Non-Traditional Family Traditions

Many of Compassion’s sponsors are young families. Our family fits that category with children 9, 6, 5 and 2 years old. Not only do we want to help little ones overseas, my wife and I want our own children to realize the hope-stealing effects of poverty. We want our kids to understand poverty to a point where they’re compelled to do something about it both now and later.

Do you think this way? What traditions have you started in your own home to cultivate an understanding of what the poor go through in the developing world? We’re just starting out, and I know we can get more consistent, but here’s a glimpse of what we do:

  • I made an 8-by-10 print of this picture taken by Tonny Tunya. It’s in our dining room. Occasionally, we pause to see whatever we’re facing through the bright eyes of these children whose playground is a garbage dump in Indonesia. At best, our conversations are speculative. But there’s truth in these talks, too. And our perspective is refined bit by bit.
  • Several children stand happily on a large pile of trash at the city dump where they look for treasures.

  • When we sit down for a meal and make the effort to think about Karen, our sponsored child in the Philippines, and her family, our gratitude to God for the food in front of us grows deeper.
  • We’re moving in the direction of connecting each one of our kids to a different sponsored child. They’ll get to minister and be ministered to through sharing words of hope, art and prayers. Who knows? Maybe our kids will be some of the few of their generation to have a true pen pal.
  • I’m memorizing verses about children and the poor and my son is helping me. I hope that these scriptures sink in for him, too, and that seeing his dad take the time to do this would inspire him.

I’m sure there are many other ways to teach children about poverty through day-to-day life. I’ve heard of kids initiating fund raisers and families who rethink gift-giving at Christmas. Some of these families have even gone on one of Compassion’s sponsor tours to see it all with their own eyes.

Would you take a few moments to share your traditions? It’s OK if you don’t do them 100 percent of the time. None of us do. But we want to. And it’d be great to learn from others. The kids need it. Ours and theirs.

10 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Ian Durias September 10, 2008

    Thanks for sharing this, Carmen! I’m excited for you and yours and, especially, for the child you’ve sponsored. And that tour is GREAT,isn’t it? They really do a good job. Leah led the tour we went on. She’s rad.

  2. Carmen September 9, 2008

    I’m so glad you guys are being intentional about this! I think one of the biggest blind spots in our American Christian culture is materialism.

    So … in part because of your post, and in part because we’ve wanted to do this for a long time anyway … we just let our oldest (age 7) choose a child to sponsor. She picked a girl who has almost the same birthday and has similar interests (and whose name starts with “E” like hers).

    We were passing through Colorado Springs the following week and stopped at Compassion to take a tour. It made a big impression on our daughter and was a great way to start the sponsorship journey!

    Thanks for challenging us to get involved, Ian!

  3. brad schultz May 30, 2008


    You’ve captured such a powerful picture of hope over hopelessness, and then modeled with your own children how we all can act on behalf of those that don’t have a voice.

    Our traditions have been simple, at dinnertime we go around the table sharing our “thankfuls”, some large and some small. We’ll remember your example when we gather in the future.

    God bless!

  4. Steve May 25, 2008

    Great picture for the dining area! Hopefully we’ll get one too in the not too distant future!

  5. Heather May 25, 2008

    We have children ages 11, 10, 7, 6 and 6.

    There is a bowl on our kitchen table that we put money into to feed the hungry in other countries. My kids, especially the 11 yo, are good about adding money a little at a time (or tithing from their allowance).

    We sponsor two children and one missionary. Every night after Bible reading time we pray for them. One of the children we just began to sponsor last week. Yonas is 12 years old and we look forward to meeting him this year when we travel to Ethiopia to adopt two older siblings of the three we have.

    I share world events with the kids. We talk about how we can serve the poor who beg in the streets of Addis Ababa.

    My desire is to take each of my kids on a short term missions trip while they are preteen. Visit a missionary and help him for a month. Not only can the kids see other cultures, how other people live, but they can be used by God to help those in need and bond with us before the teen years set in.

  6. Lisa in Sheridan, Wyoming May 24, 2008

    Family ministry! “Train them up in the way they should go and they shall not depart from it.” Compassion International offers countless “training” opportunities. Letters from our sponsored children and information found on Compassion’s website open our eyes to view the world as God does.

    Learning history(or re-learning in my case) and viewing current events from a Christian perspective are invaluable. We homeschool our 10 year old son and found a literature based history program from Veritas Press on-line. For current events, check out these article titles from God’s World News magazine for kids: Rising Prices of Food, Svalbard Global See Vault, Taxi Jam in France, and Horton Hears A Who movie review. Enjoy!

  7. Sara May 24, 2008

    I’m encouraged by this opportunity to reflect on traditions we can begin and maintain with our children. Traditions that are deeper than the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause. What a sobering reminder of the responsibility we have as parents to teach our children a Christian World View- one that equips and empowers them to see this world from an eternal perspective.

  8. Robert May 23, 2008

    My oldest is not even 6 yet, but we still talk about being thankful and obedient. We read a kids Bible (his favorite)…and talk about why Jesus is here.

    It’s hard for him to grasp anything much bigger…maybe in a year.

  9. Kelly @ Love Well May 23, 2008

    Great topic, Ian.

    Our children are 6, 4 and 4 months right now, so we’re just starting down this path. The main thing we have done, so far, is sponsor two children that are the exact age as our older kids. (In the case of our son, our sponsored child even has the same birthday!) We also let them help us pick the child to sponsor by looking through pictures online, etc.

    Of course, they are now involved by writing letters, praying and more. It connects with my daughter a lot more when we talk about Karla and the realities of her life (versus how blessed we are in America) instead of saying, “Lots of kids elsewhere don’t have all this.”

    But we’re really on Phase 1 of this. You gave some great tips. I’m definitely printing out that picture. Is there a spot to do so? Or should we just right-click, download and then print on our own printer?

  10. Tracie May 23, 2008

    I saw this exact same picture the other day and made it my background on my computer. For those days when I think my problems are too big to handle. I don’t have any traditions that I do with my children b/c I don’t have any children yet. But I definitely agree with you when you say how important it is for children to learn from each other. And to realize that there is always someone who is worse off than themselves. Thanks for sharing.

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