Compassion Sunday Goes Beyond One Day

Compassion Sunday Alecia Klauk sponsors five children. She serves as a guardian ad litem within the South Carolina family court system, working for the best interests of children in foster care, and she is a member of our Advocates Network. Alecia wrote today’s post.

My “first” Compassion Sunday as an advocate began with a big decision, a matter of priorities, a crisis of conscience.

I have been conducting Compassion Sundays at my church for a handful of years, but this year was my first one as an advocate. Back in May, I was looking forward to devoting some time to planning the event. I felt a renewed sense of responsibility with my new position. I began thinking and praying about what more I could do and how I could improve.

Earlier in the year, while working as a table volunteer at a local church, I was dumbstruck as we ran out of child packets after a particularly strong pastoral message. Inspired, I knew I wanted to push some, to pray for more this year, to use every available resource to make my Compassion Sunday event as effective as possible. I wanted to shatter past “bests” and maybe, just maybe, see 30 children sponsored.

That was my mindset as school was beginning to wind down, well, that and greatly looking forward to a desperately needed weekend alone with my man. It had been a hard academic year for the kids, and I had greatly been tested too. A weekend away was all that was on my mind.

Enter our new associate pastor.

He caught me in the parking lot as I was leaving church one Sunday, with a beautiful vision of a radical message and a strong push for our upcoming Compassion Sunday. He even felt a holy “oughtness” from the Lord to offer a child packet from the pulpit and wait for a sponsor to take it from the stage.

It was bold. It was gutsy. It was what I had been praying for.

To coordinate it with Luke 17, he asked if we could hold our Compassion Sunday just a few weeks later; our church teaches verse by verse, so the date was chosen by when the appropriate Scripture would “happen” to fall.

I quickly and enthusiastically said yes but that I’d need to get planning quickly so I could pull everything together. I was amazed and delighted at his plans and jumped in with both feet, ready to see my dream and my prayer for more fulfilled. This was going to be a banner year.

I got in the car full of great energy, until … I realized that the new date for Compassion Sunday was the same as my upcoming weekend away. My heart sank.

But it didn’t take long to make the decision that I needed to change my plans and be at church. I could have handed it off. Our associate pastor had served for a time as the concert Compassion rep with a well-known music artist. He could handle it.

But the truth is that I didn’t want to miss what I’d been praying for. So the Lord brought my heart to a point of decision, and we began to plan. (By the way, so no one worries about me, my hubby and I did get that weekend away; we just went another time.)

I felt quite compelled by the Spirit to do a few things differently with this Compassion Sunday. My associate pastor wanted me to order 100 packets, even though the normal delivery would have been 30. And for the first time I had additional staffing needs, so I assembled a team of eight people to help.

We had several team meetings. We prayed for each of the 100 children by name. I sent out what I hoped were encouraging and instructive e-mails. I did everything I could to prepare my team for the day. They were incredibly supportive and committed. It was such an encouragement to me not to be in this alone.

The day of the event, we were all feeling pretty heavy hearted for our new pastor. I caught him right before the first service started, and he really looked a little peaked.

I asked him if he was okay, and he said, “I just have no idea what is about to happen.”

I tried to encourage him as best I could, and just prayed that much harder.

Worship was great. We had our first child sponsored during the first song. That was incredibly encouraging.

My dear friend who helped the sponsor had been praying for that specific child all week. And the gentleman who approached the table told her he couldn’t decide, so she should. It was a quick and deep confirmation of the importance of our prayers and commitment for each of the children.

But still, we all had our hearts in our throats as the sermon began. We knew the risk that was about to be taken.

The message was fantastic. It pulled no punches in regard to what God says about our need to sacrificially serve Him and love the poor. The global rich list was presented to highlight the wealth we have as Americans, whether we feel wealthy or not.

At the appropriate times, the church was still — I believe from conviction and feeling the nudge of the Spirit.

Then, the picture of a child was displayed. His story read.

I had been charged with picking two children who really moved me, one for each service. This child’s father was in prison as his mother sought to eke out a living in Colombia. The packet was extended, and with a great sigh and relief and ample tears by all of us working the tables, he was taken!

And that began the swarm.

The tables were overrun after the service, and as the crowd dwindled, I realized that we had surpassed our past record of 26 children and still had another service to go.

Our pastor approached me, asked how we were doing, and was genuinely disappointed to still have any children left!

I gave him the perspective of where we were compared with where we’ve always been, but he remained dissatisfied. I was deeply encouraged by his drive and deep desire for the kids to be sponsored.

The second service went much like the first, except that when the child packet was read and offered, three people raised their hands!

I think I must have looked like a blubbering mess, but I was completely overwhelmed at how God was turning the hearts of our people to obedience. I stayed very busy running among the four tables, and I could hardly keep track of how many kids were being taken, one by one, and occasionally even two by two.

In the end, there were over 60 children sponsored, more than double our best before that point. I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose, attempting to receive the bounty God chose to give, the miracle He opted to invest, the more He multiplied from our meager offering of a few fish and some loaves of effort.

And from that day, a whole new vision was born. I feel compelled to serve my church in a new way: to not only work toward securing new sponsors, but also to care for those we already have.

Totals from the last few years put our church at almost 100 sponsoring families, and I want to support them, to build a sense of community among them, to offer further instruction and education on the ministry — basically to help them move beyond a check to a deep heart commitment to a relationship with their sponsored child.

We recently had our inaugural meeting of the Compassion Connection, and I was deeply edified to have a room full of mostly new sponsors desiring that deeper commitment. I was further moved to find both my pastor and his wife and my associate pastor in attendance.

My pastor seemed quite pleased to be writing his first letter to his Compassion child, explaining to me that his wife had been writing, but that this was his first attempt. Beautiful! God is continuing with the more theme.

So may I encourage you to continue to spur each other on to love and good deeds. God deeply wants to bless the work of our hands on behalf of “the least of these,” and I trust that He longs for nothing more than to open the floodgates and touch our work.

I’ve been in the difficult, deeply discouraging places, where there is no support and the effort feels fruitless. But it never is. It just never is.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” — Matthew 10:42 (NIV)

12 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Bill McSorley March 9, 2011

    Alecia, Very nice to read about your continued good work! E-mail me when you get a chance. Best wishes, Bill

  2. James September 26, 2010

    what a great idea. have a sponsors night and just write a letter. The church I attend has over 100 sponsored kids, How powerful would it be if we all got together every couple of months and jus wrote letters to the precious little ones. You are definitily onto somethning big

  3. Debbi Akers September 20, 2010

    So blessed to see that you pulled together a team that did something SO important… you prayed over each child by name. That is work that no one else ever sees, but truly Kingdom Work! What a lesson for each of us. What leadership! God bless your heart of service and your continued advocacy.

  4. James September 15, 2010

    What a great post. The first time the church I attend had Compassion presentation I was not going to sponsor no matter what. The second year, a tiny spark was ignited in my heart. The third year, my daughters were with me and the flame ignited and together the three of us picked up a packet and I made the decision that this was the one. Long story short, we sponsored, wrote letters and the young child we sponsored has now sent a picture of her with a smile that melts my heart every time I see it. Keep being an advocate, the children you will never know or meet are being touched by by God in a unique way that we will never know until we meet them in heaven. Bless you for what you have and will do.

  5. Stephanie Green September 15, 2010

    This is so timely!!! I have spent my afternoon preparing for our Compassion Sunday (this weekend). We have quite a few sponsors at our church already and I am praying that our team that went to Tanzania this summer can present the beauty and the need that we saw there in such a way that some of these children whose packets I have will find sponsors. Ultimately, though, it is not what we say but what God will do in their hearts that will make the difference. Thanks for sharing how prayer and preparation led to so many lives being changed (kids and sponsors)! at your CS event. What an encouragement!

  6. Margo September 15, 2010

    SO beautiful and inspiring, Alecia! Thank you so much!

  7. Uly September 15, 2010

    Great write up. There are tears streaming down my face. You and your congregation have touched my heart. I have been sponsoring since January this year. I have been unemployed since July 1st…but I am still able to sponsor…it’s only $38 for cryin out loud!

    May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

  8. Rick Schluep September 15, 2010

    Totally blessed by this and overwhelmed with joy (and goose bumps!) as I read it.

  9. Juli Jarvis September 15, 2010

    Great story! And we have Compassion Sunday coming up on the 26th! Can hardly wait —

  10. Prairie Rose September 15, 2010

    I held my first Compassion Sunday a few years ago as a sponsor, and only two children were sponsored. This out of a church of about 500 people. I was so disappointed I never even asked to do it again. Last year, I signed up to become an Advocate, and have watched as I’ve worked at concerts and events. There was usually a handing-out of packets right there at the presentation, and I was astonished at how many people were insistent that they didn’t even want to look at the other kids on the table, they wanted the child whose packet had been handed to them. So I asked my pastor if I could do Compassion Sunday this fall. We’re doing the churchwide series on Radical and so we did it a little early so it would fall on the week we studied the chapter on giving to the poor. I prayed my heart out, for each of my 35 kids individually. I’ll be honest, my prayer was to run out of kids during the first service, and have to tell the second service they could go online, take a brochure, or come back next week and I’d order more packets. But the other thing I did differently which others may want to consider doing is I scanned all the pictures of the kids sent to me, and put a picture and description of one child on each bulletin insert, and during my presentation, asked everyone to at least commit to praying that that child would receive a sponsor from our church. With a face and a name, and spending time in prayer, and after the amazing chapter and sermon on giving to the poor, I couldn’t see how a church of 500 people could possibly NOT sponsor all 35 kids. They didn’t. But we got 22 of them sponsored, and several others who took brochures or said they were going online. So that sure beat the 2 I had last time! I think it’s important to remind ourselves as advocates that as passionately as we want these kids sponsored, we can’t MAKE anyone else feel the same way. Only God can do that. I prayed God would open people’s hearts to this, and have to leave it in his hands rather than become frustrated that so many do not respond.

  11. Teresa September 15, 2010

    I LOVE how you are supporting the sponsors now. What a fabulous way to keep them feeling connected and seeing the difference they are making in the lives of children all over the world as they share their stories and letters. My heart is rejoicing at the miraculous ways God works!

  12. Amy Sullivan September 15, 2010

    Beautifully written. It is fun to see the excitement about Compassion and the amazing ways God is using technology for all of us to encourage and connect with one another online. Thanks for your words!

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