Construction Zone

Every child is a little construction zone. When you’re near one, grab your hard hat and be alert! Ask yourself, What is God building here? Can I do or say anything to help this project along? A child’s tender spirit is very impressionable.

From the Heart of the President: Wess Stafford

Construction Zone

  |   Posted: May 31, 2012

"I have often said that when God brings a child across your path, even if for just a minute, it may well be a divine appointment."

In this issue you will read about some amazing sponsors and donors who have seized “moments” to powerfully build up children’s lives. Here’s another such story that I share in Just a Minute:

A few years ago I was visiting Compassion’s work in Bolivia. One of our sponsored children named Jenny had not only graduated from our child development program but had been selected for our Leadership Development Program — a very select group sent on to university.

Jenny came from a poor family who lived in the high altitude of the Andes Mountains. It had always been Jenny’s dream to be a nurse — but that would be a real stretch. After all, her father fixed bicycles for a living. She had studied hard as a child, however, and managed to get accepted into La Paz University’s School of Nursing.

Moving away from her little adobe home high in the mountains to live in the big city was scary. The academics were daunting. When she wrote to her sponsors pleading for their prayer support, their replies always carried the same message: “We are so very proud of you, Jenny. You can do this. Look how far you’ve come. Sweetheart, don’t give up … do your best.”

Jenny listened, was encouraged, and worked diligently. Not only was she about to graduate as a full-fledged nurse, but she would also graduate first in her class! She had competed with the children of Bolivia’s elite and powerful families and had come out on top. Jenny’s sponsors had traveled all the way from Oregon to honor and celebrate her achievement.

As Jenny took us on a tour of the nursing school, her sponsors were so proud of her. She was obviously loved and respected by teachers and everyone we met. Then we made the arduous trip to the Compassion child development center where Jenny had been nurtured. It was a jostling two-mile Jeep ride — a journey she had made on foot every day of her childhood. When we arrived at the little mud church, nobody was expecting our visit. As Jenny and three very strange-looking people walked in together, the peasant pastor looked up, surprised.

Then, recognizing his former student in her pristine white nurse’s uniform, he remembered her love for the guitar and her lovely voice. “Welcome back, Jenny!” he cried. “Come, please sing a song for the children.”

The children, about a hundred of them, were sitting on narrow, rough-hewn benches, pressed tightly together. Like chickens on a roost, I thought. They were so cute. Everything was brown — the floor, the walls, the children, even their clothes — except for Jenny’s uniform.

The children cheered in excitement. About halfway through her song, I noticed Jenny as she looked, her eyes fixed, at just one place. Then I saw a tear trickle down her beautiful face. In a minute, I could see the object of her gaze: a little girl at the end of the third row. The girl was so small that her feet were swinging above the dirt floor.

Suddenly Jenny’s voice cracked. Tears filled her eyes and she stopped singing. “Sweetheart,” I heard her say softly to that little girl, “that’s where I used to sit when I was little like you. You are sitting in my place. Do you see what has happened to me? That can happen to you — don’t ever, ever give up! Just always do your best ….”

At that moment, Jenny looked up and across to the back of the church. I watched as her eyes met the eyes of her sponsors. The same message, still alive! That’s all I saw, because just then … well, everything went blurry for me. I am so deeply grateful to all of you who sponsor children with Compassion. You are paying attention to the “construction zones” God places in your path.

You are blessing not only your sponsored children, but also those whose lives are touched by them, including the next generation. You are building role models! It is my prayer that the ripples from all your moments of building and blessing in children’s lives will roll gently on, all the way to the shores of heaven.

Jenny listened, was encouraged, and worked diligently. Not only was she about to graduate as a full-fledged nurse, but she would also graduate first in her class! She had competed with the children of Bolivia’s elite and powerful families and had come out on top. Jenny’s sponsors had traveled all the way from Oregon to honor and celebrate her achievement.

As Jenny took us on a tour of the nursing school, her sponsors were so proud of her. She was obviously loved and respected by teachers and everyone we met. Then we made the arduous trip to the Compassion child development center where Jenny had been nurtured. It was a jostling two-mile Jeep ride — a journey she had made on foot every day of her childhood. When we arrived at the little mud church, nobody was expecting our visit. As Jenny and three very strange-looking people walked in together, the peasant pastor looked up, surprised.

Then, recognizing his former student in her pristine white nurse’s uniform, he remembered her love for the guitar and her lovely voice. “Welcome back, Jenny!” he cried. “Come, please sing a song for the children.”

The children, about a hundred of them, were sitting on narrow, rough-hewn benches, pressed tightly together. Like chickens on a roost, I thought. They were so cute. Everything was brown — the floor, the walls, the children, even their clothes — except for Jenny’s uniform.

The children cheered in excitement. About halfway through her song, I noticed Jenny as she looked, her eyes fixed, at just one place. Then I saw a tear trickle down her beautiful face. In a minute, I could see the object of her gaze: a little girl at the end of the third row. The girl was so small that her feet were swinging above the dirt floor.

Suddenly Jenny’s voice cracked. Tears filled her eyes and she stopped singing. “Sweetheart,” I heard her say softly to that little girl, “that’s where I used to sit when I was little like you. You are sitting in my place. Do you see what has happened to me? That can happen to you — don’t ever, ever give up! Just always do your best ….”

At that moment, Jenny looked up and across to the back of the church. I watched as her eyes met the eyes of her sponsors. The same message, still alive! That’s all I saw, because just then … well, everything went blurry for me. I am so deeply grateful to all of you who sponsor children with Compassion. You are paying attention to the “construction zones” God places in your path.

You are blessing not only your sponsored children, but also those whose lives are touched by them, including the next generation. You are building role models! It is my prayer that the ripples from all your moments of building and blessing in children’s lives will roll gently on, all the way to the shores of heaven.