Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were born in your sponsored child’s country?
What trials would you face if you were born in Bangladesh or another country we serve?
I recently discovered a great resource which might help you answer that question.
The site www.ifitweremyhome.com allows you to compare aspects of life in the US with life in any number of countries.
One of my favorite features is the country size comparison – the site places the basic outline of a country over a map of the US so you can understand just how large a country is. Bangladesh, where my sponsored child Munni lives, was a lot smaller than I thought – and Sovanna's country of Cambodia was much larger that I realized.
But that's not all. The site then gives you a list of facts. If I, like Munni, was born in Bangladesh instead of the United States, I would…
- Use 98.92% less electricity
- Make 96.55% less money
- Die 17.61 years sooner
If I lived in Bangladesh, I’d also have more babies, spend less money on health care, and experience less of a class divide.
Wait a minute. What? How would I experience less class divide? I thought issues of class and status determine an awful lot in Bangladesh – where you can live, if you can go to school, etc.
If you read the fine print you can learn how the resource the website uses calculates the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income – in this case, using the GINI Index (named after the sociologist and statistician who developed it, Corrado Gini).
Now, I freely admit that economics was not my strong suit, but something in that comparison seemed off. So when I read that I’d have a 73.12% chance of being employed if I lived in Bangladesh, I quickly realized that numbers – even straight statistical comparisons – don’t tell the full story.
Comparing the unemployment rates does not take into account how Bangladeshis are employed (or how little they are paid). Backbreaking labor – brick making, day laboring, subsistence farming – they are jobs, yes, but that doesn’t mean I would be better off finding work in Bangladesh. According to this site, I’d also make 96.55% less money!
All that to say, these figures aren’t as straightforward as you might think.
If I lived in Bangladesh, I’d use almost 99% less electricity because most Bangladeshis use oil lamps -- quite simply, they don’t have electricity.
I’d spend less on health care because I likely wouldn’t have access to it. At all. Which explains why I’m 9.4 times more likely to die before my first birthday.
The site is definitely worth a look. Just remember that the snapshot it provides is just that – a quick, somewhat educational peek into your sponsored child’s world.
Kate writes most of the stories on this blog and praises God that He found a way to use her college degree in English and Political Science for His glory! She has visited One Child Matters projects in Kenya with the Women's Circle of Caring.
Less than a thousand miles from Cambodia, which we highlighted last week, lies a country with what would seem like many similarities -- Bangladesh has a colorful culture and a tumultuous history.
Considering that the region was settled as many as 4,000 years ago, the last 70 years have been nothing short of turbulent. Modern-day Bangladesh was created after the British Empire withdrew and partitioned two countries -- India and Pakistan -- based on religious distinctions in 1947.
Originally designated "East Bengal," the region we now know as Bangladesh was part of Pakistan; from the time of partition, however, clashes grew between the eastern, Bengali-speaking region and the more wealthy Urdu-speaking west. The next two decades were filled with repression and violent unrest, even after Bangladesh's independence was declared in 1971.
In the midst of such upheaval, the people of Bangladesh continued to live and work in one of the most unique regions of the world. Situated on the delta of three major rivers (the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna) as well as countless tributaries, Bangladesh has some of the most fertile soil in the world.
We'll explore more of Bangladesh this week, but before we do, take a look at some of the areas we serve and learn more about this fascinating country!
Bangladesh is a very small country (about the size of the state of Iowa) but it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. There are 156 million people who live in Bangladesh. Can you imagine that many people living in Iowa? That’s over 50 times more people in the same amount of land!
Not only is the population dense, but the landscape is too! This makes it so much harder to travel anywhere or build and maintain roads, bridges, and power lines. For example, one of our projects is a mere 50 miles from the capital city of Dhaka, and yet it takes several hours driving in a truck and an hour boat ride to get there from the capital.
Bangladesh is a low-lying country and very wet as you can see from most of these photos. Cyclones and monsoons are so frequent that a large amount of the country is flooded six months out of the year.
Farming is a main source of income for many of our children’s families but their fields are also flooded half of the year. During that time these farmers have to find another way to feed their families and earn an income.
And because water is everywhere, so are bridges.
Does your sponsored child walk to school? Chances are that he walks over several bridges just to get to school. Can you imagine using a bridge like the one above everyday?
Speaking of water… does your sponsored child have the responsibility of getting water for the family? In Bangladesh indoor plumbing is very rare and children usually get their water from nearby wells or rivers and carry it home.
Or maybe your sponsored child helps the family by washing clothes, fishing, or gathering firewood?
Have the letters you received from you child given you an inside look at what life is like in Bangladesh? Let us know! We'd love to hear what you've learned!
We know it from our own lives -- one of the most powerful, formative figures in our lives is our mother. This is true of your sponsored child, as well.
A mother does all she can for her child, but she knows when a child needs more than she can provide. When the opportunity for a better life presents itself -- through education or support -- a mother recognizes it. Her gratitude it seems, knows no bounds.
A mother can be a rock for a family, an encourager and nurturer, the one who pushes a child to be more. A mother sees potential.
We've linked the the stories above because sometimes it's hard to imagine raising a child in such poverty. And sometimes, the parents aren't present or aren't positive role models. But for many of the children we serve, their parents and especially their mothers will do anything to improve their lives and break the cycle of poverty.
And so today, as we honor the mothers and nurturing figures in our own lives, we pray for those who love and live in the underserved regions of this world.
Looking for some new letter writing topics? Kate, who works in One Child Matters' communications department and writes most of the stories on this blog, shares this interesting angle after receiving yet another letter where one of the girls she sponsored thanked her for her help and sponsorship.
Take a look at that drawing above -- Sovanna drew the famous Ankor Wat temple in Siem Reap and included it with one of her letters. I am so thankful I hung it just over my computer monitor at work, because when the day grows long, it's always within my sight. That intricate pen-and-ink drawing reminds me to pray for Sovanna and Munni, the other girl I sponsor in Bangladesh.
I've sponsored them for almost three years now, and sometimes it's hard to figure out what to say in my letters to them. So when I received Sovanna's letter, her sweet "thank you for all you continue to do for me" at the end inspired me.
Why not write a thank you note back to her and to Munni? There are so many reasons I am grateful for them, why not tell them directly?
Munni and Sovanna have opened my eyes to a different part of the world, and not just through their fantastic drawings. With each letter or prayer for them, I discover more of God's heart for justice and mercy. His redemption knows no bounds, and it is exciting to be a part of that.
As my heart for them grows, I want them to see themselves as God does: beloved daughters of the King. Yet in trying to emphasize that, my self-perception has changed. They are as fearfully and wonderfully made as I am, but do I live out of that identity?
Since sponsoring my girls, my habits have changed. I love to shop, but I increasingly find myself wondering, "Do I need that? Could this money be put to better use?" (And almost always, the answer is yes.) I am more conscious of each dollar I spend and what I am supporting by those choices. In the end, the money isn't mine -- it's God's -- and my choices either glorify Him or glorify myself.
I'm thankful that my sponsorship gives my girls access to a solid education, a nutritious meal, and interaction with adults who will love and encourage them. My girls are so worthwhile.
I am thankful that although sponsorship started as something sacrificial, it has become joyful. What I hoped was life-giving for them has brought me life, as well.
So my tip is to think about how or if sponsorship has changed your heart. And if it has, write that down. Send it to your sponsored child. One of our goals at One Child Matters is that a sponsored child will learn that he or she can change the world. Wouldn't it be cool for them to know -- to know -- that the first person they changed was you?
Yesterday provided a brief sketch of an influential time in Cambodia’s history. Today we get a glimpse of a very special area One Child Matters serves in Cambodia – the Mechrey Floating School on the Tonle Sap Lake.
The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, the flow of the Tonle Sap changes directions twice a year, and expands to six times its size during the rainy season, creating great breeding grounds for fish. Families live in floating homes on the Tonle Sap – simple, single-roomed dwellings that follow the flow and the fish.
To ensure the children of these fishing villages receive an education, we helped build a floating school. Hundreds of students have learned and grown in this floating schoolhouse, and now some have the opportunity for secondary education at our Dream Center in Siem Reap.
We’ve written about the Floating School before, and perhaps, like us, you’ve wondered what it’s like to live in a home and attend a school that’s never in the same place twice.
Well, here’s your chance – Kaliyan welcomed us into her boat to follow her on her journey home.
There’s no other way to say it: some of the countries we serve have horrific pasts. Prolonged civil war, famines and droughts, natural disasters. Poverty knows no political boundary, and it is often aided by man-made conflicts and power struggles.
All of these above is true of the next country we’ll highlight this week: Cambodia. And yet, as we share some snapshots of the country this week, always keep the girl in the image above in mind. Look in her eyes, and perhaps you’ll see what our staff see every day – hope.
When he visited Cambodia in 2010, Jack Eans (our Vice President of International Child Ministries) wrote this reflection:
The real story of any country, including Cambodia, is her children. Over 50% of Cambodia’s population is under 15. Many of today’s poor countries share that statistic, but Cambodia’s children groan under the weight and responsibility of being this country’s hope.
Here, the cliché is reality. With many of their parents lost in the horrors of the Killing Fields, this country’s hope for a new soul truly does depend on how her children will be raised. Where Buddhism and a very real belief in evil spirits grips the nation, only the children with the Holy Spirit can make a way through the darkness. Where fear, death, and hatred is the legacy, only the children can lead them out. This is not overstating the case. Our partners who work with the children are staking it all on turning the hearts of the children.
Jack rightly mentions the context of the Killing Fields – a term used to describe sites around Cambodia where more than one fourth of the country’s population were systematically killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge, a Communist movement that sought to take Cambodia back to its agrarian beginnings in the 1970s.
Understanding the impact of the Khmer Rouge is crucial to understanding life in Cambodia today. One of their mottos, “to keep you is no benefit, to destroy you is no loss,” is a reminder of how little life was valued during this formative time in Cambodia’s history.
We seek to prove the opposite and support children as they pursue a brighter future. Cambodia was the second country we began to serve beyond our birthplace in India – now we serve almost 2700 children. We will share more about this amazing country and all that God is doing there this week.
Do you sponsor a child in Cambodia? Have they shared any interesting facts about their country with you?
Yesterday we started our work day by praying for our country for National Day of Prayer, when we proudly joined countless others as they lifted up prayers for our nation.
We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedom to gather and pray – in so many areas of the world, this would put you in great risk for persecution. And yet some of the countries we serve have a robust faith tradition – few as powerful as Ethiopia.
You can trace Christianity all the way back to Acts 8, when in response to tremendous persecution, believers scattered but “preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).
One of the scattered was Philip, a man known as the Evangelist who had been chosen among the seven to care for the poor in the Christian community in Acts 6. After he preached in Samaria and challenged Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8, Philip is told by an angel of the Lord to head south on the desert road, where he encounters an Ethiopian eunuch returning from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel.
If you haven’t read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian, we encourage you to do so. Philip is there because he was obedient to God’s nudges, including the message to approach the Ethiopian’s chariot. This eunuch was a man of influence, in charge of the Ethiopian queen’s treasury, yet he humbly asks Philip for guidance in the scriptures and comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
What happens next? The chariot comes to a stream (a rare thing in a desert place, how our Lord provides!) and the Ethiopian asks to be baptized. As they come out of the water, Philip is swept away by the Spirit of the Lord “and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way, rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). Ethiopian tradition maintains that the eunuch came home and evangelized his people.
At the time of Acts 8, both the Samaritans and an Ethiopian would have been considered far from God, but God made a way for them, even in the desert!
Many church historians consider the strength of Christianity in Ethiopia to be one of the most heroic success stories in our faith. One more recent story involves the birth of a church in the 1930s and 40s during a period of persecution that hearkens back to what the early church experienced in Acts. When Mussolini’s army captured Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, he expelled all the missionaries from the country in 1937, leaving the future of many ministries and churches in question.
One church in particular had only 150 members at that point, yet under Italian persecution the church began to thrive. In 1941, a missionary returned and was amazed to discover that the small church had grown into a movement of 10,000 believers. Today, that church, Kale Heywet (Word of Life) stands at more than 4 million believers – the largest evangelical church in Ethiopia today.
We praise God for the foundation He laid for His work in Ethiopia! We partner with churches and schools to serve well over 3,000 children in Ethiopia. God continues to make a way for His people, and we are humbled to play a small part in it! Thank you for responding to God's nudges and choosing to make a difference in the life of a child!
It’s time to reveal the answer to our little recipe teaser from Monday... and trust us, you want to try this dish even if you don’t sponsor a child from Ethiopia! (The link to the entire recipe is at the end of this post.)
Meghan (who shared her love of Ethiopian coffee with us yesterday) stumbled across this recipe and inspired a whole new series! We always want to know what the children in our programs experience, and food is one of the fastest ways to come to appreciate a culture.
Are you ready for a new taste of sponsorship? We’ll post new recipes from each country as we’re able! First up, of course, is Ethiopia.
Meghan intrepidly cooked this entire recipe in the office kitchen, inciting a mild fervor when the amazing aromas drifted down the hallway – so be aware that this tasty blend of spices won’t just stay in the kitchen!
The recipe is fairly easy once you track down the essential spices. Spices like berbere traditionally used in Ethiopian cooking are available from kalustyans.com and nirmalaskitchen.com. Teff flour is available from kalustyans.com and bobsredmill.com.
Meghan bought the teff flour online from Amazon. She found the berbere locally at a store called Savory Spice Shop, so be sure to look around – you might find it in more places than you think!
One other note: our office kitchen has the most basic tools and utensils, so you should be able to duplicate this in your own kitchen quite easily.
The stew is a traditional meal made in one pot. Because it is based around meat, the families One Child Matters serves probably reserve it for very special occasions.
Meghan prepped the ingredients the night before (the injera must soak and ferment overnight anyway) and brought them into the office. The cooking took just over an hour, and the first few injera attempts were rather rough! Turning down the heat can help. Although making injera is similar to making pancakes, you don't flip injera. Meghan found that covering the injera with a lid and letting it cook on one side was most effective.
Within an hour, we were sitting down to a feast! Traditionally, Ethiopians use injera like silverware, pinching off pieces and grabbing hunks of stew with it. Injera really helps you wipe your plate clean, and with this meal, you'll find yourself doing just that!
You can download the recipe as a pdf here. It includes the stew and injera recipe!
Because it's two pages printed, we recommend downloading it.
If you decide to try this Taste of Sponsorship recipe, let us know how it went! We'd love to hear what you think of Ethiopia's cuisine!
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of traveling on a One Child Matters’ mission trip to Ethiopia and meeting my sponsored child, Ruth. It was a trip full of amazing experiences. Aside from meeting Ruth, the numerous coffee ceremonies were my favorite experience. I left the trip addicted to
coffee – Ethiopian coffee anyways.
Coffee is an incredibly important part of Ethiopian culture and life. Some of the best coffee in the world comes from Ethiopia, and it is their largest export. Ethiopians are very proud of the claim that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder (who noticed that his goats were quite lively after eating the fruit off a particular bush) and they treat everything about coffee with great reverence.
A coffee ceremony is a sign of friendship and respect and is practically guaranteed for visitors, especially foreign visitors. Every project we visited would perform a ceremony for us, and as we sometimes visited multiple projects a day, we were honored with quite a few ceremonies and enjoyed a lot of coffee!
A coffee ceremony is a rather long affair and can last several hours. A female host, generally wearing the traditional white Ethiopian dress, starts the ceremony by lighting incense which will burn through the whole ceremony. A charcoal stove and a tray of small ceramic cups are set on a bed of grasses that symbolize abundance. The host then sits on a small footstool and begins roasting the coffee beans on a large, flat pan over the charcoal stove. Once the beans have darkened and started to release their aromatic oils, the host then grinds the beans with a mortar and pestle. The ground coffee is then poured into a traditional pot, called a jebena, filled with water, and placed on the charcoal stove.
A unique step of the process is that when the coffee begins to boil, it is poured into another container until it has cooled and then poured back into the jebena. This process is repeated twice so that the coffee has come to a boil three times before it is served into the handle-less cups for the guests. Depending on the region, the coffee can be served with either sugar or some salt. Popcorn is also generally served alongside the coffee.
I cannot begin to tell you how amazing the coffee tastes. I am generally not a coffee drinker, but I could not get enough of it. I went from never drinking coffee to needing to get a double shot of espresso somewhere in a European airport on the journey home to avoid a serious caffeine withdrawal!
When I left Ethiopia, I did so with at least 10 pounds of coffee crammed into my backpack and the best intentions of replicating the delicious coffee I had fallen in love with. I immediately bought a mortar and pestle and a French press when I returned and hoped they would give me similar results. I was sadly disappointed. I still haven’t been able to duplicate their coffee or find anything that compares, but then again I haven’t bought my own jebena or taken the hours to roast, grind, and boil the coffee multiple times. The more I reminisce, however, the more I’m tempted to take those steps…
Meghan manages One Child Matters’ communications. In addition to Ethiopia, she’s visited our projects in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. This is one of the few pictures she has with Ruth where they are not covered in face paint.
Did you know today is World Malaria Day?
Most likely not, as we don't often think of malaria in the United States. The biggest risk we face from a mosquito bite is a nagging itch -- but well over half of the world (3.3 billion people) face a much more pernicious result after a mosquito bite: malaria.
Last summer we prayed against malaria during our 32 days of prayer campaign. (You can refresh your memory by clicking here.) How do we defend the children we serve against malaria?
We focus on prevention and action. Mosquito nets are highly effective and protect the most vulnerable: children and mothers. Our staff can be trained as Health Care Workers, helping diagnose the most common conditions children face, including malaria. Our programs also teach children to look for ways to eliminate the places mosquitoes like to breed, such as stagnant, standing water.
When you sponsor a child, you provide a different type of net: a net of prayer and concern that envelops the child. Your support allows a child to come in contact with caring, knowledgeable adults who will notice when a child doesn't feel well or has missed activities. Sponsorship is a new kind of safety net, an effective one we are most happy to provide for our kids.
Thank you for the way you have reached out to a child in the developing world. Thank you for providing means to lift them out of poverty and to place them on a brighter path.
One Child Matters has 27 projects in Honduras, serving almost 3,000 children. Honduras means “great depths” – legend has it that Christopher Columbus, the first explorer to land in Honduras, exclaimed “Gracias a Dios que hemos salido de esas Honduras” (literally “Thank God we have come out of those depths”) while he sailed along Honduras’ northern coast.
We love this fact for two reasons: it seems to nod to Honduras' great depth of culture and pride. And yet it also reminds us of Psalm 86:12-13
With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to your name forever,
for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
We needed God to rescue us from the depths of death, just like the children in Honduras need us to draw them out of the depths of poverty. Honduras is one of the poorest nations in Latin America, and its beautiful children face so many challenges. Here are a few reasons why we work in Honduras:
The children need stability
More than two-thirds of children in our programs come from single-mother homes, and the most children in each family have different fathers. The average age of a first-time mother is 15. Domestic violence and substance abuse are huge issues in Honduras.
The children need support
Schools in Honduras are understaffed and overpopulated – as many as 80 children may share a classroom. Less than a third of children go on to secondary school, and less than 10 % go on to university.
The children need positive role models
Honduras is overrun by gangs, called maras after marabuntas, a type of ant that destroys everything in its path. Our country staff estimate that there are four times as many gang members than police in Honduras. The combination of abysmal educational and job opportunities and fewer father figures encourages many young boys to become a part of gangs, some as young as 9 years old. One young man shared with a reporter “you may only last one or two years, but it makes you someone.”
For many children, sponsorship provides an intervention – sponsorship proves to a child that they already are someone, that they are loved, valued, and worthy of investment.
How you can pray for your sponsored child
Pray for your child’s parent(s) and family members – pray for stable work, for positive relationships, and for their health. Pray your child can attend school with an attentive teacher, and that project staff can continue to provide educational support and tutoring to help them succeed in school. You can also pray for the staff to have a positive impact on your sponsored child, to be a role model in faith and life. Your letters can provide crucial encouragement – please write regularly and ask how you can pray for them!
What have you learned about Honduras from your sponsored child’s letters?
How do One Child Matters’ programs meet the needs of children in the developing world? How can sponsorship make a difference in a child’s life? Let’s ask Brandon, an 11-year-old boy who lives with his aunt in the dusty suburb of QueensPark in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.
Brandon’s mother passed away when he was still very young, and he barely remembers her. After his mother died, Brandon’s father left him in the rural area with his grandmother, who toiled very hard each day just to eke out a living. Brandon never knew his father. One of the things that he regrets is growing up without knowing the love of his father or mother.
Life in the village was very hard and difficult for Brandon. “Looking back,” he said, "I realize that I had started to see myself as someone who would never amount to anything.” This was especially true when his grandmother fell sick; it was now proving very difficult for him to concentrate on his studies. He always had to rush home to do the chores and help his grandmother. “I was slowly resigning myself to a fate of a life of herding cows.”
Two years ago his granny became too sick to take care of him. She brought him to town to live with his aunt, a widow with children of her own and no job. The aunt has two grown up children who are living in neighboring South Africa who occasionally send her a few groceries to feed the children. Most of the time, however, she has to sell vegetables to support the kids.
Just over a year ago, Brandon was registered in the new child development center that opened in his community. He gets to have a hot meal served by loving volunteers that tell him about the love of God and remind him that he has a Father in Heaven who loves him. He has started attending church with his aunty.
Brandon is now one of the young leaders at the Child Development Center who help the facilitators and volunteers when they serve porridge and do other activities. Serving at the Child Development Center is important to him. Brandon shares, “God loves people that serve others. This is just the beginning!”
The center’s director is very proud of the progress that Brandon has made. “Brandon can’t wait to serve others during break time,” she says. “He is always the first to volunteer. In fact, he is the only leader that is not a prefect [an older student leader]. We asked him to be one of the leaders after recognizing his servant heart.”
With the help of the center, Brandon now enjoys going to school again. “I am learning so hard” he says, “because I know I am an orphan. But I know God will help me with my studies especially if I work hard.” He now believes that one day he will achieve something and make his aunty and grandmother proud.
Thank you for providing new opportunities for children like Brandon. We praise God for the staff He has raised up to love on children and encourage them to become strong young adults and role models for younger children. We can’t wait to see how Brandon continues to serve at his center and in his community, and we pray that he and other children in the program become the leaders Zimbabwe and other countries need to break the cycle of poverty forever!
What will you do with the moments you are given? How can you make a greater difference for the kingdom of God? We want to challenge you to change the world by Monday!
We were privileged to share this vision with thousands of pastors and church staff at the Association of Related Churches (ARC) All Access Conference today. Moments before the video played, Pastor Rick Warren shared his heart with the conference, and among the many encouraging and wise thoughts he shared with us, he said this:
Having a small church is not a sin -- having a small vision is.
It's so true, but it goes beyond churches. Sometimes we -- ministries, churches, individuals -- don't dream big enough. J.B. Phillips wrote an entire book on it: Your God Is Too Small.
But we know -- we are realizing, again and again in His graciousness -- that God isn't small at all. He is the biggest God with the biggest dreams for His kingdom on this earth, and He wants to use us. His concern is for the least of these, and always has been. And He is equipping us, His church, His Body, to do something about it.
We at One Child Matters are taking God at His promise and dreaming big dreams. We believe that together we can change the world by Monday. Will you join us?
Change the world by Monday.
Seems like one of those big, hairy, audacious goals. How in the world could we claim that it’s possible?
Because we’ve seen it happen, again and again.
Take Zimbabwe, for example. There were churches in Bulawayo trying to serve the children in their community. Their limited resources couldn't go far enough when those kids faced challenges like this:
It’s estimated that two-thirds of children in Zimbabwe are in the care of an older sibling or relative. The average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is less than 52 years, one of the worst in the world. One in seven people in Zimbabwe live with HIV/AIDS, the 5th highest rate in the world. Pastor Wilfred in Bulawayo estimated that in the last three years, he had buried more than 600 people.
How do you change that world by Monday?
You step up and step in. That’s what Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, did. Members of their congregation stepped forward, and in one Sunday, hundreds of kids were sponsored.
Imagine what that Monday was like, when the staff could tell the children in their programs, “You are sponsored! There’s someone halfway around the world who loves you and cares for you and wants the best for you!”
Bayside Christian Church in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, also joined in partnership, and soon the love of Christ became so much more tangible for more than 400 kids in Zimbabwe.
On a Sunday, the love of Christ compelled people to stand up for a child in poverty, and on a Monday, the world is forever changed for that child. The difficult life circumstances can be reinterpreted through this new lens: someone cares for me. I matter to someone one the other side of the world and they keep saying I matter to God. Could it be true?
Change in such tender hearts can happen in an instant, because your prayers are instant. Your support becomes a constant while the messages of the world less insistent and God less distant.
Sponsorship – a new kind of partnership – is that powerful. It can change the world by Monday.
The news today is so troubling. After the events in Boston, our hearts are shaken, and our prayers go out to those affected.
We are encouraged by a quotation we're seeing all over social media, something attributed to Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers -- so many caring people in this world."
We, too, are comforted, because we partner with so many helpers.
We partner with thousands of individual sponsors, intent on changing the life of a child for eternity.
We partner with churches large and small, compelled to connect with a community across the world to help them invest in their children and break the cycle of poverty for generations.
We partner with churches in 15 developing countries, because they obey the command of Jesus when He said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14).
We partner to help remove the hindrances, to bring children to Jesus. And we have seen powerful partnerships forming in Zimbabwe: partnerships with Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, and Bayside Community Church with campuses in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. They along with Celebration Church in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and our ministry friends Children's Cup have helped us meet the needs of more 1500 Zimbabwean children.
Today, we praise God for the helpers, and for the original Helper who came down to meet us in our darkest moments.
After several days of clinics, the Medical Mercy team is on its way home. They treated 1200 patients and 175 dental patients, administered countless prescriptions, and left water filters behind to add one more layer of better health for the children and their communities.
Dr. Beyda has used the mountains of Nepal as an analogy for sustainable healthcare. This was not an easy climb – there were patients they could not effectively treat, patients whose lives may not improve to our standards. In those times, the best medicine they can give is to see them, touch them, pray with them or over them.
The goal was to serve, and that was achieved. But as Dr. Beyda puts it, “It's a start. We reached the ‘summit’ but I'm not ready to raise the flag just yet. We need to come back and make the climb again. And maybe again after that. Thank you to the team for all that you gave and sacrificed. It was a privilege and blessing to have made this ‘climb’ with you.”
We echo Dr. Beyda’s thanks to the 22 US volunteers plus the 4 from our One Child Matters India office. Thanks to those who gave to send these servants on their way. Thanks to those who sponsor children in Nepal, who ensure children receive better opportunities for health and life.
In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul gives instructions on how we are to give. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (verses 6 and 7).
This is what we love about Medical Mercy. At some point, you decided in your heart to give. You decided to give financially, but more importantly you decided to give of your time and talents, and you have done so generously. And so we pray 2 Corinthians 9:8-9 as well:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
Medical Mercy is wrapping up their time in Nepal. This is their 80th trip since they began serving several years ago. Since then, they've cared for more than 75,000 kids as well as family and community members.
Undertaking such a mission requires special motivaton, a faithfulness of heart that Dr. Beyda reflects on below.
At the beginning of this trip, I asked the team to reflect on the question of "why." Why are we here, and why did we choose to do this.
Many have asked me "what" Medical Mercy does, and that is easy to answer. We bring needed healthcare to the children who need it.
I am then asked "how" do we do that. That is easy to answer as well. We hold medical clinics, we build medical clinics and staff them with nurses and local doctors when we can, we train local teachers to become healthcare workers so they can continue to deliver needed health are, we teach first aid, we show them how to filter their water, we show them how to brush their teeth, and we show and teach them good hygiene.
But the question I am rarely asked is "why" do we do what we do. Few really want to know. They are more interested in the "what" and the "how." Both are more tangible, easier to get their minds around. So when I'm asked about the "what" and the "how," I wait for the "why" and if it doesn't come, I offer it. I've asked the team to reflect on the "why" this week. I've asked them to be prepared to answer the question if ever asked.
I have my answer. It took awhile, but it is there. It's solid, indisputable, non-negotiable, never needing defending, and personal. It is what gives me the strength to climb this "mountain" this week, this "mountain" of long days in clinics, sick children, at times frustrated because we can't "climb" higher because we just can't, and the slow trek upwards of making a child healthy enough to be able to smile and not feel pain.
I have an answer as to "why." I'll share it with the team soon, and trust that the team will share their answers with me. We may find that we all have the same answers to the "why." But before I do that, I'll spend a few minutes talking to someone who knows me and what my reasons for "why" are.
He's the answer, you know.
In all things give thanks,
The country of Nepal is home to eight of the ten tallest mountains in the world, the tallest of which is the infamous Mount Everest (which, astonishingly, is more than twice the height of Pikes Peak, the mountain we see every day outside our headquarters in Colorado Springs).
Mount Everest becomes a fitting metaphor for the task our Medical Mercy team faces in Nepal. Dr. Beyda reflects on the second day of clinics:
The rising sun brought those who were going to the base camp on Mount Everest to a gathering place where they awaited their ride. In 4-6 days they would reach 17,500 depending on their strength and endurance. Then another 10 days to 2 weeks at the base camp getting acclimated to the altitude in preparation for the trek to the 29,300 feet summit. They wait for a "window of opportunity" in the weather where they have 2 weeks to get up and back. I am in awe of their fortitude and determination.
At the same time those of us who were going to a project to hold our medical clinic gathered in a place to await our ride. A 30 minute ride to the project, a full day of clinic, children a little sicker than we saw yesterday, and I am in awe of the team's fortitude and determination.
Two very different purposes, two very different destinations, and two very different goals. We "acclimate" not to altitude, but to the poverty that we see, to the malnourished children, to the sense of hopelessness that sometimes covers the faces of the mothers who have little to care for their children.
We approach our "base camp" no differently than the trekkers. Slowly, methodically, sure of every step, making everything count in order to reach our goal. We had our own trek. We walked about a half mile today into the project and again back out, carrying all of our supplies. No "sherpas."
This little girl in the picture perhaps gives you a sense of who we cared for today. We treated children with asthma, pneumonia, and ear infections. We saw children who were stunted, short for their age, as a result of being malnourished (as, it is estimated, half of the children in Nepal are). Those children will be vulnerable to chronic illnesses and a short life span.
Our sponsored children were seen, given the best we had, and for that they have been given a chance to reach the "summit." The summit of making a life out of nothing and being able to breathe without coughing and wheezing. As for us tonight, we rest, and prepare for tomorrow, becoming more acclimated to what we've seen and ready for what will be seen tomorrow.
Nepal is a beautiful country. The children are uniquely beautiful with facial features and smiles that radiate. I'll sleep a few hours tonight and wait for the rising sun and gather to a place in the morning where we will trek to the next project. A few thousand feet more and we are closer to the top: healthcare for those who need it the most.
Dr. Beyda and a team of volunteers are serving in Nepal. Dr. Beyda reflects on what draws most people to Nepal -- the allure of Mt. Everest -- and why the team is there instead:
A mountain that has claimed many lives and has given many more the satisfaction of beating it, beckons us not to climb it but to wonder in awe how magnificent it is. Children beckon us as well. Children who are cared for by loving teachers and pastors. We will also wonder in awe how beautiful they are, how innocent they are and how much they need.
We will be there to run 5 days of medical clinics and to bring a sense of calm to the illnesses that the children have. We make no pretense of being able to climb the mountain of sustainable healthcare and perfect nutritional growth just yet. The 22 members of the US team have been preparing for this climb, this trek. We have been in prayer, we have had many many emails back and forth, we have had set backs, roadblocks and yes even a slip or two down the side of this mountain. Not too far, but far enough that we've had to climb a ways back up. But no worries here.
As those who begin the climb of Mt. Everest, so too will we begin the climb of daily clinics, seeing as many children and adults as is meant to be. We will go slowly, methodically, carefully, taking each step with determination, comforted in the fact that we have the best "guide" with us. Him.
When nothing happens out of the ordinary, one wonders what went wrong. And that is just what happened today. This was probably the best first day of clinics we've ever had in all the trips we've made. Easy setup, smooth flow, patients seen, changes made without questions, and 200 patients seen with time to spare.
Well, there were a few glitches. No electricity, no generator, therefore no power to drive the drills and power tools the dentists needed to do their job. They improvised all the same, and teeth got pulled, repaired, beautified and cleaned, and all was good.
The children were relatively healthy with a few falling outside the norm, but were easily attended to. Several children caught our attention: a 10 year old girl with a heart murmur who was told she needed surgery at the age of 2, and got lost to follow-up, only to return today, 8 years later wondering if now was a good time to get the surgery done. Nope, wouldn't happen, not today, not tomorrow, not any time soon unfortunately.
A 10 year old boy shows up in a wheel chair with a mechanical brace on his right leg. History: hit by a motorcycle 1 year ago, some type of surgery was performed, the leg put in this brace, and now a year later, having not walked all this time, asked us to fix it so he could. The leg was misaligned, turned inward and would need a competent orthopedic surgeon to make things right. Out of the blue, an anesthesiologist who also happened to be the director of a private hospital close by, comes for an unannounced visit, and offers to have an orthopedic surgeon see the child at no cost.
So we started the "climb", got a few hundred feet up the mountain, and there we sit until tomorrow. Then up we go. Serving those who come to see us.
We will post more from Dr. Beyda as he is able to update us -- in the meantime, please join us in praying for the team and for the children they are caring for on our behalf!
This week has confirmed we have much to be grateful for at One Child Matters.
We’re grateful for the unique partnerships God has given us with professional baseball players, their wives and families, and their agents – people who are both ambassadors for Christ and ambassadors for baseball.
We’re thankful the hearts of those like Kyle Gibson of the Minnesota Twins, and Justin Masterson of the Cleveland Indians, who give up part of their winter break to serve our kids and put on baseball clinics for those yearn to improve but have few opportunities to learn.
We praise God to see the parable of the talents lived out by Justin, Kyle, and countless others. Even Justin’s wife Meryl found a way to meet the needs of the kids at Mission Valiente – she gives the proceeds from her cookie business, Meryl Masterson’s Home Plate Cookies, to One Child Matters! And they are some seriously good cookies!
We are so encouraged by the way Justin defines the work he’s able to do in the Dominican Republic:
"My prayer for Mission Valiente Project 13 is, whether my name be near it at all, I couldn’t care less, but what I hope is that maybe somebody I went by or didn’t go by, that they would understand the love of Jesus Christ, and that the children would grow, and that in the end what started as biblical references as a mustard seed turns into something so much more incredible."
You can hear more of his heart and see the baseball project in use on this video!
To learn more about The Baseball Project, click here. We are thankful for your partnership, too, for the way you help us meet the needs of children in Jesus' name.