Contributed by Laura Walls in Stories from the Field
Nourishing others through the support of World Vision child sponsorship helps others physically, even while it feeds us spiritually.
It was late in the afternoon and the shadows were growing long when we turned down a narrow dirt road within view of the looming Mombacho Volcano. Our team of World Vision child ambassadors were making our first visit to a family in rural Nicaragua. As we walked up to a small collection of homes, children started pouring out of the doorways and crowding around us with shy smiles and curious giggles.
We learned these families were basket-weavers, led into the craft by their father and his father before them. It's a trade virtually unchanged between generations. We stood under the trees and watched as the grandfather used a knife to split bamboo into long, narrow planks for weaving and his son and daughter-in-law shared about the impact World Vision made in their lives.
They explained that, after helping the children get to the medical clinic, it was discovered by World Vision staff and their parents, that the kids were malnourished. It wasn't that they weren't getting enough food. They were simply getting the wrong kinds of food. As a result, the kids were suffering the effects of malnourishment - reduced stamina and muscle mass, a weakened immune system, and more difficulty focusing.
To help these beautiful kids to become nourished and full, World Vision helped their families to plant a garden. They also invited the mothers to take part in "The Common Pot" mom's club. This group meets once a week to cook a meal together and learn about nutrition. Gradually, as more nutrients were added to their diet, kids grew stronger, healthier, and more energetic. As their bright smiles indicate, the children were all healthy and thriving at that their last check-up!
As I came home, I reflected on the idea of malnutrition and the importance of nutrients for children - how one could be fed but not nourished - and another thought came to mind. This time, I reflected on my spiritual life. Am I malnourished as a believer? Just like my physical body would suffer from an imbalanced diet, so too, without a balanced spiritual "diet," I can be sluggish, weak, and easily frustrated by small challenges.
In John 4, Jesus talks about spiritual food. He had been speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, treating her with great dignity and equality. After his encounter with her, the disciples urged him to eat. But Jesus said he had already eaten and added, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." By doing God's will and ministering to the Samaritan woman and others, his own spirit was nourished and full. Likewise, by serving others, my spirit will be filled, as well.
Part of what led me to this ministry as a child ambassador was Isaiah 58:6-11. In it we read that when we share our food with the hungry, provide the poor wanderer with shelter, clothe the naked, and not turn away from our own flesh and blood, then our "light will break forth like the dawn" and our "healing will quickly appear." We will become like a "well-watered garden."
Isn't that a beautiful picture? A well-watered garden -- thriving, healthy, and producing fruit that nourishes others.
As child ambassadors, we have the chance to experience the energizing excitement of being used by God to serve children and families in some of the hardest places in the world. By finding sponsors for kids, we become part of stories like these - bringing health, wholeness, and fullness of life to children around the world. And in doing so, we too, become a spiritually strong, like a well-watered garden, providing nourishment to a world in need.
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.