actions-over-words We sketch out our beliefs through the words we say, the tones we use, the expressions on our faces, and the way we live our lives.

In a phrase, we are living advocates. But what are we really advocating?

St. Francis of Assisi famously said,

“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

Francis was not arguing against the use of human vocabulary. He just recognized its limitations — and the fact that actions very quickly drown out the sound of one’s voice.

As a child advocate and member of Compassion’s Advocates Network, I have been trained in the words to say. What Compassion can’t teach me in words, though, is what it means to live out this principle.

You see, I’ve learned about the impact of poverty. I know the numbers of how many children die every day of preventable causes.

I have been taught about the impact of one child being released from poverty and given the opportunity to break the cycle of hopelessness in which he or she previously dwelt.

Not only do I have the head knowledge, but I have had my heart broken by the impact of poverty on a child’s life, and I feel passionate about getting others involved in child advocacy and sponsorship.

Genuinely living as an advocate for children, though, is something that I have to walk out — and work out — one day at a time.

It does not matter how many blog posts I write, how many conversations I have about the desperate nature of extreme poverty, or how many presentations I give to churches.

What matters — what really matters — is how I live each and every day. If my everyday life is not a shining example of the care and nurture and love and respect due a child, all my words will fall on deaf ears.

But …

If my life and my words add up, that is a powerful testimony.

Since you read this blog, you probably sponsor a child. That means you are also a child advocate. You became one the moment you acted on the belief that your sponsored child, a young person you had never met, has a purpose and a future and you chose to invest in that purpose.

How are the rest of your everyday actions saying what simple words can hardly do justice:

“Children are worth it. They are worth our resources, but they are worth so much more than that. They are worth our time and energy.”

As you consider this question (and I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments sections), check out Compassion’s Advocates Network.

I have personally found it to be an invaluable resource and support system for learning to live out my answer to the question above, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share this beloved network with you.

Consider joining us if you haven’t already.

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  1. Jeannette Peterson
    May 9, 2011
    at 2:48 am

    Hi,
    Great post, but I have done a lot of research and been to Bible College.
    That quote attributed to Francis Assisi, there is no proof that he ever said that.
    Although it is a good quote my research into Evangelism especially is that we need to speak to preach.
    Everytime we write a letter to our child, we are preaching the gospel.
    At the child development centres, the children hear the gospel almost every time they go, through the bible stories and the songs that are sung.
    The sponsorship money we contribute makes sure they can hear, due to the fact they are not hungry.

  2. May 9, 2011
    at 5:50 am

    Tiffany, I love your heart and your passion for this cause and for the children.
    I, too, have found the Advocate’s Network to be an incredible resource. It was December 2009 when I felt the Lord putting it on my heart to do more for these children. I initially had doubts to whether I would be able to commit much time or effort to being an official advocate because I already have my hands full being a full time mom and homeschooling teacher, not to mention administrator of our homeschool co-op and point person for our Sunday School.
    The old saying rings true. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.
    This last year and a half have been SO rewarding. I absolutely love being an Advocate! I have come to meet so many wonderful people through this network and have learned more than I could ever put into words. I join you in encouraging others to consider joining our team!
    I blogged about joining the Advocate Network after having a few people ask me more about the details. Some of your readers may find this post helpful. ~ http://meeshimama.blogspot.com/2011/01/becoming-compassion-advocate.html

  3. May 9, 2011
    at 8:37 pm

    Tiffany, I think you are spot on. I have been around many Christians who are so focused on the “preaching” aspect of Christianity that they even seem somewhat suspicious of more practical help. Yet the Jesus I read about in the Bible told Peter to “feed my sheep.”

    On a mission trip to Burma, we visited an orphanage in the middle of a very Buddhist neighborhood. We asked how the neighbors felt about this Christian orphanage. “At first they didn’t like us,” said the director. “But as we went about the business of being Christian, you know, sharing our food and our medicines with them, they came to like us and even to help us and fellowship with us.”

    That has always stuck with me. This orphanage was barely surviving. They definitely did not have surplus–but they shared with their neighbors, seeing that as the “business of being Christian.” Francis of Assisi dedicated his life to living in poverty and to walking in Jesus’ footsteps–again, going about the business of being Christian. The early Church, comprising those who had actually been with Jesus on earth, also put a heavy emphasis on serving those in need. “Living out your faith” is not a way to earn heaven; it’s not even a requirement: It is a response, of joy and gratitude and love for the Lord. When Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep, it was after asking him, “Do you love me?”

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