열린문 장로교회 굿뉴스는 열린문 커뮤니티의 소식들을 여러분들께 전해드리고 있습니다.
I traveled to Peru with the Compassion vision team this year with my oldest son Samuel, age 11. Our family has been a compassion child sponsor for several years now. I thought I had a good idea of what the Compassion program was all about based upon our exposure and research to date and I have been writing our Compassion child on a quarterly basis. My initial intent was to go with my son to teach him about compassion; generosity and compassion being a rarity in our eldest towards his siblings. I was looking for life changing grace to be revealed to my son through this trip. Instead, I found myself impacted with unexpected force.
We spent a significant amount of time in preparation for this trip. Like many things in life , hours of preparation was needed for every hour of “game time.” My wife and I shared the same vision, and we participated in many of the pre-mission activities as a family to include the fund raising food preparation and sales, barrette making, supply shopping, and prayer. Thus even though we did not travel together this time, we felt this would help make it a family effort.
Despite my understanding of the Compassion ministry, like many things in life, some things must be seen, heard, and smelt to be understood. The home visits and church visits were profoundly impactful to me, even though I had not set out with my own development in mind. Perhaps this was God’s intent as I would not have traveled for my own development alone. While I am no stranger to privation and poverty, what struck me in the most despondent families was the hopelessness. Many of these families were broken, without fathers to lead the family and children. Many parents worked long hours and were unable to care for their kids emotional and spiritual development; a struggle for survival with no end in sight, and above all, no hope.
One particular family I encountered from a newly opened extension of Project #452. The mother Virginia had 5 children age 17, 13 (boys), 11 Danya, 4 Frederico, and 2 Rosalyn. The father had disappeared, it was unclear how long this has been going on but he has left without any word for several weeks at a time for at least a year. So Virginia is left with these children to care for. Her oldest was studying to get into the National University of Engineering but this is quite competitive, it is estimated that 1:1000 will get picked up. Danya struck me as a beautiful young girl, she was dressed in her school uniform but she was concerned that she would not be able to finish her schooling due to the need to help work for the family. Virginia also has problems with her 13 year old son, who is supposed to care for his younger siblings while mother works, has internet addiction issues and the mother would find Rosalyn at home alone with her brother gone down the mountain to the Internet cafe. Virginia spends 4 days a week peeling garlic for a restaurant for approximately 1 Sol per kilogram. The remaining days she works odd jobs to feed the family and hence spends significant time away from home and the children. Their home is on a steep hill as with many squatters, the home is old and made of plywood. The plywood is rotten in many places with holes in the walls and the overhead sheet metal is not properly secured. The extension they are assigned to just opened up and is using a building that the government is lending them for this year. Rosalyn and her brother are both registered, I suspect both from the same family was allowed due to their dire circumstances.
When I met this family I was struck by how this family was somewhat analogous to ours with 5 children. The commonalities I shared with Virginia as a parent with several children were too familiar except she was accomplishing this with no family support and very poor living conditions. I saw the look in Danya’s eyes as the adults were discussing their situation and the abject hopelessness that I saw was profound. Rosalyn and Federico were both cute and did not appear grossly malnourished, I could see multiple insect bites on Rosalyn’s face, some appeared to be mildly infected, when I questioned about these, the mother did not seem to notice. Part of this perhaps the prioritization of more serious issues for her family. Finally, this family had not been reached by the gospel message.
After walking back to the bus (we were rushed for time at this point) my heart was unsettled. I sat down and closed my eyes to meditate and gather my thoughts. In brief I realized I was feeling compassion for this family and the youngest 3 children that I had met. More so than other homes we had visited. I was facing the decision of hardening my heart as I have done many times in the name of mission accomplishment, versus taking compassionate action. I realized this was more of an Ezekiel 11:19 moment, to receive a heart of flesh not a heart of stone. Perhaps this was the Holy Spirit leading me. I conferred briefly with my son and we notified Pastor Moon of our intent, to see if these two children could be sponsored by our family. Ultimately we were informed that the children were available and the sponsor process was initiated. It is my greatest hope that the transforming power of Jesus’s love through the Compassion children will spread to this whole family and give them hope and a future.
Another major facet that I experienced was the passion of the church in Lima. I went as the team videographer more out of duty than true desire but doing so ended up being more blessed than I could have imagined. I interviewed the pastors that we visited and gained insight into their faith and the impact of Compassion on their communities in greater detail than other team members. The church teachers demonstrated incredible love and dedication for their children. They cared earnestly for their children, with a passion that I wish all our teachers had for our kids in Little Lights. Over the years, they could periodically see how their graduate children came back, serving in other professions to support the church and the community.
I was also able to see our team members change in ways they may not have noticed themselves. Some team members initially appearing unwilling and recluse, then were finding joy in their praise after visiting these churches. Being able to interview the team members allowed me to hear their stories of change in their own hearts. I noticed this more because I was seeing everything the camera was seeing, and was able to replay events at the end of the day. Thus I saw additional details that were missed at the time of the event. This added yet another dimension to my trip experience.
I will allow my son to discuss his perspectives on this trip, I believe at a minimum it will be a point of reference for him as he develops his view of the world in the upcoming years.
This is my testimony, thanks be to God for the opportunity to meet his children in need.