Tuesday, September 20, 2011


It came in the mail today, eagerly awaited.

Raphael, age 11, from Burkina Faso (landlocked country in west Africa), lives with his father and his mother. He is responsible for running errands and cleaning. His father is sometimes employed and his mother is sometimes employed. There are 3 children in the family.

Soccer, playing with marbles and running are Raphael's favorite activities. In primary school his performance is above average and he also regularly attends church activities and Bible class.

Raphael lives on the plains of Pissy, home to approximately 180,900 residents. Typical houses are constructed of dirt floors, adobe walls and corrugated iron roofs. Most adults in Pissy are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $20 per month. This community needs income-generating activities and tuition assistance.

Burkina Faso, with a population of 13 million, is one of the poorest countries in the world. With no coastlines and ports, the country has few natural resources, fragile soil and an unequal distribution of income. About 90% of the population is engaged in agriculture, (mainly subsistence) which is vulnerable to variations in rainfall. 

Paul checks the mail everyday, with Mary by his side, holding his brotherly hand as they cross the street. He knew what this envelope contained and they ran all the way back to the house, eager to open it with me.

Our Compassion account showed Raphael's name and age and country over the weekend, but we hadn't received his packet until today.

Burkina Faso, with a population of 13 million, is one of the poorest countries in the world. This sentence, more than any of the others, brought me to tears. One of the poorest in the world. Our new son, my children's new sibling, comes from one of the poorest countries in the world.

It's been twelve hours since the mail came. And I already love him. I already think of him and wonder what he is doing and wonder what he is having for lunch. I wonder if he carries water to and from the house many times a day. I wonder if he will be able to go to university through Compassion's tuition assistance program. Students showing promise in their studies are offered this opportunity. I wonder if he's a good runner and if he can get a scholarship for sports.

My boys already respect him, since he is older than they are. And because he does well in school.

We will be each other's graces, this boy and my family. Brought together by God.

I am so thankful. His birthday is September 29 and we made nearly the minimum child gift of $15.00 at our garage sale.

Happy Birthday, Raphael.

I pray we can come and see you one day. Being your friend, I know, will bring many happy days into our lives.

Hearing about the Compassion Sponsorship or Correspondent Program isn't something most people respond to right away. First, you hear it and think what a good idea it is. We should do that, you say. But then life gets so busy and you forget to make the call. Next time you hear about it, same thing. It probably takes three times before most people actually do the physical act of picking up a phone and getting involved.

Writing to these wonderful children is a blessing.....the likes of which I can't adequately describe. It isn't just some do-gooder activity that gives you a temporary high. Instead, it's a relationship that transforms your heart in ways you have no control over. God takes over and makes it powerful, life-changing, thrilling, joy-filled.

Don't spend another minute thinking about it. Call today, to set up a sponsorship or correspondence.


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