Loving other people in a tangible way

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In one of the most treasured photographs I own, a little girl in a red dress stands under a tree with a shy smile on her face. With her hands at her side and the dirt beneath her feet a rich brown, she doesn't suspect that she will change my life, that God is going to use her to speak his love and encouragement to my heart, to show me that his love can sew people together who live an ocean away.

The girl in the picture -- her name is Esther, and she is one of the most amazing people I know. She likes to play a game like hopscotch, loves the Lord with such a genuine heart, and is good at making crafts. She lives in Uganda and will be 10 years old in a couple of days.

I've known Esther for about two and a half years now through a ministry called Compassion International, a Christian child-sponsorship organization. I read about Compassion in a magazine and felt an overwhelming desire to sponsor a child.

At the time, however, I was basically a jobless junior in high school and terrified to commit to spending $38 a month. But God kept it on my heart, and a couple months later presented me with a job opportunity that provided nearly the exact amount of money I needed to sponsor a child for a year. That's when Esther came into my life.

For $38 a month a child living in poverty is provided with the chance to learn about Jesus and have access to educational opportunities, supplementary food, health care and hygiene training if necessary.

Each child is paired with one sponsor so that relationships of love, trust and encouragement are formed through letter correspondence and prayer requests. For more information about sponsoring a child through Compassion, visit www.compassion.com.

We are the body of Christ. If our hands aren't reaching out, if our feet aren't moving, if our heart isn't loving, Jesus' love is not being manifested on this earth.

It's you and it's me. We have to stop assuming people are going to be OK if we pass them by, that someone else will take care of them. We are the ones being asked to step up. We have to take other people's suffering, and the invitation to love them, personally.

My prayer is that you and I would have soft hearts that break with our Father's love for every one of our brothers and sisters that suffer; that we would identify with others' pain because of our own brokenness that is present inside us without the healing love of Christ; that this acknowledgment of being one would give us spirits of conviction that move us to courageous action, to courageous love.

Jesus didn't just tell people he loved them. He tangibly lived out his passionate, relentless love by healing, providing food and crying with people. His heart broke for you and for me in our pitiful condition of slavery to sin so much that he took our place and died to set us free from it.

Let's love each other tangibly like that.

Mia Pohlman is a Perryville, Mo., native studying at Truman State University. She loves performing, God and the color purple -- not necessarily in that order.

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