I just spent the weekend at a Youth Conference in Dallas Texas. It currently is the highlight of my speaking events this year. There are many stories to share, too many to even begin, so I want to share just this one.
I met Matthew on Saturday. He's 12 and in the sixth grade. I could tell instantly that Matthew is a kid that hangs on his own. He doesn't run with a crowd. He likes doing his own thing and is completely confident in that. I have a lot of admiration for a kid his age to be comfortable in his own skin and not succumb to peer pressure of fitting in.
Matthew came to see me to tell me about the little girl he is sponsoring through Compassion Int. (Compassion had a table set up right next to mine this weekend.) He was so excited to find this little girl who is five years old, lives in a small village in Africa and has a birthday only five days from his. He told me he wanted to sponsor her because she loves going to her church and playing games and helping wherever she can. He thought it was amazing that a five year old wanted to spend so much time helping out at church and Matthew decided he wanted to encourage her in her faith. So at 12yrs old, Matthew on his own, is going to save his allowance, do extra chores to earn more money so that he can encourage this little five year old in her faith. He wants her to grow up and know how much Jesus loves her.
I fell in love with Matthew at that moment. I could see the kindness in his eyes and the bigness of his heart. I told him I have met a bunch of sponsored kids through Compassion and he was so interested in knowing what their school is like, what kind of food do they get, does their family get help? He had all sorts of adult questions about how much help this little girl was going to get with his money. He wanted to make sure that she was going to be able to read, because you see, Matthew LOVES to read! So we started to talk about books and what books he was reading right now and what he loves to read. Matthew loves to read anything, but right now he is reading "How to care for Toddlers." "You're reading what?" was my response.
The story gets better, and yes its real. Matthew doesn't know where his father is. He lives with his mother, his two sisters and six cousins all under the age of seven in a three bedroom house. Some of these cousins are second cousins from his mother's sisters, but his mom takes care of them for extra grocery money. Matthew wants to help his mother out so she isn't so stressed, so he is reading up on how to take care of toddlers.
Matthew became my right arm for the weekend. He helped me at my sales table, we watched the talent show together, we hung out at the dance while we talked about books and music and girls and friends.
Matthew is an incredible little boy who taught me so much about loving others. He showed me that excuses don't count when there are people who need us. That even when I feel like money is tight, there are others who need it more. That sacrifice is a love offering. He showed me what a servants heart looks like. I had the great honor of meeting a wonderful little boy who lives to help those around him and to make a difference in the world. A 12 year old boy taught me what God's love looks like in real life. I may speak about it, but Matthew is living it day after day after day.