Maureen grew up in a one room shack with dirt floors and one family bed for six people. The poorest of the poor. Breakfast and lunch were a luxury and dinner usually consisted of porridge without sugar. She didn’t know what it felt like for her stomach not to rumble.
Once after going several days without food, she and her sister decided to go look for some in their Nairobi slum. They found rotten vegetables and rotten fruit and thanked God for it. “I was around 6 years old. It was a breakthrough,” she says.
Maureen was invited to register in a Compassion project and got a sponsor when she was seven years old. Her life slowly began to improve. She says at first she only went to the Saturday project for food. It was the first time she’d had a balanced meal, which is enough to prevent malnutrition. She would pretend like she was going for seconds and fill her bag with food for her three other siblings. Compassion dropped off monthly food supplies to her home and paid for her school uniforms, shoes, education.
After some time as a sponsored child, she asked Jesus into her heart. “I let go of my bitterness and God came into my life.”
Maureen is a special young woman. She is now 24 years old. After completing the child sponsorship program, she interviewed and was accepted into Compassion International’s Leadership Development Program, designed for bright students with leadership skills who want to go to the University. There are 275 LDP students in Kenya (one of them is the man from the video yesterday who met his sponsor at the Catalyst conference). It costs $300 a month to sponsor an LDP student. This pays for their college education and gives them a living allowance.
She will graduate in May with a degree in Education. Her eyes welled up with tears when she mentioned the sponsor she’d never met. She said, “Do you know them? They are well-known because they sponsor sixty LDP students.” I quickly calculated $18,000 in my head and thought I misunderstood her.
“Yes, it’s true,” they are great donors to Compassion and they write us all letters. They are creating a legacy in us.
I spent a lot of time talking and the more I got to know Maureen, the better I began to understand the beauty of Compassion International and the total picture. It was so fulfilling to see this young girl escape poverty and learn that she used her LDP monthly allowance to move her entire family out of the slum and better their life.
We exchanged email addresses and she said, “Are you on Facebook, I’d like to friend you.” I laughed at the unexpected question! and said yes, of course.
When she was asked, “What would you say to your sponsor if you could right now?”
She answered confidently, “I’d tell them I’m a hero because of them.”
I have now seen the ends and outs of Compassion International. I have never been more impressed or blessed with a ministry that answers the high calling of God. It’s the real deal. If you still haven’t sponsored a child, this is your day. Don’t neglect the tug you feel in your heart. It’s God.