A few years ago, when our church learned about how many children are trafficked into forced labor on Lake Volta in the west African country of Ghana, we were compelled to help. We began partnering with International Justice Mission (IJM), an organization that rescues and protects people from violence, slavery, and other abuses around the world. I love that my church is always ready to step up. God’s people should always be ready for opportunities to help the poor.
The Apostle Paul went on three missionary journeys and started the majority of the New Testament churches. In his letter that we now call Galatians, he talked about his trip to Jerusalem. He told Peter and the rest of the apostles that he felt God had called him to be an apostle to the gentiles — the non-Jews. The other apostles agreed, with one request: that as he went out and taught, to remember the poor.
Paul completely agreed, and in the book of Acts, you see that everywhere he traveled, he was consistent with two things: preaching the gospel message of salvation and taking an offering for the poor. From the beginning of the church, Christians have been helping the poor. It was the church that started most of the orphanages. It was the church that started most of the hospitals. It was the church that rushed to help those who were hungry.
Too often in America, we don’t really understand the needs of the poor, and we don’t take seriously our obligation or responsibility as Christians to help the poor. Luke’s gospel is full of examples of Jesus instructing us to help those in need. The church should be out in front leading the way when it comes to this. And that’s why our church couldn’t just be content with the work we had already done. We wanted to do more.
Already feeling burdened for the country of Ghana, we decided to go deeper by partnering with World Vision. Through Chosen®, our congregation agreed to come alongside children living in poverty, and as a result, more than 2,600 children in Ghana got to choose their own sponsors. My wife and I have sponsored a child for several years, and we realized how much that has meant to us, so we decided it was time to sponsor another. We were chosen by a little boy named Balukdi, and we are so looking forward to connecting with him in the years ahead and speaking into his life spiritually as he matures so that he knows he is chosen and loved by the almighty God.
Everyone desperately wants to be loved, to be noticed, to be seen. Everyone wants to know that they matter. We were created by God to be in relationship with Him, and yet because of sin, that relationship has been broken, leaving us with a void, a sense of insecurity, or a feeling of insignificance. That’s why it’s so important to know that we matter to God, and to know that not only does He love us, but He chose us. Jesus said in John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit …” Once I know that I am loved and chosen by God, it gives me a sense of security and confidence. It gives me purpose for today and hope for the future. I now understand my identity is in Christ.
By connecting with these children through a sponsorship relationship, my family and church will not only make a difference in each of their lives, but we’ll make an impact on the entire country of Ghana. When you’re willing to make a sacrifice, it’s then that we’re inviting the supernatural to occur. You’ll never see the impossible if you don’t step out and risk the comfortable for the sake of others. I truly believe God is going to do incredible things in Ghana, and our church and my family will get to be part of His work.
Steve Poe is senior pastor at Northview Church in Indiana. He and his wife, Sandy, have two married children and seven grandkids.