by BEVERLY YEARWOOD
I became a born again Christian in 1978 during a devastating African Famine. The images on the television of sick, crying, starving, fly-infested children were forever branded into my heart. I remember as if it was yesterday throwing my tear-covered face down into our shag carpet and begging God to take their suffering away. That day I made a vow to God that one day I would make a difference for children suffering because of extreme poverty.
In 2011, I sponsored Daniel from Uganda through Compassion International. I learned a lot about being a good sponsor through Compassion’s online community (ourcompassion.org). I fell in love with this ministry during my training to become a volunteer child advocate. It amazed me how Jesus is the focus of every aspect in this ministry. Compassion International exists to glorify God. They are giving the eternal hope of Jesus to these children. There is no greater tool for releasing a child from poverty than having child-like faith in Jesus.
As a blogger for Compassion, I decided to interview formerly sponsored child Laurent Hategekimana. This interview became the beginning of a partnership in which God would perform countless miracles in just a few short weeks.
Laurent proudly told me how God provided for him through Compassion’s ministry, through an encouraging sponsor, and by helping him to achieve a full academic scholarship to Kigali Health Institute where he graduated with Honors receiving his Bachelor of Dental Therapy Degree. He told me of his struggles to find employment in his third world community. Instead of becoming discouraged, he refuses to sit at home with knowledge and skills, so he volunteers his services to the people in his community where the average wage is $15 USD per month. He enjoys giving back to his community and chose this field of study due to being treated and healed from oral disease while enrolled in the Compassion program.
Laurent is now assisting me with my advocacy ministry. I find sponsors for the children at this center, and Laurent spends his Saturdays at the center telling the children about their new sponsors, taking pictures, and being a mentor.
Laurent’s grandmother is paralyzed, forcing her to spend her entire life in bed. Laurent often carries her outside to enjoy the sunshine, but she is unable to go to church because she lacks a wheelchair. Finding out that there were others like her in the community, Laurent and I have developed an outreach ministry in his Compassion-assisted church to provide wheelchairs so that the church can go into the community and bring these immobile citizens to church. This will allow the church to meet the needs in the community and spread the gospel to un-churched people. This ministry not only makes life better here on earth, it gives them a chance at having an eternal life.
He told me that he hopes to be an encouragement to young people to show them that your circumstances don’t dictate your future. He wants others to hear his story so that they will put their faith in God.
The Rwandan genocide did catastrophic damage to the country’s infrastructure, but Laurent believes that through hard work and faith in God it can be restored. Laurent wishes to pursue his education in the USA since there is no opportunity for higher learning in his field in Rwanda.
I knew that God wanted me to be an advocate for this young man’s education. I knew this burden I felt for Laurent was placed upon me for God’s purpose to be fulfilled. I am completely inadequate for this difficult challenge, but I know that God is working through my weaknesses for his power to be revealed.
I committed to help Laurent figure out a way to study in America. After researching his options, I told him that it would be impossible. He reminded me that with God all things are possible. I thought that he was being unrealistic in trying to achieve such an impossible dream. He reminded me of how unrealistic Noah, David, and Moses were in everyone else’s eyes; but faith brought them victory. He honestly feels that becoming a surgeon is God’s will and that it will be done, so giving up is not an option. This will not be easily accomplished, but Laurent has never had it easy, so adversity simply motivates him.
We have been busy preparing documents, submitting applications, making phone calls, sending emails, setting up appointments, and telling his story to all who will listen. Some say we are wasting our time, but we are doing all that we can so that we will be ready when God does what we can’t! We believe that God is already preparing the hearts of others to provide him with a way to finish his education.
It amazes me how God has brought a network of people around the world together all because of God’s love for one young man in Africa. God provides through the hearts of others.
Laurent needed support; God sent Compassion. Laurent needed encouragement; God sent a sponsor. Losing his father at two, Laurent needed a father figure, and God sent Bob Becker, who Laurent proudly refers to as “Dad”. Laurent needed a voice so that his story could be heard, so he sent me. God did not need me to complete this mission, but I am so thankful that he allowed me to be part of it.
Although Laurent lives in extreme poverty with no running water, no electricity, and no income, he is rich in faith. As for his education, where there is a will there’s a way and where there is God’s will, Jesus will make a way.
I am so thankful that God put Laurent in my life to teach me to never put a limit on what God can do.
Beverly Yearwood is a Vicksburg resident and a member of Bowmar Baptist Church. Learn more about Compassion International through www.ourcompassion.org.