poverty in peru Hello, my name is Brianne and I cancelled my Compassion sponsorship.

File that tidbit right under, the thing I didn’t want any of my co-workers to know. And definitely something I didn’t want you to know.

poverty in peru

But I am currently suspended in the air, wrapped up in a metal vessel, headed back to a country that haunts me. Peru.

Peru, the first country I visited outside of the United States. Peru, my first overseas mission trip. Peru, the first place I saw the beach.

The country I sponsored my first Compassion child.

I don’t live in the age when jazz is on its rise, a hot scene. Or when the industry is booming.

I live in the “social injustice” age.

When I was in college poverty, social injustice, and the depravity of the world was hot. It was burn-your-heart hot.

Most of my friends were involved in missions work and worked to bring awareness to our campus.

When I was in college the question wasn’t,

“What company do you want to work for when you graduate?”

It was,

“What mission field are you going to move to?”

I think technology had a huge role in this. All of a sudden Africa, Asia and South America weren’t a faraway land. It had people, and we saw their pictures. It had statistics, and we could look them up.

poverty in peru

Family in Peru

It wasn’t a world away, it was one Hotwire or Cheap Tickets purchase away.

When I was in college, I wanted to get out. I wanted to go help. I wanted to be the solution. Not the ignorance. Not the problem.

Amidst this I went on a mission trip to Peru. A rip-my-heart-out trip, an “I don’t think I ever cried on that trip, never, not even after I came back home because I was afraid I’d never stop crying” kind of trip.

And then I went to a conference and heard about Compassion.

I marched myself directly to a table after I heard a Compassion Leadership Development Student speak. I looked and looked and looked at the pictures and there she was. A girl from Peru. That day I became her sponsor.

I was told that I could write her letters and she would write me too. I was told she would know she now has a sponsor. Shortly after the conference I received materials from Compassion about their program and their financial integrity.

Quickly, too quickly, I forgot about what that Compassion student said. I was sure that it was not truly her writing me letters. A girl in poverty? Writing me?

poverty in peru

Sponsored children in Peru

And Compassion somehow keeps track of that? And gets the letter to me? And then takes the time to process and translate my letter and get it to her? Um, right. But thanks for the warm fuzzies.

A few years later I decided to cancel my sponsorship.

The problem with the burn I experienced from all the social injustice hype in college was that I only let it burn me, not brand me.

After awhile I was all of a sudden graduating college. I was going to be dropped from health insurance. Oh my gosh. I needed to pay for health insurance. And then there was the real growing up.

Several of my friends did go to the mission field. But I didn’t feel that pull anymore. I needed to get a job. I needed to pay bills. I needed health insurance.

And then one day I realized I didn’t believe in what Compassion was doing. I never researched the ministry. I never read the materials they sent me. I barely even read the letters from my sponsored child.

So, I cancelled. Surely, she wouldn’t know. I mean, she didn’t even know I existed. Right?

Years later, God did call me to minister to the poor in Thailand. And then He called me to work at Compassion.

I remember when I started working here thinking, “And now I will see the underbelly of a ministry that so many people I know support.”

I’ve almost been here for five years. I now have two sponsored children. I believe in what Compassion does. I know my sponsored children know my name. And I know they read my letters.

Now, I’m branded. I’m not branded by hype or an emerging movement. I am not even branded by Compassion. I am branded by the heart of God.

He showed me the beat of His heart. He showed me that He is close to the poor. I want to be close to Him. I want to be close to whatever it is that He is close to – even if it means being in the throes of too many, “will I ever stop crying? It’s all so much to take in” sessions.

The problem is, not everyone reads the mail they receive. Or looks up information on the ministry they support.

In fact, once in a marketing meeting I was asked,

“What can we do to really bring the reality of Compassion’s ministry to the hearts of people?”

I thought and thought about it and I could only respond with two answers. It wasn’t sending more mail. It wasn’t pushing people to get online and research us. It was either to hire everyone to work at Compassion (which is how my Compassion conversion happened) or to take every sponsor to the field. That was it.

Thankfully, in a room I wasn’t in, a few brilliant people decided that we do need to take people on trips. Trips that people who can’t go on trips could follow. And thus the birth of Compassion blog trips. You might not actually get to board the plane and walk through the villages but it is so very close.

poverty in peru

Church partner and child development center in Peru

When you follow a blog trip you see through the eyes of several different bloggers and you read what they have to say about Compassion’s ministry.

They are in the field asking the hard questions, going through filing cabinets, asking about how finances are handled. They are faithfully conveying, the best they can, about what this thing called Compassion is and where God is in all of it.

Have you cancelled your sponsorship? Do you want to? Or have you thought about it? Do you have questions about letter writing, financial integrity, and what people without a filter have to say as they put Compassion under a microscope? Then follow them.

In fact, you can follow them this week. I know they’ll be tackling some of these questions in Peru.

If you are a sponsor, do you remember why you’re a sponsor? Are you branded by God and His heart for the poor?

Your heart for the poor can only carry you so far. My heart for the poor led me to cancel a sponsorship.


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  1. Nov 13, 2012
    at 12:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’m a missionary here in Cusco, if y’all are around this area hit me up. We could grab lunch or coffee. eric@spiritledexp.com

  2. Jessica Cushman
    Nov 13, 2012
    at 12:31 pm

    Thanks for this great essay. Our family just started sponsoring a little girl in Peru this year. Maybe you will get to meet her. Her name is Yaritza and she is beautiful. If you do, hug her for us and remind her she is loved and prayed for by a family far away. I look forward to following the posts this week.

  3. Nov 13, 2012
    at 12:56 pm

    I am so glad that so many people have had the opportunity to go on these trips and share their experiences with us! Don’t know if it is in God’s plan for me to ever visit one of our sponsored children, but I am so thankful for what a difference Compassion is making in their lives and in the lives of their families. Can’t wait to read about all the experiences this week!

  4. Toni Welch
    Nov 13, 2012
    at 1:02 pm

    I have sponsored a boy from Bolovia for several years now.Actually, I guess he is becoming a youg man now. He will be 15 this month.What a blessing to be a small part of his llife. I only wish I could do more. I will admit to a bit of frustration: None of my questions are never answered, and I don’t feel I know him any better now than I did in the beginning,. Of course I understand the language barrier..perhaps his translator is unable to follow through. I am 90 1/2 years old now. I was so happy to learn that when the Lord takes me home my young man will be turned over to another sponsor until he reaches the age of ineligibility. May the Lord continue to bring forth more sponsors for these precious ones. Toni Welch

    • Barbara
      Nov 13, 2012
      at 8:05 pm

      You have given me courage to not give up because of my age, I will be 79 in 7 months but feel more like in my 50′s. I have been blessed by being a sponsor and my notebooks for each child are getting pretty full. I decided to add 3 Child Survival Projects (CSP) so that I could reach even more children from birth with out having to pay a lot extra. I am thinking of adding another CSP but not sure which country I want to include. These CSP’s help several entire families including the newborn or the expected newborn.

  5. Alice Skaggs
    Nov 13, 2012
    at 1:12 pm

    I met my sponsored child and her mother for the second time in 3 years. We have a relationship and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  6. Nikkita
    Nov 13, 2012
    at 1:17 pm

    Wow, what a story. Thank you for sharing this as I think a lot of people are this way with not believing that the sponsored child really gets our mail or all of the money goes to the child, ect…. I do look forward to getting Silvia’s letters and drawings (she is our sponsored child in El Salvador) and she is absolutely beautiful and delightful and we feel blessed to be able to get to know her. We have been saving up our change to visit her some day. She doesn’t know this yet and when we get the money saved we then will tell her we will be on our way :) She is as real in our lives as our children and grandchildren…we count her as one of the kids. Please, if your reading this and have not sponsored a child please consider this information and look for a child to sponsor. They will be grateful and you will find the joy in this also. God bless you and yours and all of the children sponsored and waiting to be sponsored. Peace be with you, Nikkita

  7. Lisa Davila
    Nov 13, 2012
    at 1:24 pm

    Hello, I am so looking forward to reading the blogs from Peru. I look forward to learning more about the country where our sponsored child is from. If you come across a 4 year old girl named Yohana Troncos Castillo, please give her hugs and kisses from us…She lives in the Lima area…thank you bunches! Jesse and Lisa Davila

  8. Nov 13, 2012
    at 3:52 pm

    I’m a sponsor because as a children’s minister I know how much a little support can go in changing a child’s life and how transforming the message of Jesus can be making a whole life count for Christ.

    I’m a Compassion sponsor because I started working at Compassion’s I was in the accounts department and I saw for myself their financial integrity. I’m a Compassion sponsor because the more I learn about Compassion the more convinced I am that it is a great ministry that God uses to bless, challenge and change all sorts of people in both the developing and developed world.

  9. Garry
    Nov 13, 2012
    at 8:35 pm

    The title of your blog sure got my attention. I have been to Guatemala and Colombia to see my sponsored kids. Once you have played with them, prayed with them, visited with their family, and processed just how little they have and how important you are to them, there is no quit. I am on my seventh, eight and ninth kids now, and have watched four of them graduate. I am in this for the long haul, one child at a time. Alice, I know where you are coming from. My kids are family.

  10. Sally Magallanes
    Nov 13, 2012
    at 9:45 pm

    I have been a sponsor of numerous children for over 30 years. I didn’t know about the ministry until I heard a presentation at a Christian concert. God led me to go check out the sponsorship table, at least one child caught my heart, and I began the wonderful relationship, with letters, photos, cards and more, for… as long as I live! I never doubted the letters or photos were not real. I knew Compassion had a high level of integrity — I kept up on nonprofits to make sure no red flags came up.

    As for Peru, I just came back from my first sponsor trip to this country and I can assure others that there is a dedicated, honest and loving staff. These bloggers will experience the same–they will not need to “go through file cabinets.” Just visiting Compassion programs and meeting the children, families and staff will say it all. The love of Christ in the most tangible way. I love Peru and all that Compassion stands for.

  11. Nov 13, 2012
    at 10:01 pm

    I’ve been sponsoring for 3 years now. One of my sponsorships just ended, because she graduated the program. I have 2 others, Maxwell from Kenya, Yuri from Guatemala and I write letters to Sofia in El Salvador.

    Sometimes I have the same doubts, the same questions etc. it’s hard to believe that it’s real and with so many unscrupulous organizations in the world, it’s sometimes hard to fathom that Compassion is completely real. On the other hand, I truly believe God would to have led me to them, unless they were.

  12. emi
    Nov 14, 2012
    at 4:47 am

    I was once a sponsored child of Compassion & have been truly blessed to be a recipient of this wonderful ministry! Words are not enough to express my gratitude to our loving God who showed us the perfect example of love in Jesus & for people – total strangers like you – who respond to the challenge of making a difference in the lives of the underprivileged. My life has been changed in so many ways.. And I am happy to share that in my city, our Compassion alumni group has decided to sponsor a child soon! We are very, very excited to now become a channel of blessing to somebody else’s life as we are living testimonies of how this ministry works. Glory to God!

  13. Brianne McKoy
    Nov 14, 2012
    at 4:58 am

    Thank you to everyone for their sweet and encouraging comments! I am so grateful my honesty was received with such grace! And I am filled with gratitude for you and your commitment to your sponsored child.

  14. Marcia Sabin
    Nov 14, 2012
    at 8:31 am

    Thank you for your honesty and the realization that we must remain faithful to the Gospel — proclaiming the good news but also doing the good news. My husband and I recently sponsored a young girl from Africa. We are just beginning our journey. Your testimony confirms that it is so easy to reason our way out of not giving of our time and stewardship in general. Jesus Christ calls us to endure and remain faithful. We are not to be distracted by human events by not being a neighbor to our sisters and brothers throughout the world in need.

  15. Liz
    Nov 20, 2012
    at 9:49 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, The child that I sponsor is also from Peru so your story kinda hit home. I am currently going through some financial struggles and got a little behind in my sponsorship but was recently able to catch up. God Bless : )

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