I don’t think it’s possible to be authentic without being transparent.

By consciously withholding something or avoiding a subject because I fear a reaction – anger, rejection, judgment, etc., I’m not being authentic. I’m being manipulative.

Choosing what to share and what not to share is lying by omission, and it’s not being transparent or authentic.

What does this have to do with children in poverty and Compassion International?

  • You’re reading Compassion’s blog about child poverty.
  • A blog is media — social media.
  • Media is manipulative.
  • We want to get more children sponsored. More! More! More!
  • The blog helps us do that.
  • We’re afraid to say anything that will muck that up.

I’ve had conversations with employees who have said that “the blog is just a big commercial for Compassion.” And “the blog is too rah-rah, like it’s written by a bunch of cheerleaders.” Or GASP! Marketers.

I agree that our first two months have been filled with lots of feel good posts, and I know we can’t be everything to everyone, and I don’t think we have a problem yet; however, if you perceive the blog to be a one-dimensional commercial about how great Compassion is, as opposed to an authentic and sincere communication with you and for you, rather than at you and for us, then I’m wrong and we have a PROBLEM.

Am I wrong?

And what’s your perspective, meaning how involved with Compassion are you? Are you drinking the same Kool-Aid as us employees? Are you Super Advocate or Super Sponsor … or are you just passing through?

How do we share anything positive with you without sounding like a bunch of cheerleaders?

Am I over-thinking this stuff?


If you’ve never commented before, please consider doing so now. You non-commenters have opinions too. I know you do.

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  1. Apr 24, 2008
    at 6:50 am

    I’m enjoying the Compassion blog, and think it’s off to a great start with some positive stories and interviews. And I’m still so impressed by the whole Uganda blogging tour.

    But now that I think about it, this is one of the first posts on this blog that I’ve clicked through to in a while. I suspect that’s because, for whatever reason, the first lines here struck me as different. Maybe it was the topic — transparency in communication about poverty is something I think about a lot. Or maybe it was the pause to self-examine.

    Whatever it was, it worked. I’m here, and I’m probably more a fan of Compassion than ever. I remain impressed.

  2. Apr 24, 2008
    at 7:31 am

    No organization is perfect; I’ve worked with lots of them, and they all have problems and glitches here and there. It all comes of having humans involved, I suppose – sometimes people disagree, projects don’t go as planned, and things don’t turn out. I would bet Compassion is no different.

    But when I read Compassion’s blog–or any ministry’s blog, for that matter–I’m not reading it to hear about the humanity I assume is already there. I want to know what doors God is opening for you, and how you are serving His kingdom. And if that sounds like a “feel good” post, praise the Lord that you are being effective!

    Sincerity is necessary, and the requirement of true reporting goes with out saying, but assuming both of those things, I say bring on the cheerleading.

  3. Andrzej Gandecki
    Apr 24, 2008
    at 7:53 am

    For me the blog is just positive. I do not see any need for writing about problems here. You have allowed for some critical comments, and that is authentic enough for me. Of course you need the right not to publish destructive comments, if there happend any.

    If I have a problem with the way Compassion works (and sometimes I do) I just email the main office and it up to them to answer it.

    So, to be short: keep up the good work!

  4. Apr 24, 2008
    at 8:16 am

    Yeah, who the heck is writing this thing? Sheesh.

  5. Allan
    Apr 24, 2008
    at 8:37 am

    This is funny that this topic came up today because I was just talking with my co-workers about the idea of companies using blogs, social networking, etc for the growth of their company (no, I don’t work for compassion).

    Personally, I’ve been challenged by the topics covered in the Compassion blog and while I understand that Compassion is behind the blog and trying to get more kids sponsored, is that really such a bad idea?

    The issues covered in these posts go far beyond Compassion and appeals to the root of what Jesus commanded us to do. Compassion is a vehicle that God is using to reach these people in need, but as a Christian I need to have my heart moved with compassion.

    In a world that is constantly promoting every aspect of what is wrong, it’s nice to know that there is a ministry out there who is actually doing good. I’m sure there are problems and issues with Compassion, but as a sponsor and someone who believes in what you do, I don’t want to see the ugly side…just my two cents.

  6. Apr 24, 2008
    at 10:18 am

    Just some thoughts:

    1. I work for Compassion and this blog wouldn’t even be on my radar if I didn’t.

    2. I’m glad that it’s on my radar, though, because I enjoy all the different takes found here. Like the recent story about Mercy and Vic. Powerful.

    3. I enjoy the blog so much that I’ve been touting it to friends who are not or only loosely connected to Compassion. Would I promote it as heavily if I didn’t work for Compassion, though? Hmmm…

    4. Let’s say someone respectfully (or not-so) took a shot at Compassion and his or her post was published (and discussed) regardless. That would be a mark of a healthy online community.

    5. I appreciate you bringing this up, Chris.

  7. Apr 24, 2008
    at 11:11 am

    Corporate writers in any environment should always just be honest with who they are. Wal-Mart hired a PR firm this past 2007 to write a blog about two people “Wal-Marting across America” in an RV…even those people were compensated for their efforts…all of that is fine accept that the PR firm pretended to be actual customers (when in fact they were very expensive PR writers from a professional firm)…they were not authentic…and it hurt Wal-Mart (who then promptly fired the PR firm – as if to say that they didn’t sign off on the project).

    Good public relations is always about good listening, connecting with another human, and ALWAYS being honest (especially about who you are and what your intentions truly are!). There is always a HUMAN on the other end of that data cable!

    I’m glad that Compassion has chosen not to dance around the issue and just acknowledge the “big hairy ape” of what really IS authentic communication! Who cares if you’re cheerleaders! Just own it and get better at holding hands with your readers.

    A blog is not a way for you to push YOUR message…but a method to connect with your PEOPLE…hopefully, THEY create your content!

  8. Shane
    Apr 24, 2008
    at 11:16 am

    As long as a company’s focus is doing good to others, rather than plumping up their own pocket books or being bigger than the other guy, I don’t see the problem with doing a bit of cheerleading. However, if a CEO of a said company is taking home a million dollar salary, I’d think twice about that…

  9. Apr 24, 2008
    at 12:39 pm

    I’m reading it as a Compassion sponsor and someone who thinks your organization is wonderful. And I haven’t found it boring yet, which is great for a new blog. I think you’re being honest and real; it seems personal.

  10. Hannah
    Apr 24, 2008
    at 2:01 pm

    I’m a sponsor and I just want to say that I love your blog. I’ve enjoyed learning more about how Compassion works and seeing photos and everything else. I’m so glad you started this blog because I peruse your website on a regular basis to see if there’s anything new and this blog gives me something new that is Compassion related nearly every day! Thank you so much for what you do…for this blog and especially for caring for my Compassion kids.

  11. Apr 24, 2008
    at 2:25 pm

    This would be the first time in my IT career that I’ve been labeled as a marketing cheerleader. I’ll take it as a compliment… :)

  12. Apr 24, 2008
    at 4:24 pm

    I think we did the right thing when we asked people from different roles in Compassion to contribute to this blog.

    Some of us travel and can share stories of poverty from that firsthand knowledge.

    Some of us feel God giving us something to share–a Bible verse, song lyrics, stories, everyday events that He unveils to us in a unique way, etc…so we just want to share those messages God puts on our hearts.

    Some of those posts will come across as cheerleading. Some will come across as ministering. And yet some will come across as just being transparent about the things going on in our lives.

    And, as far as I know, none of us contributors has been told we couldn’t post something because it scrutinizes our ministry. In fact, we’ve been given freedom to do just that.

    That sounds like a well-rounded blog to me.

  13. Apr 24, 2008
    at 4:25 pm

    My family and I sponsor three children through Compassion and I am a Child Advocate as well. I got involved with Compassion at first because of my friendship with Shaun Groves.

    I watched him transform after his visit to Honduras to meet his sponsored child. The pure passion that pours from him when he speaks about what Compassion does for 1,000,000 children is contagious to say the least. I’m glad it’s contagious and that my family and I “caught” it.

    It’s been a slow change for our family, but a good one. Keep this blog transparent. Keep it honest and tell the good along with the bad. It’s OK to hear about defeat or setbacks now and then. It gives me perspective and also something specific to petition our great Lord for. Not that He doesn’t already know, but it does bring Him glory when we pray; and when we pray for the least of these, the glory is especially glorious.

    Beth

  14. Apr 24, 2008
    at 9:34 pm

    Being authentic isn’t necessarily the same thing as throwing all your garbage into the street.

    If that makes any sense.

    People who read this blog are aware Compassion isn’t heaven-on-earth. We’re not sponsoring a child with the illusion that you have a perfect staff or a perfect program. We know you deal with ethically challenging situations in third world countries. Underneath all human endeavors, even those powered by God, there is often a big mess.

    (My Dad is a senior pastor. Enough said.)

    But Compassion is forging ahead with its mission in spite of those things. You do the best you can. You persevere. That’s why we read this blog. That’s why we’re here — because we believe in the mission. And it’s a good one.

    If that’s being a cheerleader, then cheer on. You’ve got a team of readers wearing pom-poms right behind you.

    (Wow. I really think I need to go to bed.)

  15. Apr 24, 2008
    at 11:22 pm

    I like the perspective of different contributors who are all involved with Compassion (rather than some PR firm) and as a relatively new sponsor, I am fascinated by the work being done and the stories being shared around the world. Keep up your great work! And – will you be doing another blog tour to another location? I’d love to follow again :))

  16. Ric
    Apr 25, 2008
    at 5:25 am

    My question is this…who is the audience this blog is intended to be targeted towards? In your post you said you want the blog to generate more sponsorships. More sponsorships usually means appealing to an audience who most likely does not currently sponsor and doesn’t necessarily know who Compassion is. In that respect, the posts need to focus on stories. Stories about children in Compassion’s program. Stories from people as they travel and experience Compassion first hand. Stories about how Compassion is making a difference in the lives of the children and in the communities it serves.

    Want cheerleading? Start an internal employee only blog or a sponsors and advocates blog.

    Want marketing messages? Keep those on compassion.com

    Want to grow blog presence, find a fresh audience and get more children sponsored? Keep it grassroots, relevant and from the heart.

    In today’s world you get one shot at gaining a new audience. I’m afraid the intended audience for this blog may have moved on some time ago.

  17. Apr 25, 2008
    at 6:36 am

    I disagree with you Ric.

    1. Analytics for the blog show the audience is growing – which tells me the audience hasn’t moved on. They’re still getting here.
    2. The comments on this post tell me we’re not perfect but our efforts are understood.
    3. We already know that at least one sponsorship occurred because of this blog – Isenara in Haiti – (http://blog.compassion.com/50000-tz/)
    4. I believe having a blend of posts that run the gamut from promotional, to informational, to educational with some being silly, others being serious, some asking questions and others answering questions is healthy. Each employee at Compassion has a unique perspective on releasing children from poverty because of their life experiences, their testimony, their role at Compassion, this blog is attempting to give voice to that dynamic through the multi-author approach. Not every post is going to be considered useful or even good by every reader, but we’re okay with that.
    5. This blog isn’t JUST about getting more sponsorships. It’s also about engaging in conversation with sponsors, advocates and anyone who wants to participate. If the readers find the information useful, even if our audience is small, and our readers use the information in their personal ministry, whether it be as an advocate encouraging other people to sponsor a child or as a sponsor who develops a deeper relationship with his or her child, then this blog is successful and has made a difference. Of course, we live in THIS world and success is always measured quantifiably. I expect that as we do this more, we’ll be able to more deeply demonstrate the impact this blog has made on our sponsorship numbers and that we’ll demonstrate this clearly.
    6. Thank you for speaking up Ric. I hope that some of the other employees who share your opinion will comment too. And I DEFINITELY hope that any non-employees who share your opinion will comment, if they’re still around. :-)

  18. Andrzej Gandecki
    Apr 25, 2008
    at 6:52 am

    Ric wrote: “More sponsorships usually means appealing to an audience who most likely does not currently sponsor”.

    Let me say, I disagree. I believe more sponsorships may come from those who already are sponsors and: (1) decide to sponsor more children; (2) invite family and friends to sponsorship.

    Those who are sponsors have already shown their willigness to help. Some of them may realise that with a little more sacrifice from their side another child could be rescued.

    Sharing from a friend about sponsorship (even using some blog material) is probably much more convincing than just reading some blog by a person who is not a sponsor yet.

  19. Apr 25, 2008
    at 11:44 am

    What’s wrong with cheerleading?

    Granted, it is not the most flattering terminology, but if I were to be caught by a naysayer spreading the Good News of our Lord and Savior and was referred to as a “Cheerleader for Jesus,” I’d be rather honored.

    The truth is we’re called much worse, so let us be grateful if some might think we’re a little spry in the delivery.

    One Big Compassion Commercial

    Amen – You got that right. As far as commercialism goes these days, we all might welcome a little marketing that has been Divinely inspired. What’s the alternative I might ask? Prayer? Prayer is essential, but prayer alone is not what the Lord requires.

    If anyone thinks it is sufficient, go home and pray for a pizza and see how long it takes for God to slide one under your door.

    Oh yea…it’s faith ~and~ cheerleading (I mean works) that is alive to God.

    Amen

    dave

    (*I haven’t blogged yet today and I am having symptoms of withdrawal, so pardon the love-rant)

  20. Jore Lund
    Apr 25, 2008
    at 12:25 pm

    1) I don’t spend time reading many blogs

    2) I only came here because I am a volunteer Advocate for children living in poverty and specifically for Compassion’s model of helping those children. Even then, I had to be prompted to come here.

    3) All communication is advertising in a way. Each of us screens our words in order to present the message that we decide to present.

    For example, I don’t just verbally vomit everything that I think all over my wife when I am talking to her. I choose my words carefully in order to achieve a desired result; especially in areas of conflict. If I were to say and do everything that passed though my mind in an attempt to be authentic, I would only end up appearing (and quite possibly being) psychotic. Of course, maybe I am the only one who can go from wanting to throttle someone to wanting hold them in my arms in less that two minutes.

    The ability to screen what we do and say sets us apart from the animals. The task of striving to do, or say, or even think, what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy is that of Christian life.

    4) I have visited many blogs related to my profession and most of them are just gripe sessions about decisions made by the people in charge. Authentic? Maybe. Constructive? Not really. If I have gripes about how Compassion is doing something, I choose to vent those where it has the chance of causing positive change in the organization. I also choose how I phrase those criticisms in order to have the best chance of affecting those positive changes.

    5) Is Compassion perfect? No. Are my children perfect? No. Out of love, do I work to see them both improving? Yes. However, do I tell every person that I meet that my kid is a thief because they stole a pencil from a store? Do I need to blog more dirt to make Compassion…. hey, what a great marketing strategy…. that might make Compassion appear more…. authentic.

  21. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Apr 25, 2008
    at 1:35 pm

    The thing that I love about the blog is that it’s a reminder. Many of us may have visited the developing world before and seen the children playing in open sewage, and we say, “I’ll never forget this.”

    And then we get home. And we forget.

    What we once said would change our lives can so easily become a distant memory. I like that other people’s experiences can remind me and refresh me and challenge me to keep remembering and keep having Christ’s compassion.

  22. Apr 25, 2008
    at 4:30 pm

    I LOVE this blog!!! I guess I’m a super-sponsor. I am really interested in all areas of the Compassion program — and this blog gives me something to read and learn about, in between the Compassion mags that come out. I don’t feel “marketed to” by the content.

    I think whoever came up with the Compassion blog idea should be given a raise and a promotion!!! :)

    One of the reasons I love Compassion is because it’s always on the cutting edge, willing to try new things — it seems like a dynamic, exciting organization on the move, rather than a bunch of people sitting around the office doing the same old, same old just because that’s how it was always done — or that’s how all the other child sponsorship agencies do it. I like that Compassion is willing to take some risks and try new things.

    I do think you should find someplace on the Compassion homepage — the very front page — to put a permanent link to this blog. (Maybe a little button to double-click on.) This would make it easy to find, easy to get to — thus more readers. Before I added the blog site to my “favorites” list, I had a hard time finding my way back, through the website — I couldn’t find the link buried within the site.

    I think if you made the blog very easy to find/access you would get more readers who are “just passing through” — and if they actually find and read the blog, they may discover something compelling enough to make them consider sponsoring.

    Anyway — keep blogging and YAY Compassion!

  23. Apr 25, 2008
    at 5:35 pm

    Lisa,

    We will eventually have two links on the compassion.com homepage that point to the blog. One in the footer and one in the header (upper right-hand corner) next to the store. However, our website technology is oooold, and it’s not as simple to add a link as it should be – which is why we’re beginning the process of a wholesale redesign of our website, this includes appearance, useability, organization and technology.

    Thanks for persevering.

  24. Apr 25, 2008
    at 6:55 pm

    I love the Compassion blog. I enjoy seeing the stories and reading the discussions. I’m a Child Advocate, and it’s absolutely the best volunteer work I’ve ever done in my life. I love talking with others about this ministry, and reading news and updates. Please keep it coming!

  25. Shelly Quigg
    Apr 25, 2008
    at 6:57 pm

    As a fairly new sponser I absolutely LOVE the Compassion blog. I became a sponser to my first child in Bolivia last year. After following all the Uganda trip bloggers, I decided to sponser a child from Uganda as well.

    I want to know all there is to know about Compassion and how it works. I like reading about how the churches are chosen to work with Compassion, how the kids are registered, how the programs work, and the stories of how individual lives are changed. Many of my questions have been answered.

    When I am stressed out about finances and wondering if I am crazy to send money off to an organization halfway across the country, I return to this website. This blog and the other information on the site remind me of the children living in poverty and my obligation to help those in need.

    It has confirmed to me the quality and integrity of the Compassion program and reassures me that my $64 a month is really making a difference in my sponsered girls’ lives.

    I do agree with the person who said that a link needed to be placed on the home page. Casual visitors to the website would have no idea that the blog exists without the link and I am glad that this will be done. I feel that more children will be sponsered because of this blog because people want to know where their money is going and that the people working at Compassion are people of faith and integrity.

    Keep up the blog…I check in almost every day!!

    Shelly

  26. Colleen
    Apr 26, 2008
    at 12:29 am

    I have sponsored children through Compassion in the past and had to stop several years ago during a hospital stay. I received this blog through an email and find myself coming back to learn more about how children are genuinely benefiting from sponsorship. There are blogs all over the net that promote evil and non-productive lifestyles. What better blog than one that acts as a “cheerleader” for any child in need? And what better few dollars a day could be spent than to feed, clothe and nuture a child? This blog reminded me of what needs are out there. We’ve all been “given to” at some point in our lives. We all need to “give back.” Thank you to the employees of Compassion for bringing me back to sponsorship, through a blog!

  27. Apr 26, 2008
    at 8:48 am

    I’m new to the Compassion blog but plan on putting a link on my blog to it and making good use of your new widgets. So what if you sound like cheerleaders? It’s more than okay to rejoice over something you believe in. That’s my thought. :)
    I sponsor a child in Haiti. I’d love to hear more about the food crisis there and how Compassion is helping sustain the children through this time.

  28. Apr 26, 2008
    at 9:30 am

    Christians are such goofy folk, aren’t we?

    Perhaps you need to read “The Purpose Driven Blog”? I’m not sure that any such book exists… but if it did – it’d probably say that what you put in the blog depends on what the purpose of the blog is. Makes sense, right?

    If the blog is nothing more than marketing to get more children sponsored then market away – but I’d say that other web formats beside the weblog/journal format would be better for that. If the blog is for keeping current sponsors updated on nes and current events then have at it – but again I’d say that other web formats beside the weblog/journal format would be better for that.

    A blog is a journal… meant to be a personal reflection from a real person. Some level of honesty and transparency is appropriate (wise as snakes, innocent as doves).

  29. Apr 26, 2008
    at 11:28 am

    Chris,

    I really appreciated this post. I think if I were in the same position, I’d be asking the same questions!

    I can think of two things I’d like to see more of on this blog:

    (1) Obviously, Compassion has a lot of experience working with the poor, so you have many inspiring stories to share. I think that’s great! But there are undoubtedly areas in which you could improve. I think it’d be interesting to hear more about Compassion’s struggles as well (past or present) that show something of how difficult it can actually be to develop effective programs, run such a large non-profit, etc.

    For example, what are some of the problems facing centers in specific regions that you just don’t necessarily have answers to yet? In what areas does funding always seem to come short? How hard/easy does it seem to get the larger evangelical community involved in Compassion’s work? (Do only certain subsets of Christians “buy” it?) What tensions exist as you consider the work you feel called to vs. that of other organizations? Is there conflict between your integrity in helping the poor and the “necessity” of paying a CEO big bucks in order to keep the best and brightest leading Compassion? Those kinds of tensions and questions are the same kinds of frustrations the rest of us have to live with in our ministries, and I would love for all of us to explore their complexities together.

    (2) I appreciated the Earth Day snippet, but I also thought it was rather wimpy. It seemed to focus only on “People in the U.S. have too much food,” when in reality, that’s not the biggest problem as far as how the U.S. contributes to environmental degradation. People can only curb their food waste so much. They can, however, buy hybrid cars, or unplug their televisions when not in use, or stop mass consumption of fruit and bottled water that gets shipped halfway around the world. Even, say, supplying facts about global warming might help people think more deeply about these issues.

    Sponsoring a Compassion child is really only the beginning, the minimum. U.S. Americans are so deeply entrenched in an economic system that exploits the poor, and most of them don’t even know it. There are so many ways to continue expanding sponsors’ understanding of poverty that will impact their whole lives (what kind of house and neighborhood they live in, who they vote for, what they drive, where they shop, etc.)

    I do understand that you will need to restrain your critiques at points– honestly, not all people are ready for them. It’s important to approach people with understanding, patience, and grace. But I do think there’s also a really exciting opportunity for you to speak prophetically, I and want to encourage you to do that with boldness.

    I do really enjoy the blog, though, and I’m adding your blog to my Google reader. ;o)

  30. Apr 26, 2008
    at 11:38 am

    Save the cheerleader, save the world.

    Grin.

  31. Ron
    Apr 26, 2008
    at 9:09 pm

    A few thoughts, from an old sponsor (11 years!), but a sponsor new to Compassion’s blog.

    Completely transparent? I wouldn’t want that. You’d go on for pages and pages, making sure you didn’t forget one thought, in fear that you would not be 100% transparent (then, if you were concerned about not being 100% transparent, would you have to write about that fear, too?).

    All (good) communication is edited and tailored to the audience. It doesn’t make it less honest, truthful, etc. Plus, it’s the internet; you go too long, you lose people.

    So, I say, keep it up. I read about 20-30 different blogs a week, and I am finally starting to look at Christian blogs. I don’t want sappy “with Jesus, your life would be perfect” junk (have to edit my real thought there). I want real. And this blog seems, so far, to be real.

    Keep it up.

  32. Apr 27, 2008
    at 9:35 am

    Ron,

    You’re right on the money. The transparency thing can be over thought. I love how you spelled it out. It’s like you know me already. :-)

    Ashleigh,

    You defined exactly the kind of stuff that I’m talking about when I say authenticity and transparency. And we’re going to get you that And we’re going to to mix it up nice for you – with the sort of writing we’ve been doing so far and lots of other material as we (both the readers and the writers) develop our voices.

  33. Apr 27, 2008
    at 5:17 pm

    Non-profits need as much marketing help as for-profits do. Or else they won’t survive.

  34. Apr 27, 2008
    at 7:55 pm

    @ Ashleigh

    I find your comments offensive.

    I’m not sure how much of the world you’ve seen (or even if you’re out of school yet), but the United States (and the West in general) is a gold-standard of environmental goodness next to the rest of the planet. The countries that Compassion helps are often huge polluters and it’s only with the help of the US and the West (including the people you call “deeply entrenched in an economic system that exploits the poor”) that Compassion can keep doing what it’s doing for the poor.

    We don’t need finger-pointing at Compassion’s generous sponsors – obviously they already must have some “understanding of poverty” to be a sponsor in the first place.

    If transparency means that this blog is just going to be about bashing the United States then the superficial marketing style of blog is looking pretty good.

  35. Apr 27, 2008
    at 9:25 pm

    Interesting thoughts, Steve. I’m sorry you were offended by my comments. Let me try to clarify:

    While I agree that other countries contribute to pollution, most people don’t have cars, multiple TVs, computer, etc. like we do here. Compared with the rest of the world, the carbon footprint of those of us in the U.S. is huge! I agree that we need better environmental standards across the board, but in many areas the U.S. trails behind other advanced industrialized nations in leading the way. For example, the U.S. decided not to sign in on the Kyoto Protocol.

    Similar situations exist not only as far as environmental issues go but in a multitude of areas. The U.S. has pushed forward a lot of positive progress in the world, but it is not squeaky clean. There are points at which the U.S. government or businesses have quite intentionally taken advantage of others. All countries do this– not just the U.S. The U.S. just happens to be a position of power, so complaints are rarely heard.

    I am not saying bitter finger-pointing is the answer, just that a lot more than $32/month is required if we really want to take on global poverty. Poverty is a complex problem to solve even when everyone wants to solve it. (That’s why economists like William Easterly and Jeffrey Sachs argue with each other about the best way to move forward!) We all always have more to learn, and there may be some very large changes individuals, institutions, and governments of many countries, including the U.S., must make if we are all to do our part.

  36. JoAnn
    Apr 28, 2008
    at 12:48 pm

    This is the first blog I have ever actually gone to.

    I think everyone’s comments have some validity to them. Since God created each and every one of us differently, we know there will always be differences of opinion.

    As a sponsor of an adorable 11 year old boy in Ethiopia for the last year and half, the blog is allowing me to become even more “connected” w/what goes on at Compassion and I like it!

    Your website has enough on it. Adding this blog is terrific personal touch! It has helped me to get a visual and personal understanding of what a difference each and everyone of us can really make!!

    I agree w/one person who mentioned getting the pics of her child recently. I loved receiving mine too! And to know what he was wearing was purchased thru part of my Christmas gift was even better!

    I took the advise to keep some of the small pictures sent to me in different places around the house and one in my office. Seeing his adorable face often, really does help to remind me “why” I chose to take action! It makes it more than just another charitable donation.

    For me, I truly believe devine intervention is what helped me find Compassion. I was at church during holiday season 2006. We watched a video of Bono having an interview w/a few large church leaders. He was discussing his vision for his ONE campaign.

    I was so moved after seeing all the need in Africa. I left church that day wondering how can I make a difference? I began to pray on it and two or so days later, I received a letter in the mail from an organization called Compassion in the name of Jesus.

    The name caught my eye and I knew I was not to chuck it w/rest of junk mail! Instead, I opened it, looked into the organization to see how it ranked as a non profit and when I saw it was affiliated as one of the charities connected with the One Campain, I just knew God gave me my answer! I now had no excuse not to get involved! Afterall, I was praying for him to show me how I can make a difference, right?

    The first year, I didnt really feel too much connection just really financial obligation. This year, though, it is different. After having exchanged several letters, recently getting new pictures that I keep around me and now getting even more “connected” w/your Blog I am soooo happy to be a part of the Compassion Family!

    In conclusion, I feel the Blog gives you a chance to feel more of a “personal connection” w/Compassion whether you are considering it or are already involved!

    All I have to do now is become more electronically savy and figure out what My Space and widgets are all about?! :)

  37. Jore Lund
    Apr 28, 2008
    at 1:08 pm

    One of the things that I have loved about being involved with Compassion has been my relationships with so many people of diverse religious and social background. We seem to be able to do that by focusing on the issues that we can all agree on (like Compassion’s basic statement of faith).

    We accept that there is much diversity of opinion on topics outside of the ones that bring us together. We choose to “prefer on another in love” and not focus on differences that could result in divisiveness.

    This does result in some holding of the tongue, but it is worth it. I love to see liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans working side by side in obedience to Christ. Frankly, the process of laboring together with those of different opinions than my own, while respecting each other, has done more to alter my views than any sort of verbal banter.

    If this blog becomes a location for knock-down, drag-out discussions of controversial topics then I think we are eroding something precious.

    Compassion’s purpose is not to create a hot-bed of social discourse. As one wise Compassion friend taught me; we are trying to help people see Christ in the children that are living in poverty, and give them an opportunity to be Christ to these children.

    So as we try to push the outside of the envelope, let’s not rip the paper.

  38. Apr 28, 2008
    at 2:59 pm

    @ Jore

    Well spoken. I think we can credibly have a fulfilling and Christ-honoring discourse here (despite our varied ideologies and perspectives) if we leave the politics and student activism out of it. There are plenty of blogs for that. :-)

  39. Apr 28, 2008
    at 3:09 pm

    I don’t think we’ve really gotten into politics.

    Is simply admitting that the U.S. isn’t perfect (nor is any other country) so political? People sin against each other, and I think it’s important to remain open to confronting and confessing sin as necessarily. Nehemiah confessed on behalf of his Israelite ancestors– is it inappropriate for us to do the same?

  40. Rebecca
    Apr 28, 2008
    at 4:07 pm

    I’m impressed by the extent of the comments people have made to this post. Conversations like this, albeit online, are great for getting people to think about issues in different ways, even if they don’t ultimately agree with each other.

  41. Apr 28, 2008
    at 7:02 pm

    @ Ashleigh

    I think that there is a line between honest self-critique and politically charged rhetoric. For instance, saying “Americans are so deeply entrenched in an economic system that exploits the poor” is wholly leftist and is not only political, but (in my opinion) is painfully erroneous. Although it may further Obama’s kingdom… it doesn’t further God’s kingdom, which is why we’re here.

    With regard to Compassion’s generous sponsors: Have you ever been to a church on a Sunday night where the preacher was scolding his church for its shabby Sunday night attendance? The trouble is… he’s yelling at the wrong people! :-) Don’t be too quick to convict the $32/month sponsor when you don’t know what else they’re doing (besides their support of Compassion) to further His kingdom.

    You’ve got energy and spirit and I don’t want to mute that… only to help you channel it to maximize your positive effect on your circle of influence. :-)

  42. Apr 28, 2008
    at 11:12 pm

    Steve,

    I majored in political science and took a class on international political economy. Though you may disagree with my opinions (and opinions they are), they are valid views and not inherently anti-Christian as you seem to imply. My concern is for the poor, a concern which plays a pivotal role in God’s kingdom, though I realize people have different ideas of the best means by which to help the poor. I would appreciate it if you would refrain the from unsubstantiated bashing of certain political identities without even knowing if I claim them as my own.

    I am not in any way trying to say Compassion sponsors aren’t generous people. I just know that in my own life, $32 is only so significant. I am still struggling to understand how I can truly give up my white U.S. American privilege that others might be blessed. $32 is a step for me, too, but I feel called to something higher than that. I think it’s important for us to wrestle with what it means to love the poor beyond simply offering a monthly donation, even one that is heartfelt.

    I feel I can speak to this part of the Compassion sponsor experience because I am one, and I know what a struggle it is to truly integrate values of compassion and justice into one’s everyday life. It’s a journey I’m not finished with.

    I appreciate your kindly meant closing, but that, when combined with your earlier remarks about my guessed age feel patronizing.

    Maybe we can continue to discuss the ideas behind my original post rather than the specifics? I essentially said, (1) Compassion isn’t perfect and should be upfront and (2) the U.S. isn’t perfect and should be upfront. I don’t know how anyone could argue that either of these entities are perfect (even if you believe they’re mostly good!). Do people agree that an important part of this blog’s role would be engage with difficult issues like the struggles of both Compassion and the U.S. to bless the world’s poor with integrity?

  43. Apr 29, 2008
    at 2:41 pm

    @ Ashleigh,

    Ahh, much better… hardly any political rhetoric this time. :-)

    Did you notice that your latest comment centered around _your_ own experiences, struggles, and challenges in reflecting Christ to the poor… whereas your earlier comment seemed to center around what _others_ were or were not doing? Do you see the fundemantal difference in the way it reads and the perceived attitude? :-)

    And while the US and the West definitely have their issues governmentally, open critique seems to be a bit beyond the scope of this blog (although any moderators are free at any time to tell me to go jump in a polluted third-world lake). Although, we can always write our elected officials and let them know our feelings regarding upcoming legislation, current events, and foreign policy. Perhaps a good blog post might be about about just that.

    I actually like what Chris was saying the best with regard to the blog “having a blend of posts that run the gamut from promotional, to informational, to educational with some being silly, others being serious, some asking questions and others answering questions”.

  44. Apr 29, 2008
    at 3:42 pm

    Steve,

    Thanks for your thoughts, but I’d appreciate you let me be my own editor. I’m an adult that can take responsibility for my own thoughts and expressions; I don’t take back my initial comments, nor did I write these later ones in an attempt to please you. As I stated before, despite your good intentions, these kinds of questions and comments are patronizing and hurtful.

    If you would like to respond to the new questions/ideas I presented, feel free.

    Thanks,
    Ashleigh

  45. Holly
    Apr 29, 2008
    at 6:30 pm

    Asleigh, Steve and others following this…discourse?

    I would imagine I am one “type” of individual this blog is trying to reach …a new sponsor who is trying to understand what Compassion is all about and trying to find out more about my role as a sponsor. A person with a lot of compassion in her heart but unsure of how best to turn that compassion into action. (perhaps beyond sponsorship..?)

    A person who, at times, feels overwhelmed by international issues, like poverty. Where do you start, will it really make a difference, how much time can I commit, what can I really do …and on and on.

    I was immediately drawn to the blog to help me sort through these issues. And, to get a feel for the organization, the sponsors and most importantly, to better understand the conditions and issues facing my sponsored children.

    I’ll leave the debate to others, choosing to just share with you my hopes for this forum.

    Thanks to all those sharing with an open heart and mind!

  46. May 20, 2008
    at 5:34 am

    I see the blogosphere as a community. For me, reading the compassion blogs brings a different perspective to that community.

    I click on my favorite Mom blogs and read about mothering and toddler tantrums and which school to send my kids to. And then I come here and read about children living in poverty.

    When I read these stories, something in my perspective changes. And it’s a good change.

    My husband and I have been sponsoring compassion children for a long time now. Actually, my husband started as a single guy, and it’s been some twenty years now. Two of our compassion “children” have grown up in the program and moved on. It’s humbling that something as small as a check every month has any impact on this world at all — but for those kids? There’s no doubt in my mind that it has.

    Reading this blog reminds me that our last few checks have gone into the “general fund” and we need to pick more kids to sponsor. Nothing wrong with the general fund, of course, but reading these blogs makes the whole thing personal. It makes me feel like I am contributing something important — more than just a check.

    And I don’t want this to sound like I’m saying, “Oh, I’ll write a check and do my bit and not worry any more about global poverty.” Not at all.

    I don’t know if I’m making any sense at all, but there you go!

  47. […] for the month of May. Their goal is $1,000, but we’re hoping for more than that. How’s that for transparency? And how about $2,500 as a […]

  48. Mike Stephens
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 1:26 pm

    I like the blog b/c it helps me understand some things that are going on and I decide how I can help and what I can do based on that.

  49. Michelle
    Oct 17, 2009
    at 7:14 pm

    I think this blog is wonderful. In fact, it has changed the way that I sponsor. Anyone looking at my writing history with my sponsored child can see a definite moment when I went from barely writing at all (sadly) to the current level of correspondence I’m doing. (and I’m even holding back….)

    I chalk it up to discovering this blog. Really, I don’t even know why I didn’t check out the blog before… But one day I saw the link on the homepage and got curious.

    Until I checked this blog out, I had NO IDEA how important the letters and small gifts were to my little girl. I had no idea how Compassion operated and the travels my mail took on the way to her…

    I’ve gotten a lot of new ideas on things to send her. I’ve had my heart broken while looking at photos and reading stories of children in need. I’ve had hope restored when I read the success stories and blog posts where it is evident we are making a difference.

    In fact, I’ve taken to going back and reading the blog posts from the start. I’m currently three months in and I’m having to hold back my desire to comment on every post! (don’t want to be annoying..)

    It seems like there aren’t that many people on here now versus when the blog first started… and that makes me sad. I agree with what someone said above: current sponsors CAN make a difference via this blog. We can steer family and friends here to see what they can do for children.

    I’m not sure I’m making any sense. I’m home sick and my thoughts are muddled.

    All I want to say is that this blog energizes me and makes me want to do SOMETHING, immediately, to help end the suffering. If that is due to “cheerleading,” then RAH RAH. :o)

  50. Oct 19, 2009
    at 10:12 am

    Michelle,

    Don’t hold back on your comments. They’re not annoying. In fact, it’s great to be able to share your excitement.

    Your feedback is valuable and very much appreciated. It helps us choose what we publish now, among other things.

    Hearing about how the blog has affected you has started this week off very nicely for me. You, and your desire to catch up on everything here, makes all the effort worthwhile. Thanks.

    Plus, you never know how your comments may inspire, excite or help someone else.

    As far as the number of people here, we have more than twice as many monthly visitors to the blog now as compared to March and April of 2008. It’s just that many of them aren’t chiming in.

    Welcome to the blog!

  51. Michelle
    Nov 18, 2009
    at 6:12 pm

    Hi Chris! Ouch. This month has been sort of crazy and I got lost along the way… So sorry I didn’t respond. I’m glad I started your week off nicely. :o)

    There are days when I don’t feel like typing and only read the blog too. So I understand why not everyone writes and comments. I’m just glad the ones who do comment are there! I’ve been inspired and helped by many on here. Not sure how helpful or inspiring I’ll be… but I know this blog has made a difference for my life.

    So THANK YOU Chris, and all who write/read this blog for being there!

  52. Michelle
    Nov 18, 2009
    at 6:13 pm

    I keep forgetting to use :) instead of :o)

    blah

  53. Amy Smelley
    Dec 31, 2009
    at 12:24 pm

    The truth is you can’t please everyone. There are always people that are going to whine and complain. You just have to learn how to ignore them. You are doing a great job. I love this blog. I am so excited to hear all of the “cheerleading”.

  54. Jeannette Peterson
    Apr 9, 2010
    at 5:06 am

    hi, I’m a reasonably new sponsor from Australia.
    My background is sales and marketing, and I have seen the hard sells.
    This might sound strange but I got turned off Compassion 15 years ago by something somebody did at a large conference. I do not want to go into details, but you remember the negatives more than positive. Last year I finished a child sponsorship with another organisation and I was not quite happy with the whole process, so I was praying about the direction that God wanted me to Go.
    I read something about Compassion and the high ethics that they have which took me to Charity Navigator (I think it was) which had a link to this blog.
    From August 2009 to October 2009, I did some serious reading of the back issues of this blog. October 2009 I sponsored my first child through the australian Compassion site and in January 2010, I have sponsored my second child.
    This is the power of the internet, we need to value what positive influence we can have.

  55. Terri K
    Apr 9, 2010
    at 10:31 am

    I think a lot of us aren’t commenting here because we are posting on OurCompassion. I love reading here, but I have know people and can carry on conversations with them on OC. Before OC started, I went back and read all the old blogs on here, and all the comments and it was very helpful for me. I think the two sites complement each other nicely.

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