When my son was in 2nd grade and my daughter was in kindergarten, we began sponsoring two kids in Nairobi, Kenya with World Vision. One is a boy that was the same age as my son and one was a girl that is the same age as my daughter. We sponsored them all the way through school up to their high school graduation. Our kids grew up with Hannah and Humphrey and it has been a tremendous blessing for our family as we interacted with them through letters, prayed for them as a family, and always had their latest picture on the refrigerator. They lived in the worse slum area in Nairobi, it is built on top of a garbage dump. Food is scare and extreme poverty is everywhere. Our $35 a month got Hannah and Humphrey an education, a school uniform and two meals every day school was in session. The teachers at the school told us that the meals on Monday were especially hearty because many of the children wouldn’t have eaten much over the weekend.
My wife got to go to Kenya in 1998 and she got to meet both Hannah and Humphrey. During that time Hannah’s father had already died but her mother was still living. Julie got to meet Hannah’s mother and be a guest in their home. It was clear to Julie that at that time Hannah’s mom was already very sick. And shortly after that we got the news that Hannah’s mom had died. But while Julie was there they took pictures of Hannah and her family.
Then in 2006 I got to go on a mission trip to Nairobi and I had the incredible privilege to meet Hannah but unfortunately it didn’t work out to meet Humphrey. I got a copy of the picture of Hannah, her mom and Julie framed and gave it to Hannah. The joy on her face when she received this picture of her mom took my breathe away.
Now when I was writing those checks every month I thought it was a good thing to do but I didn’t think that much about it. We were busy with life. But getting to meet Hannah, and at that moment when I handed her the picture, there welled up in me a deep satisfaction, an overwhelming sensation that this is what I was created to do. This was what I was meant to do. This was how God had designed me. To simply pass on the good fortune that he had given to me. To be a channel of his blessing to another person. It wasn’t about a job, or a title or a position, it was simply our family being grateful for what God had given us and sharing that with someone that needed a hand up. Because what I was convinced of when I was there is that the monthly check we had been writing for years wasn’t a hand out, but it was really a hand up. Hannah still had to walk 20 minutes to school, she still had to study and work, but our seemingly insignificant check every month gave her a chance to go to school that she wouldn’t have gotten any other way.
Our Matthew 25 Challenge gives us the opportunity to do these simple exercises to understand and connect with the least of these in the world. We will be signing up for the Matthew 25 Challenge this Sunday at our service. Please join us and help us explore what Jesus meant when he said, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me.”