Diana walks out of her school with a crowd of classmates. At 9 years of age, she realizes how blessed she is, thanks to her Compassion sponsor.
Every night, 9-year-old Diana kneels by her bed on the hard-packed dirt floor. The room is small, and her parents' bed rubs against her back. Diana leans against the tattered blanket spread over the splintery piece of plywood. She bows her head and speaks into the humid night air.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
For Diana, this is not simply a passage she has memorized from the Bible. Every verse, every word is a reminder of how God has delivered her. Because Diana can remember a time when she did want.
Growing up in the crowded city of Lima, Diana and her family were among the hundreds of thousands living in desperate poverty. Her father left home each morning before the sun came up, looking for odd jobs. Most days he came home hot, dirty and empty-handed. Those days Diana's mother tried to stretch the reheated rice and beans for one more meal.
While inside Diana's home there was poverty, outside there was danger. Drug deals happened in plain sight, often resulting in angry words and flashes of knives. Diana learned to cast her eyes downward as she walked down the streets, afraid she would anger one of the many gangs in her community.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Then Diana found an oasis at the Compassion-assisted Getsemani Student Center (PE-104). At the center, she feels safe, shielded from the dangers of the streets. Now Diana has a place to go after school. At the center, the staff keeps her safe until her parents are home.
Diana's parents also found peace through the student center. Thanks to the financial support of Diana's sponsor, her parents no longer worry if their daughter has enough to eat or if she can attend school. Three times a week, they know Diana will receive a hot meal at the student center. And if she gets sick, workers at the center will set up a doctor's appointment, paid for by her sponsorship, something most parents in their community cannot afford.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Diana says the days she feels the safest, the most protected, are the days she gets a letter from her sponsor. On those days she doesn't notice the rough teenagers squeezed in beside her on the bus ride home from the student center. She only sees the piece of paper clutched tightly in her hand. She will read it over and over, until she has practically memorized the words. The prayers and encouraging words of her sponsor bring comfort. They take away fear.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Even at 9, Diana can see the difference Compassion has made in her family's life. Because of her sponsorship, her parents have been able to save money. They hope to build a new house, one that is larger and with real floors to replace the dirt. Their new home will be farther from the city. It will be safer.
The hope Diana has found through Compassion helps her believe she has a future, away from poverty. She believes that after high school, she will get a good job, maybe even go to college. She will be able to provide for her family. Because Diana believes in the power of hope and faith.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
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