A look at caregiving in all its unique forms—here and around the globe
Written by Laura Heming Phillips
When you look at your life, who are the people who have made the biggest impact on you? Who are the ones who have dedicated their time to mentor you, care for you, and help you discover your faith in a real and honest way?
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. This is especially true when it comes to raising disciples of Jesus. For some of us, our parents may be the first people who come to mind when we think of our “village.” But for many others, shepherding and even primary care came from an aunt, grandparent, or a family friend.
Through my work for Compassion Canada, I’ve had the privilege of sharing stories of God working through vibrant people and communities across the globe to raise young disciples. There are stories of children, abandoned, sick, or alone, whose lives have been enriched—and sometimes saved—by someone unexpected. These stories are enough to break my heart and mend it all at once.
I pray that these stunning testaments of God’s heart for community will inspire you to give thanks for your village and compel you to be a part of someone else’s.
The reckless love of an aunt in Kenya
Baby Brian was abandoned by his mother and left behind at his Aunt Nkatha’s Kenyan home when he was just two. Without a second thought, Aunt Nkatha accepted Brian into her home, doing whatever she could to make sure he was cared for.
But she quickly learned that Brian was very sick. Local doctors discovered a hole in his heart. Knowing the journey to healing would be long and expensive, Aunt Nkatha did whatever she could, including registering Brian at a local Compassion centre, to get him the help he needed to survive.
In 2018, Brian received the open-heart surgery he needed to fully heal, thanks to a global community inspired by the many years of prayer, persistence, and provision of Aunt Nkatha. Even with very little to her name, Aunt Nkatha gave everything she had so that Brian could live a long life. Today, Brian is thriving in his community, and Aunt Nkatha’s dream of seeing her nephew develop into a fine young man is now a reality.
The kindness of a stranger in Brazil
Young Eduardo’s mother was ashamed of him ever since she found out she was pregnant. He was born through prostitution. So, one day she dropped him off with relatives and left for good. Eduardo was passed around from one relative’s home to another, but no one wanted an extra mouth to feed.
One day, an 18-year-old named Valdinar visited his brother’s home, which happened to be where baby Eduardo was being kept at the time.
“When I first saw Eduardo at my brother’s house, I asked who that beautiful baby was,” Valdinar says. “They said his mother left, but no one wanted him. That’s when I decided that my mother and I had to take care of him.”
Valdinar was referring to Mrs. Raimunda, the woman who—though not his mother or relative— had raised him. Over the years, 69-year-old Mrs. Raimunda continued to take abandoned children into her home and raise them as her own.
Today, Valdinar and Mrs. Raimunda are raising Eduardo together. Despite the circumstances of his early life, Eduardo is thriving and loved dearly by his new family.
The life-changing impact of a mentor in Ecuador
Growing up, Lesly had a difficult childhood. Her alcoholic father abandoned her at a young age and her mother worked long hours to provide for her and her sister. This forced Lesly to quit school and look for work.
At 14, Lesly met a young man named Leonardo and fell in love. But when he discovered she was pregnant, Leonardo left her. Lesly was once again left feeling completely alone. It was then that she was visited by Johanna, a tutor from a local church, who invited her to be part of Compassion’s program for young moms. Lesly eagerly accepted.
To this day, Johanna visits Lesly’s home each week with words of encouragement, toys for her baby, and a practical lesson. With Johanna, Lesly learns lessons she’s never had the chance to learn before, like cooking, staying healthy, reading, and writing.
“For me, Johanna is like my second mother,” says Lesly. “I don’t feel lonely anymore. I know that God sent an angel to me to take care of me and help me to protect my baby.”
This week, think about the spiritual family God has placed around you. Thank Him for the ways He’s brought these people into your life. Take some time to let them know the impact they’ve had on your life through a simple text or a card.
Want to be a part of a child’s village? Consider sponsoring a child today, on your own or with some friends.