Friday, September 7, 2012


A delicious aroma floated through the air--rich, warm, slightly cinnamony--a scent grown, not sprayed from a bottle, the perfume of a princess. Jewel-like blossoms dropped from the wall in unparalleled splendor, each different from one another, each a varied expression of pure loveliness. One, cascading down violet, white and then a kiss of red at the tip; another branch coated with blooms of coffee-speckled gold, so nearly like butterflies that I had to look twice to be sure they weren't flying away. The orchid house at the Atlanta Botanical gardens is full of wonders, a hundred thousand or more varieties of plants unique, interesting, beautiful.

I've lived near Atlanta for thirty years, and I can't believe that I never before wended my way through the gardens there. I met an out of town Advocate for Compassion there; and together we walked through and marveled. A little later, a friend of hers joined us.

This is Jey.

I was really excited to meet him.

You see, Jey is from Kenya, and once upon a time, he was a sponsored child through Compassion International (which already qualified him as somewhat of hero to me, even before I heard part of his incredible testimony). He now lives in Atlanta and exercises his God-given talents as a deejay.He also speaks on behalf of Compassion, sharing the work God has done in his life, finding sponsors for other children.

We were quite the group...two white ladies, a little white boy, and two guys from Kenya. There are so many ways that we are many reasons why we should not be a part of each others' lives. And yet, I can give you more than a million ways in which we are the same.

This struck me as we strolled together through the orchid house. There is just something splendid about orchids anyway--so delicate, so naturally fancy, a little like my dainty Leah when she dresses up as a princess. Being surrounding by such an overwhelming display of loveliness, my eyes, so accustomed to the ordinary, were opened to actually take in the glory around me. My first thought was shock that anyone was able to walk through such a place and come out without an understanding of God's creative power. The awesome, imaginative power of my God was displayed in a riotous show. Then God breathed truth..."Consider the lilies...not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed as one of these! O ye of little faith! If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown in the oven, how much more will He clothe you!" The man next to me was a walking testimony to God's care and provision; no less am I.

All this, coupled with the fact that I was taking this all in with a man as different from me as these various flowers, left me floored for a minute. I heard God say, "You are both part of my plan." A bunch of differences, yes, but alike in the way that matters most. We're both God's children, adopted into His family; we share something that even language, culture, and hardship can't take away. Jey called out to God from a Kenyan prison at nine years old; I cried out to God from my bedroom floor at sixteen. There is nothing different about our need for a Savior.

We share something else. We both represent one million plus children around the world. Each of these children lives in desperate poverty; each one is a being knit together as the zenith of God's creative power--man, designed in God's image, breathed to life by God himself. As glorious in my eyes as those flowers were, these children are yet exceedingly more glorious. They were made to display God's image; in all their wondrous variety, they express the heart of God. And I get to speak up for them

Whatever I may have to say on their behalf, whatever I may have to say to my sponsored children to encourage them, I feel supremely unqualified beside Jey.

Because you see, Jey is a sponsor too.

It gives me goosebumps just to think of it.

While speaking at an event for Compassion a few weeks ago, Jey held up a child packet to encourage others to sponsor. Usually the packet is claimed by someone who wants to sponsor. This time, it wasn't. When Jey looked at the child's name, he saw that she is called Nairobi...which just happens to be where Jey grew up. So the formerly sponsored child reached a dream that day. He sponsored a child himself. What words of encouragement will Jey be able to pour into this little Dominican Miss? He can share an incredible, personal hope with her.

Photo: My new compassion chilld her name is Nairoby she reminds me of Nairobi
Jey is one kind of orchid, and I am another.

He can share his life, and, however small what I have to give feels next to that, I am called to give what little I have. I can't give what Jey has, but I also have Jesus. I have a testimony. I have love. I have a lot to give; some things the same, and some different.

Click the link on the side of this page to see the children available for sponsorship through Compassion. Check out a few of the flowers in God's garden. There are over a hundred thousand reasons to do it... over a hundred thousand kids are waiting for a loving sponsor...over a hundred thousand unique displays of God's splendor. What a privilege to be a part of God's plan.

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