“God, is bigger than, the air I breathe, the world I’ll leave…” As a Christian, I say it, pray it, read it and sing it. So, why does God’s faithfulness always comes as a jolting shockwave?
Kirk and I are child advocates for Compassion International and because of this, we have seen hundreds, if not thousands of child packets…children needing sponsors. When a child is sponsored, I’m certain I have witnessed a miracle–someone else’s miracle. After an event, there are usually leftover packets of children who did not get selected. We mail them back to Compassion.
A few years ago, there was one packet remaining after a small event. We were busy, and the packet did not get sent back to Compassion immediately. It sat on our kitchen counter for a few days. It was the packet of a teenage boy. Having raised four boys to adulthood, I decided to read the packet–just check it out–we had been moving it around on the counter–in and out of meals, mail and spills. I saw that he played a musical instrument, which is common in our family. Heartstring tug. I sponsored him. His name is Rodel. He lives in the Philippines. I’d never been to the Philippines, nor did I have any plans that involved the Philippines. That was about three years ago. In the past year, I have traveled to the Philippines three times. Each time, the focus of the trip was for something other than visiting Rodel. Each time–I have visited him.
We traveled with our church youth group on a summer mission trip…I met Rodel and his grandmother at a mall. They flew from their home on the island of Palawan. I found out his grandmother is raising other grandchildren, Rodel’s young cousins. I helped her purchase backpacks, shoes and clothing for the children. I found out Rodel plays guitar — and he plays quite well. Oh, so does one of my sons. I play piano. Tug the heartstring! We write to each other often. I send guitar picks. He ends each letter with this: “I hope you never get tired of me.”
Again, God lead us to the Philippines. This time at the invitation of two of our pastors, the purpose was two-fold: a pastor vision trip for Hawaiian pastors not familiar with how Compassion works to alleviate and eliminate poverty; and our church exploring the possibility of becoming involved in a Compassion church-to-church relationship. Without our church input, Compassion country director, Noel, selected a church on the island of Palawan. I was excited to be going to Palawan because I could see Rodel at his home and Compassion church, though this was not the purpose of the trip. We made the necessary arrangements to visit Rodel. The island is big by Hawaii standards. It was decided I would spend time with him at the end of the trip.
As part of our introduction to the possibility of a Compassion church-to-church relationship, we were visiting families being served by the church with whom we would later establish a relationship. It is a Compassion church. After visiting the first home, the leader pointed to a small hut and said “this is a typical nepa hut.” I noted it was a little nicer than the others, yet still in an area of absolute abject poverty. We all took photos of the typical hut and moved on to the next-door neighbor’s house, where I went inside–about five or ten feet away. After a few moments, I heard my husband and then others calling my name. The children in the “typical” hut we had passed were holding a photo book I had made and sent to Rodel…on the cover was a photo of me and Rodel from our first meeting. I had been brought right to Rodel’s doorstep. God put Rodel’s packet on my kitchen counter, and now he brought me right to his doorstep. I don’t care how deep or wide our faith, this is shockwave grace!
I later learned from Rodel’s pastor, that the hut had been built with money from a simple family gift, after our first meeting. It seemed a small thing to do at the time. At the end of the trip, I spent the day at Rodel’s church, which was sponsoring a country-wide youth seminar titled “Forever Blessed.” I met the pastors, staff and many of Rodel’s friends. There were 2,700 teenagers at the event. Our day also included chasing crabs on the beach, the park, board walk, a tour of Puerta Princessa, we saw his elementary school, high school, market place and the driver of the van was none other than Rodel’s father, with whom he was just beginning to establish a relationship. This visit ended in tears of joy and thanksgiving. I brought Rodel to meet our pastors, we prayed with him.
God continues to work in our life. My husband is a business man. It is his spiritual gift. God has made him many things beautiful and wonderful…business is at the forefront. By August 2010, he was working full-time at our church in a managerial position and as director of missions and outreach. Our third trip to the Philippines was the result of a deliberate stopover while en route to Thailand to meet mission partners as part of my husband’s new job. It gave us the opportunity to again meet with our church-to-church partner in Palawan, and yes…another visit with Rodel. The trip fell on his 18th birthday. We sang “Happy Birthday” to the teenage boy from the packet that was moved around on our kitchen counter. He has graduated from High School and is attending a hotel/restaurant management school. He gave us a tour of the school, showed us each classroom and was particularly fond of the view of the city from the upper level, where they eat lunch, fellowship, relax–he was peaceful, comfortable. His grandmother tells me he cooks most of their family meals and is a very good cook. We took him to a grocery store where he selected food for the family meals and a special one for his birthday. On this visit, Compassion staff commented on how much Rodel has changed. His friends have changed, how he spends his time has changed, his relationship with his family has changed…all for good. He plays lead guitar in the praise band and no longer feels compelled to move to Manila, leaving family, and church behind. He has dreams of being a great chef in Palawan and continuing to serve his church on the praise team.
On the van ride back, and in the privacy of his thoughts, I watched as Rodel practiced “air guitar,” his long, skilled fingers moving up and down the invisible frets…rehearsing for Sunday worship service. “God, is bigger than, the air I breathe….”