Tuesday, September 8, 2015

While I'm Waiting

A former pastor used to reference the "sweet spot" of ministry. Since sports analogies always resonate with me (thank you, Dad, for using one to support every single verse or Biblical lesson you ever imparted), that phrase stuck. And just a year or two later, when I became a Compassion advocate (like a highly-trained volunteer), I knew exactly what Pastor Andrew meant.

Handing out child packets at concerts, the "table rush" during intermission, giving public presentations on child sponsorship, bragging online about our kids, helping new sponsors -- it all lit a fire in me I barely knew existed.

I never felt more alive (ahem, outside of time spent with my hunky hubby) than when I was volunteering with Compassion.

Giving runners instructions at 5k/10k race I founded to benefit Compassion's Child Survival Program
So when I moved to England, the loss of my advocacy was one of the hardest pills to swallow (well, that and Costco, if we're being real). Yes, Compassion exists in Great Britain. I've had the privilege of introducing several British friends to Compassion's awesomeness and excitedly watching them pick out kids for their own. I've even been able to meet other advocates here that I had only known online before!

Still, just like everything else, my life here is not the same as it was in Oregon. I live out in the English sticks, for one. There just aren't the same amount and kind of events here as in a big city like Salem or Portland. England also doesn't have the benefit of a "Christian bubble" like America; there are either no or very few Christian radio stations, private Christian schools, Christian bookstores, churches over 50 people, etc. No huge Christian bands mean no Christian concerts. No concerts mean no Compassion presentations, for example.

Whereas I may have assisted hundreds of people in one night sign up for Compassion sponsorship in America, I was getting one or two a year in England.

Hanging out with Sarah, a fellow Compassion advocate, in Bristol

My heart hurt. I missed my core group of Compassion advocates back in the Northwest, many of whom I had gotten to know quite well over the years. It was just so cool being surrounded by people who understood my passion for kids.

Why would you see fit to take yet one more thing away from me, God? I prayed. Especially when that thing was helping others?

It took a while....but it all makes sense now.

Bringing a smile to Isaiahu, a six-year-old boy living in an Ukrainian adult mental institution simply because he has cerebral palsy.

When God shuts a door and all that...there are always other needs to lovingly address.While on the Western edge of Europe, I had new, unique chances to advocate for Ukrainian orphans with special needs...because I had been there and seen it firsthand.

My heart broke for kids who often have it far worse than any registered Compassion child. Yes, Compassion kids are poor. But often (not always), they have a family who loves them and shows them culturally-appropriate affection. They have project workers who give them educational and medical opportunities. They get to go to church, and attend Christmas parties, and receive birthday gifts from their sponsors.

That's a far cry from grown men the size of first-graders tied to wooden pallets and laying in their own urine.

Nick shows Ben what it feels like -- even for a moment -- to be held and loved by a daddy. Could you be his forever?

After spreading the word about these boys and girls online, I wondered if there wasn't something else I could be doing. A series of twists and turns led me to graduate school -- Northwest University's International Community Development program, where I plan to focus my master's thesis on orphan justice. I should graduate in Spring 2017.

And then there's that small fact, ya know, of how a dream I have had since age eight suddenly started happening at the same time I started grad school. Nickolas and God have such great timing, I tell ya.

Yep, instead of writing to a child on the other side of the globe who is vulnerable to abuse, poverty, sickness and lack of opportunities...I'm bringing one home.

I can see now that God didn't take a ministry away from me; instead, He redirected it.

(Yes, when we move back to the States, I fully plan on immersing myself in Compassion again. I love Compassion!)

Maybe you're in a similar place. Maybe you're stuck "waiting" on a life circumstance to change so you can begin your "real" ministry or chase a dream.

Take heart, as I have done, from this John Waller song:
I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait
And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait
I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it's not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

Your sweet spot hasn't disappeared, I promise.

About Crystal Kupper....Crystal is a passionate sponsor and advocate for Compassion. She is a military wife, mom to three kids and is a freelance writer, currently living in the UK. You can find her blogging at Crystal Kupper

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