Every Thusday morning, in the cafeteria at work, they serve this amazing, breakfast sandwich called the Kickin’ Chicken. It’s a boneless chicken breast with a zingy, spicy breading, topped with a fried egg, a slice of american cheese and two strips of crispy bacon on a decent sized hamburger bun (I think it’d be even more amazing on a bagel). Did I mention that it’s amazing?
I don’t get to enjoy them as often as I used to because I just can’t afford the $6+ that it costs (with a drink). Not because Paula and I are that poor, but because I chose to make a sacrifice of this tasty treat when we decided to sponsor our third child through Compassion International.
It was two Novembers ago when we saw Elizabeth’s packet with a “Priorty” symbol on it. She was one of three children with the symbol. When the event we were hosting was at an end we decided that we wanted to sponsor one of the three. She was the one who captured our hearts.
Unlike most of the children, who stand-up straight with their arms at their sides, Elizabeth had a smile on her face, her hands on her hips and a tilt to her stance. How could we resist? But we had to determine where the extra $38/month was going to come from. Goodbye, Kickin’ Chicken … among a few other “luxuries”.
Now, some of you may be wondering “Why Compassion when there are other organizations out there doing similar work for less money?”. A fair question. I could spout off the statistics about how Compassion has had a 4 Star rating from Charity Navigator for 14 years. Or I could tell you that they consistently get 80-85% of your money to the project that your child attends. I could tell you about the studies that have shown Compassion’s model to be effective. But I think the better reason has more heart than just facts and figures.
The ministry of Compassion is not focused on simply relieving an immediate need of a chiild or community. Their focus is the whole child. Helping not only the children, but the whole family and, in many cases, much of the community, to break the cycle of poverty. It’s not simply about putting food in their bellies, but giving the children a safe environment to learn and play in. It’s about giving them needed medical attention, paying for their schooling (and job training when they’re older) so that they’ll have greater opportunities a adults. And it’s also about sharing the gospel with them.
Compassion is a Christ-centered ministry. They don’t go into a community and set up their own system. Instead, Compassion partners with local churches that are already doing outreach in their communities and supplies those churches with the resources needed to become even more effective. And, unfortunately, because of that comittment to the gospel, Compassion is only able to do their work in countries where evangelism is legal. But I like knowing that Compassion is not compromising on the cause of Christ.
Even more, Compassion is about connecting you, personally, to a child in need. Compassion opens a door of communication between you and your child. You get the opportunity to speak love, your love and God’s, and the truth of the scriptures, into the life of a child who desperately needs to hear it. You get to be a missionary without ever leaving your home. And the child you sponsor gets the opportunity to bless you with his or her letters. Imagine how humbling it is to read a letter from a child who lives in poverty telling you that they’re praying for you to be blessed. And you already have more than he or she dreams of!
I’ve been a volunteer Advocate for Compassion for over eight years. Paula and I have been blessed to be able to attend many events that Compassion takes part in. And we’ve had the opportunity to meet several graduates of some of the projects who come here to complete their education, and to speak on behalf of Compassion at these events. It is a tremendous thing to listen to some of their stories about the lives they were living before they were sponsored, and how being sponsored rescued them from destitution, crime or human trafficking. And they all say the same thing; the letters they received from their sponsors gave them joy and hope. Unfortunately, they also told us that many of the children don’t get letters and they don’t do as well.
Now, who’s ready to step up and reach out to a child living in poverty? It’s a big step. It’s a long term comittment to be a part of a child’s life as he or she grows and learns and come out of the cycle of poverty. But it’s well worth any sacrifice you have to make. It’s been worth it to give up my Kickin’ Chicken.
Written by Michael Cross