I’ve been around the world with my wise friend Shaun Groves. He was there when my heart was broken by poverty for the first time standing at the edge of the city dump in Guatemala. And my life was forever changed. Not only is Shaun helping Christians discover what they were saved for, but he’s a voice for children around the world, desperate to be saved from poverty, saved into the hope Christ alone can extend. Shaun is writing today from Kenya where he’s traveling with Sophie Hudson, Jamie Ivey and Bri McKoy. Will you follow these Compassion Bloggers and dare to have your heart broken by their stories? It’s a grace to welcome Shaun to the farm’s front porch today…
The women kick up red clay dust, dancing with babies tied to their backs.
One mother takes my hands in hers, cranes her neck up at me and shouts “dance!”
So we dance.
Up the drive from the van toward the little pink church.
All the mothers are bending side to side, bending low, breaking into song about a God who sees even them.
They’ve come a long way.
They came from mothers who were never taught to read and fathers who married them off before their first periods came.
They came from communities where women are held down by men who cut away their capacity for pleasure.
They came from tribes where they were one of many wives, where they had no say and no right to refuse, where men shared them like property with friends.
They have come a very long way.
In the beginning God made the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air and brought them to Man to be named. Whatever man named them stuck. (Genesis 2:19)
Cat and Dog.
Man named and named and named….but not one could he call “friend.” (Genesis 2:20)
Inside the cool of the church, we sing and sing some more and dance the red dust right off ourselves.
“God is my only hope!” the women shout. “Who can I trust but God?”
Babies tug at the mamas’ hemlines.
Some women beat calf-skin drums.
A woman let’s loose a shrill tribal “lelelelelelelelelelelelele!” over the music.
“God is my rock! My life comes from God!” they sing.
God put Man into a deep sleep and then God reached in — not into the dirt, but into the side of Man and made something new from his flesh. Life from life. (Genesis 2:21, 22)
This creature God named.
“Woman,” God called her.
And the “good” Garden was for the first time “very good.”
The singing finally subsides and the pastor stands to speak to us all. Paul stands over six feet tall with broad shoulders and a husky voice.
He opens his black bible and reads slowly from Isaiah 58:
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
“This inspires my heart each day as I serve these women and children,” Paul says. “Unchain those who have been chained. Release the oppressed in the name of the Lord.”
“So many have been oppressed by sickness. Oppressed by lack of education. Oppressed by lack of opportunity. Oppressed by husbands. Oppressed by all the powers of darkness.”
“Compassion allows me to reach, to give hope, to say you are loved. You are queens.”
And whatever we are called — sticks.
Mildred was born and raised in the Mathare Valley — the second largest slum in all of Africa.
Over 600,000 people crammed into three square miles of rusting corrugated metal and filth and violence.
She was orphaned in adolescence and mothered by her sisters.
“I’ve always loved the law,” she says. “Even as a little girl I was very interested when the other children were fighting. I wanted to determine who was right and who was wrong.”
“Are you the oldest child?” I ask.
“No,” she says. “The youngest. But it is the oldest who tend to make others follow the rules, isn’t it? Maybe it is because the youngest suffer so much injustice from the oldest that I grew up wanting justice,” she laughs.
Mildred’s mother never learned to read or even write her name.
“It was common then. School was only for boys. A girl’s place was in the home, not in books.”
Mildred is in law school now.
This is how she plans to loose chains and speak up for the oppressed. She’s been speaking up for a long time.
“At nine Compassion sent me to school. They are unbiased toward gender. They want the poorest of the poor – gender makes no difference.
And when the boys speak up in class our Compassion teacher said, ‘You must speak up with the men. You must lead alongside them. You are just as smart.”
And what we’re called — sticks.
God made her and named her and man said, “Wow!”
“Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” the bible says.
In other words, “Wow! This is good! This is really really good! She’s more beautiful than Peacock, more graceful than Eagle, better conversation than Monkey! She’s amazing!” (Genesis 2:23 – New Groves International Version)
Woman. She is so treasured and essential that God couldn’t pull His pen through even one chapter of His epic tale without her flowing from His heart and onto the page.
Before misogynists demeaned her and governments oppressed her.
Before religion veiled her and preachers silenced her.
Before covergirls shamed her and employers underpaid her.
Before fathers neglected her and husbands abandoned her.
Before the world fell and forgot her worth – she was Woman.
Prized. Honored. Essential. Loved. A queen.
“My sponsor is Margo. She lives in British Columbia. She always writes to tell me a verse or a quote and ask how I am doing. She prays for me. She tells me I’m loved.”
And what we’re called really sticks.
And pray every day it sticks.
Might I ask — will you pray about sponsoring a child in need today? They need you — and you need them…
Compassion is God’s heartbeat.
And whatever you are thinking and wherever you are at right now —
Thank you for giving the gift of prayer and time right now to just one child in need of Hope…