Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Little Humble Pie

Let me tell you a little bit more about how we came to sponsor Kimenyi and how that relates to my journey in showing mercy.

The day it happened – the day God spoke to my heart – started with Charles and I having to consider committing to spend $45 a month on our grown children. We are already spending money regularly on several family members, so we are already stretched. But this would also really help them.

For those of you who don’t know me, you need to know that my earthly nature is to be extremely selfish and self-centered. Anything good that comes through me is purely Divine intervention. And that day, my selfish nature was just screaming. “Why don’t you just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do it yourself? Why do you keep getting yourself into these situations? When are you going to be able to take care of yourselves?” On and on. This is coming from the mind of a woman who has been constantly helped in many ways by family. So it was somewhat like the Bible story of the servant who was forgiven much but then turned around and did not forgive his fellow (Matt 18:23-35). And if this parable had been in my conscious thought at that point, I would have seen that the word “mercy” is mentioned again in that passage. But I wasn’t thinking of much more than myself at that point.

That same day I read a blog post by a Christian woman who pointed out how petty some of our disagreements are when we should be spending our time worrying about those who have far less than we do. She had a link to Compassion on her blog and I know that she has advocated for them as a sponsoring agency. And I felt heavily that hand of God on me right at that moment. I knew I was supposed to look at these children right then. I went to the Compassion home page to see what was involved in sponsoring a child. $38 a month. Less than what we were talking about giving our children. And I thought, “see there? God is saying that we should spend that money more wisely by sponsoring this child”. Now, that is not exactly what God was saying, but that was all I could hear at that moment.

So I excitedly called Charles (who was in a meeting but took my call in case something was wrong) and asked if we could sponsor a child. He could tell I was very excited, so he said yes and we hung up. I looked at the children we had to choose from and there were 825 of them! 825 children! How do you pick just one? How do you keep from feeling guilty about the other 824? Augh! So I shot off an email to the woman who wrote the blog post I had been reading asking her for suggestions on how to choose. I immediately got a canned response email that said basically, “I’ve been spending too much time on email lately (according to her husband) so I won’t be replying, but I do read all my emails.” So… no help from that quarter. But I still felt God’s hand sitting on me. I knew I needed to act.

I looked at the advance search choices that were offered. One of the choices was “children who have been waiting the longest”. That seemed like a good way to go. All of those children have been waiting over six months for a sponsor, so I thought they should get our attention. There was also an option for children who live in areas that are heavily affected by HIV/AIDS. That is a cause near and dear to our hearts, so I picked that option as well. And all of the sudden we were narrowed down to 48 children. But I couldn’t bear to pick one over the others. I texted Charles and asked him to get one of his employees to pick a number between 1 and 48. I have no idea who he asked or why, but I got back a text that just said, “7”. I counted down the page to the seventh child and there was that beautiful face.

So I picked Kimenyi and started going through the online process of signing up to be sponsors. During the process, I was asked if we wanted to contribute to any of Compassion’s special projects. One of them was the HIV/AIDS Initiative. Again, that is important to me and Charles, so I clicked on it to see how much we could contribute. For some reason I will never understand, the drop down menu for monthly contributions started at $7. That was an odd place to start. Why not $5 or $10? But then it hit me… the $38 we would give for Kimenyi plus $7 for the HIV/AIDS Initiative equals, yes, $45! The exact amount that I had been fretting over earlier. So I picked the $7 dollar option, went through some more signing up and then pretty soon we were official! We had a Sponsor Number and everything!

I felt so validated that God had shown me a way to spend that $45 to show mercy to a child who had needs that outweighed any need in my family. And by showing mercy to Kimenyi, it would extend to his whole family. Well, God was not finished with me, and I am sure that He was not pleased with my gloating. Enter the conviction. And I did feel convicted. Who am I to feel so special about sharing money that is not mine anyway? It all belongs to God. And I knew from the profile I had been sent that Kimenyi helps his family in several ways, even though he is only six. If he ever wrote and asked, what was I to say about how I help my family? That I only help when I – in all my imagined wisdom – decide that they deserve it? That I had decided that I would rather show mercy to strangers than to the people that God gave me to spend my life with?

Oh, how the conviction weighed on me then. And I was so ashamed to think that I had hidden my pride, my contempt, and my prejudices behind the guise of “good stewardship”. I had to admit to myself and my God that I would much rather show mercy to strangers on the side of the road than those closest to me. I was brought so very low at that moment.

So what to do? I had already committed to sponsoring Kimenyi. And I didn’t feel like God wanted me to take that back. Then I remembered that Daddy had decided to take over some of the household bills (we didn’t really want him to, but he was willing to fight about it). That would free up more than $45 a month. So we really could afford to sponsor Kimenyi and help our children.

When I talked to Charles about all of this later, I am sure that I didn’t mention my conviction. Still some pride there. But when I told him that I thought we could afford both, I know he was relieved. Charles doesn’t have nearly as much of problem showing mercy to family as I do. I guess his struggles are in other areas. That must help us balance out.

Now we have added Kimenyi and his family to our extended family. That is really exciting. And I am still learning more about showing mercy. That is really necessary. God is still completing His good work in me.

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