Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Highlight of My Week

Raphael from Burkina Faso writes with gratitude about celebrating his first Christmas:

I thank God for giving me to celebrate Christmas...This year we are learning Bible verses and poems for Christmas.

He's only had a sponsor since September, so learning about Jesus at all is still new. Praise God that his heart seems full of Him already!

Compassion International runs one of the most successful child rescue missions on earth. Why the success? They do it in Jesus' name! And they understand that you rescue children one by one, knowing that to Jesus each one is a favorite. When you individualize the love and care, hearts and lives change. Hope in the person of Jesus Christ cannot be defeated! When you introduce Jesus Christ--and the child development center workers and the sponsor letters exude His love--Hope takes root on fertile ground. Love is an undefeatable force. Guess who flourishes in its absence?

Call this number to be a part of the miracles today:  800-336-7676  You can sponsor and write to a child for $38 a month, or you can just write to a child regularly (called a correspondent) with no monetary commitment involved, though you can send periodic monetary gifts if you'd like, up to a certain amount. Two per year are allowed, in addition to a birthday and Christmas present. Christmas money is pooled and shared with all the children at one center, so that no one is left out. I believe they manage $15 gifts per child each Christmas, depending on the center size.

No merchandise can be sent from you directly except for flat things that fit in a letter, such as stickers or photos. Gift monies are used to stimulate the local economies--and rightly so if we truly want to bring lasting change to impoverished areas.

Many times businesses sponsor a child and they have no one who will commit to the writing part, so Compassion assigns that child a correspondent. In both Divya's and Raphael's case, that is the situation. We were assigned these children the same month they obtained a business sponsor. Correspondents are also assigned to children who have a sponsor who consistently fails to write. The children are heartbroken when letters never come for them, and a few even leave the program in bitterness because being forgotten sends the same message poverty sends don't matter.

You can give the age, gender, and country you prefer when you call, or you can say you have no preference and leave it up to God. I didn't express a preference in Divya's and Raphael's case and they're perfect for us! But when we sponsored our first child monetarily--Nelson, age 7 from El Salvador--I allowed the boys to pick him based on a picture and a description of his family situation and his interests. The fact that he had no father in his life sealed the deal. That touched my boys' heart. (Go to to sponsor online, or click on the Compassion advertisement on my blog).

If you want to be a correspondent only, you have to use the phone number instead.

Compassion has an online letter tool that makes it very easy to write frequently and include up to 3 photos per letter.  To a child in poverty your letters are more valuable than the best toy money can buy...more valuable than anything money can buy. They savor each one, rereading them often. The most powerful lie of poverty--you don't matter--is defeated by the power of your love, expressed regularly in your letters.

We don't have the luxury of God living among us, ministering to us in the flesh. We must be His presence in each other's lives. He has equipped us to do so through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and He has given us the command in Scripture (see Scriptures below).

We are so blessed with these three children in our lives! There's no way to express the joy they are to us. Not a day goes by that we don't anticipate our mail man's arrival, wondering if we'll get a letter that day. Sponsored children used to write only two or three times per year, but the new policy is that they will respond to every letter you send!

There is a month or two delay in the timing of letter arrival, due to sorting time through the main office in Colorado Springs, which serves all 26 Compassion-assisted countries, and due to time with translators. Individual countries don't have the Internet service and staff to print out and handle the letters by themselves. 

7000 online letters and 70,000 snail mail letters are received each month in Colorado Springs. That's a lot of love! Praise God! Compassion International is the second largest mail producer in Colorado Springs. Here is a look at the entire process:

Meet Nelson, age 7, from El Salvador, with one sibling and his mother dwelling with him. He is average in school and would like to be a teacher when he grows up. He asks us to pray that he passes to the next grade. His mother, he was happy to tell us, recently graduated from cosmetology school! Compassion most likely gave her a loan to attend the school. Even before children are actually sponsored, they receive benefits from the center staff. As soon as they are registered they are ministered to in several ways, such as given supplemental food.

We sponsored Nelson from the longest-waiting list, which I encourage you to do. Ann Voskamp recently sponsored a child in Ecuador who had waited 3 years for a sponsor!


Meet Raphael, from Burkina Faso, Africa, age 12, who lives with two siblings and both parents, who are both laborers for part of the year. Raphael is above average in school and our prayer is that he will qualify for the Leadership Development Program, which will pay for his college education! He asks us to pray specifically for his math ability.


Meet Divya, age 8, from southwest India, who lives with her brother and both her parents, who are also laborers for part of the year. She is average in school and loves to play hide-and-seek with her friends. She is perhaps the most at risk in terms of her school ability. We pray much that she'll be able to catch up.

Most third-world countries do not provide free education. The majority of Compassion-sponsored kids only attend school because the sponsorship money pays for the school fees and the school uniforms. Your monthly commitment also pays for the staff to run a holistic child development center through a partnership with an existing, local Christian church. The children attend church and go to the development center 2 to 5 days a week, for 3 to 4 hours at a time, with extended hours on Saturday. A nutritious snack, or a full meal, is served to them each visit. The most at-risk children also have food sent home with them.

Each family also has regular home visits from a Compassion staff member, to assess individual needs and help decide how to use gift monies. For example, do they need a farm animal for supplemental nutrition, or is a mattress needed more? Or in the case of smaller gifts...are clothes needed, or sacks of rice and beans?

Classes on nutrition, hygiene, and child rearing are provided for parents periodically at the local centers. Parents coming from hopeless situations do not understand how to properly nurture a child--they were never nurtured themselves, in most cases. The words I love you rarely pass lips in abject-poverty situations--yet another reason to include them in your letters.

It often takes several appeals before a person calls the number or visits the website to get  involved. We didn't respond immediately either. A person can know they should, they even want to, but actually taking the step takes time. I encourage you to take the step today. Afterwards, you'll wonder in tears why you didn't do it sooner, believe me. Write down the number and put it in a prominent place.You probably won't revisit this post again, so write it down! If your husband doesn't agree to a sponsorship, just be a correspondent for now. To the child involved, it's the letters that matter most. They won't care (or probably even know, depending on the age) that you aren't the one forwarding the sponsorship money each month. 

Meditate on these verses, and then make the call? I only appeal to you like this because I know the blessing in store for you, and for your Compassion child(ren)...not to mention your own children, who will be radically changed. 

It is my understanding that in the U.S. you can have up to three correspondent children, but you have to space out the calls a couple months; you can't ask for three correspondent children at once. I think they want to make sure you are faithful in your letter writing before assigning you another child? I have a Canadian friend who has more than 3 correspondent children, but the rules are different for each country in some respects--though most aspects of sponsorship are uniform.

We are to love as we would like to be loved. Would you like to live without Hope? Without Love? Without Him? With a dirt floor, no running water or plumbing, and no indoor kitchen or toilet? He is Love and Hope, even in the midst of deplorable conditions.

1 John 13:34
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 15:12
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Galatians 5:14
The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Ephesians 5:2
and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 John 3:11
This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:21
And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

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