While Friday evening at the Compassion International Advocate’s Conference was open to everyone, Saturday was just for the Advocates. It is a day for fellowship, gaining knowledge, being creative and igniting the passion for Compassion and what it is doing.
After breakfast, we were given a devotional focusing on pursuing God with passion and purpose. The retreat was at a wonderful lakeside conference center, and it was nice to start the day with the Lord, with the warm spring sun shining on us and the sound of gentle waves as background music.
After a short break, my friend Lisa got a chance to speak about Sponsor Engagement. While it is important to find sponsors for the children in the program, it is just as important to keep those sponsors involved in the ministry. Disconnected sponsors tend to be ones that do not write to their sponsored children and are the ones that are more likely to drop the sponsorship. Out of the sponsors that cancel, 60% have not written to their children within the last year.
One great way to inspire sponsors is to reach out and host Sponsor Gatherings. Whether you are a part of the Advocate’s Network or not, you can contact sponsors that you know and get together for letter-writing parties, prayer circles or other events. If you don’t know of any other sponsors in your area, you can check out Our Compassion and search by location.
Even in our small country church, we already have over a dozen families that are involved with Compassion. Starting in May, I hope to have monthly get-togethers after church to work on goodies to send our children and to answer any questions people may have. Keeping sponsors involved goes a long way to keeping them inspired and on fire for this ministry.
Next we talked about some of the great upcoming events on the calendar. Summer festivals like Creation Fest and Kingdom Bound are big events for Compassion and it is exciting to be a part of them! My family is pumped up for Kingdom Bound this year!
We broke for lunch and had time to chit chat and get to know our table-mates. This cause has brought together some amazing people and I truly enjoyed being able to hear their testimonies and how they’ve been impacted by Compassion. We also have a lot of fun together and have quite a few jokesters on our team. (You know who you are….)
After lunch, Doug West spoke about some changes in the Advocate’s Network as well as some new resources and opportunities coming up.
Here are some links that you may not know about:
- Welcome, New Sponsor! This page is being sent to new sponsors and has a lot of great information for anyone getting started with Compassion. I think the video is fantastic!
- Compassion's Holistic Child Development Model This page features information about the Child Survival Program (CSP) , the Child Development Sponsorship Program (CDSP) and the Leadership and Development Program (LDP). It also shared more about the Complementary Interventions (CIVs) that Compassion can provide such as disaster relief, the AIDS initiative, Bite Back Malaria Intervention, etc.
- Compassion Distinctives This page explains the distinctives that set Compassion International apart from all other programs of its kind.
- Give 12 This site is still under construction, but it features a plan to give $12 a month for 12 months to support several different funds through Compassion.
We learned that Compassion’s 2020 Vision is that by the year 2020, we will have 4 million children enrolled in the CSP, CDSP and LDP! Will you join me in praying that we meet or surpass this goal?
After another break, we all had the chance to hear a more in-depth testimony from Jey Mbiro from Kenya. By mid-afternoon, the weather had become so beautiful that we decided to pull our chairs outside and enjoy the sun and scenery for this session.
I forgot to mention that our Advocate’s Team has members that range from the age of fourteen to those silver haired and young at heart.
I really enjoyed hearing more of Jey’s story and being able to ask questions. When someone ask Jay how he envisioned his life if he hadn’t been brought into Compassion as a child, his answer brought tears to my eyes.
“I would be dead.”
To say that life in the Mathare Slum is difficult would be an understatement. Over 800,000 people, crammed like sardines into a few square miles of rusty tin houses and the thick stench of trash and sewage. Children sleep six deep on dirty, thin mats without blankets. Hunger drives children out into the streets to beg or follow their noses to the smell of cooking food. At a certain age, it becomes illegal for children to beg, so they “graduate” to stealing. At the age of nine, Jey spent time on prison for this very thing.
Jey told us that the Compassion center was a bright spot in the heart of the slum. While there were some other organizations working in the area, he said that Compassion was the one that stood out. The one that all of the parents hoped their children could attend. The stark reality is that none of Jey’s friends from the slum that weren’t a part of Compassion are alive anymore.
The difference that Compassion makes is literally the difference between life and death.
Jey shared the comfort in knowing that he would be able to have his school tuition paid for and clean uniforms and school supplies provided for him. He expressed the relief in knowing that, if he became sick, he would receive the care that he needed. He told us how much the children love the letters that their sponsors sent and how sad they are when they don’t receive those written words of encouragement.
As I shared yesterday, the first time Jey was ever told that he was loved, they were the words of his sponsor in a letter.
I couldn’t begin to touch on all of the details of Jey’s story, but what struck me at the end of the day was the realization that this is the testimony of one person from one project. It is amazing to hear a first-hand account of how Compassion literally saved and changed a life and then to think about how 1.2 million children in over 5,300 projects are all under the care of this organization.
We finished out the day with dinner, another question and answer session with our leaders and a challenge to take this information and passion home and take action. As a group, we took 15 minutes to pray for many aspects of the Compassion ministry. Then it was time for some pictures and to pack up!
Overall, the retreat was simply incredible! If you have a passion for Compassion and want to do more for the cause, I would like to encourage you to become a part of Compassion’s Advocate Network. Check out the “Becoming a Compassion Advocate” post that is in my right hand sidebar to learn more. Please feel free to ask questions, if you have any! I would just love to have you as a part of the team!