A Compassion Child Advocate Interview

27 03 2009

The Appointment

As a volunteer Area Coordinator for Compassion International, I routinely meet with people interested in becoming Child Advocates.  The application process includes an interview which I prefer to conduct in person.  It’s not required, but I enjoy meeting and getting to know these folks in person. Earlier this week, I scheduled an interview with a young man named Courtney who is an active duty Marine officer.  We met early in the evening to accommodate his work schedule and young family.  I am blessed with a flexible work schedule and wanted to make it convenient for him.

The Inconvenience

As the time to meet neared, a sense of inconvenience swept over me and I seriously considered canceling.  I pondered the thirty-two miles over and thirty-two miles back.  I hadn’t met him yet, so he wouldn’t mind, would he?   I am a volunteer, after all, and what difference would a day make?   Really, in the big picture, what difference could one little cancelation possibly make?  Immediately realizing my self-centeredness, gave myself a quick “get off your butt” talk and headed out.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10

The Interview

I met him at the worlds lowest cost office space; Starbucks. Their network of convenient meeting locations makes my job a lot easier.  That, and there is typically a Jamba Juice nearby, which is, in my opinion, is a huge bonus.  Courtney turned out to be an awesome young man and was quickly convinced he was going to make a great Child Advocate.   I haven’t met his wife, Samantha, but my guess is they are going to make a huge Kingdom impact.

We spent about an hour getting to know each other.  We talked about the history of Compassion, how the organization is structured and the commitment he had just made as a Level II Child Advocate. He seemed really clear on everything, so I asked the routine  “do you have any questions?” question.  He had one.

When Do I Get My Children?

“How and when will we get our twelve sponsored children?”

Confused, I backed up and explained his commitment as a Level II Child Advocate – six self-generated activities per year, a minimum of twelve new sponsorships to Compassion annually, one new church relationship during his tenure as an Advocate, and helping to staff Compassion events as necessary.  He looked more puzzled than before, and now, so did I.

He simply said, “Before Samantha and I filled out the Compassion Child Advocate Application, we prayed about it for a very long time.  We knew that sponsoring twelve children was going to be a big step for us, but we agreed that it is a commitment we were willing to make.  I thought that’s what it took to be a Level II Advocate.”

I remain stunned and in awe of this young man; his dedication to our country, the example he and his wife are setting for their children, and most of all their pure and selfless faith.

I was speechless.

All I could come up with was, “Courtney, my friend, welcome to the Network.”

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18


How I Became A Compassion Child Advocate

30 11 2008

img_0075_kirk_little_boy-1Growing Up with DDT

I must have been about five when my Mom introduced the pill powered toy scuba diver to my collection of bathtub exploration devices. The toy scuba diver quickly became one of my favorites and was the star of my bathtub re-enacted episodes of Sea Hunt, the TV show where Mike Nelson took on the bad guys of the aquatic underworld in daring scenes of hand-to-hand underwater combat. Mike Nelson was every kids role model in 1960 and in the midst of those bathtub battles I was convinced someday I would be disarming nuclear missiles and rescuing downed Air Force pilots. 

This was a great time to be a kid in the United States, where warm summer days were filled with hours of outdoor activities, drinking from garden hoses and snacking on wild sour grass. Author Billy Bryson in his book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, describes this time as “…when automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you.” 

This was the decade when President Kennedy would ask our nation to send a man to the moon and return him safely to earth. This was the decade of Viet Nam, the civil rights movement a drug-induced cultural revolution. This was the decade when two Kennedy’s and a King would be assassinated. I was too young to grasp the gravity of these events, but I could sense it because it troubled my parents.

Candy Instead of Christ

God wasn’t in our family. There was a feint attempt by my parents to go to church, but they were never very serious about it. My Dad insisted the church just wanted his money, justified by his being asked by a church elder to donate money for a new organ at the church. That was all the evidence he needed to confirm this “church thing” as a racket. But at least we were going to church. Until one Sunday, I realized they were dropping me off but not attending the grown-up services. That was all the evidence I needed to decide it was okay for me not to go too, so for the next few weeks I walked around downtown buying candy with the money intended for the offering. It didn’t take long for me to be found out and that was the end of church for our family.

It’s unfortunate, because I was another forty years figuring out that I needed God in my life. I needed a transfusion of what God had for me to replace everything I had put there. Perhaps not everything, but a lot. Not that I wasn’t being blessed. My life was great and I have a terrific family, but I missed out on so much by not having the benefit of a relationship with Him. I also missed out on not knowing who to thank for the great things that were happening or a counselor to go to when they weren’t. 

A popular C.S. Lewis quote states that God often uses a megaphone to get our attention. This was mostly true for me, but for some it’s more like a gentle gravitational pull in His direction. I have been blessed enormously through my relationship with Christ, as He has caused me to grow in ways previously unknown to me. His firm but gentle guidance has led me to a better understanding of who He is and who I am not.

And that is all one can ask.

[This is the first of a series on “How I Became A Compassion Child Advocate]

What Are You Thankful For?

28 11 2008


Taking up a position on the long leather couch I begin to drift off. In those fuzzy moments between consciousness and the turkey induced coma, my thoughts turn inward. I’m thinking how lucky I am. I vow to be more thankful.

More thankful for my family, my church and my nation. More thankful for the gift of health, intelligence and creativity. For clean water, air and abundant food. Thankful to have growing relationships with children I sponsor who know what it means to give thanks for their daily bread. I pray that others will choose to sponsor children in poor countries.

Thankful that my God knows me and loves me. And I am thankful to spend this day with a church family that feeds my body and my soul. I am filled.

Oh yeah, and I am thankful for the nap.

What are you thankful for?

They Don’t Hit Me At Church

17 11 2008
A very compelling video from worship leader Steven Van Kranenburg during his 2007 trip to Bolivia to meet his Compassion Sponsored Child and his family. Emmanuel is Steven’s sponsored child and this emotional meeting is sure to inspire you to reach out and help a child in need.
I pray that after watching this video, you too will choose to sponsor a child.

Posted by email from Who, Me? (posterous)

Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

The Little Girl In The White Dress

17 11 2008
Our first glimpse of Roxana was as she turned and tore off up a hill. Out of sight, she lost her footing on the loosely placed rocks which served as stairs leading up a steep, rocky path which led to her home and she went down on her knee. Tears running down her eyes she made her way home where she disappeared into the mud walled cube she called home.
Eventually, our small group of Compassion Child Sponsors, made our way up to the hill and to her home where we were warmly greeted by her Grandfather. We could hear Roxana inside, softly sobbing as she tended to her knee. She had been excited for days about our visit and had planned to have her best white dress on when we arrived. This was not a good time for a bloody knee.
Moments later, still wiping tears from her face, she appeared in the doorway wearing her pretty white dress. She was beaming with pride and excited to be the center of attention. Now we all had teary eyes.
$2 Day

Roxana lives in rural El Salvador with her mother, grandfather and baby brother. They survive on the small amount of support grandpa receives from the government. With an income of less than $2 day, this family has few options. Life is extremely difficult for her family. They live in abject poverty. This isn’t the “I can’t afford a new pair of blue jeans” poverty, but the “one meal a day if we are lucky,” kind of poverty. This is hanging on by a very thin thread.
Help Is Hope

But Roxana and her family have hope because she has a sponsor. A Compassion Child Sponsor who has invested themselves personally and financially in the life of this little girl. She is one of nearly a million children sponsored by people like you and me through the ministry of Compassion International. Compassion International is a Christian child advocacy ministry seeking to release children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. They do it by partnering with the local church to operate local programs, like the one Roxana attends, which provide:
• Christian training
• Educational opportunities
• Treatment & training to maintain child health
• Development of self-confidence & social skills
• Key life skills & vocational programs
For $32 month you can give a child like Roxana the hope that comes from a loving, committed Christian relationship. The relationship you develop with your sponsored child will allow them the opportunity to live a healthy, fulfilled life.
Will You Help?

There are many Roxana’s out there who need you in their lives. For less than a Latte per day you could help give a child the hope of a future.
If you don’t have a good cause of your own, would you consider joining ours?
Sponsor a child in poverty and change two lives.


See and download the full gallery on posterous



Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

Angel The Farmer

13 11 2008

Following Angel

Following Angel


Three Acres, No Mule

It was a hot, humid day in rural El Salvador as Angel led eight of us, here on a Compassion Sponsor Tour, along a meandering path that he travels daily between his crops and his home. The path links Angel to the three things most important to the survival of his family; food, shelter and water. We followed the path for nearly a mile before arriving at a three acre parcel of land situated on the side of a steep mountain. I have never seen corn grown on such steep land. He owns this land with his father, having had to sell his own parcel to pay off some debt.  

Angel had taken the day off of work to be with us, rising well before dawn to make this same trip so he could pick fresh corn in anticipation of our visit. As we were “helping” Angel pick corn (if he had to rely on us, he’d be in trouble!) he told us about how he harvests his crops by hand, many times alone. He also works his home garden by night which includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruit trees and fish. 

Family Of Five on $1,200 Year

In addition to working his crops and home garden, Angel works full-time as a fertilizer salesman at a local feed and grain store. All in an attempt to feed his family of five and keep up with the interest payments on his debt. Unemployment, sickness and natural disaster are ever present, and with an annual income of less than $1,200 per year, any change is circumstances could be devastating.

Help Is Hope

But fortunately for Angel, a Compassion Child Development Project operates within a mile of his home. And with all three of their children enrolled in the local project, their odds of becoming healthy, fulfilled Christian adults increases significantly. Individual Child Sponsors have made a personal commitment to this family, ensuring they will receive;

  • Educational opportunities
  • Health care and supplemental nutrition
  • Opportunities for safe recreation
  • Opportunities to learn about important life skills
  • Learn about Jesus and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God. 

In addition, the parents have witnessed the transforming power of Christ which ultimately led them both to accept Christ. Bothy have become leaders in their church and community. Living in poverty is not easy, but with the support of the local Compassion project, and the individual Child Sponsors, this family leads a fulfilling, hope filled life.

Let’s Eat

At the end of the day we sat down with Angel, Lillian and their three children Milton, Oscar and Angel to a home cooked meal prepared in our honor. They wanted us to know how blessed they were to have us in their home and how they thank God daily for His provision. Any one of us would tell you that the blessings this day were mostly ours.

Compassion International

Started in 1952, Compassion International exists to release children from poverty in Jesus name. Today, nearly 1 million children in 24 countries have a loving, Christian relationship with someone who cares and prays for them by name.

For just $32 month you could change be the one to change the life of a child just like Milton, Oscar or Angel, Jr.

Will you help? 

Sponsor a child online through Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry. Search for a child by age, gender, country, birthday, special needs and more.

Trickle Down Blessings

4 11 2008

If you are a Compassion Child Sponsor, you most likely have some idea of how your $32 is used to release a child from poverty in Jesus name. What you may not know, is how the country where your sponsored child lives transforms your $32 into ministry. Today, our Compassion Sponsor Tour visited the El Salvador Field Office, one of 27 located around the world, learning how they partner with local churches carry out their mission of transforming young lives into fulfilled and responsible Christian adults. 

Integrity That Runs Wide and Deep

As a donor you’ll be pleased to know 83% your $32 makes it to programs which directly benefit the kids. If you are the analytical type, check out Compassion’s most recent audited financial statement or visit non-profit watch-dog Charity Navigator who recently reported Compassion International as having the most consecutive four-star ratings of any organization of its kind in the nation. The country office is no exception. In fact, in El Salvador two separate audits are conducted each year ensuring program and financial integrity. At the forefront of every Compassion program is integrity, excellence and accountability. These people know who they are called to serve. (Hint, it isn’t us!)

Mail Call

The letters you write to your sponsored child are reviewed by Compassion’s Global Ministry Center and shipped in bulk to the appropriate country office. Once the country office receives the letters they are distributed to individual projects where they are translated and delivered to the children. If you are not writing to your child, you’re missing the point. These kids are filled with excitement on mail days and they don’t receive letters of love and encouragement, they can feel unloved. Don’t let your child be disappointed during mail call.

With over 35,000 sponsored kids in El Salvador, the country office here is providing a vital link between you and your child. Be a blessing, write a letter.

Planned Growth

There were presentations by many departments, but of particularly interest to me were the Program Facilitators. PF’s as they’re known, work to develop new church relationships throughout El Salvador in order to expand the Compassion Project Network. There are currently 34,000 children served at 128 projects and estimated to grow to 50,000 by 2011. It was a smart planning team that had the courage to budget for this kind of growth and the vision to add staff and facilities in advance. 

Seeing It Trickle Down 

So if you really want to see how Compassion works, and you really want ot know how your $32 is put to work, take a trip. Visit the Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs and take the tour. Travel as part of a Compassion Sponsor Tour and see a Compassion Project in action, maybe you can give your own sponsored kid a hug. And while you’re hugging your own sponsored child, you’ll know the impact of God’s work in both of your lives.

It’s like peeling back the petals of a rose one by one, it just gets prettier and prettier. But without the pesky thorns.

If you don’t already have a sponsored child, would you join me in sponsoring one today?