When we loaded into our safari vans to get to your church I had no idea the terrain we would have to cross, the desolation and stretches of barren land, before we could step onto your little patch of dirt in the world.
You stood in direct contrast to all the brown that surrounded you. You were vibrant. Radiant. You were filled full. Brimming.
We couldn’t have looked more different, you and me. I could not have been more of a stranger. But you shook my hand and said, “Welcome.”
It sounded familiar. It sounded like God.
Then you went and adorned us with the type of jewelry your tribe wears and I knew. We were neighbors.
Despite race, culture, location, language, or background you looked at me in this nostalgic way. You said, “Now you are one of us.”
And then you danced for us. The best neighbors always dance and you did not disappoint. First there was the dance that told the story of the Maasai hunting a lion. The quiet and lifeless valley filled with joyous sounds I had never heard before. You smiled big at us and I could not stop smiling back.
Of course the next order of business was tea and cookies. Because when you welcome someone into your home you always offer something to eat and drink. Your offering? A small cracked plate filled with sugar cookies and creamy milk tea. You reminded me the meal never has to be fancy or fussed over.
Church was homey. You kept saying hi to us from the pulpit and we all said hi back. This happened many times. Service was a conversation.
As we emptied the room you lined the whole congregation up so that everyone was greeted. Everyone was welcomed.
You let the little children come to us.
This is what you taught me, you might be on the outskirts of the world but you are not on the outskirts of God’s love. You built His house on your mud. You partnered with Compassion to give your children education, your community clean water, your women dignity and rights.
You showed me there is hospitality despite poverty.
You reminded me, in God’s economy you treat your neighbor as yourself. You give him or her your cloak. Your food. Your blessing.
You reminded me that Jesus is in the business of inviting. He pulls us close, no matter how far off the map we may feel, He leans in and assurances us, “Welcome. You are welcome here.”
What we do with our own little invitations into this world matters. God thought we might need some help so he told us the things that are important.
To love Him and others above all else.
To care for the poor.
To give to the needy.
To welcome the stranger.
To give with joy.
Jeremy and I have taken these commands most seriously. We do not take lightly the gifts God has given us. We have been born into privilege, wealth, freedom. We do not want to return to our Father still holding onto these things.
We believe that if God has given us any kind of influence, any bit of wealth, it is so we can partner with Him to help those in need. God is always sending His people to save His people. There was Moses and Joseph. Ruth and Jonah. Jesus. And now, it turns out He wants to use us.
We can’t think of a better way to care for the needy and extend God’s invitation, His, “You belong to me. You are welcome here,” than by sponsoring children living in extreme poverty. We give our $38/month and we proclaim to a child who might not have ever known, “You are seen. You are loved. You are welcome here.”
Will you also consider the great opportunity you have to share with a child living in desperate poverty that they are welcome here? Will you sponsor a child from Kenya today?