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How I Became a Partner with a Mom in Africa - Encouragement Café - May 26, 2016

How I Became a Partner With a Mom in Africa
By Michelle Axton Kelly

Thursday, May 26, 2016

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me… Matthew 25:35-36 NIV

I wasn’t sure what I was looking for as I paged through hundreds of children’s photos that Christmas.  Sweet faces and personalities greeted me, tickling a place in my heart.  They were delightful and seemed to say,

Pick me!  Getting to know each other will be such a joy.”

Then I saw her photo, so very different from the others.  My fingers trembled over my keyboard; I was unable to move on.  She hadn’t managed a smile for the camera.  

If anything, the photo captured a slight look of mistrust.  Her eyes revealed a heart with no sign of joy or hope.  This weary five year old resembled on the outside, what I felt on the inside.

After years of infertility treatment and miscarriages we’d been given grim news about our dream of becoming parents.  With heavy hearts we decided to take a break and focus on Christmas.  God led us to Compassion International.  

I wanted to help another woman; someone like me, desperate for hope.  That day, I prayed Jesus would use us to give this little girl a reason to smile.

Now, Pascaline is our Rwandan treasure.  In the midst of sharing letters, photos, traditions, holidays and dreams, I was blessed.  By focusing on her needs, I felt less impacted by my own.  We love this sweet partnership with her parents and giving her a future that has been changed for an eternity.

Dreams of becoming a doctor fill her heart this spring. Over the years Jesus has used our family to bring to their family means for generating income - a cow, a goat and a potato crop.  This past Christmas, they received a new roof on their dirt floor home.  

One step at a time, they are being released from poverty while spreading the news of Jesus’ love in their community.

The photos I receive of her family these days reveal big, wonderful smiles and eyes that shine with hope.  God did bless me with girls of my own.  My three year old was born five days before Pascaline’s birthday.  My big five year old was born five days after Pascaline's birthday.  What a miraculous reminder that my first born daughter is living in Africa.  

We pray for her on the way to school, before meals and at bedtime.  My girls can’t wait to meet their sister.  I pray she will join us here in the U.S. for college… a dream of my own.

What kind of mom are you?  

Perhaps, like me, you are in the midst of infertility?  Or you might be a college student, not yet ready to have children but full of compassion?  Are you a grandmother that wants to introduce Christ-like love to your grandchildren?  Maybe you are a daughter who would like to honor a mother this season who has previously passed away?

Whatever kind of mother you are, note that Pascaline is just one of the millions of children living in devastating poverty each day.  In addition to a lack of food and medical care, they are often surviving the danger of human trafficking.

Many of the children waiting to be sponsored through Compassion International have lost one or both parents.  All of these children face the lies that poverty tells them - that they don’t matter - that they aren’t special.

Today I invite you to sponsor a child of your own for $38 a month.  That’s the price of a single meal in a restaurant.   What a great ministry opportunity for you and your family to come alongside a boy or girl who desperately needs to experience the love and hope of Christ.

Visit Compassion International for more information.

This May, look for Compassion Sunday events around the U.S. We anticipate more than 2,000 churches will participate this year and 15,000 children will be sponsored as a result.  At the website you can learn more about this organization including their recognition by top charity watchdog organizations for integrity in financial expenditure.  As a former auditor, independent analysis of this is important to me.

Dear God, thank You for a mother’s heart that brings us together regardless of the location for the purpose of protecting and raising these children You have blessed our lives with.  We praise You for the opportunity to partner with mothers who desperately need help, knowing in our hearts how great is a mother’s love.  With Christ-like compassion, help us to look for opportunities to help.  Please touch the hearts of all kinds of mothers reading this today, prompting them to initiate a sponsorship according to Your will.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2014 by Michelle Axton Kelly.  All rights reserved.

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Originally published Thursday, 26 May 2016.