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!)