He wore a whole new outfit the day we met in Ethiopia. New Spiderman underwear even. He folded over and tugged down on the waist band of his pants to show them to me. It was a little awkward.
He was shy. His mother was even quieter. She told a translator that she had other children besides Yoseph and couldn’t afford to care for him in her house. She sent Yoseph to live with her sister. Her sister registered him in the Compassion International “project” near her home – a church where Yoseph could learn, eat, play, get medical checkups and hear about Jesus.
When I got home I wrote Yoseph. So did my son, Gresham. When he wrote back it was always the same letter. “How are you? I am attending school properly…”
Four or five polite sentences telling us his family was good, his health was good, and then wishing us well. But Gresham and I always wrote him back, always told him about our lives here in Tennessee, about our trip to the beach, our hike in the woods, a visit from grandparents, the first soccer goal scored.
When my kids are four or five – old enough to care and participate – we sponsor a child for them to pray for and write to. The hope is that while my kids sacrifice a little money and time to bring a little of the kingdom to a child in the developing world, a little of the kingdom gets brought into their world too. And it works.
My kids can find countries on a map they’ll almost never hear about in school or on the news. They know the difference between want and need, hungry and starving. They know kids just like them are living all over the earth. They’ve seen God answer their prayers and use their words and money to introduce entire families to Jesus.
Because of Yoseph in Ethiopia, Gresham one day walked door to door in our neighborhood selling his Matchbox cars so he could raise enough money to become his sponsor. It’s amazing how many suckers there are willing to give $10 to a cute little yellow-haired boy in exchange for a rusted old toy.
This morning I received an e-mail from Vickie at Compassion.
Dear Shaun and Becky,
I am sorry to have to bring you news of a departure of one of your sponsor children. Yoseph has left due to lack of interest from the family to continue with the program. Yoseph is 8 years old and has finished 1st grade and he is healthy. This is the only data I have on him at this time. Please pray for him and his family, that God will continue to work in their lives and that they will depend on Him for all their needs. I will pray for all of you on this departure. Thank you for the impact you have made on Yoseph’s life. We are so grateful for your servant hearts and the mercy you extend to the poor we serve with you. My husband and I had a departure of our 3rd sponsor child and it was so hard for us. We still pray for Christina and hope for her to know Jesus. Please give me a call or send an email if I can assist you in some way. God bless you and your family.
By His mercy and for His glory,
Yoseph is like a nephew who lives too far away to visit more than once or twice – like in California or Alaska. To my heart he’s not a stranger.
It’s a strange thing to cry for someone you’ve only met once. We’ll be praying for Yoseph and his mom.