Apr 20 2009

Become a Child Advocate

Become a child advocate

“Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” —  Proverbs 31:9 (NIV)

In the movie Pearl Harbor, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle surveys a group of pilots who have stepped forward to go on a dangerous mission. In response to another officer’s concern about the mission, Doolittle determinedly says, “There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.”

Later, one of the volunteers addresses the crux of the matter: “We’re the tip of the sword.”

It’s true. We —  both sponsors and Advocates —  are on the cutting edge of the fight against poverty, and we’re not giving up this battle!

I’m writing this post to ask you to join me as a member of Compassion’s Advocate’s Network. That’s it! Plain and simple.

This is my story of Compassion. It’s long but only because I love being the “tip of the sword,” and want to share every ounce of my joy and love with you.

How to Become a Child Advocate

I have been a blessed member of the Advocate’s Network since 1994, and my involvement began with my first sponsorship in 1988, one year after the network started.

I had been praying about sponsoring a child for months but didn’t know which company I could trust. My answer came as I was eating lunch with a missionary doctor from Haiti. She was telling me about a recent hurricane that hit the country.

I asked, “How do those people live? What do they eat?” and she replied that the children in Compassion had been well cared for.

I asked if she was talking about Compassion International, and she was. She proceeded to tell me all about Compassion’s excellence, integrity and effectiveness.

In fact, several of the nurses in her clinic were formerly sponsored children! With the answer to my prayers, I immediately called Compassion to request a child from Haiti.

Why Others Often Become Child Advocates

Many sponsors sign up because of the faithful service of members of the Advocates Network, members who are driven not by rules, paperwork or pressure, but by the love of God for children.

Child Advocates are not told where to work or what to do; involvement is completely self-initiated and voluntary.

As I tell my team of Advocates, God is already speaking to His people about helping the poor; we only need to be praying that He will lead us to those whose hearts are ready. It’s truly His work, not ours.

Being a member of the Advocates Network is all about Jesus. As we walk closely with Him, He brings people across our paths that want to sponsor children and want to know who they can trust, just like I did.

Although I cannot sponsor hundreds of children, I can help to connect them with their God-appointed sponsors. The plan is to help one child at a time, exactly the way Jesus did, and by following that plan I have been greatly blessed in so many ways.

Highlights From My Time as a Child Advocate

  • A friend sponsored a child in memory of the child she lost in a serious accident.
  • A woman said she’d been awakened in the night and told to sponsor a child (she had no idea I was coming to her church that day).
  • Some friends sponsored a child for their elderly parents as a Christmas gift.
  • When handed Child Packets randomly in a concert, some have said the name of the child they were given was the same as that of a child they lost, or that the child had the same birth date.
  • Many families have chosen to sponsor a child for each child in their family.
  • I once spoke in a one-room church with seven in attendance, and five children were sponsored.
  • A young man came to me at a funeral and said, “You’re the Compassion lady, right? I want to help prevent a young girl from being forced into prostitution.” He sponsored a child and later became an Advocate on my own team.
  • I worked an event that registered 190 new sponsors, and several current sponsors asked how to become Child Advocates.
  • Children have dragged their parents to the table, literally, and asked them to sponsor a child.
  • I met a physically challenged girl in a child development center in need of a sponsor. When I returned home from that trip, the first friend I saw was someone who works with physically challenged children; she happily sponsored the child.
  • Many have come to tables to say how much sponsorship means to them.
  • To my delight, our grown children followed suit on their own —  sponsored kids, helped at my table and shared with friends about sponsorship.
  • I have brought many Child Packets home from sponsor tours and found friends to sponsor each one of them — kids I met personally!
  • I discovered I was the only Advocate in the state of Wyoming, but now lead a team of 20 Advocates in three states (Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota).
  • I’ve been blessed to see a group of friends hug their sponsored children for the first time.
  • I recently signed up my 500th sponsorship from my own sphere of influence (not counting hundreds more sponsored at concerts, events and festivals where I’ve assisted).

Become a Child Advocate. Attend the Annual Advocates Conference

One of the joys of advocacy is the opportunity to attend an annual Advocates Conference.

In addition to relaxing with family and friends, attending advocates are inspired to draw nearer to God and are instructed about the unique aspects of Compassion’s ministry —  our ministry.

  • The fact that it is Christ Centered, Child Focused, Church Based and Committed to Integrity.
  • We learn not to put pressure on anyone to sponsor a child and to always remember the dignity of the poor.
  • Rather than using emotional pleas for help, we focus on the positive changes and opportunities that take place in the child’s life through sponsorship (I love this!).
  • We serve the church —  providing a bridge between those who don’t have enough and those who have more than enough. Sponsorship fulfills the Great Commission; it is the “total package” in every way.

I really believe we need the poor as much as they need us. As Dr. Wess Stafford has said many times,

“Without us they die in need and without them we die in greed.”

I believe there is a wall that separates the church here and the church abroad, in many ways, and that it is an Advocate’s job to bring down this wall through prayer, education, enlightenment and loving encouragement. We need each other.

We need their prayers, contentment and deep spirituality, and they need our support, confidence and friendship. In some ways, this is the only answer to our materialism and selfishness.

I’m delighted to help tear down the wall of separation and bring children and sponsors together, never to be the same again.

The conference is also a good place to form lasting friendships and partnerships in ministry. It is a great opportunity to meet pastors who support the needs of children in poverty, and to meet country directors, Global Ministry Center staff and formerly sponsored children of the Leadership Development Program (LDP). The testimonies are powerful!

When I meet members of the LDP, I have a million questions for them, because the girl I’ve sponsored in Thailand, since she was tiny, is currently in the LDP! I hope to attend her graduation in 2010.

I was recently able to attend the Global Advocates Conference in the Dominican Republic, and was inspired to meet Advocates from eight of the 11 partner countries.

There are currently more than 5,000 Advocates around the world. Collectively, we have brought in hundreds of thousands of sponsorships. The friendships have continued online and will last a lifetime.

Some Advocates have traveled together to visit their sponsored children. I think we all agree that the more we experience such visits to the centers —  meeting children face to face —  the more convinced we are that this ministry is really doing what we say it is.

We become more passionate in our goals to register new sponsors because it really works. We can personally ask country office staff and church workers and pastors about the inner workings and integrity of their centers. We are reminded why we volunteered for this very worthy cause in the first place. Our hearts are enlarged.

Become a Child Advocate

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m writing it to ask you to join me as a member of Compassion’s Advocates Network. That’s it! Plain and simple.

If you’re up for it, you just need to:

  • Fill out an online registration form.
  • Authorize a background check.
  • Participate in a telephone interview.

If advocacy is in your future, training materials and resources will be supplied to you at no cost. Best of all, you will be welcomed into the Advocates Network with open arms, and you will begin to see lives blessed!

If you are a Child Advocate already, speak up! Tell us what experiences have impacted your life. What are your favorite stories?

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” —  Luke 18:16 (NIV)

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21 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Chuck Guth
    Apr 20, 2009
    at 6:57 am

    Thanks Juli- Great story..can’t think of anything you missed…being an Advocate is a blessing and a joy! :)

  2. Amy Wallace
    Apr 20, 2009
    at 7:02 am

    I’ve been an advocate for Compassion Canada since September 2008, and it’s has been the best time of my life! It’s such an amazing feeling to help people sponsor a child!

    I’m a prime example of how it’s God working through us. Within one week of receiving my first child packs, 3 children were sponsored – I hadn’t even done a presentation!

    I’m going to my first advocacy conference in a couple weeks, and I’m really excited!

    So, along with Juli, I encourage everyone who is not an advocate to become one – you won’t regret it!

  3. Apr 20, 2009
    at 7:17 am

    Juli, this is so great! If I wasn’t already an advocate, I think I would join up.

    I loved reading your list of highlights. Amazing to see what God has done.

    I hope we can meet face to face at the Advocates National Conference.

  4. Apr 20, 2009
    at 9:16 am

    Good job, Juli! I love the stories you told, too. I’ve also approached people either about sponsoring a child, or about the possibility of my making a presentation to a group of whatever kind, and having that person tell me that God had been speaking to him or her for a month, several months, etc.

  5. Apr 20, 2009
    at 9:19 am

    I’m sure we will! I’m looking forward to meeting all my new friends here!

  6. Mike Stephens
    Apr 20, 2009
    at 10:18 am

    Juli,

    Thanks for the post and the stories!!! Amy I am not sure I realized you were from Canada. Before I went to Nicaragua Amy Compassion Canada had an 8 min video on Youtube about Nicaragua and this man maybe around 27 sings a song in it and I would watch that video over and over and it would inspire me not to give up to visit Osmari who I sponsor in Nicaragua. I was able to go on the trip by saving up money from working the night shift at Wal-mart. So that is story number 1. I would not have lasted at that job if I was not saving for the Nicaragua Sponsor Tour. Then I thought if I do not go and visit the 3 boys I sponsor in the Philippines I know I could easily wait 20 years and never visit. So I used some Christmas money to get my Taxi license here in Colorado Springs and drove that Taxi like an animal and paid for the Philippines Sponsor Tour!!! I am glad I did b/c I promised the 3 boys I sponsor there I would visit and also that I would dunk a basketball for Angelo with 2 hands b/c he told me he wants to be a basketball player. I hope to be able to return from the Philippines with a video and pictures of me dunking a basketball with 2 hands for Angelo. And recently at the Southwest Regional Advocate’s Conference I met a lady who I may try to go to Tanzania with on an advocate trip to meet Bushiri who I sponsor in Tanzania. I made it a goal to visit the kids I sponsor once while they are young and once while they are older. So far I am extremely thankful to have been able to go to Nicaragua and now in about 45 days the Philippines!!! I really liked how Juli talks about how she prays and is kind when she presents and focuses on the good that Compassion does and intends to do. I need to work on being gracious but at the same time not making light of the situation. One more little story. When I went to Nicaragua to visit Osmari I bought her a green bag. I also got her a little card with a bible verse on it and there was a butterfly on the card. When I visited she was wearing a dress that was half white and half green and there was a little butterfly on her dress that looked very similar to the one on the card I got her. I also really debated whether to get a green or an orange bag and decided to go with green. I just thought it was amazing how she wore a green dress and there was a nearly identical looking butterfly on her dress as on the card I got. A man at our hotel also gave me coconut that he chopped down from a tree and I banged the coconut against a rock and finally broke through and the coconut water was spilling all over my face and then he motioned to me and wacked a nice hole in it with his machete and it was a much nicer drink. Hearing talking parrots was also amazing!!! Amy I just realized you live in Canada!!! So you will probably not be at the USA’s National Advocate’s Conference!!! I thought that would help encourage me in visiting Peru!!! Well we serve an AWESOME God so I am confident something will materialize. Nicaragua and the Philippines did why not Peru!!!

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!”

  7. bernice karnop
    Apr 20, 2009
    at 11:03 am

    Awesome story, Juli. Praise to the Father of all children.

  8. Apr 20, 2009
    at 12:18 pm

    My paperwork was sent off…just waiting for the call :) At first I was “worried” that I wouldn’t be able to do a good enough job….but I think it’s not ME who works…it’s God :) Thanks for the reminder :)

  9. Martyn Legg
    Apr 20, 2009
    at 2:07 pm

    Spot on Juli! Thanks for all your efforts, your a blessing to know.

  10. Apr 20, 2009
    at 2:57 pm

    What a great report Juli–If I weren’t already an advocate, I would sign up. Congrats on getting 500 children sponsored–awesome stuff right there.

  11. Apr 20, 2009
    at 7:04 pm

    @Britt – Britt–I’m so excited for you! You’re going to love the Advocate’s Network! In our weakness He is strong!

  12. Amy Wallace
    Apr 21, 2009
    at 5:30 am

    @Mike Stephens – Yep, I’m from Canada – New Brunswick to be exact. So, I won’t be at the US National Advocate’s Conference :p Maybe we’ll both be at the next Global Advocates’ conference, and we can start working on our plans for Peru there. And you’re right, we do serve and awesome God :)

    Good luck dunking the basketball, by the way! I know I certainly couldn’t do that, seeing as I can hardly dribble a ball :p

  13. Apr 21, 2009
    at 6:11 am

    Brittany…that’s so exciting that you filled out the paperwork! The Advocates Network and all it’s members are a great support team for each other! You are going to love being involved in this awesome ministry at a new level.

    Welcome!!

  14. Mike Stephens
    Apr 21, 2009
    at 9:33 am

    @Amy Wallace – Amy, thank you for mentioning the Global Conference!!! I barely even knew about the first one in the Dominican Republic!!! However I know they have limited spots. But I think that is a great idea on your part. I am curious where the next one will be!!! Maybe Peru!!! That way we could do 2 trips in 1!!!

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!”

  15. Tom Easterday
    Apr 21, 2009
    at 9:41 am

    Excellent presentation, Julie.

  16. Mike Stephens
    Apr 21, 2009
    at 9:45 am

    @Amy Wallace – Amy, just one more thing so you are not hit off-guard!!! For me Amy working towards going on the trip was a fight!!! I definitely experience some opposition in trying to go. So if you get a bloody nose so to speak, or even get knocked down a few times, or even knocked out. You’ll eventually come to and I encourage you to stay in the fight. However it may not be extremely difficult for you to go or you may be a better fighter than me, but that is why praying that God will help you go on the trip is so important. For the Philippines trip Amy I prayed many times daily that I would be able to go. I would pray that God would make a way. He did for me by driving the Taxi. I was asked to leave a little before I was finished paying for the whole trip b/c of a few complaints of me being late to pick people up and a few tickets I got. It is always an experience whenever I set out to try and go visit one of the kids I sponsor!!! But I get greatly encouraged when I think about God and that he knows what I need and want even before I ask!!! So that helps me not worry. Don’t forget when you decide to go I will send you $20 for Peru at least, maybe more…;)

  17. Amy Wallace
    Apr 21, 2009
    at 2:12 pm

    @Mike Stephens – That would be awesome if the conference was in Peru! Does it happen every year? I didn’t really find out about last year’s until it was too late.

    As far as getting the money to go on these Compassion trips, I figure that if God wants me to go, then He’ll take care of everything – money is no obstacle to Him! Everything has been working out for Colombia in July, and I hope to make these trips a yearly thing :)

  18. Carly
    Apr 22, 2009
    at 4:29 pm

    You are awesome Juli!!! Thanks for such an encouraging post. :)

  19. Feb 8, 2010
    at 2:40 pm

    My husband is an advocate and I have tried submitting the online form and it is not working for us at all. Not sure if it is because he is already an advocate on our account or if the network is down somehow or what. If any body has any ideas or anything let me know!

  20. Jan 1, 2012
    at 6:53 pm

    Hey everyone :) I would like to become an Advocate, but I really cannot travel out of my home much, and I am 13. any ideas on how to gets kids sponsored? Thanks :) Lizzie

    • Rosie
      Apr 2, 2012
      at 12:06 pm

      Hey Lizzie, that’s fantastic that you want to be involved! I would recommend getting in touch with the advocate co-ordinater for your area and letting them know you’d like to help get kids sponsored. If you are involved in a church thats always a great place to start.

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