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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Change the Story: The Compassion Experience

This Sunday is National Back to Church Sunday and I would like to invite you to join me at church. Not my church, but another one. You see, before I knew it was Back to Church Sunday, Marcie and I committed to help out with a great event at Calvary Temple Church in Concord, CA. An event for children who need someone special in their lives. An event you don’t want to miss.

Imagine what it must be like to live in extreme poverty. Now imagine what it must be like to have someone invest in you and help release you from poverty. Stop imagining and come to Change the Story: The Compassion Experience. Marcie and I are committed to be there on Sunday morning, 9/21, but you can come anytime during the weekend. The Experience begins Friday, Sept. 19 and continues through Monday, Sept. 22 in Concord, CA. Reserve your spot here. This short video will tell you about the experience.

Now, I know not everyone who reads this is from northern California. That’s okay. There are plenty of experiences happening all over the country. You can even invite Compassion to come to your church or event. The important message I want to get across is this. There are children who need someone, who need you, to rescue them.

Your tax-deductible contribution of just $38 a month ($1.26 / day) – less than the cost of a daily coffee house drink – connects a child living in poverty with a loving, church-based Child Sponsorship Program.

Your support provides:

  • Food and clean water
  • Medical care
  • Educational opportunities
  • Important life-skills training
  • Most important of all, your sponsored child will hear about Jesus Christ and be encouraged to develop a lifelong relationship with God.

When you sponsor a child, you’ll receive your child’s photo, personal story and a child sponsorship packet by mail in approximately 10 days.

When children find out they’ve been sponsored, the joy they feel is indescribable. Just knowing that someone across the globe cares means more than you can imagine. Sponsoring a child in need will profoundly change the future for your child, and will change your own life as well.

This may all sound like some advertisement, but it is all true. I invite you to drop me a line and ask me about my own sponsorship experience. I would be happy to share with you the thrill it has been to sponsor Shahana, a teenager in India, who Marcie and I have sponsored since January.

So, if you are able, please, come spend some time experiencing the world of a needy child. See what child sponsorship means and take a step of faith and sponsor a child today.

Thank you.

Seriously, if you have questions about child sponsorship or our own experiences I would like to hear from you. Just use the contact form to send me a note.

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Of Dust and Ash Heaps

Girl holding Psalm 113

Psalm 113: 7-8

He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.

Recently, I have been reading a great book, Hope Rising by Scott C. Todd. The subtitle is, “How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in this Generation.” Imagine seeing the end to extreme poverty. While we think it would be an incredible miracle, and no doubt it would, my God is in the miracle business.

As a new school year begins for many children, and parents everywhere celebrate, I find myself thinking about the part education plays in poverty. There are many reasons poverty exist, and one of the biggest contributors to global poverty is lack of access to education. Lack of education and illiteracy keep people, mostly women and girls, from gaining the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Our fast paced world demands educated and literate people to keep up with advanced technologies which move us forward. Those without proper education are left languishing in poverty.

Here are some facts from Compassion International about the lack of education in developing countries.

  • Worldwide, nearly 80 percent of primary-school-age children attend school. In least developed countries, this figure is around 66 percent.
  • The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 45.5 million children of primary school age are out of school.
  • Of the 67 million primary-school-age children who do not attend school, 53 percent are girls.
  • Worldwide, only 49 percent of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school.
  • Of the 49 percent of secondary age students who do not attend school, 52 percent are girls.
  • The world’s functional illiterates include more than 130 million children who do not attend school, 73 million of them girls.

In Hope Rising, Scott Todd writes, “Over the past three decades, the extent of global poverty has declined rapidly. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty in 2013 is less than half of what it was in 1990.” It is possible to end extreme poverty, but it will take you and me doing our part. Psalm 113:7 says, God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. God has done his part. Now comes ours. As Matthew West sings, He created you and me to do something.

So, what is it? What does He want you to do? I don’t know. For me, one thing was sponsoring a child. Maybe it is for you too.

Compassion offers children in poverty the chance to change the facts about education one child at a time. When you sponsor a child with Compassion, your sponsorship provides school fees, uniforms, books and supplies – all things that prevent children from attending school. Your money also provides basic necessities for the family so the child does not have to work.

The education facts tell a discouraging story, but Compassion is working to change this. Through its sponsorship program, children attend school and get an education. This allows them the hope of escaping their circumstances and ending the cycle of poverty in their lives.

Your sponsorship helps to raise the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.

To find out more go to Compassion.com or ask me about my sponsorship experience.

If you are in Northern California join me for Change the Story — a brand-new and immersive experience from Compassion. The sights and sounds of life in a poor, developing-world community will come alive as you journey with a child through the challenges of daily life. Space is limited. Make your complimentary reservation to attend this eye-opening experience now. Coming to Calvary Temple Church, Concord, CA. September 19-22, 2014.

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Fresh Salmon for Dinner

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Fresh Salmon for Dinner

A Sea Lion drags his salmon dinner across Morro Bay. Perhaps he wants one of the chefs at a waterfront restaurant to prepare him a scrumptious meal.

These days it seems everyone likes to take pictures of what they are eating or about to eat. Thank you Instagram. The reasoning escapes me. What you’re eating may look great, and I’m sure it tasted wonderful, but I really don’t care to see pictures. Really. You can just tell me that you had a great meal at some fantastic restaurant, and if I’m ever in the area maybe I’ll make a reservation.

Having said that, I want to first apologize for the few foodie pics I have shared, and secondly share with you, not a meal on my plate, but a great fresh salmon dinner that went straight from water to plate. Well, probably not a plate, but the salmon doesn’t get any fresher than this.

Marcie and I were headed home from a trip to Disneyland and decided to take the scenic route and drive up the central coast. We stopped to have dinner at one of our old haunts in Morro Bay. While waiting we took a stroll on the south T-pier. As I was getting ready to snap a shot of a Sea Lion swimming leisurely toward the dock, he suddenly dove. When he popped back up he had his dinner in tow.

As I remember, Marcie had shrimp or scallops and I had a mixed seafood grill for dinner. I didn’t take a picture, but yes, the mixed grill included a small piece of salmon filet.

See more Morro Bay images here.

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