This is my 15th Mother's Day as a mom, if you count the one following my first pregnancy, which ended in miscarriage. I've received a lot of sweet crafts and cards from my kids, and flowers, chocolate, etc. But this year tops them all.
First, 10 days ago my girls took me on a special early Mother's Day date. Eliana paid for lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory and then the new Cinderella movie. It was a red letter day. We loved the food, enjoyed our time together immensely, and were enthralled by the movie. It was wonderful!
Then, when Mother's Day actually arrived, I had the honor of sharing the podium at church with my delightful 14-year-old daughter. It wasn't originally planned that way, but two events -- my preaching and her announcement -- just happened to find their way to the same day on the calendar. Mother's Day was the occasion for my invitation to preach, but because of Eliana, yesterday was also "Compassion Sunday."
Months ago we received a letter in the mail from Compassion International. Because the child we sponsor shares a birthday with Eliana, all the mail from Compassion is addressed to her. This one invited her to become an advocate for Compassion International by hosting an event at our church. It caught her attention. A few days later, we were on campus together at Multnomah and a volunteer representative from Compassion just happened to be there manning a table. I was busy meeting with a student, so Eliana wandered over to the table to find out more. Without any involvement from me, the correspondence between them continued over the ensuing weeks. Before long a box came in the mail for Eliana with photos of children waiting to be sponsored, a T-shirt for her to wear, and posters to hang at church. She met with the Compassion representative along with one of our pastors to plan the event.
Yesterday I sat proudly in the front row and watched Eliana address our congregation and introduce the Compassion volunteer. She looked completely at ease as she give a stirring plea for all of us to consider. Where did this beautiful, responsible, articulate, and motivated young lady come from? And what happened to our little girl? The best part was that Eliana planned the entire thing from start to finish. What a gift to see God at work in and through our children!
Wait . . . that's not all. By the time we packed up and headed home, 13* new children had sponsors! Way to go, Eliana! That's the best Mother's Day present I can imagine.
*Update: Some folks took a week to think and pray about sponsorship. By the end of the next week's services, the grand total rose to 20 sponsored kids as a result of Compassion Sunday!
In case you missed the press release in 2013, Compassion International submitted to an independent study by academics in the social sciences to find out if child sponsorship really works. The outcome far surpassed expectations. Compared with un-sponsored kids from the same families and communities, sponsored children grow up to earn more, learn more, be healthier and become leaders in their churches and communities. Sponsorship empowers young people to exit the cycle of poverty. It is the single most effective strategy for alleviating world poverty. You'll notice that I have a Compassion "widget" on the right-hand side of my blog. Every time you visit you can see a new child who needs a sponsor. Click there to learn more!
For related blog posts about inspiring kids to make a difference, click here and here.