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Monday, November 28, 2011

.Her Name is Gerlie.

It will be two years ago this March. That was when I first saw her face - those big beautiful eyes, the solemn expression with pouty lips, the brave way her shoulders squared on her teeny, tiny body. She had a red heart on her picture. This indicated that she had been waiting for at least six months for a sponsor. Six months while I sat in my comfortable home, oblivious to her needs in the Philippines. She seemed to jump out of our computer screen, bigger than life, and beg for us to sponsor her. It was Cadi who ultimately put her finger on her photo. That's her she said. And she was. She was the one that God was pointing us to.

She is Gerlie; a sweet little six year old from the Philippines. She was waiting for a sponsor through Compassion International. She was waiting for someone to choose her, for someone to care about her needs, for someone to show her the love of Jesus in a tangible way. Compassion's tag line reads "releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name". But what they failed to mention is what would happen to me - the sponsor. Gerlie was instrumental in releasing our family from materialism. We were blinded by it, sucked into the insatiable desire for more, bigger, better. But she was one of the first people that God used to open our eyes to the world and the needs around us. Through Gerlie we began to understand things in light of eternity, and our material greed slowly began to fade. It's not completely gone, shamefully, we continue to need God to place "Gerlie's" in our path - we probably always will. We are slowly learning that the only "thing" we can take with us to heaven is people - people we have reached for Jesus Christ. Gerlie taught us that many times the first step to sharing Jesus with someone is to meet their physical needs -nourish their body and then their soul.

We sponsored her for over a year with about a dozen letters between us. Gerlie was too young to write to us, so she would color pictures, and her mom would write to me. Gerlie's mom was a young widow with a tremendous amount of courage, who had recently lost her husband. She worked very hard to support her little family. I am certain that I have no idea or true understanding of how hard she really worked. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a mom with the survival of your children literally hanging in the balance. We got word from Compassion early this year that Gerlie and her mom were moving out of Compassion's reach. Her mom was actually given the opportunity to start a business, which she believed would better sustain her family. She was counselled by Compassion, and I do believe from what they communicated with us made a wise decision. We were devastated to lose contact with this precious little girl who had changed so much of our lives, but we are hopeful for their future. We quickly chose another little girl to care for through Compassion, but there is not a day that goes by that Gerlie's name is not lifted up in prayer in our home.

I am passionate about Compassion International and the wonderful ministry they have with children and their families. Recently a team from Missions in Action visited a Compassion project in Valenzuela City, Philippines - north of the capital city - Manila. The families who call this area home are living in flooded villages. The poverty in this area is devastating, and yet the joy of Jesus is clearly evident. It brought tears to my eyes to see this place so near to where our Gerlie lived. Take a few moments out of your day and peek into what life is like for these precious people by watching this video.

A couple dollars changes a family and gives them hope. Christmas is a time to reflect on the hope we were given in the coming of tiny baby Jesus. Out of the overflow of our hearts this Christmas, perhaps God is leading us - you and me - to sponsor a Compassion child and give that child hope - hope found only in Jesus Christ. Go to Compassion's website and scroll through the children there. Children made in the image of God. Children beloved by God that He sent His precious son, Jesus, for. This Christmas give the gift of hope.

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