Instead of the five minute drive to our church Sunday morning, Marcie and I drove for an hour to go to another church. We are very happy at First Baptist Church, and not just because it is close to home. We are involved in great ministry and have a wonderful family at FBC. However, this week we drove over to Calvary Temple Church in Concord to fulfill a part of our new calling to help deliver children from the grip of extreme poverty. This was our first time volunteering with Compassion International, but it certainly won’t be our last.
Since neither of us has been to a Compassion Experience event before, the first thing we did when we arrived on site was go through two of the stories to get familiar with what others would later see. Then we were given our assignment, helping guest as they finished the experience and either left or stayed to go through another child’s incredible story. Almost everyone kept their headsets and iPod to go through the experience again.
Later, as church services let out and things got busy, I was asked to work in the room where the sponsorship packets were available. Guest exited the experience and entered a room with sponsorship packets lining the walls. Many lingered for some time looking at the packets, deciding who they would sponsor, praying, thinking, talking it over with family. They were deeply touched by the stories they had witnessed. Some already sponsored children, and were choosing another, or two, or three. Families allowed children to pick a child to sponsor, using the time as an opportunity to teach and encourage and pray. The very first thing people were encouraged to do after choosing a child to sponsor was pray for that child and to write a short prayer on a card in the packet. The cards were tacked to a bulletin board, and will be sent to the children so they will know they are being prayed for. I wish I had pictures. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in what was going on I never thought to get my camera or take out my phone for a snapshot, so there are no pictures except the one at the top which I took as we were leaving. Sorry.
Some who were already sponsoring children said the experience made their sponsorship “more real,” and help them to identify more closely with what life for their child might be like. Someone said it helped her, “connect” with her sponsored child and “be part of their world.”
One of the stories Marcie and I went through before our shift began was that of a girl from India. We chose her because we sponsor a girl in India and hoped it would help us to understand more about her and the culture she lived in. It did. It happened that the girl in the story, Brinda, is from the same area as Shahana, the girl we sponsor. It seems likely they may have attended the same Compassion center, though Brinda has grown, left the Compassion program, and is now giving back. Her story gave us a better understanding, and fresh encouragement and perspective about our sponsorship. You can meet Brinda in the Compassion Experience promotion video in my previous post.
Like other sponsors I spoke with, Brinda’s story helps me to better visualize what life might be like for Shahana. It certainly gives us something to talk about in our next letter. One of the most compelling events Brinda talks about is about her grandmother’ grave illness. She was hospitalized due to her illness. The prognosis was not good. She was dying. Brinda told the family that one true God, “Father God,” she had learned about at the Compassion center could heal her grandmother and they should have some come a offer prayers for her. Putting her off, the family called in a Hindu holy man to plead with one of the thousands of Hindu deities. Nothing. Brinda’s grandmother moved closer to death. The family called someone else to administer healing herbs and such along with prayer beads of some kind, and her grandmother continued to decline. Finally, at Brinda’s insistence, a Christian, someone known to the Compassion center staff, was called in to pray. The next day Brinda’s grandmother was on the road to recovery. There is a glimpse of Brinda, her grandmother, and other family in the video about 45 seconds in.
As a result of this miraculous healing, Brinda tells us her mother, grandmother and sister are now believers in the one true God. Compassion works; not just for the sponsored child, but also for their families, friends, and even their community.
This story reminds me of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18). We serve the one true God, and he is a God who works miracles. People tell me that it will take a miracle to defeat poverty. Perhaps they are right. I don’t know, but if they are, that is a miracle I want to be part of. Miracles often happen one person at a time, one child sponsored at a time. The story we are told is that poverty can’t be defeated. I want to change the story, and I do that by first sponsoring a child, and now by asking you to sponsor a child. Extreme poverty is on its way out. It just need a little miracle to push it out the door. You can be that miracle.
Help change the story by sponsoring a child.
Drop me a line and ask me about my own sponsorship experience. I would be thrilled to talk to you about it. Or you can leave a note in the comments.
Note: While I may have been remiss about getting pictures of our Change Tour experience, Chelsea Hudson, who writes a blog called “Do a Little Good,” was not. Read her post and see her pictures here.