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)