“Poverty lies to children by telling them they don’t matter and nobody cares. Countering this is of paramount importance.”
This was said to me by our friends at Compassion UK, and every time I read those words I feel punched in the gut again and again. I count myself fortunate to have little experience of true poverty, but what I have seen tells me that statement is true. The overriding sense I get from people in poverty, is that they think no-one cares.
I’m in the middle of planning the Everyday Wimbledon sponsor trip to Kenya in May. We’ll be going for a week to spend time with the partner church who are managing the project where just a year ago, you saw the need and generously sponsored nearly 100 children. I love the idea that right now in the slums just outside Nairobi, there are little boys and girls who now have a personal connection with families in Wimbledon.
Our family sponsors a girl named Peris, or Njuguna as she prefers to be called. This caused great hilarity in our house because of course Peris is much easier to say than Njuguna! As we exchange letters with her I find the similarities between my kids and this child uncanny. Njuguna would like to have a pet cat. My 2 would love any fluffy pet. They all like to play with their friends, sing and run around. Normal child behaviour in other words. I feel like my kids would get along brilliantly with her.
In a few months I get to change that somewhat. I’m going to get to visit Njuguna in her home country, along with the other children sponsored by Everyday Wimbledon people. I’ll get to take her presents my kids will give me for her. And I’ll get to remind her that on the other side of the world, there’s another family that loves her, cares about her well-being, and is willing to invest in her future, because she matters to God and to us.
I know I’m going to be shocked and challenged by what I see, and even now I probably have no idea just how impactful this trip will be. But on one level, I want to be changed. I want to come back with a bigger heart to make a difference. I want to come back and be part of a church that sees their neighbours as the people of Ngong as well as the people of Merton. And I want to come back and help people see that poverty is poverty, and even the smallest of our actions are part of the answer to that problem. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me, said Jesus. It’s an expensive trip, but I consider it an investment not just in Njuguna and her home village, but in our village in Wimbledon as well.
They think no-one cares. Will we prove them right, or will we show them the gospel? Jesus reminds us that in the midst of our own poverty, He came down alongside us, to show us that He cares. More than that, He came determined to do something about it. I want to do likewise. I can’t wait to meet Njuguna, and I can’t wait to be with my fellow Everyday people meeting their sponsored children as well. Would you like to join me? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you more details.