This week we continue our 10 Questions series on Compassion’s holistic child development model with Brandy’s interview with Mark Peters, Compassion’s Vice President of Ministry Intergration & Innovation.
The Child Sponsorship Program (CDSP) is Compassion’s flagship program. For more than 55 years, Compassion has paired children in poverty with loving, supportive sponsors who provide for their physical needs. But in those 55-plus years, the Child Sponsorship Program has evolved into a holistic program — one that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. Mark Peters, who oversees the work of the Child Sponsorship Program, shares how Compassion has evolved — and where it is heading.
1. What is child sponsorship through Compassion?
The goal of child sponsorship is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. We do this by linking one child with one sponsor for the purpose of enriching both lives. For children, this involves the opportunity to participate in a program designed to address their spiritual, physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development. For sponsors, this involves the opportunity to be a blessing to a child in need. Sponsors and children also have the opportunity to write letters to each other and learn more about one another.
2. How has God uniquely equipped you to work with Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program?
Ministry to children has always been a part of my life. Even as a child, I was involved in our church’s bus ministry, inviting children to ride the bus to church every week. This passion for ministry to children continued when I spent time in California, overseeing a Nazarene sponsorship program, as well as throughout my 16 years of service with Compassion.
3. What first attracted you to Compassion?
As a former pastor, I strongly believe that God has established and commissioned the Church to minister to the poor and suffering in our world. Compassion partners with more than 4,500 local churches in 25 developing countries to help children become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults. This partnership with the Church is what drew me to Compassion.
4. Tell me more about this partnership with churches. How does this relationship benefit the church? How does it benefit Compassion?
The churches we partner with have a passion to change their communities for Christ. They understand that children are not only the Church of tomorrow but they are also the Church of today. Compassion plays an important role in providing local churches in developing countries with a significant share of the resources (financial and training) they need to realize the vision God has given them. Our church partners also play an important role in providing the information Compassion needs to acquire and engage sponsors in their ministry to sponsored children.
5. What new things is the Child Sponsorship Program doing that we weren’t doing 55 years ago?
Compassion’s program models have changed over the years. We have transitioned from “family helper” type projects to church school projects to child development centers that are focused on children. We are very intentional about the program being holistic. Wess often says, “An empty stomach has no ears.” We work with our church partners to address the needs of the whole child — physical, social, spiritual and economic.
We are working to challenge and equip sponsors to be advocates not only for their sponsored children but for children in general.
We have also implemented new technologies, such as digital cameras and a system to capture child information in field offices, in order to increase efficiency and minimize administrative costs.
Come back tomorrow for the rest of Brandy’s interview with Mark.
Brandy Campbell is a feature writer at Compassion International. When she’s not chatting with Compassion execs, Brandy writes newsletter and web stories about Compassion’s ministry to children in poverty.