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Commitment 3 - I encourage my younger brother or sister

The aim of all my work is to give you courage. I want you to be united by your love for one another. For only in this way can you understand everything and truly come to know Christ. He is the secret that God has revealed. With him you will find all wisdom and knowledge.

...that their hearts may be encouraged, joined together in love, and come to the full riches of the full assurance of understanding, to know the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.

Colossians 2:2-3 

All glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who loves us, the God who always gives us courage. Whenever I am struggling, God gives me new courage. In this way I can give new courage to other Christians who are going through difficult times. The courage that God gives me, I pass on.

Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, so that we can comfort those who are in all kinds of tribulation, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

But Onesiforus was not ashamed of me when I went to prison. No, when he came to Rome, he searched until he found me. And he often brought me food in prison. I hope the Lord will be good to Onesiforus and his family.

May the Lord have mercy on the house of Onesiforus, for he has often encouraged me and has not been ashamed of my chains.

2 Timothy 1:16

I speak in love

... (for God is love) and I seek to be a source of encouragement. This is especially true for my younger brother/sister, but also for others around me: family, friends and people in my neighbourhood.

When young brothers and sisters talk about how their Alongsiders show their love, they often reply: 'He (or she) encourages me.' Alongsiders encourage their younger siblings with their presence, help them face challenges and affirm each child's ability to persevere and overcome. Together you may not have all the answers to specific problems, but your siblings do not have to go through them alone.

True encouragement is more than just nice words or offering advice. Rather it calls forth a child's full potential recognizing they are created in the image of God. This love always hopes and never fails.

Matha, a seventeen-year-old Alongsider from a village in rural Cambodia, shows this love to her sister Esara, who is nine. Esara's father is away from home six days a week, working in another province far away. Her family is poor, but that is only part of Esara's struggle. Matha saw Esara's deeper need when she always saw Esara alone. 'Her family did not seem to love her much,' says Matha. 'Her mother and sisters always went to the market and left her at home.'

Matha is compassionate, but she doesn't waste time feeling sorry for Esara, knowing that most children in their village struggle with one thing or another. Instead, she encourages Esara and builds her up. Matha says: 'I chose her because I want her to be smart and I want her to be brave.' She knows Esara will need courage to make good choices as she gets older.

Going to school is a choice. Studying is a choice. Having good relationships is a choice. Trust is a choice. Esara needs wisdom and courage to choose well, because forces in society will pressure and mislead her. People will abandon her, as they already have. Many of her peers will quit school and work in factories for a living, and they will invite her to join them. Some of her peers will become single mothers; others will fall into bad marriages. But along the way there will also be opportunities, and Matha believes that God has good things in store for Esara. Truly, her love and encouragement can make a huge difference in her little sister's life.

Encouragement is about communicating in love. You speak and act in love, because God is love. You focus on what is good and give compliments. Communicating in love also means that you dare to tell the other the truth when things go wrong in their life. You encourage the other with positive words / feedback to go back to the source, Jesus, and from there to change what is needed. You encourage and build up the other person. You strengthen the other person to grow in becoming like the Master, Jesus. Being encouraging also means that you are there to comfort the other person when they are having difficulties. You can stand beside the other and cheer him up. You are involved in what is going on in the life of the other person. The foundation of encouraging are relationships!

This commitment requires absolute dedication. It is important that you know your younger brother/sister and know where they need encouragement. This commitment is actually a deepening of the second commitment. It is an investment. By investing and encouraging your younger brother or sister, you are building your relationship!

It is very important that you are there to encourage. You can welcome vulnerable children, make them feel accepted and valued. This requires you to take responsibility and work on an open, loving attitude towards your younger brother or sister.

While you yourself draw from the source that never runs out - Jesus - may you be a source of encouragement for your younger brother or sister, but also in your group of five, at work, in church, during your studies and at home. Don't try to do it on your own! You will not be able to keep it up. Jesus wants to encourage, refresh, strengthen, comfort and uplift you so that, from your relationship with Him, you can be a blessing for your younger brother/sister and your environment.


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