The Girls in the Striped Dresses

Compassion International in Sri Lanka

By MeLissa LeFleur

I call them "My Refrigerator Kids." Each morning when I open the fridge to grab a protein drink, I pray that God will give them food for the day and hope for the future. One-by-one, they have jumped off my fridge and into my heart.

My refrigerator kids are the children we sponsor through Compassion International. In turn, Compassion provides them with clean water, nutritious food, tutoring, and an opportunity to hear about Jesus.

Several years ago, Maria from Ecuador ran into my arms. That was the day I fell in love with what God is doing through Compassion. When I stepped foot into Miguel's home in Colombia and saw the dismal conditions, hugged his momma, and heard the dreams his dad had for him, it became very personal. A couple years later, when Miguel wrote and told us his dad died, our hearts broke for him. As we've met these little ones, they have become part of our family. I've also become a cheerleader for what Compassion International is doing around the world to release children from poverty in Jesus' name.

A few weeks ago, we traveled with Compassion to Sri Lanka, a beautiful tear-drop shaped island south of India. We were so excited to meet another one of our refrigerator kids — Emasha. When we arrived at the church that hosts Emasha's Compassion Center, I started scanning the crowd. The kids were lined up along the road creating a tunnel for us to walk through. Each one held a Sri Lankan flag and waved it in the thick air. Emasha is here. I know it! I had her photo in my hand, but I couldn't find her.

When we got to the end of the tunnel, I noticed a mother staring at me with a huge grin on her face. Standing at her feet were two little girls. Twins! My stomach did a little flip. There she is. We couldn't communicate well, but we knew each other instantly. It was like we gave each other a hug with our eyes. Isn't it amazing how God has a way of turning complete strangers into friends in an instant?

That afternoon, we jumped into a tut-tut and traveled to Emasha's house. We learned about her family, gifted them with presents, and played together. Her entire home as about the size of my bedroom back home, yet hospitality shown on their faces. With tremendous pride, the mom handed me a folder full of papers. Inside were drawings Emasha had created and there, in a special little envelope were our letters — letters that we had written to her from the other side of the planet.

We spent a lot of time playing at the park with Emasha and her family. We colored. We had beautiful conversations through our translator. When we said goodbye, my arms felt empty, but my heart was overflowing. It was hard to wipe the smile off my face. As I lay in bed that night, my cheeks hurt — not from crying, but from smiling so much.

A quote from Winston Churchill stands out to me today. "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." For us, the $38 a month isn't much, but for Emasha's family, it makes a tremendous difference. It helps meet their needs and it provides a refuge where the entire family can experience God's love in action.

Several years ago, my husband and I changed our perspective on having children. As I have written about before, we haven't been able to have kids of our own. We decided that instead of moping around and bemoaning our lack, we would enjoy life and serve others. One of our greatest joys is being able to invest in the lives of other people's children. That's where our refrigerator kids come in. They are part of our family.

God's Word is clear that children held a special place in Jesus' heart. At one point in His ministry, children were brought to Him so He could pray for them. The disciples tried to turn the children away, but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Mark 10:14). We're not sure why the disciples turned the children away, but Jesus' message is abundantly clear. He wants to bless children, the most vulnerable among us, and give them hope.

If you don't sponsor a child, please consider it. But fair warning — it won't be long until that little one jumps off your fridge and into your heart.

All photos courtesy MeLissa LeFleur

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Hardships  | Ministry-Church  | Personal-Life  | Personal-Relationships

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Published 5-8-17