The one, the only Kekeli.

Kekeli is one of my very best friends in the whole world, even though I have never met her.  In person.  She lives in Togo, and I live in the United States, so there’s a distance gap there.  Since the average family income in Togo is $40 a month, there is no chance Kekeli will ever come to see me, other than a miracle.  And since a trip to Togo would be in the thousands, there is little chance I will get to visit Kekeli.  But Kekeli’s praying for that, and I have a feeling God listens to her prayers.  We will see what the years to come bring.

Kekeli writes me constantly.  I know she must initiate writing the letters, because they come far more frequently than the usual 3 to 4 times a year.  I have Compassion children who write only 3 or 4 times a year, and they are treasures in my heart.  I don’t need the letters from them.  They don’t need to be my “pen pals”.  My job is to love on them, not for them to love on me.

But somehow, for Kekeli, I get the feeling that writing me helps her fit the puzzle pieces together in her life.  I don’t kid myself that I can address world poverty, or even that I can relate to living in a house with a dirt floor in a country where almost one-third of the population lives below the poverty line.  So, though I know it isn’t me who’s fitting the pieces together, I watch in amazement as I see God using my $38 a month, my photo, and my letters to bring joy into the life of a ten-year-old girl who thinks she gets after-school tutoring help, precious field trips, opportunity for games, and Bible school because of me.  Of course, that just isn’t true.  What’s really true is that God out of an incredible grace I will never understand chose to let me in on the privilege of participating in Kekeli’s life.

Kekeli writes me so much that one time two of her letters were stapled and sent together.  She writes mostly the same opening and ending each time.  She hopes I am well, and my family.  She wants me to know she is well.  And she ends asking for prayer that she will be healthy and her studies will go well.

In between the opening and the ending, there’s not too much room for actual conversation.  But I understand–and Compassion is good to explain–that letter-writing is a hard skill for children in poverty. Children in poverty from other countries are often shy to ask questions of their new sponsors, and feel that sharing bits and pieces of their own life would simply be a bore.  In reality, this is exactly what sponsors want.  But sponsoring a child through Compassion isn’t about what I might want as a sponsor.  It’s about what I can give Kekeli. And what I’ve found is, that is exactly what I want.  There is a very special deep well of joy that can only be dug through giving.  As the Lord Jesus said,

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35b, ISV)

That has for sure and for absolutely sure been true for me and Kekeli.  If there is any reward in Heaven for helping a 10-year girl who calls me her godmother and writes, “Please pray for us, that you and I may see each other face to face one day.  What a joy it will be!” . . . I don’t need it.  And I know God knows it.

Jesus knows that when we give, what we find out is that we have received more than we could ever possibly have given.  I’m not talking about health-and-wealth nonsense.  I’m talking about the joy of having a girl in Togo trust you enough that she begins asking you questions.  Nonstop.

Do I have a fiance?  Do I know what a taco is?  Have I ever worn a Bazin dress?

I can scarcely wait to log in to Compassion and type a letter to answer her questions.  I also send her snail mail occasionally.  I cut a simple picture of a bluebird off a card and she thanked me.  I drew a picture of a butterfly and she asked if I was an artist.

For her birthday, I had the glorious honor of receiving a letter from her thanking me for the money she used to buy a new dress.  Never, ever in my life have I been that happy about a new dress.  I will happily wear my clothes for a little while longer, or, who cares?  For years and years longer.  I am in love with the joy God gives through our giving. It makes a trip to the mall seem . . . depressing.  Why would I want to buy some little sweater for $38 when I could give Kekeli soccer practice and Sunday school and nutritional help for a month?  I mean, come on!

God has given me the incredible present of seeing what generosity brings.  He gave me that present when He forgave me for everything, everything in my life–even when I hated myself, even when I couldn’t forgive myself.  That’s God for you.  He is a giver.  And I want to be more like Him.

I know I’ve failed Kekeli in writing this, because I know I’ll never be able to communicate well enough the joy she’s given me.  But I just had to try.  Because, for every child like Kekeli who has someone writing them letters . . . there are so many more who don’t get called into the special mail room.  Kekeli used to be that way.  So me and Kekeli, we’re making up for lost time.

My $38 doesn’t just go to Kekeli.  It goes to other kids, too.  Sure, they get to do the programs too, because of the sponsors of other children.  But they don’t ever get that one-on-one connection with one person who says, It’s my money I’m giving you.  It’s my letters.  It’s my love.  And every day, thousands upon thousands of other children can’t enter Compassion’s programs, because there simply isn’t enough money to go around.

But, hey, I’m not here to turn this into a sob story.  And I’m not here to guilt you.  That’s not my job, and I couldn’t do it anyway.  I’m lousy at guilting people, believe me–I’ve tried. And besides, I spent most of my life in a universe where my money and time revolved around me.  So I’m no one to judge.  And right now, I’m not even making an appeal for the sake of the millions of children in poverty.

If you follow Jesus Christ, you know the Giver . . . and if you know the Giver and you’re not giving . . . you are missing out.

This is what I have come to see, thanks to the grace of Christ through Kekeli and all the other precious children like her: if we don’t have a Kekeli in our lives . . . far more than the Kekeli who is missing out on our love . . . we are the ones to be pitied.

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:33, NIV)

Missing out on the Giver?  Learn more here.

See amazing kiddos waiting for sponsors here.

Or, let Compassion choose a child for you here.

Learn about Compassion’s reputation–a very good thing to know–here.

Check out a Q&A about Compassion here.

Or, hey, you can call Compassion if you want to talk 1-800-336-7676.  But it’s REALLY cool to go online, find the child God has for you, and know that child is going to find out you love him or her very soon.  It can seem like one whole eternity before you get your first letter–but what a great eternity it is.  🙂

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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