“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. 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 thein the Dominican Republic, and was inspired to meet Advocates from eight of the 11 partner countries.
There are currently mor 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:
- 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)