I was raised by parents and grandparents who lived the truth that sometimes family isn't really about biology at all. At a VERY young age I went from being the only child in the family to the youngest of 11!! My parents became house parents for Navajo Missions, Inc. and that meant 10 foster siblings, all of them part of Dineh ("the people" - what we white folk refer to as Navajo!). I didn't look anything like them, but they were suddenly family. My grandparents were always opening their home for people to stay - travelling missionaries, a single teacher fresh out of college needing room and board, they welcomed anyone and everyone.
My parents never came right out and said that we should care about everyone and not get hung up on their appearance. But they lived it so loudly it couldn't be ignored! As a result, I have several former students who have been unofficially adopted as "my kids" and I have welcomed numerous exchange students into my heart as extended family! I have a "daughter" now in London and another in Moldova. I have "niece" from Russia who is travelling the world as a model. Yes, a model! I have several "sisters" from Germany, Finland, the Republic of Georgia . . . and more! And in case you are wondering, the quotation marks I used were for your benefit, not mine. I consider those young ladies family every bit as much as my biological kin!
That brings me to the newest member of my family. Arini. I haven't met her. Haven't even spoken to her. But she is family nonetheless! She is the child I am sponsoring through Compassion International. Her full name is Aprilini but her family - me included! - calls her Arini. She is going to be five on April 25 and she has completely stolen a piece of my heart. I may never see her this side of glory. But I am praying every bit as fervently for the state of her eternal soul as I do for my biological children.
Shameless commercial plug - it takes only $38 dollars a month to become a hero to a needy child. I know, I know, it would be nice if we could take care of the needy children here in our country too! But it would definitely take more than $38 a month and I don't think I have those kind of funds available!! According to the literature from Compassion, I am Arini's only sponsor and it is this sponsorship that will make sure she is able to go to school (once she is old enough!) as well as providing access to medical care, English classes, even sports activities and choir!
So what's stopping you?! Go to the Compassion website (I've included a link to help!) and start investigating. You can find a child that shares a birthday with a family member, ask to sponsor the child who has been waiting the longest for a sponsor, or simply look at the photos of children in need until one of them steals a piece of your heart - like Arini did to me! You are encouraged to write to them regularly and you will get at least three letters back a year. (And you can write your letters to them electronically via the website - I'm becoming a letter writing fiend!) You can have the sponsorship payment automatically charged to your debit card and you can even send financial gifts that will be turned into a birthday gift from their sponsor. There is also the option to send a gift to the family that will be used to purchase much needed household items - blankets, cooking pots, etc.. And of course you can send Christmas gifts!
Jesus told his disciples that when we do good to "the least of these", it's as though we are doing it to him. I know that I'm only helping one girl in one small town on the other side of the world. But it's a start!
To get more information go to http://www.compassion.com/default.htm