It's another average start to another ordinary week. But something isn't quite the same today. My mind is here in New Mexico, but a piece of my heart is still in Ecuador.
I cried a puddle of tears yesterday during church. I suppose it was one part exhaustion, and one part eager for the Lord to return...because the effects of this broken world is sometimes just too much. I'm talking about all the poverty and hurt I saw in Ecuador last week...but I also mean right here on our familiar turf...the poverty of a people who are depleted of joy and sacrifice in the running after other gods.
I'm not sure why I hadn't seen it before, but distractions are a luxury. I rarely saw any family we visited in Ecuador afford the time or energy to indulge what feels like the North American pastime of pursuing fortune, fame, fun, and forgetfulness,
To have so much glitter and gloss vying for our attention is a luxury that someone who clings to the Cross for life, simply can't afford.
For the ones who remember continually that they are needy, the gospel is bread, is living water, is all they really have and all their soul needs. I want more of that kind of need.
Friends, I'm not pointing fingers, I just want to ask honestly:
Are we apt to embrace the good news of the cross in a season of difficulty just to toss it aside again as we pursue self-sufficiency disguised as something much more noble? I'm sadly far too familiar with this tendency. Believing that the Cross is strong to save me from hell, but not quite good enough for everything else is to receive the gospel only to forget it's application every day after. When we stop rehearsing the good news of Jesus, we set ourselves up to believe it's not necessary for much beyond salvation.
Last week in Ecuador, we visited the country office for Compassion International. When the country director, Fernando Puga, said these words, I knew the ministry of Compassion was in good hands: "We know that ultimately, it's the good news of Jesus that makes a difference in the child's life."
The model of one-to-one child sponsorship is working because discipleship and generously loving was Jesus' idea in the first place.
The gospel isn't a means to an end; it is the means and the end.
So, when our hearts beat for children to know love -- speak the love of Christ into their lives along with long hugs.
So, when we long to see families released from poverty -- speak truth to them about their inheritance in Christ while lending a helping hand.
So, when we ache for young ones to have hope -- teach them about storing up Treasure in heaven while showing them how to take the next step.
The same thing that will truly transform the life of the beautiful people who awake this day near the equator and take to threshing quinoa, or cleaning fish, or preparing watery corn soup day after day...is the same truth that will change mine. Jesus is our treasure, no matter the circumstance...and for that I am grateful that I'm closer to those I care about in Ecuador today than I think.
Bri told me on the bus that there have been marketing firms that have suggested that Compassion drop the "in Jesus' name" part of their motto, for better growth and relatability. Gladly, Compassion gave no thought to the suggestion, and have held faithfully to the belief that lives are transformed by Him, through Him, and for His glory...
...The gospel isn't merely a stepping stone; it is the cornerstone of releasing children and families from poverty. Jesus is the cornerstone upon whom every concern or need can rest this day...in our busy Monday all the way to the highlands of Otavalo.
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)
In the same way that the gospel doesn't just save to leave us on our own in growing and becoming, the work of releasing children from poverty will never simply be a mission of meals, supplies, and financial resources alone.
On the day that I had to say good by to our sponsored son, Mathias, I said to him, "Maty, Madrina loves you and will be praying for you every day. This is what you can do for Madrina: Learn everything you can about Jesus and LOVE HIM. And secondly, obey your mama...she loves you and loves Jesus too." I will remind him always: All that he desires and hopes is first found in the finished work of Christ.
So here's this. When the ancient Roman philosopher Cicero said, "Everything I own, I carry with me," he may not have meant the treasure of the gospel but it surely applies. One day, everyone -- regardless of earthly treasure or belongings -- will leave behind all that they possessed on earth but for what was spiritually invested.
Friends, when we sow the seeds of truth and gospel into our own lives and the lives of others, we are giving ourselves and them the gift of the imperishable. Child sponsorship through Compassion is that gift.