Discovering Child Advocacy

child advocacy Several years ago when I started sponsoring a child through Compassion, I thought I was doing a good thing. I made a small but noticeable donation to a nonprofit doing great work. Some little kid in India had a better life, I felt good for caring for the poor, the kid probably felt better because he had more food to eat, I was being oh-so-Jesus-like, and all was well with the world.
Then, I went. I went to where “the kid” lived. And I discovered something.
I discovered that this child sponsorship thing isn’t a game to make rich (or middle-class) people and poor people feel better about themselves.

I walked the prostitute-filled streets of Mexico City. I walked among the sick and dying lying hopeless outside the Buddhist temples in Kolkata. I walked between the standing puddles of water left over from floods that had brought down a string of houses in the Dominican Republic like a row of dominoes.

I saw poverty and the reach of its ugly hand. The beautiful young Latina girls who would sell themselves away for almost nothing because they needed money and, let’s face it, what were they really worth anyway? No one was going to rescue them.

The orphans of lepers and cripples in India, begging for food and being smacked upside the head by a passerby for being “bothersome.” Where would they go? They are no one, nameless to the world. 

And the Dominican Republic … what is the DR if not a place for drug lords and dealers to get rich off the poor and addicted? 
This is the world I live in, though I often choose to block out the images and pretend they don’t exist.
This is the world Compassion lives in. And they refuse to close their eyes.  
Compassion releases children from poverty in Jesus’ name. They do not simply release children from the economic plight of poverty. They provide them with the hope that can only come from Jesus, the hope that says,

“You matter. You are precious. You are made in God’s image. You have a purpose. We refuse to let you believe that you are no one, that you don’t matter.”

Yes, they meet the physical needs. That’s imperative. But meeting physical needs in a life devoid of hope isn’t enough. Meeting physical needs by extending the hope of a life in Jesus, though — that produces transformation.
And so I discovered just that. Transformation. For while I saw what appeared to be endless lines of prostitutes along the colorful streets of Mexico City, I also saw young girls and boys who entered the doors of a Compassion child development center in a local church, received nutritious meals, health screenings and checkups, tutoring and life-skills classes, and were personally loved and cared for by families within the church.

In India I saw young children in school uniforms who sang songs and created beautiful works of art, who were no longer captivated by the lie that told them that just because they came off the streets, they were trash.

In the DR I saw hope and life in the eyes of young teenagers who were refusing to deal drugs or join gangs because they had another reason to live. That reason just happened to have a name. They called him Jesus.
I discovered that child sponsorship isn’t about making me feel better. It’s about transforming lives — in every sense of the word, releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. And I became, in a word, humbled. Even a little humiliated. 

For $38 a month (which has at times been pocket change and at times been a sacrifice), I get to provide the bridge needed for a child to cross over from the streets to the Compassion child development center, from the land of hopelessness to a place of love, hope and joy.

As a sponsor, I’m not a part of making someone just feel better. I’m a part of a transformation.
When I returned home, I quickly realized that so many of my own friends and family members were right where I had been. They didn’t know the reality of so many kids in our world today, the hopelessness that binds itself around the hearts of children because the kids are caught in the grip of poverty. 

My friends and family didn’t know because they hadn’t seen it. Or, maybe they knew about it, but they didn’t know what could be done to really make a difference.

I was a little overwhelmed — how could I communicate all that was on my heart?
My journey of discoveries led me to Compassion’s Advocates Network. The Advocates Network is a team of volunteers who commit to speak up in their spheres of influence on behalf of children in poverty.

These child advocates create and share resources, provide coaching and training and spiritual retreats. They pray for each other and know each other by name. They get that advocacy on behalf of children is hard — and desperately important. So they encourage each other to press on.
Has your heart been broken by the reality in which your sponsored child lives? Do you want to do more on behalf of your child?

Become a part of our movement to see hundreds of thousands more children released from the cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Become a child advocate. I’d love to have you join me.

12 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Lizzie January 1, 2012

    I would very much like to become an Advocate. But, here’s the catch- I am 13, live in the middle of no where, don’t have travel or permission to go anywhere, and I have to network of friends. So, any ideas on how to get kids sponsored would be oh so appreciated 🙂 Thanks, Lizzie

  2. Mucunguzi Innocent August 28, 2010

    It takes sacrifice to love and sponsor the needy? Since 1995 to date I have been in compassion that’s because of Gods love which he gave to man kind to care for one another. Apparently I have just finished university waiting graduation in November. I realized what God has done which ideally I can’t attach any value to compare it with but only to say our father is awesome.

    Early this year I decided to sponsor a child called AHUMUZA SAMUEL whose back ground would be better felt than expressed. A total orphan at 3 years, homeless, without food and above all lacking love. I came across my friend Samuel when I shared my vision with my Reveland a bout starting up an orphanage home in future which will restore the lost glory to many young children who by circumstance have found themselves unable to define their state. What I could afford to give Samuel at the moment was to tell him how God cares about him. I had just gone back to Uganda Christian University for my last semester and Samuel had just started nursery at home in kabale District. My great challenge was now to raise fees for my friend bearing in mind that am a student still depending on help from my friends and relatives.

    I had to send my up keep money to Samuele’s school such that he can be allowed to register honestly I was left with no coin to buy few items but God who cares gave me a room mate who had a good spirit of sharing the little he had. At heart I was so happy that amidst limited resources I have been able to raise fees for my great friend Samuel. so it takes a sacrifice to love and sponsor someone. I now some how know what our dear sponsors go through to raise our university fees.

    I urge fellow students to embrace this opportunity God gave us by being who we are when we are at school and doing what is expected of us. There is nothing that brings JOY to our parents and sponsors than when we succeed holistically in life.

    My call to compassion beneficiaries is that lets emulate the good spirit of helping the needy by sharing the limited resources we have. some people don’t need your money but to loved and appreciated.

  3. Lennon Vargas August 26, 2010

    hola… soy de nicaragua ….trabajo para una Iglesia Bautista y tiene un proyecto de compassion internacional …con 300 niños …me alegra mucho que exista una asociacion como esta ……es un honor para mi trabajar a Dios ayudando a estos niños por medio de Compassion Internacional……. Dios les Bendiga desde mi tierra León, Nicaragua…. NI’139

  4. Barbara Ferraro August 25, 2010

    Tiffany, I agree with you completely about teenagers being allowed to be sponsors. I also agree that it is the parents decision when their children are under the age of 18, whether or not to allow their child to be a sponsor. I think it would help the teen to perhaps become more responsible. I also like to see families that encourage their children to get involved when the parents choose a child to be sponsored. I have seen parents allow the child to choose someone for their family to sponsor and they look forward to being able to write to the sponsored child.

  5. David August 24, 2010

    This is EXACTLY how I view the incredible work that we are involved in. I am an advocate, a sponsor of 7 kids, been to visit three of them, and my biggest “firestorm of frustration” (Bill Hybels) is that so many people JUST DONT GET IT!! Its more than just a nice thing to do, or making myself feel a bit better about for some reason having been born blessed when so many others arent.

  6. Doug West August 24, 2010

    What a great description of how sponsorship can (and should) move from 2-D (photo on the fridge, happily making the monthly donation, etc) to 3-D (hugging the kids, seeing where they live and entering their world even for a brief moment). Your testimony awakens my own memories of why I do this. thank you for sharing!!

  7. Chuck Guth August 24, 2010

    Well said….thanks from sharing from the heart!

  8. Vicki Small August 24, 2010

    Excellent, Tiffany! You have painted so many wonderful pictures–even the pictures of poverty are “wonderful,” in that they are clear. The difference between the pictures of poverty and the pictures of young lives lived in real Hope is the difference between living color and dull, faded black-and-white.

  9. Compassion dave August 24, 2010

    Loved this line, “For $38 a month (which has at times been pocket change and at times been a sacrifice), I get to provide the bridge needed for a child to cross over from the streets to the Compassion child development center, from the land of hopelessness to a place of love, hope and joy.”

    I’ll slap a big ol amen on that!

  10. Denise Jones August 24, 2010

    Hi Tiffany, what a wonderful heartfilled blog. Thank you for sharing. You have encouraged me also. You have captured in words why I am an advocate. Thank you.

  11. Greg Birgy August 24, 2010

    Tiffany, thanks for encouraging ME to press on this morning! It’s the incredible people like you that make the Advocates Network what it is. Let’s never grow weary of the work God entrusts to us–as He transforms the lives of children, of their sponsors, and those of us called to be child advocates!

Add a Comment