Tales From a Compassion Sunday Newbie, Part III

compassion-sunday Read all of the articles in this series from Barbara McMillan.

On the morning of my Compassion Sunday event, I arrived early before the first service to set up my table and meet with the technical-support volunteer who would be playing my DVD and running my PowerPoint show. My 15-minute spot would be just after announcements.

We got our signals straight as to when the DVD should start, when I should come to the front, and how I would indicate that it was time to advance the presentation slides. I put a bright blue Compassion tablecloth on the folding table, set up the cardboard attention-getter from the preparation kit, arranged the child packets and my personal scrapbooks about my sponsored kids, and went to sit down.

When I realized how many people were browsing as they entered, though, I realized I needed to remain near the table.

One woman looked at the display, went to her seat, then returned, telling me that she had been to the Compassion website before but had never sponsored a child. She selected a child packet and asked me to put it aside for her, which I did. It looked like I would get at least one sponsorship!

I lecture college students every day, and I have given a significant number of professional presentations at conferences in my career, so I never expected the case of nerves that hit me as I began to speak.

Once I got started, the hardest part was finding a place to stop. As I returned to my seat, my pastor announced that two offerings would be taken that morning. The first, taken at the usual time during the service, would be for tithes and regular offerings. The second would be taken at the end of the service for Compassion. Wow!

At the end of the service, the pastor directed two of the deacons to take offering plates and stand by the exit doors, and reminded everyone to visit the Compassion table. Many people looked at the scrapbooks and packets and asked questions. Several asked for brochures or particular kinds of literature or information. I took notes for follow up later.

By the time the room cleared, seven child packets had been spoken for, and three were returned with payment right on the spot.

My nerves were actually worse during the second service than in the first one. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my dry mouth. Nonetheless, the presentation went well enough and the response was again good. A total of 11 packets were taken, leaving me only four.

Again, a number of people asked questions or requested some individual follow-up. For example, one family wanted a child from Bolivia, and I had already given away the three Bolivia packets I had, so this family gave me sufficient information to select a child for them and sign them up online that afternoon. At the end of the day, I was overwhelmed and humbled by the response of my church family.

Once my Compassion Sunday was over, I wanted to wrap up the loose ends as quickly as possible. I wanted to FedEx my paperwork and money to Compassion the next day; however, although 11 child packets had been selected, only six found their way back to me complete with checks or payment information.

I was thrilled with six new sponsorships, but I hoped for the others to come in too. In addition, my church had collected a special love offering that I really didn’t know how to handle and I wasn’t sure when I would have it in my hands.

I contacted my Regional Coordinator for help and support for the logistics. She assured me that it would be fine if it took me a few extra days, and she talked me through the details.

My Compassion Sunday kit contained 15 packets. At last count, my church family has sponsored 12 new children. The offering amounted to $1,339.00.

I am praying for the remaining children whose packets are in my care, and at this point I can envision the Lord moving in the hearts of potential sponsors to accomplish what I would have thought was impossible just a few weeks ago.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara McMillan and her family sponsor three children and correspond with one more. She has been an advocate for two and a half years.

14 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Sarah April 20, 2011

    And Carolyn! It is wonderful that you have chosen to sponsor Kabore! I wish you both many blessings in your new friendship, and will pray for his progress and that he’ll flourish with your kind encouragement and influence in his life!

  2. Sarah April 20, 2011

    Congratulations Barbara! That’s such a great achievement, encouragement and service to the Lord! I recently started to sponsor, but am applying to become an advocate too – and while I am so enthusiastic, a wave of panic washed over me today at the responsibility of getting these children sponsored! I’ll pray with you, for you, and for the remaining children whose packets are in your care – please pray for me and my advocacy application! Blessings in His glorious name!!

  3. Sarah Elizabeth April 12, 2011

    Thanks for the encouragement!! It can be so intimidating stepping out in this way when you feel like you’re “just a volunteer.” You often don’t know what you can do until you do it. Congratulations on such an awesome response!

    Here’s a link to a video I made for my Compassion Sunday 2011 presentation, it includes the official Compassion Sunday 2011 stock video. It was such a great experience!

    1. Barbara McMillan April 15, 2011

      Wow, you made a video? That’s ambitious! Let me know how it goes (or how it went!)

  4. Jan April 11, 2011

    I am so proud and happy for you. How wonderful!

    1. Barbara McMillan April 15, 2011

      Thank you!

  5. Gail April 10, 2011

    Wow! Great work! Looks like God really blessed the labours of your hands. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Barbara McMillan April 15, 2011

      It has been a pleasure. Pray with me for more opportunities to share Compassion.

  6. Carolyn April 10, 2011

    Hi I’m Carolyn. I am only 11 years old and I chose to sponsor a child from Burkina Faso along with the help of my family. His name is Kabore Yacouba and even though he is older than me, I chose to make him a happier person. He was born Dec. 3rd, 1996. I was really inspired by Youth Encounter east coast bands, Bread of Stone and Captive Free. I hope to communicate with him soon and I am eager to learn more about him. I have faith in him and I am very happy to help spread the Word of God. Thank you!

    1. Barbara McMillan April 15, 2011

      Carolyn, you are an awesome influence. I know Kabore will be excited to have a friend like you. Thank you for caring!

  7. Lisa April 10, 2011

    Barbara, I have really enjoyed these articles on your Compassion Sunday experience. They are super-helpful.

    Now that you’ve gone through the process, is there anything you would have done differently? Or are there certain things you did, that worked really well and you would recommend others do when they plan their Compassion Sunday?

    Congrats on getting 12 kids sponsored. That is just fantastic!!

    1. Barbara McMillan April 15, 2011

      I am glad you enjoyed them! Yes, there are things I would do differently. Preview the PowerPoint slides on the church’s system! I would also make photocopies of the child packets so I would have a better record of the kids’ information–names, locations, and birthdates–so that I could follow up with the new sponsors and remind them to send cards early, and so forth.

      What worked really well for me was to tell a simple story from the heart, and to pray like crazy! Also, setting the table up early and standing near it to show my scrapbooks and talk about the children seemed to help build interest. Finally, I am SO glad I had participated in training for Bite Back and Child Survival so that I could answer questions knowledgeably.

  8. Amy April 9, 2011

    Great job Barbara! Think of the rejoicing that those twelve families will do when they learn that their children have been sponsored!

    1. Barbara McMillan April 15, 2011

      When it was all said and done, the total was 16!!! newly sponsored children. I am going to host a ‘correspondence day’ in a couple of weeks. I can hardly wait!

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