For numerous weeks our life group leaders told us about an event that would be taking place at Liberty University called The Compassion Experience. The Compassion Experience allows you to, in 20 minutes, walk through the life of a child in another country, while listening to their story. When we heard about it we immediately thought it would be a great experience for our kids, especially Selah, as we prepare to move to Tanzania.
So Thursday rolls around. We pack some snacks, get in the car and head to Liberty. We talked a little bit with the kids on our way there so that they would know a little bit what to expect. We arrived at our scheduled time and the volunteers begin handing us headphones and iPods. We decided to walk through Jey’s life. Jey is a little boy who grew up in the slums of Kenya. Poor little Miriam, her headphones were so big and kept falling off, so we decided to leave her’s behind.
It was finally our turn to begin our walk through Jey’s life. The first room we entered was Jey’s mom’s house. It was dark and felt damp and dirty. The audio story was telling us how Jey’s mom made an illegal moonshine to sell to those who wanted to die – this was the only way she could make money to keep her family alive.
As soon as Selah heard the word die she began to cry and as she took off her headphones she looked up at me with terror in her eyes and said “Are we going to die?” At this point Miriam is crying too. I gently picked up Selah and said “No, Selah, we are not going to die.” I held her close and decided to talk about the rooms and the way that many people in Africa lived, as I tried to listen to Jey’s story through one ear. We continued through each room. Next was Jey’s grandma’s house, then a prison, then a school, and finally a side street.
As we left the last room we were greeted by more Compassion volunteers. I was explaining to one of the ladies that we came because our family is getting ready to move to Tanzania in August. As I was talking to her I just started crying. Like the kind of cry that comes out of nowhere and there is nothing you can do to stop it. I tried to explain how it hit me for the first time that this adventure we are about to take is not always going to be fun and exciting. I was able to see briefly, through the eyes my sweet Selah, that there may be scary times ahead for our kids. They are going to see and experience a lot of things that the average Western child will never understand. This journey is going to have hard days.
The average person would probably ask “Why? Why are you leaving the comfort of our privileged country to go to a place where life is hard and maybe even scary at times?”
Did you know in Tanzania alone there are still about 25 unreached people groups. These are people who do not know about the HOPE and SALVATION that comes through knowing and following Jesus.
That is why we are going.
By God’s grace, we were born into a country where we have had the opportunity to go to church and learn about Jesus all of our lives. Our children will have the same. But there are children, just like our precious Selah, Miriam and Gideon, and their parents and grandparents, who are growing up and growing old without hope. How amazing that we get to be a part of bringing that HOPE to some of them.
Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it. Yes, a thousand times yes!
Please be praying for our family as we continue to prepare to leave for Tanzania in August, just 6 short months from now. Please be praying for our children. Pray that we would help prepare them well and that we would help them see that it is a JOY to follow Jesus, wherever He may take us. Please be praying that the Lord would continue to provide both prayer and financial partners to take this journey with us. We are currently about 60% funded and are trusting God to bring us to 100% by June of this year!
Thank you so much for reading and for praying!
Making Him Known,
Jamie (for the Sharpes)