Uganda

Uganda…

We first really learned about this beautiful country in Africa after connecting with a pastor who is serving in the capital of Kampala.

Uganda…

In honor of our new pastor friend, this is where we chose one of our first correspondence children through Compassion International.

Uganda…

This is where the Compassion bloggers were five years ago, and where they are again this week celebrating five years of blogging that changes lives. I mean, it really changes lives. These bloggers are:

Learning lessons about writing and life

Writing about a boy and his best friend

Sharing what Grace really looks like

Sharing how we can help to end slavery and

Reaching around the world through the World Wide Web to encourage sponsors like you and me

 

Wait, you are not a sponsor yet?

 

No worries. You can join us in releasing Uganda’s children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Be sure to follow and support the bloggers as they finish their week in Uganda and beyond.

Day 30: Give a gift with blessings beyond the wrapping this Christmas!

As we wrap up the month of October and our 31 days of compassion series tomorrow, it is hard to believe that we will soon enter the holiday season. Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? Admittedly, we have not. As we each consider the gifts we will give this Christmas, have you thought of giving a gift that will bring blessings beyond the wrapping? Have you thought of giving a gift in honor of someone to help release another from poverty in Jesus’ name?

 

Give a gift this Christmas from Compassion International’s 2013 gift catalog!

 

Instead of making snowmen just to get out of your driveway, dealing with holiday traffic both on the roads and in the stores, and standing in line long enough to memorize the fruit of the Spirit, why not take a moment to bless more than one person with your Christmas giving this year? You can spread God’s love around the globe and honor someone you love with the same gift. Show compassion to someone this Christmas.

 

Possible gift ideas

 

Below are just a few of the possible gift choices you have and how you can personalize these gifts for someone on your Christmas list.

 

Mothers and infants

 

In honor of your mother, a friend who is expecting or has an infant, or someone who cares for infants through ministry or employment you can:

 

• Feed a mother and baby for a suggested donation of $14.00

• Give the gift of a newborn care package for a suggested donation of $34.00

• Provide an infant with a year of medical care for a suggested donation of $55.00

 

Healthcare

 

• In honor of your dentist, give a child dental care for a suggested gift of $20.00

• In honor of your doctor, provide treatment for illness or injury for a suggested gift of $40.00

• Partner with others to provide lifesaving surgery for a suggested donation of $100.00

 

Safe Water and Sanitation

 

• In honor of your plumber, provide a Compassion center with bathrooms for a suggested gift of $25.00

• Provide water wells for a suggested gift of $30.00

 

Education

 

• In honor of your librarian or book club, provide adult literacy for a suggested gift of $22.00

• In honor of a college student or professor, develop a future leader for a suggested gift of $40.00

• In honor of a student or teacher, provide textbooks for a suggested donation of $40.00

• Partner with others to provide students with vocational training for a suggested gift of $25.00

 

Income generation

 

• Honor someone with chickens by providing chickens to a family for a suggested gift of $42.00

• Honor a small business owner by partnering with others to help a family start a business for a suggested donation of $25.00

 

We pray that you will take this opportunity to bless and honor someone by giving a gift with blessings beyond the wrapping this Christmas season. We would love to hear how you are sharing the gifts of Compassion catalog with your family and friends, or the creative ways in which you are honoring others this year.

31 Days of Compassion

Day 19: Advocate for a child living in poverty

One of the reasons we love Compassion International is their child-focused approach to ministry. By helping a child through four areas of development: physical, economic, social, and spiritual, Compassion is able to release that child from poverty in Jesus’ name and allow that young person to make an eternal difference in their world. For day 19 of our 31 days of compassion, we want to invite you to join us in advocating on behalf of a child who is still in need of a sponsor.

 

Throughout the past few weeks, we have looked at poverty and spreading God’s love locally and around the globe. We have seen how poverty wreaks havoc on the well-being of those living in its grip, and we have had the opportunity to shine the light of Christ in dark desolation. Sponsoring through Compassion International is one way to spread God’s love to a child living in poverty. Sponsorship is much more than the $38.00 donation each month. This is a chance for someone to bless and be blessed. Through prayers and letters of encouragement, sponsors are able to watch their sponsored child grow and develop into a successful young man or woman, despite their surrounding circumstances. Will you take the time to encourage someone you know to sponsor a child today? Will you speak up on behalf of a child living in poverty?

 

How do I choose a child to advocate for?

 

You may be thinking to yourself, “There are so many children in need around the world. I could not possibly pick just one child to advocate for!” Whether you advocate for one or 100 children, that choice is between you and the Lord. We want to help you narrow down your choices a bit if we may.

 

• Choose a child from the country or region you prayed for yesterday

• Choose a child who has been waiting far too long for someone to say, “I love you”

Choose a child with a specific birthdate

• Advocate for a child who has lost one or both parents

• Speak up on behalf of a child who may feel unloved because of his or her special needs

• Choose to find a sponsor for a young person who may feel forgotten as they enter adulthood

• Choose a child who has the same name as you or someone you love

 

Who are you praying and advocating for today? What steps are you taking to help that child find his or her special sponsor? We want to introduce you to our prayer child who is waiting for his sponsor.

 

Will you help us find Eric’s sponsor?

 

Eric lives in Ghana, West Africa with his uncle, grandmother, and one sibling. Those who are able to find work in the community where Eric and his family live only make an average of $32.00 a month. At the age of eight, Eric is in kindergarten. He enjoys playing soccer. As of October 19, Eric has been waiting 444 days for someone to step up and change his life for eternity through an act of compassion. Would you please join us in praying for Eric and helping him find his sponsor?

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 17: Can you survive…?

For day 17 of our 31 days of compassion, please give a warm welcome to my husband Andy. Today, he is writing to share his experience with and response to the 17th challenge of compassion. I could not do his words justice, so I will let him share his heart with you.

 

Hi,

My name is Andy, and in light of today being the international day for the eradication of poverty, I have a question for you. Can you survive on $1.25 a day? I did not think it was possible until I played this game. This is a great way to learn more about the decisions that those living in extreme poverty need to make. Not every choice made will be right, and I found that 90 percent of the decisions I had to make were moderately difficult. My eyes were opened to the conditions in which these people live, and their circumstances are more difficult than even I previously realized. It became apparent as I played the game that there are two kinds of decisions to be made—practical, and ethical or moral. I found that the moral and ethical choices I had to make were easier than the daily life decisions, because I was more motivated to make ethical choices by my family’s dependence on my survival.

 

When in the game I was assaulted on my way home from work, I had to make the choice to be tested for HIV/AIDS or simply hide the fact of my assault. I decided to be tested regardless of the social and monetary cost, because my family depended on my existence. If I were living alone with no children, my consideration of being tested would be less of a concern.

 

While playing the game was a simple action and could not compare to living out these scenarios in real life, it reminded me that showing compassion to those living in poverty would relieve the burden of their decisions. In the game, when I had to remove my son from school due to the high cost of his required uniform, my stress level increased and my health decreased by 10 percent. I could physically feel the stress and glimpse the reality for this family. Later in the game, my son was sponsored through Compassion International, covering the cost of his uniform and school tuition. I was shocked and relieved. Moreover, I was grateful for my son’s sponsor, because their help allowed my stress to decrease and I could focus on other matters. While my future may not have seemed glamorous, knowing that my son was sponsored gave me hope of success where there used to be a lack of purpose and will to live. That one decision made by someone, a complete stranger from across the world, gave me the motivation I needed to make future decisions.

 

In response to this experience, the Lord has reminded me of the importance of telling someone they are worthy of living a successful life through God’s unconditional love. I survived on $1.25 a day, but it was only by God’s grace and the generosity of others. How about you? Do you think you can survive on $1.25 a day? Did you play this game? If so, what has the Lord taught you as a result of this experience and glimpse into the life and decisions of someone living in poverty?

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 8: Praying for children in poverty

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Mat 18:20).

 

If you have prayed for another person or had someone pray for you, then you would agree with me that prayer is very powerful. Whether the need is related to health, finances, relationships, ministry, salvation, or employment, prayer is a driving force in the body of Christ. Without that intimate conversation with our creator, we have a breakdown in our vital relationship with him.

 

Today, as we begin day eight of our 31 days of compassion, we want to gather to pray for children in poverty around the world. While we could simply pray for the Lord to bless and be near to all children in poverty, and we should pray for this, we have a unique opportunity to pray for children by name. We may not see their faces, but God sure does. He knows their needs, and we have the privilege of joining hearts across the globe and lifting our voices on their behalf.

 

Will you join us in prayer?

 

Through a free monthly prayer calendar delivered right to your email inbox, Compassion International gives you a unique way to pray specifically for children and staff involved in their ministry. Andy and I receive the prayer partner newsletter, and it has challenged us in our relationships with the Lord. As we intercede on behalf of children in poverty who are so very close to the heart of God, we feel a deeper connection with the creator of life.

 

Let us take a deeper look inside the prayer calendar

 

When I open the prayer calendar email each month, I am challenged by an overall message to take away. The message for this month reminded me that children observe and imitate those around them. Not only am I challenged to pray for the children and staff in Compassion’s ministry, but also I am reminded that the children in my life observe me and imitate what they see.

 

Highlighting needs around the world

 

Each month, the prayer calendar highlights specific needs around the world. These needs could include:

 

• Children and staff suffering loss because of natural disasters

• Safety and protection for those in vulnerable situations

• Children who are victims of abuse and other violation

• Children at-risk for or suffering from health concerns

• Family, friends, and sponsors grieving the loss of a precious child’s life

• Children grieving the loss of family members

• Family members suffering from health concerns

• Highlighting specific ministry partners and programs

• The ministry of sponsors and Compassion advocates

 

Scripture tells us repeatedly that the Lord hears the cries of his children. What prayers has God answered for you lately? Can you share a time when you have been blessed by someone praying for you? Will you join us and become a prayer partner with Compassion?

 

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 7: Seaking answers on this treasure hunt

We have hit the one week mark of our 31 days of compassion. Did you join us yesterday to quiz yourself about global poverty? If not, you can still participate here.

Now that we have gotten our feet wet with a 10-question quiz, you may have more questions or want to dive into the facts even further. Today is your chance to do just that. Ask those tough and nagging questions. See the statistics for yourself. Share the statistics with others, and commit to act in response to what you discover.

 

Who doesn’t enjoy a treasure hunt?

 

We want to take you on a treasure hunt. Find the answers to the questions shown below, and challenge your friends to help you! Choose or invite friends to each find the answers to 1-2 questions, or think of your own creative way to get others involved. As you complete the treasure hunt, remember that beyond the many numbers, there are people—real people with faces and names. In fact, the Lord knows the number of hairs on their heads (Luke 12:7). As you learn more about global poverty today, please do not close your eyes to the reality of these beautiful people and do not let the statistics overwhelm you. These statistics show despair, but you can show the hope and love of Christ. The first step to showing compassion is to learn the facts.

 

Treasure hunt questions

 

• Approximately how many children die each day as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation?

•  Diarrheal diseases can be reduced by more than _____ percent through _____.

•  _______ are the second biggest killer of children worldwide

•  How many people worldwide are infected with HIV each day?

•  If all the world’s water could fit in an average bucket, how much would be drinkable?

•  How many people are born worldwide every second, and in that time how many deaths occur?

•  True/false: The average person in the developed world uses 13 gallons of water per day for toilet flushing.

•  In the least developed countries, _____ percent of all children are engaged in child labor.

•  How many people die of AIDS each day?

•  True/false: 1 person in 10 battles hunger every day.

•  Annually, how many children worldwide begin life with no identity?

•  Approximately how many children ages 5-14 are involved in child labor in developing countries?

• How many children under age 5 die each year? How many of these deaths are preventable?

• What is one of the major public health challenges undermining development in the poorest countries in the world?

 

To find the answers to your treasure hunt questions, go here. Once you have completed the treasure hunt, please leave the question and answer that impacted you the most in the comments. We would also love to know how you invited your friends to join you! May this activity prompt each of us to desire change, and in response to that desire we will do our part to make a difference. Tomorrow, we will learn how we can pray with a clear focus for the needs of children living in poverty.

 

 

31 Days of Compassion

Day 3: Digging deeper and hearing God’s heart

We are now at day 3 of our 31 days of compassion, and it is amazing to see how the Lord is using this experience to change lives! Yesterday, we shared Scriptures that inspire us to care for the poor. Today, we want to dig deeper into God’s word and hear more of his heart on justice, compassion, and poverty.

 

As we consider all that Scripture has to say about justice, compassion, and poverty, you may be overwhelmed by the myriad of verses exhorting us to care for the poor. Or, after searching the Scriptures with us yesterday, you may want more than a taste of the truth. Among the many ways we can dig deeper into God’s word, there is a variety of Bible reading plans available.

 

One free resource for such plans is Youversion. We appreciate the wide array of Bible reading plans available on Youversion, and there is of course the bonus of portability with their mobile applications. I was blessed to find multiple reading plans on such topics as compassion, justice, and poverty. Some examples include 7-day plans on compassion, justice, and poverty from the American Bible Society, Compassion: A 14-Day Journey, and Restart: Compassion and Justice (40 days). In order to use Youversion, you need to create a free account, but this only takes a moment and is well worth your time.

 

Today, Andy and I will be choosing to study God’s word further through one of these Bible reading plans. How about you? Will you join us? Will you choose a Bible reading plan and study what the Scriptures say about compassion, justice, and poverty? Do you have any other resources you would like to recommend for studying these topics in Scripture? As we continue to hear God’s heart for the poor, I pray that we would encourage one another and share our thoughts and experiences in the comments. Be sure to come back tomorrow and join us to talk about caring for the littlest, but not least among us.

 

31 Days of Compassion

From solver to servant: Rethinking the heart’s response

Puzzle pieces

Photo credit: Cory Doctorow

 

I am a solver

 

I will confess, I worry about situations, both big and small. When a problem arises, my natural tendency is to want to fix it right away. This tendency is present even amidst circumstances over which I have no control.

 

Poverty is one such situation that I cannot control, let alone fully comprehend. I cannot fathom lacking access to food, education, healthcare, or safe water and adequate sanitation. I cannot imagine the fear of wondering if my child will live past his or her fifth birthday, or if he or she will die from something that could have and should have been prevented. These are very real problems, and while I want to solve them, I realize I cannot begin to do so through my own imperfect strength. So, what then should I do? What then should we do, we who see the need yet must go against the grain of our natural tendencies of worry and problem solving?

 

I want to be a servant

 

Orphan Justice author Johnny Carr once said, “Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?”

 

Instead of desiring to solve such a complex problem as poverty on my own, instead of being overwhelmed by the notion that I alone must save the world, it’s time I let the Lord do the solving and be willing to step back into the role of humble servant. It is time to remember that I can make a difference right where he has strategically placed me, without wishing I had all the answers. What does it look like to be a humble servant? Moreover, what does it look like to bring hope in the midst of hopelessness, light amidst the darkness, and truth amidst poverty’s web of lies and deceit? What does this look like in your life? Do you, like me, wonder what would happen if we each prayed the prayer found in Johnny Carr’s profound statement?

 

Maybe in response to God’s mandate to care for the poor you feel called to change the life of Marten, Mariela, Love, or Justine. Maybe you aren’t exactly sure what the Lord would have you do, but you are willing to take the next step and join us starting tomorrow and continuing through October in our 31 Days of Compassion. No matter what it looks like for each of us, let us seek to serve and let the Lord solve. May we, along with Johnny Carr, give, serve, and invest ourselves to bring hope to the poor. Let us turn from being a solver to being a servant, and rethink our heart’s response.

Introducing 31 days of Compassion!

We are very excited to be joining with The Nester and a host of other bloggers for this year’s 31 days series! If you are unfamiliar with 31 Days, it occurs each October. Bloggers who participate in 31 Days post something for each day of the month, and there are a variety of topics covered throughout this month-long challenge. If you are a blogger and want to learn more, there is still time to join the fun! This is our first time to participate in 31 days, and we have been preparing and looking forward to joining these bloggers since we learned of this last year. Read on to learn what 31 Days will look like here on our blog.

 

31 Days of Compassion: Spreading God’s love locally and globally

 

Starting Tuesday, October 1, we want to take you on an interactive 31-day journey of poverty and compassion. Our journey will begin right where you are and expand to envelop the globe with God’s love. We encourage you to fully embrace this journey, as we seek God’s heart in spreading compassion around the world. You will have ample opportunities to share your experiences both here and beyond. Moreover, we pray these 31 days are simply the beginning of something grater the Lord would do in our hearts and lives.

 

Each day in the month of October, you can expect to find a new blog post containing our interactive activity for the day. It is through these activities that we will learn and be challenged, pray and search the Scriptures, engage in discussion, and find practical ways to get involved in God’s work. If you have not already done so, we invite you to subscribe to our blog via email or RSS, follow us on Twitter, or connect with us on Facebook to not miss out on this wonderful experience. In addition, all posts will be linked to on our 31 Days of compassion page for ease of reference. Please share this journey of compassion with your family and friends, as anyone can participate and it’s much more enjoyable to share with those you love. After you have completed each day’s activity, feel free to leave your reflections in the comments section of that particular post. You will find our reflections either in the post itself or the comments section, depending on the activity.

 

As a token of gratitude for your participation in 31 days of Compassion, we will host giveaways throughout the month of October. We hope these gifts will inspire you to find creative ways to show God’s love to others. As we enter this next month, we are praying for many lives to be changed for the glory of God and the expansion of his kingdom. Will you pray with us? Will you commit to join us as poverty and Compassion collide to create everlasting change in someone’s world—your world?

Two stories to be shared

Story one: Your Story

 

If you could write an autobiography of your life thus far, what would you title the chapters? Moreover, what story would the pages contain? Would you have a chapter entitled “childhood”, where you share about your growing up years? Would you have a chapter on “education”, where you share about graduating from high school and maybe even attending or graduating from college? Maybe you’d then write a chapter called “employment”, where you tell about landing your dream job. You may have a chapter called “marriage and family”, introducing your readers to your spouse and children. Your autobiography may even have a chapter called “Jesus”, where you share how you allowed Jesus to write the story of your life. While your story may or may not contain all of these chapters, it is as unique as its main character, and it has the power to inspire and change the stories of others as well.

 

Story Two: Their Story

 

If you could write a biography of a child living in poverty, what would you title the chapters? Moreover, what story would the pages contain? Would there be a chapter entitled “family” that shares of heartache caused by the loss of parents by death, the need to work far from home, or abandonment? Would there be a chapter on hunger that describes the child’s family’s desperate attempts to find food each day? Would there be a chapter called, “dreams”, detailing the dreams of this child and the lack of education available for him or her to reach their dreams?

 

One Story

 

What if these two above stories were intertwined and crafted in to one? Could you add a chapter called, “hope” to the story of this child living in poverty? Could you help this child to have access to education enabling them to reach their dreams? Could you help introduce this child to Jesus, so he can forever write the story of their life?

 

If you want to change your and their stories for eternity, here is your opportunity. Andy and I have had our stories changed by changing the stories of children in poverty. Will you join us? Will you share your story to change the story?