A few years ago, a little girl named Pinki stole a piece of my heart. Instead of a birthday present wrapped in colorful paper and ribbons, my brother gave me the chance to sponsor a child. Sponsorship is like adoption in a few ways. You become a spiritual mentor, a friend, and an encourager to a child across the globe. Pinki and I got to talk through letters; I heard about her going to school, how much prayer she needed for tests, what her friends were doing, how she loved to play with her dolls, that she was learning to make dresses, how she loved going to church, how she celebrated her birthdays, that she dreamed to be a nurse, that she needed protection and prayer to be safe from malaria, that running and swimming were her favorites, and how much she loved to eat Dal soup. I could keep listing all the silly, the serious, and the wonderful things I know about her, she’s a great kid. I keep thinking about the fact that she would likely be graduating this year and headed off to nursing school to help others for a lifetime. She loved others, and anytime we got the chance to share our thoughts, her love of others would shine through. The relationship you build with your child makes a special bond – you pray for, grow up with, and care about a child you may never even meet. But, like any relationship, it can be cut short by things out of your control. It’s important to shed light on these things, and it is also a way the Lord may stretch you beyond your own expectations into His.
At the end of 2016, I and fellow sponsors were asked to stay silent and pray as cries of hostility grew louder across the globe. I reminisce the past today as she’d be graduating this year, and I share the history of our last letter & our story, below, where we will wrap it up in the present time.
April 8, 2017:
…“Pinki lives in India, in the Southeastern countryside where tribes are beginning to learn about who Christ is. She’s a teenager who enjoys going to the church and to the Bible classes in her village. However, her nation is shutting out the organizations that make many churches and ministries possible.
As of March 15th, Pinki cannot be my sponsored child. There is a growing Hindu extremist movement to purify India from external ideologies. India’s government has passed legislation that shuts out Christian non-government organizations (NGOs). This legislation shuts out over 9,000 NGOs, and the ramifications are reaching people so far as myself. All 145,000 children of Compassion International in India have lost their sponsors, their local church funding, their education assistance, their health care, and many other things that Compassion has aided over the last 48 years. 145,000 children have been left exposed to the sting of poverty. Yet, there is something wonderful to find in this whole situation.
In 145,000 different lives, Christian people reached out and supported the physical and spiritual needs of India’s most vulnerable children. Christ calls His followers to love one another as He has loved us (John 13v34). It is most fitting to realize that He sacrificed His very life for our sakes, all because of love. Nothing more than giving us His abundant love through Christ would please Him, as we know that Jesus really did die on a Roman cross for our sins and it was because of the Father’s love. 2 Corinthians 5v14-15 says, ‘For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.’ So, if we are really living for Christ, then we would be loving one another as Christ loved us. Christ gave himself out of His abundant love.
Think about what you have in abundance…personality, possessions, talent, wit, joy. Ask yourself what it is that you have in abundance, and think of giving it away. I believe that Americans, as a societal whole, have been overwhelmingly blessed with abundance. Sometimes, it is hard for us to see beyond our abundance, as we wear rose-colored glasses compared to the third world’s harsh lens.
Yesterday, I wrote my last letter to Pinki. I cried. So. Darn. Hard…I cried. Three years ago, I sponsored a little girl, and that little girl called herself my daughter. That little girl let me share in the story of her life. That little girl taught me that love can come through words on a page, sent over 7,000 miles, to someone you’ve never seen in person. It’s the kind of love that changed my heart when I met Jesus. It’s the kind of love that keeps on going, despite the opposition of the world itself.”
The wonderful thing in it all is this: Jesus put my child in my life, and He put me in hers. Christian people and children all around the world gave of themselves to support one another in faith through their words, actions, and deeds. This effort was not in vain. The Word of God does not return void when we speak it into others’ lives.
For whatever earthly reasons, the world wants our faiths to be apart. But, for three years of my life, God poured into mine and Pinki’s lives through each other. Now, I have a lifelong prayer request for the faith of a daughter in Christ. Whatever opposition, battles, trials, and struggles she’ll be going through, God gave us each other to pray for and love one another out of our abundant joy in Christ. I think about her future, her desire to care for others & have a career that pours out her love into people’s lives. When I think of that future, I realize that the odds of poverty versus humanity say the flesh will succumb and a dim fate will win, but our God says that our fight is not of the flesh, and He is not about to let the darkness shadow His success. He shines light in the darkest places, and states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6v12.” In short, our God will win, and Pinki will live a full life as a daughter of Christ as she abides with her King. He has not promised that life will be sheltered, safe, and unharmed. But, He has promised a fight. A struggle. We will strive against dark places, and His light will guide our path. He will walk ahead of us & guide us along the right paths. Why? Because He loved us ahead of it all. These struggles will stretch us outside of our expectations into divine purposes that only God knows. I wonder what will happen to Pinki; every day I live with that unknown plan. Yet, I know that God’s purposes transcend the gaps in my human understanding, the reasons I wish things were different, and the knowledge that I have no control – simply put, God is doing His own thing, and I just get to see it happening, as much of a challenge as that may sometimes be to grasp. Further to say, what a joy it is in the hard things to know that God still & always will have a plan.
I want to encourage you today. Pray for the government of India. Pray for the people of India. Pray for Hindus and Christians in India. All around your world, today, there are things going on that need the help of your faith. Pinki is a reminder to me that Christ did not sacrifice Himself on our behalves for the easy things, the comfortable things, and the obvious things. He gave Himself with a different knowledge. Faith and prayer take work. Giving isn’t easy. Doing the right thing isn’t always the obvious choice. Life will uproot us, and we will be pushed to dig our heels into solid ground. People will always be our most valuable gift, one to another, without the frills of wrapping and bows. And, we have been given the gift of God’s perfect planning – covered in abundant love. Faith, hope, and His abundant love. Use it, faithfully, to the end.
We love because He first loved us. – 1 John 4v19