#1: Serving Children in Poverty: Rolling Up Our Sleeves

Ministry Focus: Children’s Hope Chest 

Writer: Christine Holst 

Big Idea: There are too many children in poverty. It’s overwhelming. What can we do?  

Do we serve the least of these to feel better about ourselves? In a loving relationship with God, there’s more than enough for others. We participate in God’s Kingdom by reflecting and experiencing God’s heart. However, Isaiah teaches that if we begin serving someone in poverty it could change their world and our world. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Serving others fuels our life, fuels our heart and fuels our faith. It brings delight to God as He says, “Your light will rise in the darkness.” Loving God means we roll up our sleeves up and exercise faith for the benefit of others. Light rises in the darkness when we roll up our sleeves. Whose life is improving because of our faith? 

Key Passages: Isaiah 58:6-11, Galatians 6:9 

Introduction: Could God really use my giftings to serve His people halfway across the globe? That was the question I found myself asking ten years ago. An opportunity was in front of me to serve in Africa on a team that was teaching teachers in the country of Ethiopia. Who am I? What can I possibly offer? What difference can I make? Those were all the questions I asked, but ultimately I said yes in 2009, and had I not, I don’t think I would have experienced the rich blessings God had for me there in the years ahead. 

You see, it was a result of this trip that I got involved on the Global Strategy Team at Calvary, and as result of my involvement there, I was able to rekindle my love for Ethiopia when the partnership began between Calvary and our Strategic Partner, Hitata Genet, and the 230 children Calvary members sponsor on a monthly basis. I have been to Ethiopia now four times, having faith that by my saying “yes”, God would use me, even if in a small way. But the truth of the matter is that God hasn’t used me in small ways, He has used me in very big ways. Through faithfulness in giving, and then going, God has continued to use me to bring light into the dark places of Ethiopia! 

I was able to see glimpses of that light firsthand on my last trip to Ethiopia with a small vision team from Calvary in 2018. On this trip, our time visiting Hitata Genet, began with a visit to an IGA (Income Generating Activity). IGA’s are business development education and ownership programs offered to parents of sponsored children, which provides revenue for basic needs as well as savings groups, which lead to family and community sustainability.  A few years ago, a Calvary couple gave a generous donation specifically to start an IGA program at Hitata Genet. Their funds provided support to thirty people in various areas of interest such as animal husbandry, merchandising, and more. Because of their gift, IGA’s were implemented and thriving at our Hitata Genet Care Point. The first woman we met was Aster. Her son is sponsored through our Care Point. She was given a goat and a cow. At the time she was given the animals, she had no home, and only a very small piece of land. Through her training and hard work, she took that goat from one to at least five, although likely more that she has sold off. She was able to breed the cow and then sell it as well. She continues to sell the animals she raises as well as any milk they provide to support her family. As a result of her being in the IGA she was able to save enough to build a home for her family. What a huge impact! As a result of being supported by the IGA, she and her family have a roof over their heads because of our faithfulness to Hitata Genet! It is just as it says in Isaiah. 

Another significant event from that trip was our visit to a public school. A few years ago, near the beginning of our partnership with Children’s HopeChest, we had raised funds to build additional classrooms for our kids. I emphasize “our” because it is an important part of the story. We intended for those classrooms to be built on the property of Hitata Genet and used only by our kids. However, the government had different ideas, and instead the classrooms were built at the nearby public school where they weren’t even serving all our kids. When we arrived at the school, we met the principal, Moges Molla, he was so grateful for the new classrooms that have provided the chance for so many other students to attend school now. You see, the classrooms provided access for more than just our kids! What we saw as disappointment, God saw as greater plans. He took our classrooms and provided space for what now holds more than 100 students a day in a school of nearly 3400. Education is the key to changing this country, and God is making sure that the opportunity grows! The government of Ethiopia saw that the space was being used and exceeding its limits, when we were there, they were in the process of building a three-story classroom building for the school! That is huge! God took our four classrooms and now is providing for even more of His children! God is so good! It was amazing to get that perspective change and to take a step back and see God’s greater picture come together. 
 

God will continue to shed light in this dark world as we continue to be faithful in doing what He calls each of us individually to do. Because the reality is that I am small, I am simply a teacher, and I can’t help the entire country of Ethiopia escape poverty. But I am adding a flicker of light and when combined with other small flickers of light, create a flame that is too big to deny that it is anything but God! 
  

Sharing Life: 

  1.  Is there a time in your life where a small contribution of your own made a big impact? 
  2. What activities and/or giving have you faithfully participated in and how has that helped you in your own faith? OR What has God been nudging you to participate in that you believe could radically change your faith? 

Opening Scripture: 

Read: Isaiah 58:6-11 

  • What kind of fasting is acceptable to God in these verses? 
  • What are some of the benefits and blessings mentioned in this passage? 

Read: Galatians 6:9 

  • Have you ever become weary of doing good? What was the situation? 
  • What is the result of not giving up?  
  • Share a way God is calling you to take a next step around children in poverty. 
     

Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other. 

Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray that your heart will be sensitive to children in poverty and open to God’s leading in how to get involved. 

Next Steps: 

  • Sponsor a child. 
  • Read through Global Outreach Magazine, Edition 2. 
  • Write Christmas card to a child. 
  • Get involved with a micro-finance (IGA) – details in Magazine.