Compassion at Christmas

by Teresa Bell Kindred

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Her name is Reina Gricelda Piris Sinay; a long name for a little girl. I first met Reina when she was just three years old. Actually, we have never met. I read about an organization called Compassion at http://www.compassion.com/ and I signed up to sponsor a child, and that is how our relationship began.

Reina lives in Guatemala. When she was three she was living with her father, mother, and grandmother.

When she was four her father left and a few months ago I received a letter saying her mother had left as well. The grandmother is sick (Reina always asks for prayers for her) and so I am afraid that Reina is taking care of the grandmother more than the grandmother is taking care of her.

Every so often I receive letters from Reina. A translator actually writes them for her. This is what her last letter said.

Dear sponsor,

Reina greets you in the love of Christ. She loves you very much and prays for you. Reina is studying and soon will be in 4th grade. Her teacher says she is a very smart girl and she will pass 3rd grade. Reina thanks you for the gift you sent her in August. She got four yards of fabric, two pairs of shoes, a bottle of oil, rice, beans, soups, sugar and matches. Reina wishes God blesses you for what God put in your heart! She says they really needed these things. May God multiply them for you! She sends many hugs.

Today is December 1st and for weeks stores have been putting up Christmas trees, playing Christmas music and doing their best to get us in the mood to shop. Before you make your next trip to the mall please read the article below. It was written by someone at Compassion.

Written by: Becky Tschamler

I heard the other day what many would call “good news.” According to the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, the recession is over.

Only the thing is, the “good-ness” of this news is relative … it’s only true for those of us living within certain geographic boundaries (read: the developed world.)

So, while we may be seeing signs of economic improvement in our part of the world, many other parts of the world are still in dire straits.

I recently received a report from our staff in Guatemala that says there are 54,000 families seriously lacking food. Fifty-four thousand. UNICEF says that almost half of Guatemalan children suffer from chronic malnutrition.

While the food crisis is not new, the reasons behind this reiteration of it are different from before.

Whereas before the skyrocketing cost of food was almost solely responsible for the crisis, this time Guatemala is experiencing something like the Perfect Storm – a combination of adverse weather, poor soil and the effects of the global economic downturn have lead to a severe food shortage.

On the other side of the globe in Uganda, the situation is equally heartbreaking. The last report our staff submitted said that more than 4,500 of our children and their families are suffering from famine.

Kids are not attending school because they don’t have the strength to get through the day. People cannot take their HIV medication because it has to be taken with food.

And they have none.

Since the onset of the Global Food Crisis last year, we have distributed millions of dollars worth of food, medical treatment and nutritional counseling.

Together with your help, God blew us away with His abundant blessing during our Global Food Crisis Day on March 11.

We were able to meet the needs of many children like Doris, an 11-year-old girl from Guatemala who was malnourished, surviving on a diet of vegetables and chicken giblets once a day, and provide her with three meals of chicken, beef, vegetables, eggs, milk, Incaparina mixed with beans, corn flakes, rice and Protemás.

But for others, as the crisis goes on seemingly without end, it’s hard not to get discouraged.

There actually is good news, though: This economic imbalance has not taken God off guard. Actually, He knew we’d be in this predicament. That’s why He gave us clear instructions about what to do.

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” — 1 John 3:17-18, NIV

And there it is plain as day — the key to solving this crisis.

While this side of the world might indeed be pulling out of the economic free-fall we’ve been in, those on the other side aren’t yet.

So, what I’d like to suggest is that this “recovery” is actually our opportunity. It is not an ending of something, but a chance to fulfill our purpose.

As we pull out of our economic tailspin, we have the chance – and the responsibility – to step up for those still spinning.

I have to tell you that when I received the letter from Reina and saw that sweet little girl holding shoes and fabric, with beans, soup and cooking oil at her feet, I cried. There are so many children like Reina, in need of just the bare necessities that it is overwhelming. The temptation to say, “The problem is too big and I am only one. How can I possibly make a difference?”

One of my all time favorite quotes is by Edward Everett Hale who said, ” “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

Today I give thanks for Reina and the blessing she is in my life. Please pray for her (and children like her). You can make a difference. There is something we all can do.

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