For the long-time reader, you’ll remember I traveled to the Philippines in 2011 with Compassion Bloggers and then again to Uganda in 2014. This week, the Compassion Blogger team is in Ecuador, seeing first hand the work God is
doing on behalf of the children and families in that country through Compassion.
What an honor it is today to host my dear friend Bri’s words here on the blog. She was on both trips I took with Compassion and I don’t know what I would have done without her. Her super-power is unequivocally and without question this: joy. It’s infectious. You’ll see.
There are a great many things I adore about Emily. Her wisdom is one of them. A few months ago she shared about how there is always room at the table and I haven’t forgotten about it since. In fact, those words have bubbled up as I have been in Ecuador.
This whole land has felt like one big table set by God and I am still trying to hold that He invited me to it. This is one of the stories He invited me into:
Today Shannan, Calvin (her son) and I trekked up a steep dirt path to get to you, Ana.
We entered your home and stooped low to sit on your mamma’s dirt floor, to help your family pick corn off the cob.
Your mom sat across from us and shared all the hard of her life.
How she lost a baby when he was just a newborn.
How it’s hard for your dad to find work.
How the food she has for your family (all 11 of you children) is almost always a corn soup that is sometimes infused with some vegetable she went and forged for high on the mountain.
If hope is a dripping faucet, your mom’s is as dried up as I’ve ever seen. And my heart ached for her.
We asked what hopes she had for you all, all eleven of you, and she responded so quickly – like she’s been turning this question around and around since she bore her first babe at age 24.
“I have no hope for them.”
And Ana you and your two other sisters who are in the Compassion program were standing right there when she said that. I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t seem to mind.
So I quickly turned to all three of you and asked what your dreams were. I held my breath as we waited for the answers, wondering if your mom’s despair had taken a toll on your hopes. But Ashley said a doctor, you a teacher, and Maria a fashion designer.
Wild, fantastical dreams. The stark opposition to your mother’s response had me asking, “How do you dream these big dreams?”
Ana, you responded immediately, “Jesus.”
You brought me to the feet of the Holy right there in that tiny mudroom. If Jesus isn’t the answer in the midst of this darkness, I don’t know what is.
Ana, if anyone is grabbing at and pulling down the extravagant, sovereign, unimaginable plans of the Lord, it’s you.
All too clearly I realized you know there’s a place at the table for you. And you know Who is setting the table.
This is the curious thing, you hope big even though there is no shortage of hard for you.
Most would say your life is not suited for these dreams. Or really, any dream. And I’ll keep it short because you know it so well, but your community swells with childhood suicide, money and drug laundering, human trafficking and more.
The reality of your circumstances are everywhere you turn.
But still, Ana, you have this bright idea for your future. You have stepped boldly to the table. You know Jesus is your portion. If there is anyone who is clinging onto Psalm 23 it’s you.
“You prepare a table for me.” –Psalm 23:5
The difference between your fierce hope and your mamma’s came eerily into focus as we prepared to leave your home.
We gathered on a little dirt patch and prepared to give your mamma a gift.
Compassion always provides a family gift after we visit a home because it is important to be gracious guests when someone has invited you to their table.
I could hardly stand to wait for your mom to receive this gift. As the box left the hands of our project facilitator and landed into your mom’s arms, her body immediately crumbled to the ground. The weight of it was literally too much too hold.
We all gasped completely shocked at what had just occurred. We knew the box was heavy but we also knew that is was manageable to at least carry inside the home. I could not quite reconcile how your mamma was unable to comprehend the weight of the box seeing as it was a medium sized box – nothing small.
How had she miscalculated its weight? The box was so full that the cardboard flaps could not even be closed all the way and the tape was struggling to keep the contents contained.
But as your mamma stood up, she looked at us wide eyed and the next thing she said shattered my heart, “I thought it was light.”
That one sentence put into perspective the lens through which she sees the world. And of course she thought it was light, her life has been one where there has been more taken than given. That if she is even aware there is a table she can come to, no one has invited her to it.
If any gift has been given to her it was not extravagant. Not weighty.
But Ana, I walked away from you and your sisters not completely crushed because you are sure of your Lord and His great ability.
There is no limit of hope in me that God is going to use you to do great things for Him.
That He will even use you and your love for Him to be a source of great healing for your mamma.
That He will use you to invite her to the table.
This is the great love of God, that not only is He preparing a table for us, we get to help Him invite His people to the table.
In my own life, especially after my visit today, I cannot think of a better way to invite children living in extreme poverty to God’s table than through sponsorship.
Please partner with me to pray for Ana and her sisters and her mamma. It is my joy & hope that today you will allow God to bring an Ana into your life. If you were like me, and wondering if sponsorship is the right time or step for you, can I say that I waited too long to sponsor my first child? And a child’s life is not worthy of my “lofty” time-delayed contemplation. We must act.
We must allow Him to use our life for something greater than this world has to offer.
Thank you, Bri. I adore this story. And y’all will want to read Shannan’s perspective of their visit with Ana as well because her view was quite different and I can’t stop thinking about her post.
I cannot stress this enough – I have every hope for Ana and children like her because I’ve seen with my two brown eyes how Jesus makes a difference through the work of Compassion. We sponsor 3 children and have not regretted it for one second.
View children from Ecuador who are in great need of hope and love. Sponsor a child today.
You can read more stories about their time in Ecuador here:
And! Ruth graciously created a print exclusive to Compassion. To anyone who sponsors a child during the trip, you will receive this print FREE to commemorate your decision to save a life.
Friends, will you sponsor a child today and partner with Compassion to help reveal to them the unfathomable, unexplainable love of God? Pull out the chair, call their name, say with great hope, “Come have a seat.”