I have a pen-pal. I know, right? Who has a pen pal these days? Well I do. Her name is Clare and she is the most adorable 10-year-old girl on the face of the planet. Ever.
We don’t speak the same language, but with the help of my friends at Compassion International, I’m able to write letters to Clare and maintain this special friendship from over 7,000 miles away. I am Clare’s sponsor—meaning I provide a monthly donation that allows Clare to go to school, get medical care, vocational training, and learn about Jesus!
In one of our letters, Clare said that if she could go anywhere in the world, it would Kampala, Uganda, just 6 hours from her home. I had the opportunity to go to Africa with Compassion, and where was I headed? Uganda.
Clare was going to Kampala and so was I.
It was her first time leaving her village—her first time in a bus. It would be her first time to stay in a hotel, to eat at a restaurant, to take a shower, to eat with fork, to try a French fry…
And to speak to a “muzungu”—a white girl.
I’m pretty sure she didn’t take her eyes off of me the entire time—not because I’m some beauty queen but because I’m her sponsor. I learned that sponsors offer hope—hope of an education, the promise of a good meal & health, opportunity to learn about Jesus, and special letters that show they are loved.
I mentioned Jesus during our conversation and she looked at me with BIG eyes—seemingly curious that I, too, knew of this man.
Translator: Clare is surprised that you know Jesus.
What? Surprised? But, I grew up in the Bible belt!
Me: Yes, I do know Jesus too. I need Him very much.
Translator: She is surprised that you need Jesus. She didn’t think that white people needed Him—only poor people.
Me: White people & rich people need Jesus too, Clare—maybe even more.
I tried further to explain how much we need Him, how even in the midst of a wealthy country, people are hurting and lost. “Have I fallen for the lie, too, I thought?” Are there certain groups of people who don’t need Jesus, while others need Him more? Who have I believed didn’t need Him?
Rich people need Jesus.
Married people need Jesus.
Retired people need Jesus.
Intellectual people need Jesus.
Celebrities need Jesus.
Missionaries need Jesus.
White people, black people, every skin-tone-there-is-kind-of-people need Jesus.
I need Jesus.
We need more of His kindness, more of his mercy, more of His patience towards others.
We need more of His boldness, more of His grace, more of His strength to flee sin.
We need Jesus because His death is what frees us, what makes us righteous in God’s sight.
Me, a fake blonde, blue-eyed muzungu in Tennessee, with too many pairs of shoes… I need Him.
You do too.
We all do.
Thank you Compassion for changing children’s lives around the world, especially my Clare. And thank you Clare, for reminding all of us that we are in desperate need of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Mickey McCloud is an Event Coordinator with Lifeway.