These Beautiful Children

We do not always know how to pray for them, these beautiful children that knock at the doors of our heart.

They both look awkward in their photos. He is 12, stands solemn and serious, as if he might feel a bit too old for this posed moment in front of a camera. She is 6, stands still as if it took every ounce of energy to *not* move. There is a spark in her eyes that belies her stiff posture.

I cannot imagine their lives, these children, where poverty is defined as a daily quest for physical survival. I’m sure they cannot imagine my life, where the ‘sacrifice’ of one night of dining out more than covers a month’s worth of schooling and basic supplies for them.

Sometimes my prayer is simply giving thanks that these children can be part of our lives, and that we can be part of theirs. It seems so small, this bridge between our worlds, but it is a start.

Many times I think of the hopes and dreams I have for my own children, and pray this for them as well.

…That they can see a doctor when they are sick.

…That their family can earn enough money to buy food this month.

…That they have good friends that encourage them.

…That there aren’t bullies at school.

…That they are learning from their studies.

…That they are growing healthy and strong.

…That they would know how much Jesus loves them.

Young Man’s prayer, on the other hand, is a consistently enthusiastic and to-the-point request that the children and their families would be “A-Okay!” (and yes, he somehow manages to evoke an exclamation point each and every night).


Perhaps not the most commonly used theological term, but I hear Young Man’s heart and think of the Hebrew concept of ‘shalom’ – peace and wholeness and rightness in all aspects of life. Yes, this is a magnificent prayer, that all would be made right in their world, in *our* world together.

I struggle to know what it means to live this request for Shalom, and not simply pray it. To change the global economy and intricate systems of power seemingly beyond any individual’s control – factors of production and consumption, labor, environment, politics. These are important, critical…and overwhelming. Our monthly financial sponsorship dwarfs ridiculously in comparison, but it is a start, at least for us, at least for these two beautiful children.

And somehow ~ in ways I can’t understand ~ we need these children as much as they need us. We need to learn from each other, to receive as well as to give, to be challenged as well as to encourage. And my soul needs to be reminded that material poverty is never simply a number. Poverty always has a face.

For daily food, for hearts soft towards God and soft towards others, for Shalom.

We do not always know how to pray for them, these beautiful children that knock at the doors of our heart.

To learn more about sponsoring a child,
Compassion International.