I stumbled across this post this morning, thanks to Google. More than the honesty the author writes with, I am impressed with the sincere desire that I perceive in his words – the desire to do good for the right reasons.

I strongly encourage you to read one man’s experience with us, even though his experience isn’t rah-rah.

I’m posting this because I am committed to creating a forum for authenticity and honest discussion

I’m also posting this because we, as an organization, have made these commitments.

Read Losing Compassion for Compassion International at the Protestant Blog Ethic.

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  1. Sep 10, 2008
    at 2:23 pm

    I’m impressed that you shared this. I agree with him in some respects — I don’t sponsor a child to get an automatic trip to heaven. But what I wish he did get is what the experience can do for both the child and the sponsor. He seems very hung up on how it’s “sold” to newcomers. Ah well, to each his own.

  2. Meredith
    Sep 10, 2008
    at 2:30 pm

    It sounds as though he is not as upset with Compassion (and the kids) as he is with personal convictions and Biblical truths. At the end of the day, God’s mandates to His people to take care of those who can not take of themselves (orphans, widows, the poor and needy, etc.) is the same, regardless of denomination affiliation.

    Denominations in general break my heart because I don’t think division was what the Lord had in mind for His church, His bride. Instead of doctrines and theological interpretations, just gives us Jesus! No religious traditions or rituals… Just Jesus.

  3. Gin
    Sep 10, 2008
    at 2:58 pm

    I also agree with Jonathan, or perhaps Shaun rahter, that there is no need to have homosexuality a barrier for helping children in need. I feel that a Christian is a Christian, bottom line. Why discriminate over where the $32 is coming from? While I recognize that not everyone is sane, no one in their right mind would send a sponsored child *anything* that had sexual content. Why even mention that?! Seriously!

    Thanks Chris, for maintaining complete transparency — that means a lot as a sponsor/donor.

    • Wayne Moore
      Mar 29, 2014
      at 3:11 am

      Gin – Once had the same problem about a Minister who said a Prostitute tithed to his church, another who received donations from a local brewery, as Christians we are governed by what the scriptures says is acceptable in our service to God, we know people struggle with the concept of sin and reconciling one’s action to what is an acceptable practice, Deuteronomy 23:18 clearly states whom and who we may take a gift from its could bring us into trouble in representing the One whom we serve- God. As Christians we are here to promote Godly values ascribed to us in the Scriptures, so there is a serious ethical concern here. As far as helping we had examples of Rahab also a prostitute at Jericho who assisted the Israeli spies, which won her favor in the faith Chapter of Hebrews 11. Its more about doing what God’s wishes not out of a person’s rights, we all sinned and regardless we all need to repent. Part of Compassion is reaching out with what God wants them to have freedom from sin.

  4. Sep 10, 2008
    at 3:05 pm

    An interesting post. I find it sad that he’s “calling” Compassion on their not allowing sexual language thing for the children. It seems like such a little thing to be picking nits over, especially as Shaun pointed out that it would be inappropriate to share anything sexual with a child.
    I think Compassion is in the right since I don’t agree with this stance on homosexuality. But that’s for him to decide and if he feels that’s a deal breaker then hopefully he will at least go away in peace.

  5. Sep 10, 2008
    at 4:10 pm

    This is one thing I love about Compassion — nothing is swept under the rug; it is all open for inspection. That’s because we have nothing to hide. I pray for Jonathan in his decision, and have posted my own comments to him on his blog. I appreciate his openness; only wish he had spoken up sooner if something was bothering him.

  6. Sep 10, 2008
    at 8:34 pm

    Thanks for the link, Chris. That was thought-provoking on many levels. Plus, the comments back to him were as good as the post.

  7. Marci Carpentier
    Sep 10, 2008
    at 8:43 pm

    Wow! That stirred some emotions in me. Thank you Compassion Advocates for your clear responses to Jonathan in his blog.

    I heard much of Jonathan’s relationships with musicians, friends and Lutheran’s, but unfortunately, I missed the important relationship connection in Jonathan’s blog; his relationship with Christ and the relationship with the child that he has sponsored, Emily.

    In a Compassion Sunday event held at my church, I was moved to sponsor a child; her name is Clarisse. I started sponsorship in 2005. Having health issues and not much energy, I thought this would be a good ministry fit for me. Clarisse said in her first letter to me, “Your country is so far from mine, would you like to pay my country a visit someday?” Really, I’ve never had a desire to travel, I don’t even remember if I responded to the question. Her third letter stated, “I am praying that God would enable you to come to visit my country”. Not long after that I emailed Compassion asking if they would be having a trip to Burkina Faso, they said yes, it was about to be posted to the website and to watch for it. Well, you guessed it, I signed up and the Lord provided, He provided funds, passport, a visa just in time, and the elusive Yellow Fever vaccine (US shortage at the time). By that time I had sponsored Marceline in the same country, so I would be able to see them both. I think of that visit every single day, literally. I think about the precious children in the projects that we met, the faces of those that stood outside the gates of the projects with a longing to be a part of what was going on inside, the gracious families that allowed us to come and visit their homes and meet their families, the committed Compassion Staff and the efforts that they made to see that our visit was special, and what they taught us about their culture. I think about the time I spent with Clarisse at the park and then meeting Marceline and her family. I think about the blessings that we have living here in the United States, options, choices, clean running water, various modes of travel, jobs that pay a decent wage, agencies available for us when we need a hand during hard times, the homes that we have to live in, and the fact that we have better facilities for our cars than these families have to live in! The Lord has put us here for a time and a purpose; we are each answerable to what we have done with what we have been given. Personally, I am thankful for all that Compassion does. I have seen the work first hand and believe in the work they do. I am thankful that the Lord stretched me beyond my comfort zone to travel to Africa to meet my sponsored children. I hope that they will remember that they are loved and truly special not only to me, but by Jesus. Ghana was so wonderful that I came home and sponsored a little girl there, and just recently a young man from Ethiopia, whose first letter I received today. A priceless gift to come home to that leaves me with a heart of compassion for Compassion International.

  8. Sep 10, 2008
    at 8:58 pm

    Interesting reading and comments!!

    It’s made me think so here goes:
    I am one person and I can help one child and I will do it through Compassion. I don’t know of another organization that allows me to build such a strong relationship with an individual child. And I don’t know of another organization that ministers to the whole child and provides me with choices about helping the family too.

    We are also Lutheran and part of our giving is through LWR and part is through Samaritan’s Purse and part is through our local community, to name just a few. There are many needs and there are many places to help and we give as we can.

    I will have to answer to God about helping the “least of these” and I know that I will meet Him because of grace. No one else will make me feel guilty or honorable because my relationship is with God, through Jesus Christ, and it’s not for me to judge others either.

    I appreciate your openness by posting this. It made me solidify some thoughts I had. And I was influenced to come to Compassion by Shannon and Sophie, fellow bloggers, so the Christian artists weren’t part of the equation.

    Thanks for asking / listening!

  9. Sep 10, 2008
    at 10:00 pm

    I do think there is a charitable organization for everyone and it’s a matter of finding one that is a good fit for you. There are a lot of organizations out there that do great work.

    What I LOVE about Compassion, though, is that you have the freedom to develop your sponsorship experience in whatever way you choose, with a few guidelines. You decide when you write, what you write, what you send, what you donate, whether to visit, whether to become an advocate, whether to attend conferences, whether to become a blogger, etc., etc.

    So I think people who look into Compassion need to understand all of the myriad of ways their involvement can play out — and appreciate the wide-range of things you can do, outside of just sending $32 a month “to get into heaven!”

    I do think it’s important that we hear people’s criticisms of the organization — we need to be willing to hear them out and either change what needs to be changed — or in some cases just say, “You know what, this is who we are as an organization.”

  10. Sep 10, 2008
    at 11:11 pm

    Very well said Lisa!

  11. Mark
    Sep 11, 2008
    at 7:31 am

    Its not the comments a gay couple will make but the mixed messages it will send to the child when they recieve pictures of the couple and then in return the questions they will ask in their letters.

  12. Sep 11, 2008
    at 8:27 am

    As a sponsor of three children I am bewildered that someone would find the speed bump in the road to child sponsorship to be a Compassion statement regarding sexuality. It is unthinkable that a sponsor could find a valid reason to communicate to CHILDREN about sex. I must presume that some children assisted by Compassion have been sexually abused outside of their projects [we know that 1 in 6 children in the US have been], so communicating to children about sex without intimate knowledge of the child and his circumstances is totally out of line.

    That applies to communication regarding sex in general, Even though the comment is about “homosexuality” or any sex “outside of marriage” — I would extend it to any discussion of sexuality with children as young as 5 and usually not older than 17.

    Certainly there is no reason that a Lutheran should prefer giving to Compassion to giving through their own denomination. But to disparage Compassion as “not compassionate” because it doesn’t regard “tolerance” or even give a tacit endorsement of homosexuality (or heterosexual promiscuity) as the measure of compassion is a distortion — one shared by some who go by the name of Christian. It would appear that some Christians have bought into the secular idea that greatest cultural value is “tolerance” — and have mistaken it for genuine compassion.

  13. Sep 11, 2008
    at 9:58 am

    Bob, you have expressed some of my most inarticulate thoughts, in response to Jonathan’s post. Mark, I had the same thought about photos. I appreciate all of the comments here, and the post, although it unsettled me.

    The bottom line, for me, is that a child may be cast aside, because her sponsor has an issue with conservative values (I read that all the way through Jonathan’s post) and with one of the few restrictions on our communications with our sponsored children. I would rather a person would never sponsor a child through Compassion than to be too cavalier about ending that commitment. A child is not a thing to be picked up and tossed away at will.

  14. Sep 11, 2008
    at 1:11 pm

    For those of you who had difficulty leaving comments on this post, I apologize. Our spam filter was keying off certain words and not letting the comments through. I’ve made some adjustments.

  15. Sep 11, 2008
    at 6:23 pm

    I’ve got a few thoughts about this.

    On the issue of what Tony Campallo said regarding Matthew 25, I feel that that would be a misrepresentation of what the Scriptures teach. Salvation is by grace through faith and not of ourselves. It is a gift of God, so that no one should boast. (Eph. 2:8,9). The Bible teaches very clearly that it is not by anything that we can do ourselves, but it is totally by what Jesud did on the cross. If we had to pay for our sins ourselves, we’d have to spend an eternity seperated from God. No number of children sponsored would ever bring us one step closer to being in heaven. Compassion doesn’t teach that good works will get one to heaven. It’s a misinterpretation of Matt. 25 to think that it contradicts the rest of Scripture, which teaches clearly that good works can never get us to heaven.

    On the homosexual issue: The Bible is pretty clear about this issue too. See I Tim. 1:10, and Romans. chapter 1. Also of course the Old Testament law is pretty clear on it. Those aren’t my words. That’s right in God’s Word. He does maybe have a point in the sense that you wouldn’t write to a child about heterosexual things either. Maybe it could be reworded as saying that Compassion wouldn’t want to have the sponsors write about sexual things. Although I think what Compassion probably means is that one could write about how they are married to someone of the opposite gender, but not of the same. If that’s the case than that makes sense to me. In other words, my dad could write about how he is married to his wife, but a homosexual couldn’t write how they were married or living together with someone of the same gender. In some of the countries where Compassion works, a lifestyle like that would be very offensive. The main thing though is that Compassion is Christ based and as such what the Bible teaches about this is paramount.

    As far as Ted Haggart is concerned, I’m a little confused. He said that he shouldn’t bring up. He scratched it out, then he posted it. That doesn’t seem sincere, unless he’s never figured out how to use the backspace key, which I seriously doubt. I would be the last person to say that all Christians, who believe in something don’t fall into the very sins that they are condemning. The Bible even warns us that if we think we stand to be careful that we don’t fall. But again the standard is not Ted Haggart, it is God’s Word. That’s why the Bible tells us not to compare each other with one another. It is foolish.

    Well, that’s what I honestly believe on those topics.

    Kees

  16. Sep 11, 2008
    at 6:26 pm

    On the cele-brity type of issue. I’ve worked with a lot of cele-brities and many times I found that the cele-brities will get involved in a charity, because their publicist will think it is a good idea and many times, they get paid by the charity to get involved. It’s very sad, because when I think of the pharisees how they did their works before men to be noticed by them, I think how that Christ really condemned it. The celebrities make the pharisees look nice, because the pharisees just got credit, but many cele-brities do this to get credit and to get money!

    It’s been a while, but I checked into this, because I got some cele-brities involved with Compassion and I felt that the motivation was very important, because of what I had witnessed in the past with cele-brities. I was very impressed with Compassion.

    I was talking to an artist the other day, who really wanted to be a spokesperson for Compassion. When I asked him if he sponsored a child right now, he wasn’t interested. I suggested that that was a good place to start. Overall, I think that Compassion handles this wonderfully. From what I remember, I don’t believe that any artist gets paid to do so.

  17. Sep 11, 2008
    at 6:28 pm

    Vicki,

    I feel the same way about the situation. The child does not know what the problem is. They can experience it as a personal rejection. It is sad. On the other hand, maybe the child gets another sponsor, who will really care for them.

    Kees

  18. Sep 11, 2008
    at 7:23 pm

    Good point, Kees, thank you. We can certainly pray for that end.

  19. Sep 11, 2008
    at 9:06 pm

    I’m not sure what else I can say, but I will most definitely be praying!

  20. Sep 11, 2008
    at 11:05 pm

    Kees, I agree with you on the points you made and with your statement that the standard is God’s Word. We do the best we can with the insight and discernment God gives us into His Word.

    One caveat: I read Jonathan’s post, but I don’t really know exactly what Tony Campolo said, let alone what he meant. We have that information filtered through Jonathan’s memory and understanding. I have heard Campolo refer to Christ’s asking each of us, “What did you do for the least of these?” but I doubt he would support the idea that we can buy our way into heaven by sponsoring a child or doing other good works.

    But the bottom line for me remains the same: the child. I pray that God will do whatever He needs to do in order for her to find a sponsor who will love, nurture and cherish her.

  21. Sep 12, 2008
    at 11:24 am

    Hi, Vicki,

    That’s a really good point. Yes, I can not come to a conclusion on Tony Campolo’s teaching based upon what this person said. I’ve had people misinterpret what I was teaching too.

    One thing that this all reminds me of is that when we look for sponsors to really look for sponsors that really want to sponsor a child and not to try to “talk” or “sell” them into the idea. I think finding a sponsor, that quits within a short time or that doesn’t want to write can be very painful to the child, I would think. I’ve talked people out of sponsoring a child, when they said certain things. I remember one guy telling me that he would never write. A while back, I also was talking with a sponsor that I helped find a child to sponsor for. He told me that he felt that God doesn’t care if children are starving in poverty and that the only reason, he sponsored the child is because of his commitment towards me. Of course I disagree with this totally, but I felt that maybe I shouldn’t have encouraged him to sponsor the child. I’m glad that his daughter is writing the child, so I’m not too worried about it, but I could see a sponsor like that dropping the child, which I think could feel like a rejection for the child.

    I love these children very much and I can maybe worry too much about them. I have to realize that God is still there Shepherd and will also in their lives work all things for the good.

    Kees

  22. Ken M.
    Sep 12, 2008
    at 4:37 pm

    I became involved with Compassion after hearing Tony Campolo speak at the Howard University Chapel Services about 4 years ago. I didn’t get the message that he was trying to sell Compassion as a ticket to heaven. He stressed that as Christians who are blessed we need to give back to the community. We need to help someone instead of focusing on ourselves and our own world. Then Tony said that this could be done locally or internationally by tutoring, volunteering in hospitals or children’s centers, nursing homes but do something. Then he stated that one way to help internationally was through Compassion. I didn’t leave with feeling that Compassion was a ticket to heaven. I felt that I needed to get off my behind and stop focusing on my problems.

    I know that some gay people do sponsor children through Compassion. It is because they have a heart for the Lord and desire to serve him. Although they wished that other Christians would understand that one could be gay and Christian they didn’t let the literature written in the Compassion pamphlet stop them from helping someone in need.

    I hope that Jonathan doesn’t give up on his sponsorship of Emily. Telling a child that you will sponsor them and then saying “Oops, I changed my mind” can be hurtful to him/her.

  23. Ken M.
    Sep 12, 2008
    at 4:48 pm

    I feel I should have left out “Oops, I changed my mind”. But it can be hurtful to a child who is depending on you and you don’t follow through. Although I do understand that Jonathan should or needs to find an organization that fits his values.

  24. Heather
    Sep 13, 2008
    at 4:19 pm

    I read Johnathans blog and I don’t find it all that thought provoking. I actually found it upsetting and quite selfish on his part.
    I don’t mind he critized Compassion International. He can do that all he wants. But,does he understand what sort of cultures these children live in? How would one explain the situation to a child?
    Most African Christians and other Christians in “third World” countries are extremely conservative and would find a picture(no matter how innocent)of a gay couple or letter mentioning a gay partner very very offensive! Compassion also has Muslim children in in program and in Islam there’s no tolerance for homosexuality. The only thing that happens is the gay man’s death.What if a church leader or imam found the picture or letter and there were reprecussions on the child or the childs family? What if the child were beaten or the family heavily fined?
    Imagine if the local religious leaders decided to pull all the children out of the program or forbade the parents of the child to keep the child in the program?? They would probably think “If Compassion promotes this,we can’t have anything to do with them”.
    If Johnathan truly cares about this child he should keep supporting her and get over his selfish,theological differences.I support the One campaign and I don’t always agree with everything they do.

  25. Jamie
    Sep 14, 2008
    at 10:40 am

    I feel the acceptance of homosexuality is very “trendy” in American culture these days and so trying to have sponsors exclude such references (and we aren’t talking about blatant sexual overtures, but wording like ‘my partner and I’ or something like that) about this lifestyle are totally appropriate.
    Afterall, aren’t we supposed to be expressing the message of Christ, not exporting the views of our popular culture to a child? I personally feel that the Bible is pretty clear about homosexuality (it is a deviance from God’s plan for relationships)and that our modern, secular culture is influencing the American church, instead of the church influencing the culture.
    What the “Losing Compassion for Compassion” post says most clearly is that there is a culture war in the United States that has little to do with what God says, and everyting to do with what man says.
    Let’s not drag something as honorable as helping children in poverty be sullied by our own divisive culture. If we want to impact the world, we need to follow God’s lead, not our own cultural impulses.

  26. Sep 15, 2008
    at 8:19 am

    I agree with you, Jamie, and with others who have expressed much the same idea: God’s Word is paramount, not our cultural “correctness.”

    My struggle, tho’, often comes from wanting to speak truth, but remembering that too much “salt” is not a good thing, and too much “light” is blinding. How do we speak the truth in love and not in judgment?

    Or is it necessary for us to speak to this issue, beyond the statements Compassion has already made? If God truly calls someone to sponsor a child through Compassion, someone who wants only to share his/her love and resources with the child and will guard his/her communications with the child so as not to raise such sticky questions, do we really need to say anything? Can we leave that person to God and love the heart that cares for the child?

  27. Eric
    Sep 15, 2008
    at 3:09 pm

    There are so many excellent comments here and many have said what I wanted to say, so I will not repeat them. I do want to say how thankful and proud I am of Compassion for standing up for Biblical truth on these and other issues and not being swayed by culture or misguided beliefs. We must be salt and light and be loving at the same time, but never water down what the word of God says. There is a fine line of coming across as judgemental, so we need to rely on the Bible. It is Jesus that speaks out against false teachings and the such. If someone thinks you are giving too much salt, point them to the Bible and clearly explain where Jesus speaks of these things. It is up to the Holy Spirit after that to touch the hearts of others and bring them to a clear understanding.

  28. Sep 15, 2008
    at 4:39 pm

    Hi, Vicki,

    One passage that came to mind is found in I John 5:2 “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands.” I’m also thinking about how that the greatest commandment in Matt 22:37 is to love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength. Then the second is like it and that is towards people. Loving God is always above loving people, otherwise we would resort humanism.

    One thing that I really like about Compassion is that we release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. The real poverty is lack of Jesus. Once that is set, then most other areas are relatively small. We are to love them in those areas too, because we need to meet each other needs, but by far the greatest need of poverty is the lack of Christ. That’s why I feel most of the Compassion children are richer than the wealthiest socialites in Hollywood. The big difference is really shown 200 years from now.

    During the interview that I had with Dr. Wess Stafford, he mentioned to me that child sponsorship is also child discipleship. I remember that really affected me and it helped me understand the importance of writing the letters too. So, now, when I look for sponsors, I keep that in mind, i.e. — will this person be able to disciple a little child? It helps me at times to encourage some people not to sponsor a child with Compassion. (That’s not to say that I’m extremely picky, but I do look for some basic things like being saved and having a desire to submit themselves to God’s Word and obey it.)

    Kees

  29. Sep 16, 2008
    at 8:28 am

    When I was teaching Freshman Composition, I tried to drill into my students the need to avoid trying to make a point by posing questions that were left unanswered. I violated that principle, with my last comment on this thread.

  30. Jennifer
    Mar 5, 2009
    at 2:32 pm

    I am a new sponsor of a lovely young woman in Ethiopia. Let me correct that. My partner and I are new sponsors. So what exactly is the condoning or living out or acting of a homosexual relationship. Cannot we really not say that we are together simply because we are two women? Not asking to cause controversy, just asking to know for sure. And, if we cannot say that we are together, (not expressing sexuality agenda or anything, because we would never mention anything like that to a child, very innappropriate) would Compassion not want our money? Is our gay money not good enough to help a child in need? Just an interesting idea. Makes us feel like our relationship to Christ is somehow not good enough. Perhaps our child needs a new sponsor. Thats sad.

  31. Mar 5, 2009
    at 10:53 pm

    Jennifer, congrats on sponsoring a child! I also sponsor kids in Ethiopia. It’s such a great country!!!

    As for your concerns about your sponsorship, just write to your child and say, “I’m Jennifer, this is ‘insert name here.’ We’re your sponsors. Our hobbies are…our jobs are…this is how we found Christ, etc., etc.” Plain and simple. It’s not unusual for more than one person to sponsor a child.

    I don’t know anything about gay money, but I do know the kids need us!!! :)

  32. Jennifer
    Mar 6, 2009
    at 9:21 am

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the response. Yea. That’s what we ended up doing. I said, this is me, and my friend Rachael, etc. It’s not a huuuuuge deal, it just makes me sad that it even has to be an issue. But we are really excited to be sponsoring her. ( :

  33. Mar 6, 2009
    at 9:44 am

    Hi, Jennifer,

    I always tell new sponsors that it takes 3 things to be a sponsor.

    1. Pray for the child
    2. Write the child a letter from time to time
    3. the $32.

    I also tell them that that is really the order of importance.

    Also, realize we’re dealing with totally different cultures. I never forget hearing about the child that wrote their sponsor and asked if the sponsor had a goat. The sponsor wrote back they didn’t, then the child wrote back that they will pray every day for the sponsor to have a goat.

    The difference can be quite significant. I am selective myself as to what I would write to a child. For instance, if I were to go eat a meal in a restaurant and it would cost $8.00, that would be an average monthly salary in Ethiopia. I would never write that I ate a meal like that to a child from Ethiopia.

    The key in all of this is Christ. Ultimately we’re not sponsoring because of just a love for the child. (Although anyone that knows me knows that I love my sponsor children to pieces!) We’re sponsoring, because we’re submitting our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible. This doesn’t get us a place in heaven. We do this because of what Jesus did for us. In other words out of thankfulness.

    I know myself. I’ve sinned. If I were to pay the penalty for that sin, it would be eternity seperated from God in a place called hell. To go to heaven, I must be perfect. Even if I lied one time, I couldn’t get to heaven. (Rev. 21:27) When I looked at that, I realized I was totally lost on my way to hell and no matter how many good works I did, it would never take away my sins.

    God loved me and sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die on a cross for my sins. He took the blame for every one of my sins and He paid for all of them. Then He rose from the dead, proving that my as well as everyone else’s sins have been paid for.

    All we need to do to appropriate this payment for our sins is to trust in what Christ did on the cross for us and accept His free gift of Eternal life. That’s why it says in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes (to trust, to depend upon) in Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.”

    Our only response would be to trust in what Jesus did on the cross for us. It’s not by going to church, doing good works, helping old ladies cross the street, or even sponsoring these dear children. It is by placing our trust on Him alone for our salvation.

    Having done that, out of thankfulness to Him in what He did for me, I sponsor these children.

    Thank you so much for caring for that little girl in Ethiopia.

    Kees

  34. Mar 6, 2009
    at 10:48 am

    Jennifer, I’m so glad you’re going to stick with it!!! And I’m glad you’re here. :) Sponsors like you, who are really excited about their kids and about the sponsorship process, are exactly what we need.

    I’ll just echo Kees — thanks for caring about that child in Ethiopia! And keep us posted on how things go!

    I’ve found Ethiopia to be such a culturally rich, fascinating country. I can’t wait to visit someday. :) One of our kids is older, so we hear more of an adult perspective on the country. Our other child is young, so we get to see Ethiopia through the eyes of a child. It’s so cool!

  35. Kim Edge
    Mar 6, 2009
    at 2:44 pm

    I belong to an ELCA Lutheran congregation and that is how I found out about Compassion, by an article in our local church newsletter written by a woman in our congregation named Sue who is on our Mission and Justice Committee. She sponsors three girls, now.

    I was an orphan and I always had the idea to “do something” to help the AIDS orphans in Africa but I never wanted to have kids or adopt and I was glad to find out about Compassion and be at a financial and spiritual point in my life to finally act on it.

    What I wonder is, should Compassion be more “up front” about what you can or can’t say to your kids before you sponsor. When I signed up, it was online, on their web site. It said the cost was $32 a month. Then when I got my sponsorship packet in the mail, they asked for $40 because my child was in an area where AIDS/HIV is a problem (she’s in Ethiopia). But I had already signed up online to auto-deduct $32 a month from the bank, so I was at a loss. To me that tactic felt like “bait and switch”. I think they should define up front on the web site what they want you to pay, what you cannot say about sex (and why). I can think of one good reason to talk about sex in Africa–AIDS and HIV! I am scared to death of my girl getting it from heterosexual contact! All I’ve said to her was “be a good girl”. I am praying that Compassion is teaching her about AIDS/HIV transmission for me!

    Another thing that kind of bugged me is that online they told me my child’s health status was “healthy”. Then when I got the packet it said, “We do not reveal if the child is infected with HIV”. Well, again–bait and switch. Do they think I would not sponsor my girl if she had AIDS/HIV? If I was that rotten a Christian I do not deserve to sponsor a child! :(

    I will be working at an upcoming Mercy Me/Compassion event and so I will see then how the whole Christian rock music/Compassion sponsorship child packets thing works. I hope I do not find it “kinda creepy”, or whatever the Lutheran blogger said. I have no idea who the Tony person is. I’ve never heard of any of the bands in the line up.

    I know that in these tough financial times, our church is now restricting Sue from promoting Compassion’s web site in the church newsletter without permission from the church finance committee, although she will be allowed to write about her recent trip to India to visit one of her girls.

    I know the term “bait and switch” is not exactly what I mean to say because it sounds so commercial, but I can’t think of a better term at the moment. Help me out if you can. :)

    Prayerfully yours,
    Kim

  36. Mar 6, 2009
    at 3:23 pm

    Hi, Kim,

    You may find several responses to your comment popping up here, but I’ll put in my two-cents’ worth. I am really glad you raised points that have become issues for you and may have robbed you of some of the joy of sponsoring through this truly incredible ministry!

    When you help at the table at the Mercy Me/Compassion event, you will be able to see the sponsorship (“Acceptance”) form in each packet. You will notice there that the sponsors are given a choice of paying $32/month or $40/month. That’s right up front. Apparently, sponsoring online does not offer that first-glance notice, so you are feeling a bit deceived. I’m sorry for that, as I have found in the 6+ years of my sponsorships that Compassion operates with the very highest integrity.

    If you will go on Compassion’s website, again, click on About Us. Then, in the left sidebar, click on AIDS Initiative. You will find several links through which you can learn what Compassion has been doing toward educating children and families served through the projects and local churches; testing children in the high risk areas as they are permitted; treating those who are affected; assisting the children who are orphaned by AIDS; and so much more. You will also see some packets, no doubt, with the red ribbon and the note that the child lives in an HIV/AIDS affected area.

    I’m not sure what child information would say about the health of a child who had been infected, but I doubt it would say the child was “healthy.” The reason they will never tell any of us if our sponsored child becomes infected is that Compassion does all it can to guard the dignity of the children and their families; HIV/AIDS still carries such a stigma, in some areas, that real harm could come to those who are infected. Our children, however, are free to choose what they tell us.

    You should have had some Tips for writing to your child, and you can find more information online.

    I hope I have managed to ease your mind, at least a little, and that others will also be of help to you. I really relate to your having wanted, for a long time, to “do something,” and I hope you will decide, over time, that sponsoring through Compassion was a great thing to do, especially if you are able to develop that special relationship with your sponsored child, as she matures.

    And any time you have questions about your sponsorship, want to change your payment amount OR means of payment, or just about anything else, you can call 800-336-7676. The call center staff are very helpful.

    Thanks so much for sponsoring your child and for caring about her so much!

  37. Barbara M.
    Mar 6, 2009
    at 3:45 pm

    Kim, I agree wholeheartedly with Vicki’s comments about the integrity of Compassion. I have been so pleased with them. I do have a question though Vicki for you. I just received a new photo of my child and he looks “incredibly thin” and does live in an HIV/AIDS area and yet his paperwork states “no heath issues”. Could it be that a child would be ill but we would never be told? I do understand the family wanting privacy. Do some sponsors just receive notice at some point that the child is gravely ill?

  38. Kim Edge
    Mar 6, 2009
    at 5:15 pm

    Dear Vicky,

    Thank you for your very kind reply. I love my Chucha very, very much and my sponsorship has already been a VERY great joy and blessing to me. Chucha and her grandparents were able to get a new roof, door, and cow through my extra “family” donation last year of $300. I sent another $300 this year and am hoping it will be a similar blessing to them.

    I use a Currency Converter site to find out what my $300 gift is worth in Ethiopian birr. Every day it changes, and I was informed last year that Compassion does international money transfers once a month, at the end of the month (unless I misunderstood the person on the phone). What really surprised me was that I gave the money on the web site in July and it did not get to her family as a disbursement until October. Now I am realizing that things happen a lot more slowly in Ethiopia than they do here in the U.S., but it is a frustration to me that I can (and do) write letters to Chucha frequently online but she cannot write me back except in pen and ink. However I love her and pray for her daily and she has assured me that she is praying for me “all the time”, as well, and even calls me her “mother”. Now her grandparents have even written to me and this was so greatly appreciated by me, to be able to hear from them as well! They gave me a precise financial accounting of how they spent the money I sent. I was so touched. If you want to buy a cow in Ethiopia today, they are paying 1200 birr for them in Debre Zeit! :)

    Chucha has never told me if she is HIV positive. I haven’t asked, but I have told her that I worked at a hospital as a nutrition specialist. I was hoping that perhaps that information would make her feel more comfortable in confiding in me if she were…probably I would need to ask more directly, but I really don’t want to pry and it would not change my love for her. I pray “for all the sick, physically, mentally and spiritually” every night so I figure that I include her there if she is indeed infected. But neither Chucha nor her grandparents have ever told me what her parents died of, so I kinda assume it was AIDS? I now know you can die of malaria, TB, and yes, even lion attack in Ethiopia, so I really have no idea. She would be on anti-viral drugs through Compassion if she were infected, wouldn’t she?

    I feel like a worried new mother. I’ve only been her sponsor for 9 months now and gotten three letters from her. I realize three letters per year is all we are guaranteed but my friend Sue has a girl in Kenya which is right next door to Ethiopia, and Sue hears from her more frequently, because Kenya has better communication service than Ethiopia. I get crazy ideas like that I personally need to somehow get Ethiopia up and online (like I know how to do that!).

    I just need to learn to relax about it all. But yes, it does make me a bit frantic to think that this young lady I love and sponsor, who is so vulnerable is living, probably, in a house with a dirt floor. I saw a photo of the Debre Zeit medical clinic when Bill Clinton visited there last year. It looked heartbreakingly bare of supplies and equipment. :(

    Plus I think she did not pass on to the tenth grade last year because it still says grade 9 on her last letter.

    I have read the Compassion web site very thoroughly about letters and tips. Good information is there and the “Larry the Letter” series was very informative and comforting to me.

    I know God is everywhere and Chucha and I are linked through Him at all times. But as someone with an anxiety disorder, I can freak myself out when I don’t hear from her for over six months, which happened after I sent the first $300. I did phone and a Field Study was done and I got an email from Compassion shortly afterwards saying a letter and photo from Chucha was on the way.

    I just wish I had the money to sponsor all the orphans listed on the web site. I do pray for them and I pray for everyone at Compassion every night as well. Thank God for the good work you do. God bless you!

  39. Mar 6, 2009
    at 6:15 pm

    Barbara, I want to encourage you to call the 800# to express your concerns about your child. I will tell you, though, that the vast majority of packets I see, as an advocate, have photos of very thin children; some even have the distended belly of malnutrition. “Thin” is far more common among these children than “nicely filled out,” whatever that might be. :o) But if you call the 800#, you could ask how communicating a serious illness–other than HIV/AIDS–is handled, and then report back to us! I honestly don’t know.

  40. Mar 6, 2009
    at 6:33 pm

    Kim, I share your joy at the great things our money can do for the children we sponsor and their families! I get detailed information from my girl in Rwanda, too, and I just go all over goosebumpy, when I read what they’ve been able to do! And I love your generous spirit, both for Chucha and for all the children you wish you could sponsor! One antidote to that is to join the Advocates Network, because it is such a joy to see other people sponsor a child and walk away with a grin on their faces. Another antidote is to become a correspondent sponsor, which you can also do by calling the 800#.

    Personally, I would not encourage you to ask if Chucha is HIV-positive, or even if that’s what killed her parents. She and her grandparents might be highly offended, especially if her parents did not die from AIDS; they might also fear that, if she did have AIDS or tested positive for HIV, you might not love her anymore. Even if you assured her of your continued love, no matter how she answered, I think they would be upset. But, yes, if she has been tested and is positive, she is receiving treatment.

    One thing we were all recently encouraged, on this blog, to ask is whether our child has the protection of a mosquito net. If not, a small gift could be sent with the stipulation that it be used for a net.

    You feel like a new worried mother because, in a real sense, you are! :o) I don’t know why you have gone longer than 6 months without hearing from Chucha, unless that was when you were a new sponsor for her. I thought Ethiopia was one of the countries with the “letter-for-letter” program, but perhaps not. I’m glad you phoned!

    An anxiety disorder can’t help, but sponsoring these kids is an ongoing lesson in delayed gratification! You obviously know what to do when you are concerned, and I just encourage you to continue praying for Chucha and her family.

    Anytime you want to write to me with questions, you can click on my name on any of these posts bearing comments from me. That will take you to my blog, and you can e-mail me from there. After that, you’ll have my address. I have some good “e-mail friends” that have come to me that way, and I love answering questions for and encouraging sponsors as much as I love finding sponsors for kids!

  41. Mar 6, 2009
    at 6:56 pm

    Hi, Kim,

    Just a quick note here, because I’m leaving tomorrow to go see some of my sponsored children. There are two types of systems in Compassion. The first one is where they bring many children together every 3 or 4 months and each child writes a letter to their sponsor. In this system, the sponsor can write a 1 letter a year or 52 letters a year. They still get the 3 or 4 standard letters.
    The other system is called the reciprocal system. This is where the child will write the 3 or 4 letters, but on top of that, they will answer every letter. Countries like Bolivia have that. I sponsor most of my children in Bolivia and I can tell from experience, I get about as many letters as I sent. I write 2 times a month and I get about 25 letters/child/year. The good news is that I heard that by the end of the year, every country will be on the reciprocal system. So, if you write fairly regularly, you might all of a sudden get more letters in return.

    Thank you for writing your child.

    Blessings,

    Kees

    • Mar 9, 2009
      at 9:58 am

      Actually Kees, for the Fiscal Year 2010 (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010), we do not have plans to add countries to the reciprocal letter program. That doesn’t mean that a country can’t have children answer sponsor letters sooner than the regularly scheduled time to write; it just means it’s not required.

  42. Leanne
    Mar 6, 2009
    at 8:50 pm

    I haven’t taken the time to read through all these posts, not have I taken a look at the blog mentioned in the article (yet), so I might be a little off topic here, but I wanted to comment about writing your children about sex.

    In one of the last letters I received from my sponsored children, a 17 year old girl from Peru, whom I’d been sponsoring since I was 16, and she was 6, she mentioned she was taking a course on Sexuality and that she learned it was not a dirty thing, but something beautifully created by God to be only inside of marriage.

    In my response to her, I mentioned how that was so true, and how I was praying for her to look to God to find the strength to stay pure in her future relationships with boys, and how it was worth the wait, as I shared with her how my husband and I had waited, even though it was hard.

    I personally don’t think there is anything wrong or inappropriate to share something about sexuality that way, ESPECIALLY if it was brought up by the sponsored child in a way my sponsored child did.

    Of course there is a huge line to be drawn between what is appropriate and what is not, but I just want to make sure we do not neglect talking biblically about sex the way God has created it, especially if that opportunity presents itself.

    I am assuming my letter made it through – I have yet to receive a call saying my letter could not be forwarded due to its content ;)

    Thanks for letting me stand on my soapbox for a minute :)

  43. Kim Edge
    Mar 7, 2009
    at 2:30 pm

    My Chucha is 18 years old. I do not know why she is only in the 9th grade. She did mention that her older sister had to leave school due to financial problems, and is now a wife and mother.

    Kees, I really look forward to receiving more letters, if Ethiopia gets up to the Bolivian letter response frequency.

    Leanne, I think with older children like ours that I am hoping they are learning about healthy sexuality and even birth control, because I know that in Africa, women are being infected by unfaithful husbands. Perhaps this is something Compassion would not do but perhaps our children could be referred to one of the other non-profit agencies that work abroad in health care and birth control.

    Kim

  44. Jean Gulden
    Sep 14, 2009
    at 8:23 pm

    So many opinions…there is no reason to comment on God’s/Jesus’ view of homosexuality, for those who choose God’s way over their common to man desires, the answer is clear. For those who do not, no words will sway. BUT there is a simple answer to the repeated comment: “no one in their right mind would send a sponsored child *anything* that had sexual content. Why even mention that?! Seriously!”
    So WHY would Compassion instruct against it? Easy – they have received and had to screen such letters. I’ll bet they hated having to be so explicit, too.

    • Jim Trumps
      Apr 26, 2012
      at 9:54 pm

      Wow. I don’t think the author of the post was talking about sending anything sexual. Compassion prohibits references to a gay relationship or pictures of said relationship. As a gay man, with a partner, I will be ending my relationship with Compassion as a result of this. I want my sponsor child to know that God loves him regardless if he’s gay, straight, or whatever! I cannot be part of an organization that promotes such intollerance.

  45. Mandy
    Feb 22, 2013
    at 12:34 pm

    I agree with Jim. I am amazed to see the incredulous voices here, protesting that you shouldn’t be talking to children “about sex” anyway. When you write to your child that you are a woman living “with your husband and kids,” is that a letter about sex? No. Neither would it be for a gay brother or sister to write about their own spouse, yet Compassion would not forward that letter. I am ending my relationship with Compassion and sponsoring a child through another organization that does not discriminate in such a polarizing fashion. Compassion does great things for kids in need, but so do many, many other organizations.

  46. Joe
    May 19, 2013
    at 3:21 pm

    The charity he talks about has caused uncalled for pressure on them to either change their name and website name or look for litigation from them. What are they afraid of, that the God will not allow someone to help support the right child? If they believe that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and everything else, why do they think they own a word and control it to not allow anyone else to use it. Where is God in that decision?

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