter.

    And I just love his smile.

    And his heart. He prays for me. Did you know that? He prays for me.

    Well. Now you know it. I have a child named Joseph. As a single Christian woman with no biological children of her own, I could not have asked for a greater blessing. Isn’t that funny? Isn’t that just like God? What began as me trying to turn a blessing back to God, has become one of the greatest (if not the greatest) blessings of my life.

    I know you’ll never read this, Joe, but I also know that you know what I’m about to say is true: I love you, kid!