Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision once prayed, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” Wow. As the owner of an incredibly selfish and uncompassionate heart, I thought that the only way I’d ever really be able to be truly used by God was to follow this example. Here’s a prayer that really needs some kind of consumer warning, folks, because believe me, He gave me a passion for helping hurting children around the world. Day after day, He has broken my heart for kids starving in Africa, working under dangerous conditions in India, and caught in trafficking in Bangladesh.
Stupidly, I thought that if given the opportunity to reach out and save a child, most people would jump at the chance. I didn’t think that people could actually peer into the eyes of a first grader, starving to death, and say, “I’m good, thanks.” But they do, don't they? I wanted to tell him that I kind of figured he was ‘good’ when I saw him pull up in his $70,000 car. My super judgmental alter ego was furious at me for not sharing with her that with what she’d spent on her manicure, she could save a child from dying, or from being sold into slavery, or from being made a child bride, or worse.
I’d meant to share this opportunity with the people of North Hills until 4pm that day, but at 3:30 I wasn’t hardly able to manage a smile, so I packed it in early. I cried most of the way home to find my girls just getting ready to come see me and offer encouragement. Immediately, both of them knew I was deeply sad and asked what had happened. “I wasn’t able to find sponsors for a lot of these kids,” I said to my 4 1/2 year old in a shaky voice. “Who are they? Can you tell me their names?” She knew what this really meant – those kids, kids with names, and faces, and real stories would continue their struggle for survival. My husband, always more pragmatic, began counting the remaining folders. “You’ve made a huge difference in the lives of 13 kids in the last month,” he stated. “Yeah, but that doesn’t help Ruth or Aimee or Benjamin or any of the others,” I’d said as the tears began flowing down my cheeks once again.
My heart was breaking for the hearts of the 20 kids I’d not found sponsors for. Logically, I knew that the problems in Africa had been festering for a very long time. I also realized that this problem wasn’t just waiting around for me to come and solve through Child Sponsorship, but I really did think that I could make a difference for these kids, at least. Then, Pollyanna Salina found a table in the corner at which to sit, sulk and update her Facebook status to read: “Pollyanna needs a nap. And a hug. And a Xanax. Maybe not in that order.” Seeing her opening, Selfish Salina joined the party and started talking about how stupid it was to have spent a day away from the family and a huge to-do list only to end up mentally, physically, and emotionally too worn out to enjoy what was left of the Saturday. Cynical Salina saw us sitting there and decided to add her two cents, “I don’t know why you even bother. It isn’t like you’ll be able to change any part of this world. What good can you do?” Pollyanna Salina, though feeling quite defeated, answered in a small voice, “Isn’t it better to do something than nothing? What if our child was the one who was hungry, lost or hurting?” Snarky Salina quickly chimed in, “The one thing you’ll accomplish through all this is feeling like you’ve done nothing other than spending time away from your actual responsibilities and crying in front of your kid. Are you ready for the award for that?”
And so Pollyanna Salina, who had had enough of these other voices, headed out to do the weekly grocery shopping with her family, her 4 year old remarking from her pink booster in the backseat that, “Mommy is still sad about the kids who don’t have sponsors”. Once at Target, feelings of guilt for having ready access to an abundance of high-quality, healthy food wasn’t helping. At the checkout, Pollyanna Salina listlessly checked her UrbanSpoon app for a nearby restaurant that would cater to a host of food intolerances, still mentally more sitting at her pity party than at Target.
Then, a beautiful French accent broke through the heavy haze of her commiseration, asking,
“Do you work for World Vision?”
Somewhat startled, I look up and said, “I volunteer with World Vision,” realizing I was still wearing my bright orange World Vision t-shirt.
“I know they do great work back home in Africa, but I didn’t know they were here in North Carolina,” she said excitedly.
“I spent my day trying to find sponsors for kids in Africa today,” I replied.
“Since I came here from Kenya, I’ve wanted to get involved with giving back through World Vision because of what they do for my people in Africa,” she said more as a question than a statement.
And right there, I saw the reason to keep letting my heart be broken, to keeping giving the time that I could use to finish my grocery shopping, to give the money that could be spent on a lunch date with a friend, to give my heart to real people with real problems in real places. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other because God tells me to, and I’ll pray that God will repair my faith in humanity and help me not to judge others by their reaction to something I’ve become passionate about over many years.
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
1 John 3:17-19
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.