Halfway around the world, there’s a 15-year-old boy who traipses across red African dirt and calls Uganda home. When grinning, his white teeth contrast against his dark skin. I’ve sponsored Nangoli Cranimer through Compassion International for nearly a decade now. It’s been almost ten years since I first clicked on his profile; ten years since I said yes to the sending of funds and the growth of a relationship across the chasm of oceans and continents.
Through pictures and letters—scrawling handwriting that has turned from a young child’s rudimentary writing into more mature penmanship—I’ve watched this African boy grow up. My husband and I have prayed for him; we’ve talked with our children about him; we’ve sent letters, pictures, pages colored by our five-year-old’s hand. And though I’ve entertained fleeting thoughts of the blessing it would be to someday meet him, to clasp hands, to look into his eyes and see the mercy of Christ staring back, I’ve never had the desire to go. Not halfway across the world … not to Africa.
You don’t have to go far to hear the continent spoken of. Relief workers, rock stars, politicians, pastors, students, moms, dads … they’re all going and doing. Bringing tangible expressions of goodwill, hope and grace to a post war-torn land and the people left in its wake. But not me. No, this girl who suffered severe anxiety over the leaving of my children for one week to serve on a mission trip to Belize hasn’t ever had a desire to travel to Africa.
But then the other day I stumbled across this page and paused, just for a minute. A brief “what if?” pause. And then I read this post by author Emily Freeman, and the tears fell. She’s currently in Africa, in Uganda to be exact, with a team of bloggers. She’s treading atop red dirt and putting skin on hope; she’s clasping dark-skinned hands and watching the beautiful mystery of deep soul joy welling up in the midst of impoverished circumstances.
I brushed the tears as I read her post … tears brought on by her storytelling of an African boy doing kingdom work and an American girl soaking it all in. A boy a lot like Cranimer; a girl a lot like me.
God is stirring my heart a bit. Whether it’s a stirring for Africa or simply for the release of fear and the willingness to follow where He may lead, I don’t know. Not yet, anyway. But I do know this. There are thousands of children in desperate need of a sponsor through Compassion. You don’t have to go; you don’t have to board the plane, shield your eyes from the African sun, brush the red dirt from your feet … You just have to click. Thousands are waiting to be rescued from poverty. Who will you choose?