The Wait is Over

Helena Asti had been waiting 18 months for someone to sponsor her.

“My friends have all received their sponsors so my heart feels sad because I don’t yet have a sponsor of my own.”

Watch Helena’s powerful reaction as she finds out a sponsor has chosen her.

Hundreds of children are waiting for a sponsor. You can end their wait. You can give them hope and a future. You can fulfill dreams. Sponsor a child today and end someone’s wait.

Have questions about child sponsorship through Compassion. Ask me, or go to Compassion.com.

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Discomfort Food

805 million people in the world are undernourished

Comfort food. Autumn is here and for many our food thoughts turn to comfort food. Those yummy traditional dishes which remind us of home, family, or friends. Mine is spaghetti and meatballs. That may seem odd, but it reminds me of my childhood and Sundays at Nanny and Pop-Pop’s surrounded by aunts and uncles and later, as the next generation was born, my cousins. These were good times, infrequently recaptured as we have spread out across the country.

Now that I have you thinking about big Italian meals with my big Italian family; comfort food, let me give you a little dose of food meant to discomfort…

“While you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition.” – Tony Campolo

This quote really slapped me in the face, and as if it didn’t bring enough discomfort, I looked up these facts about hunger.

Before we started sponsoring a child earlier this year through Compassion International, I never really gave any of this a lot of thought. It’s hard to think about being hungry when you live someplace where food is in such incredible abundance and we are bombarded with the ease of its availability every night on television. It seems to me that there is plenty enough food in this world to feed us all. No one should be going hungry. Thirty thousand kids shouldn’t be starving to death every stinking day. Yet, they are.

So, I have a question. For some it may be a discomforting question.

Why?

With so much food so readily available in so much of the world, why is any child, or adult for that matter, going hungry? Why are almost a billion people undernourished?

Part of the answer is us. You and me. We eat more than we need, more than is healthy (there’s irony for you), then turn around and throw away tons of food we can’t eat because our eyes really are bigger than our stomachs. We eat 1500 calorie hamburgers for lunch, because we are told we need to eat like we mean it, with no thought of what we’re doing to our bodies and that one thousand five hundred calories is a full days worth of food.

If the way we eat isn’t enough of a why, how about this? We argue over the politics of food security while children, 30,000 of them apparently, die because we can’t figure out which ones are of the right political, ethnic, or religious, group to benefit from the most basic necessity of life, which we can easily provide. Food security can never be about politics, ethnicity or religion. We have to stop seeing groups. We must begin seeing people, individuals, souls for whom Christ died. And before you play that religion card know this, Christ did not die for Christians. Christ died for people, all of us, each of us as individuals.

That’s the why, at least partially, and simplistically. So, what’s the how? How do we stop hunger when 30,000 children die every day and 805,000,000 people are starving.

Step one – as I said, stop seeing groups. I can’t feed all those people, neither can you. But I can feed one. Or two, or three. Perhaps four. You can do the same. Your neighbor can feed another, and so on. You get the picture. Extreme poverty is stopped, children are fed, clothed, given medical care, receive education, one at a time. So stop trying to change the whole world all at once. The job is too big for you. Focus on one, choose one, or whatever number you can handle. Big change comes in small steps.

Step two – Remember the facts about hunger I linked to earlier in this post? They come from Compassion International, a child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. It does this through people like me, like you, who are willing to sponsor a child so they can be lifted from poverty and become responsible, fulfilled adults. One sponsor plus one child equals incredible change. Step two is to sponsor a child.

Here’s what happens when you sponsor a child through Compassion.

You change a child’s life – forever. Your support changes every aspect of your sponsored child’s life. Children in Compassion’s program have the opportunity to thrive spiritually, economically, socially and physically. Compassion is committed to helping children in desperate need grow into fulfilled, Christian adults.

When you sponsor a child with Compassion, you help shatter the cycle of poverty. You change the world — one child at a time. Compassion’s long-term holistic approach, along with your encouraging letters, will give your child hope and a new beginning.

Start with one. Save one life. Others already have, and many others will join us, and together we will reach 30,000 and beyond. Together we can defeat extreme poverty. Sponsor a child today.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Images in this post are courtesy of Compassion.com.

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Point Reyes – Drawing Photographers for Years

Point Reyes

It has been called a shipwreck, but I don’t really know. I have also heard that it was simply abandoned. Whatever, the Point Reyes has been a draw for photographers for a very long time. And why not. It may be overdone, but is still a great subject and a fun shoot. I will probably go back and try to get some unique perspective on it.

Venture beyond the little town of Inverness on Tomales Bay in California deeper into the Point Reyes National Seashore and you will find many more photographic opportunities. The most famous, of course, being the Point Reyes Lighthouse.

pt-reyes-1

I descended the steps to the lighthouse to get a closer look, and then made the long 300 plus step climb back up. No I didn’t count the steps. They’re marked.

Along the way to the lighthouse you are likely to see some wildlife. This doe and fawn were hiding out behind the restrooms on the path from the parking lot to the lighthouse overlook.

Doe and Fawn 1

Doe and fawn at Point Reyes Lighthouse

A short day-trip over to the coast yielded some great results. You can read about the lighthouse in this National Park Service article. As for the shipwreck, there are a lot of pictures scattered across the Internet, even a Flickr group, but I haven’t been able to find much other information about it. More and more it seems it is really not so much a wreck as a boat that has been left to rot. Makes a great photo though.

You can see all my Point Reyes images here, and buy prints, in this gallery.

Thanks.

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These Children Are Depending on Me and on You

release 3

Update, 10/1/14: One of the children in the post below, Silvia, has been sponsored. It happened yesterday evening after I told our small group about Release 3. Ewa said one of the reasons she chose Silvia is in her photo she isn’t smiling. She wanted to give Silvia a smile. Thank you Ewa, from Silvia and me.


A few weeks ago, as part of Compassion’s Release 3 program, I made a commitment to find sponsors for three children living in poverty. It is something I really want to do, even moreso after having volunteered at the Change Tour in Concord last week. The package of materials I would need arrived this week. Inside was everything I would need to reach out and find sponsors for these three children, including the three sponsorship packets assigned exclusively to me.

I opened up the package to go through everything, and when I looked through the sponsorship packets the reality of the incredible responsibility I had committed to came crashing down. I held in my hands three packets, each representing a child, a life, a person in desperate need. These three children, Silvia, Dennis, and Edrian, were each depending on me. For the next month I would be their only hope of finding a sponsor. I couldn’t help but feel just a bit overwhelmed with that reality, and the need for prayer.

To avoid duplication, Compassion has only one sponsorship packet available for each child at any given time. It may be a physical packet, like the ones I have for Silvia, Dennis, and Edrian, or it could be online. Never both. For the next month, Silvia, Dennis, and Edrian are my responsibility as far as sponsorship is concerned.

The good news is, and it is a big relief to me, our sovereign God has already prepared someone to sponsor these three lovely children. The Holy Spirit has been working in the hearts of three wonderful people and encouraging them to sponsor a child. My job is to introduce someone to either Silvia, Dennis, or Edrian, and let the Holy Spirit do his work. That’s what he does. That’s how God works. Through imperfect cracked pots like me and you. He works in the lives of his people, the mundane everyday lives we live, to do his great work. Think about that for a moment. Just pause right here and let that sink in. We can do the work of God here on earth by simply living our lives in agreement with his will. It is important to understand that God uses us. What he needs from us is availability. In other words we need to die to self.

Most of you reading this won’t have any face-to-face contact with me. That’s okay. You can still sponsor a child. Just follow that link (yeah, that one in the previous sentence) pray about who to choose and then choose a child to help. They desperately need you. For those I could see, might see, will see, over the next month, be ready. There is a good chance I will talk to you about sponsoring one of these three.

The Lord is using me to find sponsors for Silvia, Dennis, and Edrian. Perhaps he will use you to sponsor a child who desperately needs someone. Let’s get together.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion
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Helping to Change the Story

Change the Story

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.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

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