Why you should read “Adopted for Life”

Today marks the beginning of Adoption Week, and so we thought that in today’s post we would tell you why you should read Russell Moore’s book “Adopted for Life.*

When a book is described as “one of the most compelling books I have ever read” by a president of a highly respected seminary, you know it’s going to be good.

Adopted for Life* is written by an adoptive Father and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Russell Moore.

Hence the book combines a rich theological grasp of the nature of the gospel and the call on Christians to adopt, alongside a pastoral exploring of the practical issues surrounding adoption. As a theologian and a Father, he speaks from both Biblical authority and personal experience. The mix of Biblical exposition and personal anecdote is what makes this book so compelling.

The book is compelling, that much is for sure. And I (Cathy) devoured it despite not being a very quick reader. But that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy read. It’s quite fiery and uncomfortable to read at times. Moore certainly challenges us to give up our own comfort for the sake of the glory of Christ and the good of vulnerable children. Don’t read this book and expect to be unmoved or unchanged as a result.

Moore doesn’t separate the theological basis for adoption from the practical implication to adopt – his aim is not to convince us that adoption is something that the Bible calls us to do, as simply an interesting academic exercise – but to motivate us as individuals, families and churches to get involved in the domestic and international adoption movement; through prayer, giving financially and adopting ourselves.

Because that’s his aim, he discusses all sorts of tricky ethical questions surrounding adoption. Like should Christians adopt on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity and how should they think about the adoption of children with disabilities and diseases? He discusses infertility, fertility treatment and blending families with birth and adopted children. He discusses the cost and practical aspects of international adoption (raising and addressing questions about international child trafficking). He discusses how family, friends and strangers may interact with you because of your decision to adopt (showing the pain and loneliness that this sometimes causes, and yet how it is infinitely worth it). He discusses some of the issues that arise from the trauma that these children have suffered and how that can impact on a child’s sense of identity. He even states quite strongly that the only thing worse than hundreds of thousands of children across the world needing a loving family, is unsuitable families adopting them – so he helps readers identity if their motives for adopting can withstand some of the hardships that come as a result.

It really is very good.

It’s thorough. It’s thought-provoking. It’s theologically rich and beautiful. And it will make you fall in love with the gospel of Jesus Christ all over again.

Click through if you would like to buy a copy.*

This week we will be re-posting on our Facebook page all the posts that we have written on the topic of adoption. Like our page to read more book reviews and posts on the topic of adoption.

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Hospitality? Have you seen my life?!

How do you feel about hospitality with children in the house?

Sometimes we feel like we need to caveat our invitations for people to come round to the house. “You’re welcome to come round but…there’s mess, there’s noise, the food on offer is exactly the same as what was on offer last week!”

Some people love to play the host. Nothing brings them more joy than rustling up an exotic meal, decorating the table with freshly cut flowers and candles, and ushering their guests into the house for happy times in front of the roaring fire.

I (Cathy) love the idea of being that person, but I’m just not wired that way. That all seems like a lot of effort, and I feel exhausted at the thought of it. Add children into the mix, and the idea of that sort of hospitality is a joke.

With very young children in the house (a three year old and one year old), it’s easy to get discouraged about our meal-times. Often conversation is stilted, the floor is littered with the baby’s food and occasionally the three year old gets naked. It’s a far-cry from the idyllic picture of ministry-bliss that I had in mind when we first had children. Oftentimes the Christian call to be hospitable feels unattainable to me, at least the “be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Peter 4:9) command feels unattainable.

Because hospitality is something I find pretty stressful and because I know it’s a good thing to do – especially for those in church leadership (1 Timothy 3:2) – I can feel pretty guilty about my efforts and heart attitude towards it.

However, this week while reading a devotional by Gloria Furman called “Glimpses of Grace” I was comforted and compelled by the gospel in the area of hospitality.  Furman writes:

The thing that makes our hospitality distinctly Christian is not a quantifiable domestic skill or quality of food, but the presence and power of Christ-like love. While the world points us to designer hospitality, we see in God’s word that Jesus is the true and better host. He calls us into God’s very presence through the sacrifice of his own body! The cross of Jesus is the greatest hospitality that the world has ever seen. Because Jesus gave his life to pay for our sin, all those whose faith is in him have been guaranteed a place in his Father’s house forever. Christ invites us to come in out of the cold, dark world and into his kingdom…Now that’s “biblical hospitality!””

I had never thought about the gospel in these terms before. That Christ is the best host ever – not because he was a Michelin Star Chef, but because he laid down his life so that we could commune with God the Father. Because that’s what hospitality is all about; people being brought into, and people belonging to the family of God. The goal is fellowship, is community, is family. That was Jesus’ aim in his hospitality.

And that can and should be our aim in hospitality too.

As we share meals together we express the gospel – that God creates a family out of people who were not family. That he welcomes into the warmth those who were lost and cold and alone. That we can enjoy the very presence of God – his Spirit given to us because of Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf.

When I think about hospitality with that vision in mind – of welcoming and including people in our little Thomson family life – I can then see it as a foretaste and expression of what it means to belong to God’s family. Well that gives it an amazing purpose, it makes me want to do it.

And then, I remember the chicken-nugget-spraying baby, the rambunctious pre-schooler, the broken downstairs toilet and my limited cooking ability and I wonder is this really what God has in mind? Including others in this? 

Furman’s words were a great comfort to me:

Every effort in hospitality must flow from a dependence on the grace of God. We look backwards to the cross to see and see how Jesus showed us what hospitality looks like in accepting others for God’s sake in order to bring them near to God. We look forwards to see future grace as Jesus supplies what we need in order to extend hospitality.”

In the end, it’s not about me, and that’s liberating!

As we express fellowship with others (those in the family of God, and those just peaking in to see what it’s like) we can aim for words and behaviour which glory in the cross of Christ.

It’s about his past grace – through his death on the cross to bring us near to God. And it’s about future grace – to give me all I need to host others in this crazy, messy, noisy stage of life.

And I’m trusting Jesus that he know’s exactly what he’s doing when he encourages crazy, messy, noisy adults and children to fellowship with him.

Isn’t the gospel liberating!

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Hooray! We’ve been shortlisted for Blogger of the Year!

Hooray! We’ve been shortlisted for Blogger of the Year!

We are incredibly thrilled and humbled to announce that we’ve been shortlisted as “blogger of the year” at the premier digital awards!

The premier digital awards seek to recognise achievement in Christian digital engagement. The blogger of the year award “celebrates bloggers who have published the most engaging, insightful and well-presented content over the past year”.

We can’t quite believe we’ve been shortlisted when that’s what they’re looking for, but we’re very grateful!

You might remember that last year we were runner-up in the “up-and-coming” category, so we’re very grateful to be back again, this time as blogger of the year. Check out the shortlist for all of the different categories here. There’s some very talented writers who are seeking to share the glory of Christ through social media on that list – why don’t you make someone’s day by “liking” their Facebook page or commenting on their blog?

We wouldn’t be nominated without you – so thank you for reading, commenting, encouraging and interacting with our blog. We’ll keep writing for as long as we feel that someone is listening, because we want God to use what we’re saying to help families remember the gospel. So thank you! And ultimately thanks to God for using weak vessels like us.

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Gospel in the Everyday: Death

Gospel in the Everyday: Death

A couple of weeks ago, tragedy struck the Thomson household.

We thought it might be coming, but it was still a shock. The signs had been there – but I suppose, if we’re honest, we were in denial. We just didn’t think it would happen like this. It was too soon.

Our dear goldfish, Sparkly, shuffled (or floated) off this mortal coil.

Okay, so perhaps we’re not as upset as we made out there. Sparkly appeared in our lives after the grandparents took our toddler to the annual town moor fair. He arrived back happy, full of sugar and clutching this small, orange aquatic creature with a huge grin on his face (that’s the toddler, not the fish).

The grin on our face may not have been quite so sincere given this was unexpected and not particularly wanted.

Nevertheless, after it’s brief life with us (and it’s significant dent in our bank balance!), we had grown quite attached to our fishy little friend. Our toddler had given him his official birth-certificate name, Sparkly, and he’d even given him a variety of other names, playing with his proper name. Our favourite was probably “Sparkelina”. Cute.

When everything went (literally) belly-up for Sparkly, we had two options. The easiest option was to head on down to Pets at Home* (*insert your pet shop of choice), buy a similar looking fish and pop it in the tank – our toddler would be none the wiser.

Or the more difficult option was to tell him what had happened.

And that’s what we did.

We decided that instead of taking the easy dodge (which might have been the right thing to do at other times), we would use it as an everyday opportunity to talk to our toddler about the gospel. We wanted to raise the subject of death, in an age appropriate way. You just never know when he might need to understand death and the comfort of the gospel in a more significant situation.

So down comes our toddler, and we break the news to him that Sparkly has died, and that we won’t see him anymore.

He took it surprisingly badly. “But I love him”, he said. “I want to see Sparkly”, he said. He even said “but Jesus can make him better”. Whilst that’s technically true and totally adorable, we didn’t fancy fishing him out of the wheelie bin at that stage.

Instead we sat down with our little one, hugged him, and spoke to him of the New Creation. We told him about the world that we’ll one day live in. The world where there will be no more tears – no more sadness or pain. No more death. We told him that Jesus will make this new world, and that those who love Jesus will be there with him, forever.

It didn’t totally remove the sadness. It never does. But we hope it took at least some of the sting out of death.

That’s what the hope that Jesus offers does. Is death still sad? Of course. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus – angry tears at this foreign thing that should not be in the beautiful world he created. He cried even knowing that he was about to raise him. He cried even knowing he was one day going to remake this world. Because death is unnatural, jarring and wrong.

But Jesus’ weeping wasn’t a hopeless weeping. Nor does ours need to be.

For those who know Jesus, death is not the end.

We didn’t get in to the ins and outs of whether Sparkly would be in the New Creation! But we did try to show our little one something of the difference that the gospel means when death rears it’s ugly head.

Gospel in the everyday – it’s these everyday moments that give us opportunity to show our children how the gospel impacts real life. They’re not always easy, but they’re worth fighting for.

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An open letter to our future teenagers…

Cathy has written a guest post for the brilliant not-for-profit company Madlug which donates a bag to a child in care, every time a customer buys a bag themselves.

Madlug believes that every child has value, worth and dignity.

Unfortunately children in foster care too often have to transport all their possessions in a bin bag when moving from one placement to another. This is degrading for them. It’s Madlug’s mission to see every child in care with a bag – which is a simple yet effective way to demonstrate to vulnerable children that they have value, worth and dignity. We think Madlug is a brilliant business and this week, Cathy has written a guest post for their blog.

Here’s a little excerpt…

Right now we have two tiny boys in the house; a one year old and a three year old. This is an open letter to the teenage version of them.

To my sons,

It may seem strange to you for your mum to write a letter to the teenage version of you when you’re only babies. Some might say it’s even a little premature. But it will be no time at all before you’ll be towering over me, and this is what I want you to know, and this is what I want to remember to tell you when the transformation from you being tiny tots to men-in-the-making takes place….

You have value. You have worth. You have dignity.

Click here to read the rest of the post.

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Marriage Matters: The Crisis of Children

Having children is a shock to the system. There’s no denying it. We look back on life pre-children and wonder what on earth we did with all our time. How did we ever feel busy when we didn’t have children?

Of course that’s a simplistic way of viewing it, but there’s a lot of truth in it.

For many people and (crucially for today’s topic) many marriages – crisis ensues when children step on to the stage.

It’s ironic really. Children are so often the focus of so many prayers, hopes and desires, and yet when they come along life can get really difficult. The potent mix of sleep deprivation, altered routines, new levels of noise and a sense of changed identity can impact our marriages in ways that haven’t previously been experienced.

This kind of crisis can be serious for our marriages, which can have a huge impact on how we point our children to the gospel, as our introductory post pointed out.

So all we wanted to do in this post is suggest three things that might be useful to you when you face the ‘crisis of children’.

Keep a running conversation

Both of you – Mum and Dad – will be experiencing a range of emotions when a child enters your family. Joy, wonder, anxiety, frustration, impatience and anticipation, to name just a few.

Talk about them.

God has placed this child in your family. He wants you to lovingly nurture them and point them to him.

But this new dynamic doesn’t mean that your marriage is not important. No, it’s as important as ever – perhaps even more so. With all the competing emotions and demands on your time, you might find it easy to put the brakes on investing in your marriage, but don’t! Now, more than ever you need to keep investing. And a crucial element of this is… talking. It’s simple, but so important.

Talk about how you’re feeling. Talk about the new things you’ve seen in your spouse since they’ve become a parent, and how you admire, respect and love them all the more for it. Talk about stresses and strains. Talk about how things have changed, and what life is going to look like going forward.

Talk!

And listen.

Listen really well. Remember that your spouse is going through as many changes as you right now. Listen to them. Try to understand them. Ask questions to help you listen even better. Do all of this even when you’re tired, because it matters.

And when you’re working through all of this, make sure you do our second suggestion too:

Pray

Pray for your spouse. Pray with your spouse.

Your marriage matters, and keeping your marriage spiritually fresh is really important. It won’t necessarily be easy, but try to do it. Even if it’s only a 20 second prayer as you lie in bed at night, try to keep at it.

Don’t let your longed for children steal your spiritual intimacy. And if you never had that spiritual intimacy, now is a great time to start. It’s often at the times when we feel most at our wits end – most on the cusp of a break down or like we simply can’t do it anymore – it’s these times that we are often driven closer to God. So let that happen. And let that happen for you together. Let it strengthen your marriage, not weaken it.

And finally:

Keep Perspective

We could say lots of things here about keeping perspective. It won’t last forever – they will sleep through eventually (or leave home!). They’re only a baby for a short time – you longed for it, try to treasure it.

And so on, and so on.

But that’s not what we mean by keep perspective. What we mean is this:

Your marriage is a God-ordained one flesh union for life. Remember that, and protect it. Your children have sprung from that union, but don’t let them drive it apart.

One way that they could drive it apart is by becoming an idol. It happens so easily. You’ve dreamed about having children for so long. They’re so small and vulnerable and dependent. You have so many happy hormones surging around. They can quickly supplant all else in your affections, including your spouse and even God.

Don’t let them do that. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Love him more than anything. Obey his command to not let them drive your marriage apart (Matt 19:4-6), and don’t be fooled into loving them more than Jesus (Matt 10:37). In the end, it’s more loving to them to love them in their proper place (see our blog post on loving your child by loving them less for more reflections on this).

One of the key things God has given you to help you keep perspective, is church. He’s given you that community to point you back to himself, to remind you of the gospel and to love and care for you.

So even if you’ve not washed your hair all week, you smell of baby sick and you have a slightly crazed look in your eyes… try to make it to church. People will understand. And even if they don’t, don’t let that put you off. Because keeping perspective on the gospel will help you to perservere through this wonderful but tricky time, and keeping perspective on the gospel with your spouse will help you together have your eyes fixed on the right thing, and that can only be good for your marriage.

So there we have it. There’s no magic formula in this post, and no rocket science. But we do believe marriage matters, so do what you can to protect it during the crisis of children.

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Announcing our beautiful gospel-centred product!

Announcing our beautiful gospel-centred product!

After months of planning, praying, preparing and producing, we are now super excited to be able to reveal to you our very first gospel-centred parenting product.

We are thrilled to introduce you to our Jesse Tree Ornaments and to offer you an exclusive discount as a gospel-centred parenting blog reader. More on that below…

What is Jesse Tree?

Jesse Tree ornaments date back hundreds of years, and are a bit like a Christian advent calendar. The name Jesse Tree comes from a prophesy in Isaiah 11. Each day through December in the run up to Christmas you’ll hang a Jesse Tree Ornament and read a section of the Bible with your child(ren) that points forward to the coming of Jesus.

We think it’s a wonderful tool to help keep excitement about Jesus at the centre of the Christmas period.

As you will know if you’ve read this blog before, we think that gospel is good news for both parents and children, and we want to help you to keep the gospel central to everything. Advent and Christmas should be times of wonderful, joy-filled, gospel-saturated wonder. Very often, however, the gospel gets crowded out with everything else that’s going on. Jesse Tree is just one thing that aims to help keep the gospel at the heart of Christmas, and that’s why we’ve decided to design this product.

If you decide to make a purchase, you’ll receive 24 ornaments which correspond to the first 24 chapters of the Jesus Storybook Bible*, or you can read along with the suggested passages from our Jesse Tree Guide, which comes free with your purchase. So every day, from December 1st, you will be able to fix your family’s eyes on the wonder of the coming of Jesus. You’ll be able to build expectation as you look at some of the wonderful ways that Jesus is anticipated throughout the Old Testamant, and you’ll enjoy the climax of the story as you read about the coming of Jesus, leading you right up to Christmas day.

The usual price is just £30.00, but purchase before September 30th, and use the discount code

blog-discount

and you will receive 10% off the purchase price!
This level of discount is only available to you as a blog reader, and only for this limited time.

We hope you love the design – we certainly do. We are blessed to be working alongside a brilliant designer from our church, Rory Henderson.

Each ornament is hand-printed with ink on rustic hazel wood, and comes pre-strung. We can ship it to you wherever you live in the world.

We’re also thrilled to be able to give 10% of profit to the work of Bible translation and distribution. This means that not only will your family enjoy this gospel-centred product, but you will also be contributing to work that will mean others around the world can gain access to the gospel too.

We have a number of colour options available – click through to our shop to see more images and place your order.

Our prayer is that your family will use these ornaments for many years to come. Through them, we hope that you will create some truly special memories that are recounted and repeated down the generations. And more importantly, our greatest prayer is that you will all grow in love for Jesus as you together see how (as the Jesus Storybook Bible* so memorably puts it) “every story whispers his name.”

Click here to head over to our website now to take a look, and if you do decide to purchase before 30th September, don’t forget to use the discount code 
blog-discount 
to receive 10% off.

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Motivating Good Behaviour

“BECAUSE I SAID SO!”

Have you heard yourself saying that to your child?

You’ve asked them to do something – something very simple and very reasonable. But yet again along comes that three-letter swear word. “Why?”.

Because I said so!

I’m done with explaining things. Just obey, for goodness sake!

Thankfully, neither of our boys are quite at the stage of using the “w” word yet. At least not regularly anyway. So we’re not quite reaching the end of this particular tether quite yet.

That’s not to say they don’t try our patience sometimes.

But we love our boys, just like we’re sure you love your child(ren) too. It’s because we love them that we want them to have good behaviour (it’s not only because good behaviour is far less embarrassing when we’re out and about… though it does help!).

So when children disobey, it’s good and right that parents sometimes seek to help their children to see why obedience is the right path for them. (Incidentally we think that, on occasion, “because I said so” – said in a calm way, of course – is exactly the right response. They need to learn that we have authority and obedience shouldn’t be questioned. But that’s for another blog post!)

So, how do we justify it? What should we say to our children to motivate them to obedience?

Let’s consider the options.

We could threaten the consequences of disobedience:

Sit at the table, or no pudding.
Stop teasing your sister, or you’ll have a time out.
Stop wiping your nose on the arm of the chair (we’ve been there), or I’ll chop it off (we didn’t really threaten that, though… an empty threat if you’ve ever heard one!).

Or perhaps you could promise reward for good behaviour.

If you sit well in church today, you can have a sweetie in the car.
If you go a whole morning without shouting, you can have some screen time later.
If you brush your teeth, you can have an extra story at bedtime.

What about some of the other options for trying to get our children to obey us?

Being domineering and making our children scared of us so that they obey? They won’t step out of line if they know that we’ll be really angry, because they’re scared of us.

Talking about God – how he is holy and how he demands obedience from us?

Shaming them into obedience? Do this or don’t do that, or I’ll tell your friends that you’re a baby.

Talking about how we should obey as a thankful response to what God has done for us?

Or using praise? Whenever they do something good, going overboard in letting them know how pleased we are with them. This positive reinforcement and extra attention when they do good things is, for lots of children, very effective.

All of these techniques could be used to motivate good behaviour (some would be more recommended than others!).

But today we want to suggest to you another tool for the belt.

How about helping our children to see that God is good? That he’s a kind Father, who only wants what is best for our lives. That he is the Good Shepherd, who only wants to lead us to good pastures.

You see our children, just like us, often see the rules in their lives and the way that God calls them to live as a bad thing. A kind of straitjacket – prohibitive and restricting and stopping their enjoyment of life. They see obedience as a necessary evil – what we ought to do because that’s what God has said we should do, but not good. Just necessary.

But how much better is the reality!

In church recently we were looking at John 10, where Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd is just that. Good. He cares for his sheep. He loves us. He wants what is best for us. In John 10 he says this:

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Pasture. Life to the full! That’s what Jesus is offering.

That’s not to say that living a life of obedience is easy. Nor is it to say that the good that Jesus chooses for our lives is the same thing that we would choose for ourselves. But when his good is different to our good, we can be sure that he knows best.

And we can say one thing for certain: the Good Shepherd went so far as to lay down his life for the sheep. He did it to bring us life to the full. Why then would he go back on that now? The life he calls us to is the best possible life, whatever it looks like.

So when we struggle with obedience, or when our children do, we could remind them of this. Obedience may be hard. It may not feel fun in the moment. But if the Good Shepherd calls us to live this way, we can be sure that it’s the best possible way to live. What a great motivator!

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Global Insights | Parenting in New York City

Global Insights | Parenting in New York City

Christian parenting looks different in different countries, cultures and contexts. Here we get some insights from our dear friends Cait and Joel Kady who live in New York City. Joel works for Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Tim Keller’s church) where he works with community groups for Redeemer Westside, and is attending Reformed Theological Seminary’s New York campus. Cait is a stay-at-home Mom for their three young children – aged 5, 3 and 1.

Where do you live and what’s it like?

We live in upper Manhattan, New York City. It’s a slightly calmer neighborhood but still very much the city and only a subway ride away from the typical, touristy, or busier parts of New York. It’s exciting, with a lot of opportunities, but challenging to get around with kids, take strollers on the subway, do laundry in the apartment basement, or get enough time in nature when it takes more effort (though it is there!).

What are some of the challenges and opportunities that you face in Christian parenting because of your context?

We were very much influenced by Tim Keller’s ministry before moving to New York, and appreciated his perspective on raising kids here and on how God views cities. It’s wonderful to be in a place where there are so many people – even though that can feel like a drawback at times!  People are the most beautiful thing that God has created, and beloved by him. There is also concentrated opportunity for ministry and culture formation when there is just so much happening. With our kids, it can be hard to have them exposed to difficult subjects at a young age, but we see that also as a positive thing to talk through with them from a biblical perspective in real life, not just hypothetically. It can make God and his ethics much more real to them as they get older and know their parents are not clueless about the world because they have been encountering it together. Being around people very different from me has been a huge blessing, challenge, and learning curve which will hopefully benefit my parenting as well.

What do you do to encourage your children to love Jesus?

We are always growing and trying to be better stewards of our time with our little ones. Right now we pray and read Bible stories together, and are trying to make singing and memorizing God’s word a part of our routine as well. Conflict is an opportunity to point them to Christ and teach them about forgiveness and their need. Our personal choice of homeschooling this next year has us excited about the chance to create lifegiving routines at home and the flexibility to explore the city and read beautiful books full of truth. The biggest thing for me right now has been personal growth, knowing that what I model, not what we teach, will have the biggest impact on them.


We hope you enjoyed this latest post in our series “Global Insights” where we hear from Christian parents from all over the world. It’s so encouraging to hear how different believers are parenting their children in contexts very different from our own.

We’d love you to consider contributing to this series – whether you live in the Highlands of Scotland, the Cape of Good Hope or the Gold Coast. Please take 5 minutes to fill in the form below to let our readers be encouraged by you.

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Nurturing Your Child’s Heart For The Poor

What do you want to teach your children?

There are lots of ways that we can answer that question.

Our toddler is currently being potty trained, so we really want to teach him the importance of telling Mummy or Daddy when he needs “to go”… otherwise the result isn’t too desirable.

We want to teach our children manners. We want to teach them to read and write. We want to teach them social skills. Everyday practical things that they need to know for life.

We want to teach them the gospel – we want them to know who they are before God, who God is, and how he wants to extend grace to them.

And we want to teach them the heart of God – we want to teach them to have the priorities that he has.

That’s where Compassion comes in.

Throughout the Bible, we see clearly that God’s has a heart for the poor. He cares for people in all sorts of poverty – material, spiritual, emotional, social. He cares for the marginalised, the downtrodden – he cares for those that society often forgets.

He calls his people to do the same.

Often some of God’s strongest admonishment of his people comes when they neglect the poor or, even worse, exploit them.

So we try to regularly think how we can help our boys to develop a heart for the poor.

Compassion is a great charity that will help with this.

The premise is simple. You pay £25 a month to sponsor a child. For that, the child gets the fees and uniform that they need to go to school.

We take education for granted, but for many in the poorest parts of the world that is certainly not the case. Without education, the path out of poverty is very hard to navigate. To enable a child to be educated is a wonderful thing to do.

As well as investing in their education, the child sponsored through Compassion will receive nutritious food and health check-ups.

But more than that, Compassion will also link the child in with a church-based Compassion project every week. So the child has the opportunity to escape poverty, and to hear the gospel. They’re not forced to become Christians – they can remain on the programme whatever religion they are, but they are given the opportunity to hear about Jesus.

All that is brilliant, and it’s good for our children to see that we can make a real difference in the lives of the poorest people in the world.

But when it comes to teaching our children about care for the poor, here’s the best thing about it. We’re not just sponsoring a nameless, faceless child (which would be brilliant in itself). We have been linked with an actual child.

The child we’re sponsoring is aged 3, like our eldest son. (We hope to begin sponsoring another child when our youngest turns 3 too.)

We know his name. We have a photo of him. We know where he lives in Tanzania. We will be able to write letters to him and receive letters from him. We can send him pictures of our family and he can do the same.

So as our toddler grows, he’ll grow alongside the child were sponsoring. Over time, we can tell our son more and more about the boy we’re sponsoring. We can talk to him about what the poverty might be like that people in Tanzania face, including the boy we’re sponsoring. We can pray for him. Compassion will even arrange for us to visit him, should we be able to afford that in the future. (We think our eldest will be keen on this – he is regularly asking already if the little boy we’re sponsoring can come and play).

What a brilliant way to tangibly and meaningfully teach our boys to share the Father’s heart for the poor. What a wonderful privilege to be able to help this little boy in poverty in Tanzania.

So why not consider it yourself? You can choose the age, gender and country of the child you will sponsor. If you want to do the same as us and sponsor a child the same age as your child, then the age range of children waiting to be sponsored is (from what I can see) from 1 to 15, so there’d be someone for most of us. Click here to find out more. 

Not everyone can afford £25 a month. But if this idea isn’t for you, why not try to think of another way to keep the poor on your children’s hearts? Let us know in the comments what things you do to nurture your children’s hearts for the poor.

(As an aside we want to help our children see how they suffer from a poverty of their own, just like we all do – even if it’s not currently material poverty… but that’s for another post!)

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