Providing A Little Bit of Shade
Back in May, I traveled to Morada Nova, Brazil on behalf of Stadia with a couple of leaders from Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park, IL. The purpose of our trip was to check in on the new church that Parkview helped to plant through the Stadia and Compassion International partnership and to get some video for an upcoming Child Sponsorship Event.
While we were there the temperatures reached 110 °F. It was very hot. The sun in South America is more intense due to being so close to the equator. The high angle of the sun creates oppressive afternoon conditions. It was very noticeable while we were there. In this particular part of Brazil, the climate is very dry and there is very little rainfall compared to the more tropical conditions of the Amazon Rain Forest. As a result, shade is an important commodity in this part of the region. You can imagine how the sun can weaken those who labor and trudge along. It is easy to become dehydrated and doesn’t take long before your whole body is crying out for relief. The people in this village work long hours for pennies on the dollar to try and support their families. It is difficult to say the least.
As we arrived at the new church building, which is by far the largest and most complete facility in the town— with classrooms, kitchen facilities, restrooms, soccer fields and a large worship space— we were greeted by the pastor of the new congregation and many of the children involved in the Compassion programs. They were very excited to meet the leaders from their partner church that lovingly provided the new facility. They had planned a full afternoon of activities for us. The children would sing us some songs, we would eat lunch together, and then we would share in a unique ceremony of sorts. We were asked to each plant a tree sapling in the courtyard of the new church representing each member of the partnership. I was asked to plant a tree in honor of Stadia, the leaders from Parkview planted a tree in honor of their commitment, and the Compassion director planted a tree in honor of Compassion. It was a touching ceremony. Our prayer that day was that these trees would provide shade from the scorching sun for years to come. A fitting prayer with so much rich imagery.
When you are standing in the sun that close to the equator there is nothing to protect you from the power of the sun’s rays. You can literally feel your skin burning. In Psalm 121, it speaks of the sun “smiting” or “striking down.” However, when under the shade of a tree you can feel your energy return. You experience the sensation of relief. In the Psalms, God is referred to as “shade” many times. The Hebrew word for “shade” is “tzel.” Psalm 63:7 speaks of the “shadow (or tzel) of God’s wings.” Also in Scripture the image of “shade” is used to mean “protection.” For instance, in Numbers 14:9, Joshua reassures the people that the Canaanites will not be able to win against them because their protection (shade, tzel, literally) has been removed from them. Without shade, it is impossible to survive in that land, and if their shade has been removed, they are defenseless. The oppressive sun is an excellent metaphor for the conditions many people live in throughout the developing world in South America. Every day they can feel stricken down and oppressed by their poverty. Just needing some place to regain some strength, some hope, some protection for their children
When a church in the U.S. partners with Stadia and Compassion International through planting a new church, you are literally providing shade to people in remote and under-resourced and under-served areas. Through child sponsorship you are helping children growing up in these oppressive conditions find shadow in His wings. Many people are unaware that Compassion will only facilitate sponsorship for children that are connected with a local church. Meaning, if there is not a church in their area, Compassion cannot facilitate sponsorship for the children who need it the most.
This is where Stadia comes in. We help to locate and vet called and affirmed local pastors in South America who are discipling young leaders to be sent out to lead new churches. Once a pastor is identified, we help to connect the new congregation in South America to a church in the U.S. The U.S. church will fund the building of the church’s meeting space, after which Compassion can establish a Child Development Center in the new church building. The partnership is powerful and God-ordained, because it is the shared conviction of both Stadia and Compassion International that the local church is God’s plan to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We believe that Every Child Should Have A Church.
This is how you can help make sure that Every Child Has A Church:
- For a one time gift of $87,000 a church in the U.S. can partner with Stadia and Compassion International to build a church and ministry center where Compassion programs and community services are conducted throughout the week and worship is held on the weekends. The same U.S. church partner is then able to hold a Compassion Sponsorship Event during a Sunday morning gathering so that 200+ children within close proximity of the new church in South America can receive holistic care provided by that church!
Would you consider partnering with us to provide protection from the heat of oppression and shade from the rays of poverty? Would you help us ensure that Every Child Has A Church and the opportunity to fully realize the promise given to them in the Psalms?
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow (tzel) of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1-2
Toney, and his wife, Stacie, have been in ministry for over 25 years. The majority of Toney’s ministry has focused on planting new churches in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Stacie has been in Children’s ministry for more than 20 years and currently serves the church they started in Pittsburgh, PA as Children’s Pastor. Toney and Stacie have two great kids. Their son, Tanner, is finishing up his major at Ozark Christian College and will be moving to Tokyo, Japan where he will be a part of a team to plant a new church. Their daughter Haley will graduate HS in May of 2020 and plans to enter ministry after college and work with children and teens. Toney’s role with Stadia is to build relationships with churches and planters in the Northeast region and to help Stadia plant more churches that intentionally care for children in the Northeast and around the world.