Education Around The World

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Worldwide, nearly 80 percent of primary school age children attend school.  In least developed countries, this figure is around 66 percent.

The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 45.5 million children of primary school age are out of school.

Of the 67 million primary school age children who do not attend school, 53 percent are girls.

Worldwide, only 49 percent of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school.

Of the 49 percent of secondary age students who do not attend school, 52 percent are girls.

The world’s functional illiterates include more than 130 million children who do not attend school, 73 million of them girls.

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– Jacob

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My Compassion International Sponsorship Story

Back before my junior year of college my room mate texted me with the idea of sponsoring a child through Compassion International.  I thought it was a great idea!  When we got to school in the fall we quickly signed up and picked a kid based on what we thought was a cool name.  Through praying for him, writing him letters and receiving letters back from him my life has been changed as I constantly think about this boy I’ve never met who lives halfway across the world in a totally different lifestyle than me.

Compassion International has set up this website for the next month which encourages people to share their story of how they got involved sponsoring someone with the hope that new people would feel encouraged to sponsor a child.  Through my page you are provided to sponsor a child named Aziz who lives in the same country as my child.  Give it a look.  Pray about it.  Share it.  You could make a difference in someone’s life and I guarantee it will make a difference in yours.

http://my.compassionsunday.com/TheBros

-Jacob

Love For 2014

I got a blogging assignment from Compassion International the other day to come up with a word to embody 2014.  I was originally confused and wasn’t sure I’d write on this topic.  How was I supposed to know the word that would properly embody the year?  I’m sure that nobody in 2012 thought that “selfie” would be the word of the year for 2013.

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But then I decided to choose the word that I want to embody my 2014.  Kind of my 2014 mantra.  Sure, there will be some new and meaningless trend that takes over in 2014 but I want my defining word to be more meaningful.  So I have chosen the word “love”.  I want my year to be filled with love.  I want to more love than I did in 2013.  I want to love my wife more.  I want to love my family and friends more.  I want to love my job more.  I want to help lead others to show love to their peers more.  

I realize that this sounds kind of cheesy.  It actually makes me think of my least favorite part of one of my favorite albums.  John Mayer’s live album Where The Light Is is an amazing album but during his cover of “Bold As Love” he bursts into this little rant that is, in my opinion, one of the dumbest things ever.  I can’t help but laugh every time it comes on.  Here is an portion of it:

“…and it’s gonna sound really corny but that’s just love. That’s just love.

I’ve done everything in my life that I’ve wanted to do except just give and feel love for my living. And I don’t mean like: Roman-candle-firework-Hollywood-hot-pink-love. I mean like: I-got-your-back-love!

I don’t need to hear I love you. You guys love me, I love you. We got that down. But some of the people who will tell you they love you, the same people who’re gonna last just have your back.

So, I’m gonna experiment with this love-thing. Giving love, feeling love. I know it sounds really corny but it’s the last thing I got to check out before I check out.”

So, as John Mayer puts it, I’m gonna experiment with this love thing in 2014.  It’s gonna be tough at times and I’m definitely going to need to rely on God a lot to get through it at times but I can really learn how to love others by viewing how He loves me.

-Jacob

Help The Philippines

If you haven’t heard already, on November 8th, 2013 a typhoon named Haiyan (or Yolanda to the local people) made landfall in the Philippines.  Haiyan is the strongest recorded typhoon to hit land with wind speeds of up to 195 mph.  Growing up in south Texas, I’ve been through a few tropical depressions and hurricanes but none of them compare to the devastation that this storm has caused. The governor has estimated that 10,000 people may have died in the city of Tacloban alone.  The UN has reported that 11 million people may have been affected and left homeless.

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The people of the Philippines need help.  They will continue to need help for a long time.  Here are a few ways to help out:

1) Pray

Pray for the people of the Philippines.  Pray for the people who are missing family members or children who have been displaced by flood waters.  Pray for people who have lost their homes.  Pray for people who will not have food for a long period of time.  Pray for them continually.  This is not a problem that will be solved in a week.  Just because the news stops talking about it doesn’t mean its all better.

2) Spread the word

Surprisingly, many people are not aware that this happened.  It’s been 5 days since the typhoon hit and there are people who have no idea.  By helping to spread awareness you are giving more people the opportunity to pray and get involved in different ways.

3) Donate

Donate money.  There are many different organizations you can donate through including Compassion International, Red Cross, Samaritans Purse or many more.  Just be sure that you are donating through a credited organization and you aren’t being scammed.  It is a sad reality that there are some people who will take advantage of people in times like this.

Pray for the Philippines.

-Jacob

How Can You Help Today

“Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve.  As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?”
-Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr

Poverty is an issue that we will always have.  I don’t say this to encourage taking no action, but just to make a point.  You cannot simply sit around and say the problem will be gone soon so you don’t have to worry.  Even if every single person on Earth suddenly gained one billion dollars there would still be poor people when compared to others.  The poverty line would just change to mean people with only one billion.

To take it further, Jesus said in the gospels that we will always have the poor among us.  Once again, this is not to give us an excuse to do nothing but rather to show the reality of the world.  There will always be poor, but that also mean there will always be an opportunity to serve.

What can you do today to enrich someone else’s life?  Whether you help someone with a physical task, make a small donation to charity or decide to make a long commitment such as sponsoring a child what are you going to do today to help the less fortunate?  And then when you wake up tomorrow ask yourself all over again.

-Jacob

Shoes

I’m not a shoe guy.  I recently bought a new pair of Vans despite my wife telling me it wasn’t a wise decision because I’ll hardly wear them.  I think I’ve worn them maybe 4 times in a few months.  Sigh… she was right.

I just don’t really like shoes.  And I don’t like socks either.  I just don’t like the feeling.  I prefer to be barefoot or wearing flip flops.  When I went to moved away from southern Texas to attend college in Kansas I tried to go through the winter in flip flops still out of some weird determination to not wear shoes.  I eventually caved but would still only wear cheap $10 shoes from Wal-Mart and I would of course wear them without socks.  But when I saw this picture it really hit me.

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A lot of people in this world need shoes and don’t have them.  Thats why companies like TOMS and Soles4Souls exist and continue to succeed because the need is so vast.  Now you may have differing thoughts and opinions on these companies, I know not everyone thinks they do good for the people they try to help, but I’m not trying to promote those organizations in this post.

Look at the shoes in the picture above.  They are beyond worn out.  I can honestly say I’ve never worn a pair of shoes to that state before.  I used to have a job at a fast food type place on my college’s campus where I had to wear closed toes shoes.  I would get fryer grease and milkshake splatter on them each week and after a few months of wearing them through all that nastiness with the added grossness of wearing them with no socks (yeah, I know) I would throw them away and get new ones.  I wouldn’t even think twice about it.  They were expendable to me.  But I would bet the person above does not have the same mindset.  I would bet those are their only pair of shoes.  They will hold on to them and cherish them as long as they can.

We can’t see the face of the person in that picture.  It could be a number of kids from across the world.  It could the child I sponsor through Compassion, Pascal.  I do not know if he has shoes to wear everyday.  It’s a possibility that he does not.  It could be someone from his town.  It could be someone waiting on the Compassion website right now waiting to be sponsored.  But whoever it is I bet that they are more thankful for those shoes than I am for a lot of things I take for granted each day, including my own shoes.

-Jacob

Change

I hate change.

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Ever since I’ve been old enough to save money I have really hated change.  There is no way to keep it in a wallet, it clutters and weighs down your pants pockets and I’ve never been much of a piggy bank guy.  In high school and college I used to just drop my change in the parking lot as I walked back to my car from whatever store I may have been coming out of.  Sometimes I would be with friends who would scream “bro, what are you doing” and pick it up for themselves, but I just never saw a value in it.  Except quarters, I always keep quarters.

Recently though I’ve begun to see the benefits of change.  I’ve watched my sister stop and pick up every single penny she sees and collect it for a year and was surprised how much money she has now.  I recently took some change to Coinstar and was surprised that it was about $10 more than I expected.  Slowly but surely change can add up.

I love change

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This time of the year is by far my favorite time of the year.  The first day of fall up until Christmas day is the absolute best!  There is simply no debating that.  The leaves on the trees begin to change colors and make for a beautiful sight each and every day.  The weather begins to change and the cooler weather means you’ll be changing your wardrobe along with it.  Maybe most importantly, the Starbucks menu changes into arguably the most popular menu in the world with pumpkin spice lattes and salted caramel mochas.

It’s just a great time of year and the changes are wonderful!

We can make a change

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 Making a difference, making an impact, changing the world – these seem like daunting statements.  And they really are if you think you have to do it all yourself.  But making a change in the world isn’t something that happens overnight.  Just like you have to slowly collect change to get $20 at the Coinstar or how it takes weeks/months for the trees to change colors and the weather to cool off it takes small steps to make a big change in the world.  Don’t be discouraged because you won’t be the one to solve world hunger or the one who can donate thousands to end poverty.  Just do what you can.

Talk to a friend who is having a rough time, spend time volunteering, sponsor a child through Compassion or help your family out at home.  Just do what you can. 

How are you going to make a change?

-Jacob

Message To My Childhood Self

I’m not one to really think about how I would go back in time and change things for myself.  I am pretty content with the choices I’ve made and I am of the school of thought that thinks even my “mistakes” made me to the person I am today so I’m not sure that changing them would be in my best interest.  If you’ve seen the movie “The Butterfly Effect you may understand my thought process even more.

So it is safe to say that I haven’t really thought about what I’d say to myself if I could go back in time.  To be honest, I’d probably try and do something like Biff does in Back To The Future 2″ and give me information that I could use to make a profit off of.  But if I really think about it I would probably tell myself the most cliche answer of all time: Be yourself.

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By the time I got to high school I had this pretty much figured out.  There is no need to try and “fit in” or to fake enjoying something else just because all the other people are doing it.  But in elementary school, fourth through sixth grade, I tried to alter myself to what others were doing.

I started wearing this obnoxious chain necklace for a while because other kids at my school had them.  In 6th grade I gelled my hair straight back with admittedly too much hair gel because a popular kid in my class did the same thing to his hair.  Thankfully I could not find any pictures from that phase.  But I was doing these outward things that were not me just to try and fit in when what I really needed to do was just be myself.

God created each and every one of us special for a reason.  If He needed someone to have certain traits or characteristics He would have given them to that person.  You are who you are for a reason even if it isn’t clear to you at this time.  Now thats a message worth sharing to anybody.  We can’t go back in time and tell our younger versions, but we can share that message today.

You have the option to share it with a sibling, a friend, a niece or nephew.  I try to share it with the kids in my youth group each week and my sponsored child as I write to him each month.

Be Yourself.  Who do you need to tell?

-Jacob

Compassion International Blog Month

The month of September is Compassion International’s Blog Month.  Who is Compassion?  What is blog month?  Perhaps this video can explain:

My college roommate and I sponsor a child together through Compassion and I personally think it is a great organization doing great things.  I remember reading somewhere a study & comparison of Compassion and similar organizations and it basically concluded that Compassion has a greater impact on lives.  I could not find that right now no matter what magic phrase I type into Google.  I did however find this researchbut some may say its biased since Compassion put it on.

Anyways, during the month of September I will be posting on here a few different times with topics that I get from Compassion.  I have no idea what they will be but I am looking forward to it.  The ultimate goal of this is to help spread the word and to get others to sponsor children through them so I would ask that if you see a post that you like to share it.  Tweet it.  Post it on Facebook.  Pin a link to it.  You can help make a big difference!

-Jacob