Have you ever tried defining poverty? I mean really trying to write out a definition? Is poverty the lack of resources? Lack of material goods? Lack of water? Lack of housing? Lack of knowing Christ?

Approaching Ruth's home it looked like most homes in the area. Concrete, bricks, dilapidated wood, cardboard and or tin used as protection. Walking up her crooked and uneven concrete stairs we learned that she doesn't own this home. She shares it with her sister and her family that live downstairs and her mother resides upstairs in a room next to hers. We were lead into a room no bigger than 10x12 that contained no window; just a single florescent light bulb. In that space she had one bed and a set of bunk beds, a table, and a dresser. On the chipped concrete floor bags and boxes were neatly organized and stacked under beds and tables. Her cooking supplies shared space on table along with some knitting projects; which she tries to make to earn some money. Ruth shares this space with her 3 children, ages 9, 5, and 9 months. We gathered in front of the bunk beds on plastic chairs and Ruth had welcomed us with a Coke and a bun. She was anxious to show us how the CSP (Child Survival Program) works and shared all the information she was studying along with what her 5 year old was learning at the project. It was when we began to ask Ruth about her life that the dark, sober, and ugliness of poverty reared it's head. Through tears we learned that the children's father had once been a esteemed member of the church, an elder. He began drinking and his life turned away from Christ and into more sin. He has never met his baby and hasn't seen the older children in years. When he comes back home he stays with his family and completely ignores his that at one time was shared with Ruth. He has a job but supplies them with no money. Ruth shared with us how she prays for him to come back. She shared how difficult it is to be in a small space with 3 children and how she can't work steady because of the baby. Also mentioning to us that some days are hopeless for her and she doesn't know how she can go on. But, because of Compassion's CSP program she has a hope in Christ. The 3 of us prayed over Ruth and her children. We prayed for affirmation in who she is in Christ and how her studying and being in God's word is the best encouragement she can get. Ruth's visit was a sober reminder that sometimes poverty is not a choice. Ruth believed she had married a good husband one that would be with her and her children and didn't choose her husband running from Christ or the family they created. She planned on being provided for not abandoned. She didn't chose to rent a home or have her mother become ill that she could not help with the children. And yet, she would still take him if he came back. What Ruth has is Compassion and the staff who love on her like 'Jesus with skin.' The 5 year old who is a sponsored child ensures that Ruth is in the word of God and using it with her children. A staff person from CSP comes to her home at least once a week to love on Ruth and her family and see what needs are there. Ruth is not hopeless, while her surroundings may seem dark and dreary, Ruth is given hope through the Compassion project and because someone, such as yourself, chose a to sponsor a child.

=) With a Smile, Sarah Kolling

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