“Live simply so that others can simply live”

I wish I could take credit for the profound quote above because it has been my philosophy for many years now.  I read it in an article by Mark Hanlon called Stuff, an American Phenomenon in the Compassion magazine (Fall, 2012)

The article decries the idea that Americans love stuff.  Hanlon says that there are more than 58,000 storage facilities around the world and 80% of them are in the US.  “Our stuff spills out of our homes, into our garages, and, when that’s not enough, into a storage unit,” he says.

If you are beginning to recognize your attachment to stuff, here’s a great idea for you.  Sponsor a child through Compassion International.  For $38 a month, you can assure that a child is fed, has hygiene education and medical attention,  as well as Bible teaching,social club activities, and vocational training.

I now have an international second family:  Wazeoli is 18 and lives in Tanzania, Pablo is 12 and lives in Ecuador, Kassu is 8 and lives in Ethi0pia, Aibie is 10 and lives in the Philippines, Yair is 12 and lives in Ecuador.

The latest addition to my family is Marina who lives in Burkina Faso, a country I had never heard of near Ghana and the Ivory Coast.  One day some months ago, I needed some information about Compassion for an article I was writing so I went to the website.  There she was on the Home Page in a blue dress looking directly at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen.  The icons on her picture noted that she lives in a high risk are for human trafficking and HIV Aids and had been waiting for a sponsor for 272 days.  Common health problems facing her are malaria and diarrhea.   Most adults in her region of the country are unemployed but some work as day laborers or in domestic service and earn an equivalent of $20 per month.  (I wonder how much a storage unit costs per month!)   As I looked at her picture I felt a familiar nudge and signed up to be her sponsor.

For my budget, I spend a lot of money monthly to take care of these children, as well as sending funding for Christmas gifts and their birthdays.  It is all manageable because years ago I learned from Richard Foster (Freedom of Simplicity) how to live simply so that you can help others simply live. I also spend many Sabbath afternoons writing letters, and pray for each of these children and their specific concerns (For some reason, Yair does not live with his mother.  Every time he writes, he says that he wishes he could live with her  all the time.)

This Christmas. instead of spending hours searching for just the right gift for a friend or family member who doesn’t need any more stuff,  you may want to go to the Compassion website (Compassion International – Children) and look at the hundreds of children who need help.  Sponsor a child and let that family member of friend know that you are saving the life of a child in their name.  You can write letters to you child any time on the Compassion website.  You will receive delightful letters back with drawings, favorite Bible verses, and verbal hugs and kisses.  Wazoeli writes his own letters in English!  His goal is to be a doctor.  Kassu writes very simple letters which are translated by someone at the child center; he loves soccer.  Aibie has five sisters!  You can also visit your child at some point by joining tours sponsored by Compassion to his or her country.  If you don’t want the responsibility of sponsoring, donate via the Compassion Christmas Gift Catalog.  You can find it at www.compassion.com/catalog.  You can give food, medical care, and clean water as well as  help babies and moms in poverty survive.

As Mark Hanlon asks, “What are we seeking from material things that drives us to accumulate more than we have room for?  Maybe a lifestyle change is in order. . . . Live simply so that others may simply live.”

NOTE: If you have sponsored or are sponsoring a child, I’d love to hear your story!

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