Compassion Sunday Is Child Sponsorship Taken to the Next Level

Compassion Sunday is an annual event that provides sponsors and donors across the United States a chance to speak to their churches on behalf of children in poverty. The purpose is to draw the attention of the Church to the needs of the world’s poorest children.

Each year, dedicated volunteers present Compassion in churches across the country, and tens of thousands of children are sponsored through their efforts.

This year Compassion Sunday is April 18, but if you ever want to host a Compassion Sunday at your church you can choose any date that works best for you … and your church, as Debbi did.

My name is Debbi Akers. I have been an Advocate with Compassion in north Alabama for nearly 1 1/2 years.

woman next to young childAs soon as I completed my Advocate training, my first thought was to host a Compassion Sunday at my church. I was on fire, passionate, and thought that was the obvious next step. I was wrong.

Even though the administration at my church was very welcoming of my passion and the ministry of Compassion, their calendar was already set in motion for the holidays and then for the beginning of the year.

Of course, once the first of the year rolled around, Compassion Sunday got pushed back on the church calendar again and again.

If you have ever been told “no” or “maybe next year,” please do not be discouraged. Time that you commit to God for His glory and for His kingdom is never wasted.

As I waited for a later date for Compassion Sunday, the passion God had given me for the least of these and for His ministry through Compassion could not be squelched. I felt that if I did not “speak up for those who could not speak up for themselves,” the rocks would start crying out for those who were suffering! So, I spoke.

I spoke to Sunday school classes, women’s groups, combined classes — anyone in my church who would give me a opportunity.

While doing all this speaking, I was blessed to have about 30 families sponsor me to go on an Advocates tour to Guatemala. After that life-changing trip, I spoke even more.

The beauty of having so many people support me financially on the tour was that they felt they “owned” me when I returned, and I had a duty to speak to their classes and groups and share about my trip!

God’s time was not wasted. He used what I initially perceived as rejection as a time of planting. Seeds were planted throughout my church, and my heart learned to trust Jesus like I probably had not done in a long time. I started to remember what it felt like to rely on Him again as He prepared the fields for harvest.

During that time of planting seeds, I made a chart. It was a simple chart where I kept the name, contact information, child name and reference number for each new sponsorship associated with my efforts. This has proven to be one of the most effective things I have done as an Advocate. As new sponsors came along, I simply add to this chart.

By the time I actually held my Compassion Sunday (Nov. 29, 2009), the list had grown to close to 70 sponsors — one child at a time!

In planning Compassion Sunday, I remembered something Wess Stafford once said about the reason many people do not get involved with charity organizations. He said they do not know where to begin and they do not know who to trust.

Well, having a Compassion Sunday shows people where to begin, but I needed to focus on showing my congregation that Compassion was an organization they could trust.

Watch It Begins With You and subscribe to Compassion YouTube for more stories.

I pulled out my handy, dandy chart of sponsors. If my congregation could see that the leaders and many longtime church members were trusting Compassion, it might make a difference.

I called Compassion and gave them the reference numbers from my chart. Compassion was able to provide me with a digital picture of every sponsored child connected to my church.

I made a simple slide show with those pictures. Each slide had the face of the child and his or her name alongside of the sponsor’s name. Our adult and children’s choirs sang “He Knows My Name” as the slide show was presented. My congregation felt like those children were “their” children.

We were then abundantly blessed to have Miguel Figueroa speak, as a Compassion alumnus and now Leadership Development Program graduate attending Moody Bible Institute.

None of these things could have taken place if the dates I had initially requested had been granted. God’s timing brought about a harvest that surpassed what I had prayed for.

We now have close to 200 sponsors at our church, and the sponsorship table is still up! Each week someone stops by to either ask about sponsoring, pick up some information, ask questions about a current sponsorship, or tell me about a letter received from a child. It is my act of love to sit at that table each week. To Him be all of the glory!

The little chart with sponsor information did not end once the numbers grew. It took on a life of its own. My trip to Guatemala left me with a passion even greater than the one I already had for finding sponsors. It is a passion for getting those sponsors engaged in the lives of the children they sponsor.

With the contact information in hand, I have been able to establish a monthly newsletter for the sponsors in my church. In addition, this past month I offered six different opportunities for members to attend a Compassion 101 class where they could come together and learn how to set up an online account at, learn about letter-writing, gifts, trips, blogs and more.

Also, if there is a crisis in a country such as we just experienced in Haiti, I immediately know which sponsors to connect with. Or if there is a blog post that pertains to one of our sponsoring family’s child development centers, I can let them know. Basically, anything that I can do to advocate for the continuing relationship between the sponsor and child is made possible through a simple task of record keeping.

So my fellow Advocates and precious sponsors: Pray. Trust His timing. Pray. Take every opportunity, especially the seemingly insignificant ones, to speak up. Pray. Keep some records if you can. Pray. Enjoy His harvest. And give Him all of the glory.

12 Comments |Add a comment

  1. younghee Kang June 3, 2010

    Debbie–thanks for sharing an awesome and inspirational testimony!!!
    Robert, my husband, and I too have been waiting for God’s timing at McLean Bible Church in Virgina.
    It’s been almost two years that we’ve been trying to host Compassion Sunday there so, we’re very encouraged by you.

    1. Debbi Akers June 3, 2010

      Younghee, I am still learning so much and the story continues. Even with all of the “success” of last year’s Compassion Sunday, each new year presents its own challenges. However, I do know this…I am learning that my goal is not necessarily sponsorships. Instead, my goal each day is to bring Glory to God with each breath that I take. In doing so, if I am so blessed to be able to present Compassion to someone and see them respond to Christ’s call on their heart to care for His children…. What a Blessing!

      One day at a time, trying to learn what it means to live for His Glory and not my own… and watching Him make something beautiful out of it. God bless you, your husband, and your faithfulness in McLean, Virginia! Your faithfulness alone will glorify our Father in Heaven. (He is in charge of the sponsorships!)

  2. Debbie Popejoy April 13, 2010

    Debbi, I am always blessed and encouraged to hear about someone taking a leap of faith and trusting God to be in control. There is nothing to big for our God. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Kees Boer April 11, 2010

    Great Blog, Debbi!!!!


  4. Donna J April 10, 2010

    I am so excited to be able to support Compassion by spreading the word online.

    When I was in college, I was a sponsor and really was very blessed by the experience because the family of the child became my pen pals.

    I am married now, and we are in the process of figuring out how we can work the monthly sponsorship fee into our monthly budget so that we can keep it going for the longterm.

    I’ve been enjoying the website, and just found this blog today.
    I started a sponsorship challenge page, as well, as I am working to get other parents from our school involved, along with family and friends.

    If you haven’t already, Join Us!

    My blog (see the attached link) has the link to my sponsorship page.

  5. Amy Wallace April 9, 2010

    Wow! I applaud all that you have done!

  6. John Ahlers April 9, 2010

    Thank you for that very encouraging article. It’s seems that we can do so much for God when we are patient and obedient.

  7. Debbi Akers April 9, 2010

    The Compassion 101 class was a great place to introduce sponsors to amazing things such as the OurCompassion website. Also, the newsletters have proven to be a way to focus on many of the things that you just don’t have time to cover at the tables on Compassion Sunday. For example, last month’s newsletter focused on letter writing and this month will be gift giving.

    The newsletter goes out via e-mail, so it also proves to be a wonderful way to add links to videos, interviews, etc…. that many new sponsors may not be aware of.

    Thank you all for your kind words. It is a privilege to call you friends in this business of seed planting!

  8. Amanda April 9, 2010

    Wow thanks so much for sharing! And thank you for not giving up when a door was shut in front of you! God Bless!

  9. Stephanie Green April 9, 2010

    Don’t forget to tell new sponsors about OurCompassion. That is a great resource and support group on the internet for Compassion sponsors!

  10. julie April 9, 2010

    Wow, Debbi, that is sooo powerful! Thank you for sharing that.

  11. Marci in MO April 9, 2010

    Inspirational Debbi! I am currently working on some of these very things with our church!

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