A couple of weeks ago on Thanksgiving night, I took our older kids out for some Mom time. We headed for a frozen yogurt place that we like. We got there only to discover that it was closed (it’s only taken me ten years but I now know that everything shuts down on Thanksgiving!). Since we were right next door to Target, the kids decided that instead of heading home, why not just go and walk around. And so we did.
Little did I realize that the doors had just opened for their Black Friday sales. In all my years of living in this country, I have never shopped on Black Friday and thought it would be interesting to see what drove people to get up at 3 a.m. and head out into the cold. We grabbed a drink and sat down to watch the crowds. It was amazing to me! People loaded up their carts with two or three televisions, plus the PS4, and a camera thrown in there too. Their carts literally overflowing with stuff. Tons and tons of stuff. Lines to check out weaved around the aisles as happy shoppers waited to pay for their new things. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it.
Needless to say, it opened up some interesting discussion that night.
We came home later and honestly, my heart felt so stretched. I wondered, how do I teach my children the meaning of enough in a world so consumed with having the biggest and the best and the most recent (every single year!)? How do I teach them that having stuff is certainly nice and God really does love to bless us with lovely things…
…but loving people and giving away some of what we have is just so, so much more fulfilling, so much more satisfying.
How do my children get in their hearts that focusing on the things that are eternal is truly what brings great joy?
As a parent, I fail so often. When my own heart conforms to the patterns of this world, I fail to show my children what matters most to Jesus.
As I climbed into my warm, cozy bed that night, I could not help but think of the pictures my friend Andrea had sent me from her recent trip to Ghana. Her family had finally been able to go and bring their two teenage boys home.
Perspective when I needed it.
Two boys who came from having absolutely nothing…
…now have a place to belong, a home to call their own, soft beds to sleep in, and plenty of food to eat.
It’s called redemption.
It was there, in the stillness of the cold night, that the Father began to speak to my heart. You see, every year at this time I am so mindful of the blessings that God has lavished upon my family. I am so mindful of His goodness and His grace that my heart cannot fathom as we head into another year.
“It’s not about me! It’s not about my family! It’s not about us, Lord!” I told the Father over and over.
It’s all about doing our part to see the Kingdom of God coming on the earth!
For the past couple of years around Christmas, I have tried to use what He has placed in my hands to give back just a portion of what He has given me…
…because even on a bad day we are so, so much better off than most of the world’s population.
If we went to bed with a full belly…
…we are doing well.
If we were able to send our kids to school…
…we are doing well.
If we opened a faucet and had running water today…
…we are doing well.
The seventy precious orphans who live at Offin’s Children’s Centre in Ghana, sadly, do not know the luxury of these basic necessities of life. They have so many needs and I am praying that some of you may be willing to partner with me and Grace Haven Ministries as we try to bring them some much needed relief this year.
The Offin’s Children’s Centre is single-handedly run by a precious Jesus-loving woman. Mary has poured out her life and her savings for the children who call her “Mum.” Mary is the only family many of these children will ever have. She relies solely on private donations to run the orphanage. There is no government assistance whatsoever! No child is ever turned away and Mary does everything she possibly can to ensure that the children are in school (which she has to pay for!) up until 8th grade. More often than not, there just isn’t enough money to send all of the children to school at the same time, and so they take turns in going.
To this precious woman, education is everything! It is the key to these children’s future.
But sadly, it is costly. In Africa, school is never free. It is a luxury that many simply cannot afford.
Without an education, the future is bleak for these children. They cannot find jobs and so often fall into a life of hopelessness and despair.
Their other enormous need is food. The basic staple of rice is what these children live on. Mary struggles to provide them with more. But to children who know no better, rice is a blessing from heaven.
And then there’s the school supplies that are non-existent, shoes that are scarce, and school uniforms (which are required in order to attend school).
So many needs.
Oh, the things my own family takes for granted! I long for my family to have such a revelation of what matters the most to God in this life and what does not. I yearn for us to pour ourselves out for the sake of others–even when it means sacrificing and giving up things that truly do not matter.
Eternity! To focus on all things eternal. THAT’S what matters.
Not Black Friday opulence.
Not spending exorbitant amounts of money on Christmas gifts.
People matter so much more than things.
Together with my amazing friends at Grace Haven Ministries, we long to make life a little easier for the sweet blessings who call the Offin’s Children’s Centre their home. They have nothing…but oh, how they LOVE God. By her love, Mary has taught these children the tangible, unconditional love of their Father in heaven.
Such simple faith that I lack even on a good day.
Would you prayerfully consider giving back with us this December, please? Would you and your family consider partnering with us as we give just a tiny portion of our abundance to these children who never ask for a single thing?
We have set the target at $10,000. That will cover all the children’s school fees for an entire year! Plus, it will give them relief in the areas of food, shoes, and school uniforms. All donations given through Grace Haven Ministries are tax deductible.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for considering this request this December. Thank you for prayerfully considering opening your hearts to these precious children who live with so little. How our hearts long to make life a little easier for them in 2015.
I am so grateful for your love poured out for these treasures this Christmas.
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
~~ Matthew 25:40