Will Eliminating Extreme Poverty Require a Miracle?

How big is the problem of extreme poverty? Three billion people worldwide and 1 billion children deep. But despite the size of those numbers, many people at Compassion believe that we can eliminate extreme poverty in our generation, that we can remove or utterly destroy it.

You might think we’re “drunk on the spirit,” that our goal is unrealistic, completely irrational or even not Biblical, and I will be honest with you, I thought it was out of I thought of it as an impossible task, too.

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The Twinkie Is Getting Fatter

Friends! It has been much too long. I’m sorry for my extended leave of absence as of late. But I promise … I have a pretty good excuse. Let’s catch up, yes?

Let’s talk Twinkies first.

The Twinkie Project has undergone some serious plastic surgery. Face-lift. Tummy tuck. Lipo. The works. We’ve trimmed her up real nice and purdy. But don’t fret, it’s all for the best.

Who was the surgeon, you ask? Thankfully, not me. I did not excel in anatomy.

This project has been handed off to a team, as in several people, who will be taking it to infinity and beyond. Three highly qualified and ridiculously creative gentlemen are now driving the Twinkie Project to another level of awesomeness. I am still participating in helping to bring it to life, just on a smaller, less time-consuming scale.

Among the many changes that it has seen, the Twinkie Project has been renamed. Granted, the “Twinkie Project” was never on its birth certificate, so the code name still applies for now.

Without giving too much away, I will say this — it has grown much larger than I would have dared to dream.

Turns out the basic idea behind it — sending young people abroad to broadcast their lives to us and teach us about countries and peoples we don’t know — is not so new. As a matter of fact, there are several other organizations and companies that have pioneered this concept.

Only thing is … Compassion is the only one among the crowd that really does something so beautifully different — partnering with the church; equipping pastors to minister to their communities more holistically. We empower and enable people who have the hearts for ministry but not the means.

So while our little “Twinkie” looks like the other Twinkies on the outside, we’re filled with something entirely different on the inside.

Who knew Twinkies could make for such spiritual metaphors? Moving on.

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A Peek Into Poverty

Twinkie project By the grace of God, the “Twinkie Project” has wrapped up a successful phase in its development. Morgan arrived back in the U.S. earlier this week. And I feel like I have caught a glimpse of what this thing could be. I’m pretty excited.

Did you have a chance to read some of her latest work? Here are some excerpts. Read and pass along. Please. Share her stories.

The Unexpected Picture

In today’s culture it is almost a fad to put money into charities, or to buy brands that support a cause, which is great … but I wonder if that is numbing us to the reality of the world that is beyond our safe and comfortable walls.

I wonder if we have been overexposed to the idea of poverty to the point of forgetting that it is not simply about a continent, a country or a group of people … it is about a life. It is one heart, one mind, one prisoner, one child and one future.

We must narrow our focus, we have to look through the feel-good hype and let our hearts truly feel for the people, not just the feeling of donating.

If we maintain such a broad focus of poverty, it is almost impossible to do anything to put a dent in it … but if we can hone in on one life, think of the difference we can make.

Through Dessiray’s Eyes

Most people would agree, at least to some extent, that “The eyes are the window to the soul.” Somehow eyes manage to tell more about a person than could be said by words, stories or descriptions.

Perhaps it’s because eyes display emotion: They light up when we are happy, look exhausted when we are tired, display fear and worry, and are the gateway for tears when we are sad.

Maybe they say so much because for most of us, they capture our experiences and paint the pictures of our memories. It is through them that some of the most beautiful and also some of the most horrific things become a part of us as we make our way through life.

What we see, who we see and where we see it colors our “window” and leaves a mark on how we will view the world and how we view our own souls. This is why we often wish we could see things through the “eyes of others,” or we attempt to see the world through “rose-colored lenses.” We are aware that things appear different depending on the eyes through which we are looking.

A window is a piece of glass that goes two ways, so if it is true that the eyes are the window INTO the soul, that means they are also the window OUT of the soul. This makes me wonder, as I stare into the eyes of the children, what they see when they look out.

Please pray for the hearts of children that Morgan loved and touched with the grace of God while she was there.

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The Twinkie Project

Twinkie project Do you ever feel as if you are on the cusp of something big? Do you wrestle with restlessness in your spirit that you can neither calm nor pinpoint a reason for? It’s as if you feel that you, your life, is on the brink of something, a major change or transition; like something is about to happen and you have a big part in it – you just don’t know what or how.

That’s where I’m at. And I’ve decided that, despite the mystery of it and the frustration that comes with the not knowing, I’m excited anyway.

If you don’t remember or if you are new here, I have been sporadically writing about a program nicknamed the “Twinkie Project,” which has been in development since last August. I have tempted and beaten around the bush for months about what it is and when it will come to light. And I’m still doing so. 🙂

But … it is now time my friends to tear off some of the wrapping and let you see a little of what this thing is about. Just a glimpse though. It’s really an out-of-context look, but then again it’s also kind of in the context. 😉

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Visit Compassion’s Fun Kids Web Site

Fun kid's website Are your children pretty web savvy? Do they spend a LOT of time online? I mean are they typical kids? 🙂

How about you? Are you a kid at heart?

If you said yes to any of these questions, we have some exciting news just for you.

We just launched our new kid’s Web site, Quest for Compassion, and we think that it is not only engaging but entertaining too! We love it, and are confident that your kids will as well. Not only is the site fun, but it’ll educate your youngsters all about the ministry of Compassion.

The site is designed for children between the ages of 6 and 10, and it provides a virtual opportunity for them to travel around the world — to four different countries where we work:  Ghana, Bangladesh, El Salvador and Brazil.

It helps your kiddos experience a Compassion child development center and the surrounding community, and will give them perspective on what a child’s life in the developing world is like.

Each child will “build his or her own buddy” to travel with — by choosing gender and skin color — and will be able to give the buddy a name. Then they can pick a region of the world to travel to.

Each town and country is filled with objects to click on and games to play. And with the help of their “buddies,” your world travelers can also learn key words and phrases in each country’s native language. Through these various games and fun facts, your children will get to see and hear about the life and culture of our Compassion kids around the globe.

We created the Web site through the use of real-life still shots taken in the countries where we work, which we brought to life through the use of animated children, teachers and animals that your children will meet along the way.

This is a new, fun and safe way for children, and even for you, to learn more about our ministry.

Visit the site today with your children to discover who and what awaits you! And be sure to tell us what you think.

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Faith Rising

In December, The Times Online published an article entitled “As an Atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.” 

I was as intrigued to read the article as I was skeptical to see what the inevitable “spin” would be. Come to find out, Matthew Parris, the author, was born in Africa and raised throughout the country, and was personally familiar with Christian missionaries who often lived and worked in villages close to his own.

As a frequent contributor to The Times, he was asked to go to Malawi to see the charity that the paper supports. In his first few paragraphs, Parris comments that:

“. . .  travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too:  one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

“Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa:  sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.”

Reading that ignited myriad thoughts and questions, and for a brief moment, I sat in simple silence as I basked in God’s love for this man. 

“An observation I have been unable to avoid since my childhood” is nothing short of the gracious, patient and relentless love of a real God gently knocking on the door of his heart waiting to be invited in. 

The “spiritual transformations” he has witnessed and has humbly admitted to, despite his own personal belief to not believe, must be speaking louder in the halls of his heart than he realizes. 

He goes on to say that the change and impact that Christianity has brought to so many people, tribes and nations throughout Africa is undeniable and is worthy of recognition. He remarks that “only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it.” 

So why am I telling you this?

Because I am so encouraged. I am encouraged because God is still seen and reflected in and through the lives of His children. Despite the turbulent circumstances that plague our world, the love and light of Christ is recognized. I am encouraged to see that the Word is in fact living, active and true. 

The most encouraging thing is knowing that Compassion is a part of the change and impact that so many are seeing, believers and nonbelievers alike. We work in many of the countries that Parris mentions, and while he may not have seen our children, he did notice and feel the difference that the Spirit of the Lord makes.

So perhaps what he felt and what he saw was the result of faith rising in the hearts and lives of little ones who are in fact being used to make a lasting impact and change. Maybe what he witnessed was the result of a child’s pure and innocent faith being proclaimed in a way that only children can demonstrate.

It could be that the children we are serving in Africa are in fact now serving us in America.

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Poorism: A Double-Edged Sword

Poorism. Wealthy people paying money to go and look at poor people. But what if there is more to it than that?

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Long Time No… Read?

So, it’s been a while, and in case any of you had wondered where I had disappeared to, I am back to fill you in on the latest happenings in my neck of the woods. Considering it has been over a month, I have a lot tell you, so buckle up. *que Top Gun  theme song*

Last time we spoke, it was the week before Christmas and I had just made the move from the Web Team to Donor Services. While I am still under Curtis, I am also working closely with two powerhouse women that I want to introduce you to. 

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Christmas Memories

It was Christmas morning, and I lay impatiently in my bed awaiting the sound of my parents stirring downstairs. We’ve never been the kind of family that wakes up and rushes to the living room to tear into the gifts before we have properly washed the “eye boogers” out of our eyes (disgusting I know, but hey . . . the truth is ugly sometimes). We tend to be a little more reserved about the process. 

We sleep in, which for our family is until about 8:15. We shower and dress for the day, as we usually spend the afternoon with extended family, and we often debate about what we want Dad to make for breakfast. It’s usually his world famous omelets. If you think I’m exaggerating . . . well, I’m not. They’re insane. 

This one particular Christmas, though, held one very unique gift, wrapped in a beige envelope and delicately placed in between the branches of our tree. There were actually two envelopes; one had my brother’s name on it and the other had mine, written in my mother’s elegant penmanship. 

Curious as to what could possibly be in something the size of a letter and thin as paper, my brother and I opened them slowly, simultaneously. 

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A New Season, A New Position

I love this time of year. There is something about November to New Year’s Eve that is simply magical.  Everything about the smell of the air, the smell of the kitchen, and the smell of grandma’s perfume intoxicates my senses and consumes my soul. And oh yeah, I get to celebrate my birthday!

Like I said, I really, really like this time of year.

But, for all of its constants and familiarities, this time of year also brings about change. I’m getting better at accepting it . . . but I still don’t like it. 

Change means that things that you have always known to be, things that are comfortable because of their consistency, suddenly become different. As in, they are no longer the same. Big and small, professional or personal, things evolve. 

For example, my job.

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The Meeting You Missed

QMU. Town Hall Meeting. Ever heard of  ‘em? No? Allow me to fill you in then.

QMU stands for “quarterly ministry update,” and, as you may have guessed, it happens once a quarter. Crazy. At least one representative, from each team within each department goes to listen and report the latest on Compassion stats for the fiscal year. 

I took it upon myself to attend last week’s meeting on your behalf. So I would like to take this time to report that . . . God is crazy good. 

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The Low Down . . . Down Low

Alright folks, it’s time for an update; the scoop, this dish, the latest happenings. A little FYI, if you will. Forgive me; my coffee is stronger than normal this morning. 

Since we met last, progression on the program has been both productive and sluggish.

Productive in that meetings are set, conversations have been had, and a “plan of action” has been made so that strategic and tactical steps can be taken. 

In the same way, it seems as though little has been accomplished because those all important meetings are not scheduled until later this month to the availability of personnel who have extensive traveling schedules. Unfortunately, patience is not a virtue I possess. 

The conversations, though, have provided the encouragement and affirmation I have needed. Let’s start with the most exciting one.

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