We are driving to the countryside today, where it’s green and luscious. Away from the sweat of the city, the polluted river and the constant honking of car horns cluttering the air.
As rice fields opened their arms to usher us away, even the heavens seemed to open a sky full of freshness for us to breathe.
It seemed like the second day of my Compassion Trip in the Dominican Republic was going to be a natural respite from the burdens of urban life.
But, poverty isn’t a location.
Poverty is injustice. Poverty speaks hopelessness – like a continuous revolving door of critical voices that threaten to extinguish God’s light in a child —
You’re not important. Things will never change. You’ll never change.
Poverty robs us of the simplest gifts God created for all of us to enjoy.
Let me tell you what I mean.
When I heard we were going to a Special Needs Compassion Center located in Bonao – where children who are blind, deaf and mute areloved on by tutors and teachers, I thought, “Oh, what a beautiful place for children with special needs to receive food, instruction and care.”
I didn’t know the real reason this city was chosen by Compassion and it lies under the dirt of Bonao.
The Voice of One
Compassion makes sure any Service Center they build is only 30 minutes walking distance for the children and families in need.
So, why is this Special Needs Compassion Center specialized to care for marginalized children located out here in the boonies?
The government hasn’t authorized any official studies — but something terrible is happening. Almost all of these Special Needs Compassion children with defects were born in the same town as a manufacturing plant for a poisonous metal: nickel.
Nickel is a toxic carcinogenic metal that severely damages reproductive health causing birth defects and neurological deficits — by poisoning the water, soil and air that families, little boys and girls consume.
These children are voiceless and powerless to a corrupt government run by greed that allows the nickel plant to stay.
But, through Compassion, little boys and girls — who can’t see, hear or speak the name of Jesus — hear The Voice of One who calls them all His: Jesus.
Jesus is speaking the language of love to these children and their families by saying — “You are loved. You are cherished.”
Through everyday people like you and me. Compassion Sponsors.
I met Ashley this morning, when she came to sit beside me during worship at the Compassion Center. When we were motioned to get up, sing and jump up and down to the music, I hand-signed “Let’s jump!”
Ashley smiled but kept shaking her head. I thought she was shy. I kept signing over and over again “Let’s jump!” even as we stood up. But, her hands kept saying No.
So, I figured she’ll join in later as we begin jumping.
As I placed my arms around her to encourage her to jump, we almost fell down together to the floor.
Ashley is crippled in one leg.
The Face of Jesus
She had sneaked in to sit next to me so quietly unnoticed, I didn’t notice her limp. Ashley stood up so strong with her good leg and I was so busy signing her to jump, I didn’t even notice she CAN’T jump.
My heart just about died and stopped beating.
As I nearly burst into tears knowing I must have wounded this beloved child of God, guess what Ashley did?
She just grabbed onto my neck and hugged me. And she laughed without making a sound and smiled in her bright shining eyes joy singing loudly her heart with Jesus.
She knows you love her, Bonnie. Jesus whispered into my ear. You are the face of my love and her Compassion Sponsor today.
Can you imagine how happy a little boy or girl who has been waiting — who feels hopeless in the revolving door of suffering — will be when they are finally sponsored by you?!
That child will see the face of Jesus through you. And I promise you, she AND her family are going to be leaping for you!
Later, Ruth Soukup of Living Well, Spending Less and I went to meet Arita and her 4 year old son Compassion Child JoElvis.
The first things Arita told us:
1) She introduced her baby-hugging husband Elvis as the father of both JoElvis and year-old cutie pie sister Yolanny. This is a really BIG deal in the poverty stricken communities. The exception. Arita beamed with pride at her treasured possession: love.
2) They are grateful for JoElvis’ Sponsor because without Compassion, JoElvis will soon go blind in both eyes. They live day to day — many days start & end with no income — even though Elvis spends the whole day walking the streets to find manual labor jobs.
It was a hopeless situation. They could have never afforded any medical care, but thanks to Compassion’s special fund for surgeries, the doctors say Elvis will see again!
3) Because of Compassion, Arita’s mother and grandmother walked over to meet us in the one room shack & grateful waterfall of thanksgiving cascaded onto us, flowing down to carpet the floors with joy — pure joy!
Ruth and I could hardly get a word in edge-wise — Grandmother had lots of Jesus stories to tell us. She came to pray for us! What an unexpected blessing! Pour it on, Grandmother! She and Jesus are tight!
This family is rich, flowing in love and dreams for the future fueled by their Compassion Sponsor!
The more I experience the joy of Compassion Children, the more I see the poverty of the little girl broken in me. I know what she needs is more compassion — not less.
Because compassion poured out in brokenness leads to joy.
On days I feel trapped by the revolving door of critical voices — when I feel things can’t change — that I can’t change — I will remember the face of Jesus. In the children who live along a country road.
I will whisper to the little girl in me — what I saw in the eyes of Compassion Sponsored children today.
You are loved. You are cherished. Just rest.
Be the Face of Jesus to a little boy and girl who cannot escape the revolving door of poverty — without you.
Sponsor a child today!
When you welcome a little child on my behalf,
you welcome me. – Jesus in Mk9:37
Let’s Celebrate!! Children You’ve Sponsored This Week!
Three friends in our Faith Barista community who posted they just sponsored a new Compassion Child! So exciting!
If you sponsored a Compassion child this week, I’d love to celebrate with you! Email me a picture of your child & you at email@example.com — not to trumpet our good works (no way!) — but as a testimony to what Jesus is doing on this #UnscriptedCompassion trip!
Jennifer De Witt for picking Jonifer in the D.R.
Deb Manwarren and her daughter Emma chose Yulani in the D.R!
Chastity Hargrove chose 3 yr old Ma Eloisa from the Philippines!
Sponsor a child today! Click here to see all the chilren who are praying and waiting for a sponsor — EVERY DAY — in some cases more than a year. Let’s be God’s answer to their prayers!
Sponsor a child & receive a special Lisa Leonard Necklace created just for this #CompassionBloggers Trip! I cannot begin to describe how much love these children have for their sponsors. You are their safe haven. Your love is Jesus.
This post, Bonnie! My heart is full up joyful. Thank you for saying yes to this trip. Grateful for you. Xoxo
Love reading about this inspiring journey and traveling with you via your posts! I am moved by your words and decided to follow God’s nudge and sponsor a child. Thank you so much for taking this trip and showing us what it means to live life with courage and strength on the adventure that only God can give us! 🙂
WAHHOO!!!!!! Valerie!!!! thank you for your brave choice to listen and allow Jesus to speak HIs voice into a child’s life. Your love and letters are going to BE LIFE to these children — and their families. I wish I could be there with a camera when you child & their families get the notice that they have been chosen! There is going to be SO much jumping and thanking God with tears! This is not just about money – it’s the dignity of being chosen! Let’s celebrate! send me her name and her photo & a your photo!!!
Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing the love of Jesus with these precious children! I am a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing, so I have a passion for children with hearing loss as well as other disabilities. It is so encouraging, refreshing, and uplifting to see them being loved on and ministered to! You are truly being the hands and feet of our Savior! Thank you!
Thank-you for being there for these special little children and for sharing your time there with us.
I want to go!
[…] Meeting Ashley & Arita: Why One Country Road Paved With Dirt Led to a Waterfall of Joy – Bonnie Gray […]
Just read your posting and saw your pics of your trip, thank you so much for humbling yourself and being a conduit for the love of Jesus Christ in the lives of the people you are meeting/ sharing with. The children are so precious. I am praying for all of you from here in Tianjin, China, and will forward this devo onto as many people as I can think of. God’s blessings and love to all of you from China. Gary S.
Thanks for sharing your heart. One day I hope to let you know how much you’ve been blessing my life since last year. Praying for you.
Blessings from Brazil!
[…] been both hard and wonderful to be here. Read more posts from my fellow travelers on this trip: Bonnie Gray, Bri McKoy, Lisa Leonard, and Ruth […]
Just so joyful reading your words, Bonnie. You capture their beauty and dignity and hope so well. Thank you for representing them for Jesus, for being a beautiful voice on behalf of their needs and their hopes and dreams.
This is a heartbreaking post – that so many are born with special needs and it’s preventable. I’m glad for Ashley that you didn’t notice her limp at first; it probably made her feel so good that you were treating her just the same as you’d treat any other child. Thanks for going to the DR and passing on their stories.
I didn’t think of it that way, Sarah! That makes me feel a gazillion times better!! I think you’re right! 🙂 thank you!