Not Giving But Gaining
Yesterday I was blessed with the privilege of giving my daughter away in marriage. I don’t really like that phrase though. It sounds so “end of the story.” It’s more like gaining a new son. Actually, it’s the beginning of a whole new story and Jenni and I not only got to be part of the story and help launch it but now we get front row seats to watch the rest of it unfold and we now have a new son to enjoy and share life with.
It was also awesome to see a group of young people, in Marissa, Casey and their friends, that have Christ at the center of their lives. I am confident that Marissa and Casey are well grounded in Him which made this weekend much easier for me but as always I do have a few words to pass on to them and all others that are getting married or already married.
Love God and love each other. Keep Christ at the center always. With His example of unconditional love as your focus you can reflect that on each other. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)
Treat love as a verb. We often treat love as an emotion instead of an action. Christ showed us His love with actions and we need to follow that example. Not for reciprocation or for “love points” but because, as spouses, it’s what we have committed to by joining together in a covenant marriage. and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2 NIV)
Always have Christ centered friends you can turn to. Also, give them permission to call you out when they need to and ask them to lift you up when you need it. Marriage is tough at times and you need friends that understand what your marriage means to you, even when you don’t want may not want to hear it. Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (Proverbs 13:20 NIV)
Laugh! At yourself, at each other, at life. Don’t forget to laugh because nothing should be as serious as we make it out to be. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)
Cry. When you need to, lean into Christ and lean into each other and cry. You will find comfort in the arms of Him and your spouse. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21 NIV)
Forgive often. Look at what Jesus has forgiven us for… everything! We need to follow that example with our spouses and forgive quick and often. Don’t confuse this with trust. Trust may be broken and it may take time to rebuild, but forgiveness should happen immediately. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
Communicate!! All of things listed above require communication. I have sat with couples that thought they were at the end but once we reestablished some communication and they started verbalizing some of their issues things started working better. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19, 20 NIV)
I can say from experience, I did not follow this path for the first 17 years of my marriage and I nearly destroyed it. If I had not gotten in line with the above things and what God designed marriage to be I may not have had the blessing I had yesterday. My daughter may not have been where she is now either. I’m not saying it’s easy or that I’m on it all the time but It’s a lot easier than the previous way (my way).
I thank God for His direction and instruction for my marriage. I thank Him for my wife and daughter for their patience with me and now I thank Him for my new son.
A hero is defined as:
1. a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.
I’d like you to meet one of my heroes. Her name is Marissa, she is my 20 year old daughter. Last weekend she graduated from Anderson University. She acquired a four year degree in three years. She accomplished this by taking college courses during high school and working very hard to finish early.
She’s my hero because when I was in high school I didn’t tend to focus any further ahead than the next party. I certainly had no ambition or drive to go to college let alone finish early. While I tested as gifted, just like she did, I chose to make poor decisions and just eke by. She graduated high school with a 3.87 gpa and graduated college with honors, Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.875 gpa.
She is my hero because she keeps her eye on Jesus. I didn’t know Him or care to know Him at her age. I gave my life to The Lord at the age of 36. Up to that point I was pretty much only concerned about me.
She is my hero because she has a clue what she is going to do with her life career-wise. She has a degree in communications and wants to work in the public relations field. I joined the Army at 17 because I was clueless and had no way of getting into college at that point. After 6 years of that I became a carpenter for 5 years before figuring out what I was going to be when I grew up and settled into a career in massage therapy at the age of 28.
She is my hero for being true to her beliefs and saving herself for her future husband whom she will be marrying July 28th. Me? Well I didn’t wait, ’nuff said. This decision made for a lot of turmoil and trouble in my marriage. Problems I thank God she and her husband will not have to face.
She is my hero because she has already been figuring out how to be a wife to her husband. She has read about the “5 Love Languages” and sees them as an important part of her future marriage. I did not do this. I caused her amazing mother a lot of grief and heartache in the first seventeen and a half years of our marriage.
She is my hero because she is is fun to be around and knows how to have fun in a safe, clean, moral way. Rather than seeking the drunken often vulgar party lifestyle I chose to live in my earlier years, she has chosen what I consider a better path.
She is my hero because she doesn’t have a smug, superior or holier than thou attitude. Even when those she knows, loves and cares for, like my past self and others her own age, are making poor choices and running headlong in the wrong direction. She exhibits a Christ like love for others instead.
Now of course she’s not perfect. I know that and I’m not trying to paint her out to be. But I truly admire her faith, her character, her tenacity, her drive, her determination. Also her obedience, her ambition, her morals. While I may be a bit biased it is my opinion that she “has heroic qualities.” I love her dearly and she is my hero.
I hate these things…
Ok, here’s the thing, I hate to do what I am about to do. I know that’s a weird way to open a post but here it is.
I’m going back to Peru this year, August 17th – 24th. Going again really wasn’t a hard decision. When it comes down to it, Jesus laid out a pretty simple plan for us, didn’t He? Love God, love others. Nope, deciding to go was easy. Paying for it however, does present a bit of a challenge.
(Here comes the part I hate) I am seeking financial support to fund this trip. The Ridge Church is so committed to sending people on mission that they are paying up to 50% of the cost, for members, through their missions fund. Those of us going are responsible for the other 50% which comes to around $1,200. The truth is that I don’t like the idea of asking anyone for anything, especially money. I also feel weird sending out letters and posts pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up oh these many years. But, I also don’t happen to have a spare $1,200 dollars just lying around.
Last year I went on this same trip. You can read about it here and here. At that time a lot of people were probably thinking “Rick is going on a mission trip? Really? Rick Phillips?!?” That’s a completely fair thought. Honestly, I kept thinking the same thing. Then I went and God really changed my life through the experience.
I know I’m not the first person people think of when it comes to loving on others. Plus, just like everyone else, I’m busy. My life is really intense right now and this is just not a good time to go on a mission trip. But I’m not sure if there is ever a “good time” to go on a mission trip. And I could probably come up with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I keep coming back to the one reason I should – Love God, love others.
Since my experience last year, I’ve been trying to live my life more “on mission”. I mean it’s easy to pray for people, but to really love the people who you live with, work with and encounter everyday is a challenge. This trip helped me to experience this in action, to see things more clearly and to see Christ’s love in action more clearly. This past year I’ve been trying to see my life as a mission field, not just that trip. And it’s been cool to see the way God has used this new approach to everything from the way I tip at restaurants to the way I treat people in traffic. But now, it’s time to take another leap of faith and go back.
So this is where you come in. Instead of selling my plasma 87 times, I’ve decided to ask for something I don’t usually ask for, money from people I don’t often write or talk to. It would be a real blessing if you could help financially support me on this mission trip. A little, a lot, any would be great. You can do this electronically through the options in the right hand column of this blog or by check made out to Rick Phillips sent to : 4998 Clayton Rd. Brookville, OH 45309. And if you want to know more about the trip, please let me know and maybe we can have lunch and discuss it (you may have to cut me off though, I have a tendency to go on about it.)
The one thing I have no problem asking for is for your prayers. Whether you can give or not I would truly appreciate it if you would pray about the trip. Not just for me, but for the others that will be going and for those we will be reaching out to. As much as God loves mission trips, other people don’t. There will be a whole host of obstacles that pop up and entangle themselves around our ankles as we prepare to go love the people of Peru. And knowing that you are praying would mean more than any and all of the financial support in the world.
Thanks for reading this rambling post, God bless you.
Guest Post: I Cancelled My Sponsorship by:Brianne McKoy
Hello, my name is Brianne and I cancelled my Compassion sponsorship.
File that tidbit right under, the thing I didn’t want any of my co-workers to know. And definitely something I didn’t want you to know.
But I am currently suspended in the air, wrapped up in a metal vessel, headed back to a country that haunts me. Peru.
Peru, the first country I visited outside of the United States. Peru, my first overseas mission trip. Peru, the first place I saw the beach.
The country I sponsored my first Compassion child.
I don’t live in the age when jazz is on its rise, a hot scene. Or when the industry is booming.
I live in the “social injustice” age.
When I was in college poverty, social injustice, and the depravity of the world was hot. It was burn-your-heart hot.
Most of my friends were involved in missions work and worked to bring awareness to our campus.
When I was in college the question wasn’t,
“What company do you want to work for when you graduate?”
“What mission field are you going to move to?”
I think technology had a huge role in this. All of a sudden Africa, Asia and South America weren’t a faraway land. It had people, and we saw their pictures. It had statistics, and we could look them up.
It wasn’t a world away, it was one Hotwire or Cheap Tickets purchase away.
When I was in college, I wanted to get out. I wanted to go help. I wanted to be the solution. Not the ignorance. Not the problem.
Amidst this I went on a mission trip to Peru. A rip-my-heart-out trip, an “I don’t think I ever cried on that trip, never, not even after I came back home because I was afraid I’d never stop crying” kind of trip.
And then I went to a conference and heard about Compassion.
I marched myself directly to a table after I heard a Compassion Leadership Development Student speak. I looked and looked and looked at the pictures and there she was. A girl from Peru. That day I became her sponsor.
I was told that I could write her letters and she would write me too. I was told she would know she now has a sponsor. Shortly after the conference I received materials from Compassion about their program and their financial integrity.
Quickly, too quickly, I forgot about what that Compassion student said. I was sure that it was not truly her writing me letters. A girl in poverty? Writing me?
And Compassion somehow keeps track of that? And gets the letter to me? And then takes the time to process and translate my letter and get it to her? Um, right. But thanks for the warm fuzzies.
A few years later I decided to cancel my sponsorship.
The problem with the burn I experienced from all the social injustice hype in college was that I only let it burn me, not brand me.
After awhile I was all of a sudden graduating college. I was going to be dropped from health insurance. Oh my gosh. I needed to pay for health insurance. And then there was the real growing up.
Several of my friends did go to the mission field. But I didn’t feel that pull anymore. I needed to get a job. I needed to pay bills. I needed health insurance.
And then one day I realized I didn’t believe in what Compassion was doing. I never researched the ministry. I never read the materials they sent me. I barely even read the letters from my sponsored child.
So, I cancelled. Surely, she wouldn’t know. I mean, she didn’t even know I existed. Right?
Years later, God did call me to minister to the poor in Thailand. And then He called me to work at Compassion.
I remember when I started working here thinking, “And now I will see the underbelly of a ministry that so many people I know support.”
I’ve almost been here for five years. I now have two sponsored children. I believe in what Compassion does. I know my sponsored children know my name. And I know they read my letters.
Now, I’m branded. I’m not branded by hype or an emerging movement. I am not even branded by Compassion. I am branded by the heart of God.
He showed me the beat of His heart. He showed me that He is close to the poor. I want to be close to Him. I want to be close to whatever it is that He is close to – even if it means being in the throes of too many, “will I ever stop crying? It’s all so much to take in” sessions.
The problem is, not everyone reads the mail they receive. Or looks up information on the ministry they support.
In fact, once in a marketing meeting I was asked,
“What can we do to really bring the reality of Compassion’s ministry to the hearts of people?”
I thought and thought about it and I could only respond with two answers. It wasn’t sending more mail. It wasn’t pushing people to get online and research us. It was either to hire everyone to work at Compassion (which is how my Compassion conversion happened) or to take every sponsor to the field. That was it.
Thankfully, in a room I wasn’t in, a few brilliant people decided that we do need to take people on trips. Trips that people who can’t go on trips could follow. And thus the birth of Compassion blog trips. You might not actually get to board the plane and walk through the villages but it is so very close.
When you follow a blog trip you see through the eyes of several different bloggers and you read what they have to say about Compassion’s ministry.
They are in the field asking the hard questions, going through filing cabinets, asking about how finances are handled. They are faithfully conveying, the best they can, about what this thing called Compassion is and where God is in all of it.
Have you cancelled your sponsorship? Do you want to? Or have you thought about it? Do you have questions about letter writing, financial integrity, and what people without a filter have to say as they put Compassion under a microscope? Then follow them.
In fact, you can follow them this week. I know they’ll be tackling some of these questions in Peru.
If you are a sponsor, do you remember why you’re a sponsor? Are you branded by God and His heart for the poor?
Your heart for the poor can only carry you so far. My heart for the poor led me to cancel a sponsorship.
I am so happy that I got the information about Carlos today. He is the child we are sponsoring through Compassion International. I will be posting more about him soon but I wanted to let you know about a contest my friends over at Compassion are running on Pinterest. Check it out here.
Please meet Carlos Alberto Chuquipoma Huacha, born May 18, 2007.
How have you been? I am doing great these days. I’m sorry I don’t write or call as often as should. My schedule has been crazy lately which of course means I should be talking to you more rather than less.
I wanted to drop you a note though about Compassion International. I have been aware of and involved with them for a little over a year now and I am truly amazed at the things you have been able to accomplish through them. I don’t mean to imply that your actions surprise me but in this ever busy world to see your light shine through in others and their selfless actions is always inspiring. Thank you for that.
I am always saddened though each time I browse the Compassion International website and see the thousands in need. I can only imagine there are countless others that we are still unaware of that have not been reached.
It also breaks my heart to see that little red heart on the picture of those that have been on the list for more than 90 days. I pray that you will send them a sponsor soon.
God, part of my reason for writing today is to ask your forgiveness for my own hesitation in sponsoring a child. I could give a thousand excuses but there really is no excuse for what is ultimately laziness and selfishness on my part. You have given me so much. You have given me the means to provide for my family above and beyond our needs and I have neglected your call to share just a small portion of that with a child in desperate need. I am sorry.
So, as I’m sure you know, I have finally chosen a child to sponsor. Thank you for bringing Carlos into my life. I can’t wait to get the information packet so I can get to know him better. I also hope to meet Carlos some day when I return to Peru. I am so honored and thankful for the opportunity to help by sponsoring him. Thank you, Lord for the blessing of being able to serve another this way.
As always, thank you for everything.
How about a little prayer and petition…
I’ve had people ask me about Compassion International so I thought I’d take a moment to help you better understand what it is and what you can do to help.
- DON’T STOP READING YET!!
I’m not asking for money, only a little of your time. Below are some of the common questions and answers from the Compassion International FAQ web page. Before you read on though I’m asking one simple request of you. During the month of September (and longer if you choose) take a moment each day to go to the Compassion International website select one or more children and just pray for them. It may seem like a simple request but it is so important. I understand not everyone can afford to sponsor a child. But, everyone can afford to add a minute or two each day to their prayer time. Of course, please pray that someone would be called to sponsor the children you select but more importantly, pray for the salvation and safety of them and their families. Pray for their education especially in God’s Word. Also, pray for those that are blessed with the ability to give financially and support a child, because not all of us are gifted in that way. Pray that they would be faithful and obedient and cheerful. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). That’s all I ask, simply pray… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)
Here’s the FAQ’s:
What is Compassion International?
Compassion International is a Christian child development organization dedicated to releasing children from poverty. Our ministry is twofold: We work through local churches to provide child development programs to deliver children from economic, physical, social and spiritual poverty, enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. And we speak out for children in poverty – informing, motivating and equipping others to become advocates for children.
How does Compassion work?
The hallmark of Compassion’s work is one-to-one child sponsorship. A sponsor is someone who has made the decision to personally invest in the life of a child in need. Through sponsorship, children are able to participate in a church-based program that offers life-changing benefits that range from educational opportunities to health care.
How much does it cost to sponsor a child through Compassion?
Sponsoring a child costs $38 a month. It’s a significant commitment, but the incredible difference it makes in the life of a child is invaluable.
Thank you for your time and God bless.