We like our children to be spiritually prepared for their day. Beginning at the start of it. In the minivan. So we listen to Queen.
Sambhaji was four when he pointed at the radio one morning and shouted, “My song! Dad! My song!”
Becky and I and the other three kids looked at each other, very confused. And then, suddenly, we all understood at once and sang along…”Can anybody find meeeeeeeeee Sambhaji to love?”
God gave me Sambhaji to love – to feed, teach, tuck into bed, push in a swing, tickle, throw the baseball to, and destroy in Candyland. He’s mine; a gift all the way from India and after two years of calling him “son”, well, I can’t imagine life without him.
As much as I love being his Dad, even on our best day together, I know I’m second best.
I’ve seen best.
In ten countries I’ve seen it. And again today.
Marvin inspects my camera, the way curious boys do, with his fingers and eyes. We’re on the floor together. The adults stand over us talking.
He was born two months early, his mother tells the translator. Daisy works as a street vendor selling spices. On a good day, she says, she can earn $15.
I raise my camera to my eye while Marvin poses on big sister’s bed and then races back to see himself on my little screen. “Mono,” I point. He laughs and hops back on the bed to pose again.
When Marvin was born Daisy couldn’t string enough good days together to feed the family. Marvin couldn’t gain weight. Malnutrition brought with it seizures and the seizures brought mother fear of the worst kind. Would she lose her boy?
It’s estimated there are 147 million orphans on the planet today. Four out of five of them were orphaned by poverty, not by death.
Mom and dad didn’t pass away. But mom and dad, unable to meet their child’s most basic needs, gave them up so they could live. Is there a greater love than this?
“What difference has Compassion made for your family?”
I have Marvin on the run now. I unleash a barrage of tickling – under the arms, around the knee, left ribs, right ribs, back of the neck. He spills laughter.
Daisy says public school in Nicaragua still costs a mother money: uniforms, meals, school fees. She had to choose between her daughter’s education and survival. But now Compassion foots the bill, puts Marvin’s big sister through school and…
“The money I once would spend for her I now spend to buy food for the whole family.”
Marvin eats. The seizures are gone.
I stop tickling so he can rest and catch his breath. But instead Marvin stretches a leg toward me, an invitation to do it again. Daisy laughs.
This is best.
As much as I love my son I wish Compassion had been in his neighborhood when he was eighteen months old, when his seizures started. Malnutrition so ravaged his little mind that his mother kissed him goodbye one morning, wrapped him in a blanket and – because of love – gave him the life she couldn’t afford to provide.
If Compassion had been there, sure, I would miss out on being his dad. But tonight he would be tucked into bed by a mother who has his face. And she would smile his smile when he laughs.
Sponsoring a child saves families. It’s orphan prevention. It’s giving boys and girls best.
Is there any better way to spend $38 this month?