This post is part of Joy’s “12 Causes for Christmas” series. You won’t want to miss out on the other causes. Visit her site for more.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
shall be called sons of God.”
~ Matthew 5:9
Chris Thornton wears his occupation well. He has a banker’s knack for numbers and a penchant for company embroidered shirts. He’s everyday normal, keeps between the lines, lives by the books. Chris is a do-right kind of fellah. He gives the appearance of being risk averse.
A banker he is, through and through. At least that’s what some might say.
I know a different Chris Thornton. A wild-eyed believer. A radical. A man in reckless pursuit of peace and reconciliation.
When I first met Chris—really met him, that is—we sat across the table from one another, separated by a basket of chips and common bowl of salsa. The Invisible Children documentary had led him to a village outside of Jinja, Uganda, he said. He met Pastor Edward, a man struggling to bring the kingdom to a group of widows and orphans. The village was outside of the normal sponsorship networks like Compassion International or World Vision, Pastor Edward had told him. The children were out of sight, out of mind. And to Chris, this was unacceptable.
Chris returned, life interrupted. He visited churches, bringing pictures of the children and giving voice to their stories. He asked for child sponsors and the people answered. In the two years following his trip to Uganda, Chris would build an overwhelmingly large network of sponsors. “It’s almost too much,” he told me. “I just need some help.”
And help was waiting.
Over the course of the following year, I watched Chris spread his grassroots, reaching out to different organizations. One particular organization answered. H.E.L.P., a burgeoning non-profit, was expanding its child sponsorship programs in Haiti and Zimbabwe, and wanted to reach other countries. Their organizational structure was well-established and they were looking to branch out. It was a natural fit.
Chris and H.E.L.P. have now teamed up to make child sponsorship a reality to the small village in Uganda. It’s a miracle. A real one. And sometimes I ask Chris how it all happened. But before he can answer I always say, “It’s because you’re crazy. You allowed your life to be interrupted. And that’s why I like you.”
I could not love the work of Compassion or World Vision more. In fact, read what Deb (World Vision) and Jessica (Compassion) wrote today about those organizations. But before you head off to their places (and I hope you do), would you consider sponsoring a child outside of the reach of the traditional child-sponsor organizations? Would you consider allowing your life to be interrupted?
Remember, there is no competition among Gospel-centered workers, only brotherhood.