In the quiet of a Saturday morning, before the rest of the family was downstairs, I opened my email. Compassion International was at the top of the inbox. The message had just arrived. I might as well have struck gold. They were looking for volunteers to help obtain child sponsorships at the Michael W. Smith and Third Day concert in St. Paul the following Saturday – six to work the table and 30 to work the concert aisles.
In the quiet, I sent an email to my son’s basketball coach. Within the hour, I received notice that his tournament was miraculously moved from Saturday to Sunday, which freed me to attend as long as I had my husband’s blessing.
In the quiet, my husband said yes.
In the quiet, as concert goers arrived, volunteers took sponsorship packets out of boxes and placed them neatly on a table.
In the quiet, four of us stood next to the Compassion International banner, listening to comedian and Compassion child advocate share about his trips to visit his sponsored children in El Salvador and Africa. During his trip to El Salvador, he asked his sponsored child’s mother what her hopes and dreams were for her child. She didn’t have any hopes and dreams for her child other than having food to eat every day.
In the quiet, Zac, a young boy, 14, maybe 16, approached the table. His eyes were sparkling, his smile contagious. He held a sponsorship packet in his hand and wanted to know how he should proceed. Mom stood close behind, her eyes welling with tears. He came back later and handed me a completed sponsorship packet, his smile, big as ever.
In the quiet, a woman asked if we had a child whose birthdate was March 15th. I grabbed a stack of sponsorship packets and started down the pile. March 15th was 5th from the top. Of 365 possible dates, March 15th was 5th.
In the quiet, an older couple shared their sponsorship of 12 children. They’ve visited many of their sponsored children and refer to them as sons and daughters.
In the quiet, a gentleman approached the end of the table and handed me three completed sponsorship packets.
In the quiet, I couldn’t help but notice Blair. He spent an unusual amount of time looking through packets, and missed the first 15 minutes of Michael W. Smith’s performance because he was determined to find children from Ecuador. After a long search, he found two. He apologized out loud for not being able to sponsor additional children as he placed their packets back on the table.
In the quiet, a pregnant woman and her husband searched diligently for a child the same age as their own. They were inquisitive and had never done this sponsorship thing before, but they were excited, all in, together. When they found that special someone, mama-to-be glowed like she’d just birthed her own.
In the quiet, as he scanned the table of sponsorship packets, I uttered “let me know if there’s anything special you’re looking for.” He looked again, with astonishment and humility, at all of the children. “How incredible it is that every single one of these children are in need,” he noted.
And it was true.
In the quiet, after everyone returned to the concert, I stacked the childrens’ photographs in neat little piles. And as I did that, I couldn’t help but realize these were real live human beings, real children, God-breathed individuals with hearts and souls, a million times more precious than a photograph and sponsorship packet could ever convey.
In the quiet, I slipped open the black curtains and walked through to the concert.
In the quiet of a blue light, Michael W. Smith told the simplest and most beautiful story of Jesus’ life I’d ever heard.
In the quiet, as people exited in hoards and some trickled in to sponsor, I witnessed volunteers search through hundreds of sponsorship packets in search of one special child. One with the name of Jessica, one from Ecuador, one from El Salvador, one from the Philippines, one with a birth date of April 19th, one teenager.
In the quiet, I imagined. What if there weren’t sponsorship packets neatly organized and stacked all over this table, but instead real live children in the thousands. Wouldn’t we sponsor them then? Wouldn’t we find them endearing, in need, heart-warming, breathtaking, undeniably beautiful and more than worthy of $38 a month?
In the quiet, hours later in the dark of the middle of the night, I woke at 3:03 a.m. after dreaming about Compassion. It was my own whispering out loud that woke me from a deep sleep – “These people are interested.”
In the quiet, I realized – maybe it never was about the hundreds or thousands or even the ten thousands of children living in extreme poverty – maybe it’s always been about one. One child in need. One beautiful heart who’s waiting. One child, chosen.