Emotional Appeals for Sponsorship: Right or Wrong?

When you watch the Catalyst 2009 do you feel it was manipulative? Is it all right to ask people to give, or act, in the middle of experiencing an emotional moment?

Nathan Creitz, author of ChurchEthos: “a blog that encourages thinking Christianly about the habits and customs of the Church and about our reputation with the unchurched,” says:

This video is worth watching for two reasons:

  1. To see God’s love at work through His people and to see the powerful story of Jimmy and Mark.
  2. To see how NOT to use such a moment to advance an agenda.

What do you think? Do you agree?

Let us know after you read Nathan’s entire blog post at ChurchEthos to get the context for his opinion.

108 Comments |Add a comment

  1. annabelle March 20, 2011

    I don’t like things that try to appeal to my emotions because i feel like I’ve been tricked. It may not be the best way to get things done (especially because someone who sponsors while having a ‘moment’ may not be the sponsor who sends letters or continues sponsoring), but, I’m still a HUGE fan of Compassion. I understand there are different methods of doing things. Maybe I’m wrong.

    I think that the criticism is one of the best I have ever seen. His words were still graceful, and he even provided a link to sponsor a child. Regardless of what’s the right way to do it, we must reflect Christ in our methods and in our criticisms.

  2. Mary Choi August 27, 2010

    Why is it wrong to use emotion to influence someone else? Emotions in themselves are not wrong. Also, all mature persons should be able to deal with their own emotions in a mature way, not feel manipulated because someone “made” them feel that way? Emotion is a part of motivating change. It’s not ALL, but it’s a part.

  3. Crystlgib August 2, 2010

    My Final word is this:
    Compassion seems to intentionally play on people emotions with the surprise meetings. I consider this manipulation. The poor of the world clearly have legitimate needs and sympathy has a proper place. But, when someone deliberately uses another person’s emotions as a means to manipulate them into complying with their will, it is witchcraft.
    2 Corinthians 3:17. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

  4. Lisa Miles August 2, 2010

    CrystlGib, I was reading a post of yours from May 2009 — the last time you said you were quitting Compassion. That time it was over the rate increase. So it sounds like you may have been mulling over this decision for quite a while.

    If you decide to switch to a different child sponsorship organization, I just want to encourage you to really be sure you choose an organization you can stick with. As others have mentioned, it is a sad occasion for a child when they are dropped by their sponsor. Best-case scenario is to stick with a child until they graduate from whatever program they are in.

    Good luck with the organization you choose!

  5. Steve Mooradian August 2, 2010

    While I, personally, would never drop my sponsorship over something like this, I can absolutely understand CrystlGib’s frustration. To be frank, knowing that Compassion continues this exploitative practice irks me… like the organization as a whole has simply “brushed away” those of us who raised the red flag on this. I can see why someone would say, “Hey… lack of discernment here? Well, then I’d better take my efforts somewhere else.”

    I’d be interested in hearing what Stafford thinks.

  6. CrystlGib August 2, 2010

    Chris I appreciate that you accepted when I wasn’t always on the rah rah rah sis boom ba team. I know you saw me take a few beating for voicing my opinion, but hopefully understood I trusted you enough to hear the truth when you asked for it. Frankly I was surprised by my strong response. I did seek the council of friends and family and I did pray and mediate on this for some time. I think what disturbed me was that, in my judgment, Compassion could have easily respected everyone opinion and gone about these meetings in a different way. There have been other discussion and debates where I can see Compassion has to make a choice, and perhaps even a difficult one. For instance I was on the “yeah the communication is outdate team.” In that situation I can understand that updating the system could cost money. And even if it saves money in the long run, you still have decide how to make that initial investment. So I can understand, and even expect, Compassion moving slowly and methodically. But in this debate, the choice only cost Compassion some consideration, no time no money no additional effort. I can image that if people who were ok with the current policy were told “Compassion has decide to introduce the sponsors and student in private and then allow the students to introduce their sponsor during their testimony” would probably have the reaction “ok that sounds good too.” So for Compassion to disregard my, and many other’s, strong feelings on this matter was unacceptable. I would remind you that in your own words, “Actions of consequences.”
    For the other people voicing their concerns, Compassion will find new sponsors for my eleven children. My children know I love them and more importantly they know Jesus loves them. Even if I am completely wrong, God has the grace to heal any wounds. I will continue to champion the poor of the world. I will just now do so with organizations I feel value my opinion enough to listen.

  7. Mary July 30, 2010

    I think it’s a gift to be able to witness it.

  8. Jimmy Wambua July 30, 2010

    Dear Crystlgib,
    It is my prayer that you did not let go the hand of the child you’ve been holding and being the face of Jesus to.

    I was sponsored by Compassion for 16 years and I am the “child” in that video.

    God, in His infinite wisdom created a beautiful blend of cultures world-over and gave man the opportunity to make use of the diversity with understanding,grace and compassion. My sponsor is Canadian, I am Kenyan and the platform is American but dignity is universal.Thats part of God’s genius.

    Speaking from experience, Compassion is a true advocate, she is the protective mother of her little ones. Compassion dignifies the poor children she serves.

    I would encourage you to interrogate yourself why you opened your heart to help a poor child and whether you would honestly shut your doors to a child because of “dimwit event organizer” as Steve Mooradian would eloquently charge. That child needs you more than you do want your voice heard and your vote to counted.

    I would love to entertain questions if someone has any.

  9. Kees Boer July 29, 2010

    Hi, I’m sorry to hear that you are considering dropping your sponsorship, because you disagree with this marketing approach. Please, consider that your child really loves you a lot. He/she does not know anything about this whole marketing approach. Just today, I was talking to a director of a project, who told me that the children cry when the sponsor cancels.
    Also, I’ve spent a lot of time with LDP students over the last 3 months. Most of them would give anything to be in the situation that this young man is in. Their big dream is to meet their sponsor. They pray for their sponsor every day. We’re not talking marketing here. We’re talking a relationship here. The sponsor is very important to the child and to the LDP student. That’s why your letters are so important. The money is the least important part of the sponsorship! It’s the prayers and the letters that are important! I can tell you from being in the projects almost every day for the last 3 months that your money goes to where Compassion says that it is going. Children’s lives are being changed and the sponsor-child relationship is a HUGE part of this.

  10. Amanda July 29, 2010

    I really really hate these public reunions too. It really should be a private matter. Maybe the reunited pair could meet privately and then be given the opportunity to go public if they wish to (after given at least a few days for prayer/thought). I won’t stop sponsoring my kiddos over this…but I do hope that Compassion changes their minds on this one.

  11. Steve Mooradian July 29, 2010

    Hmm… shocked to learn this practice continues. This means that it goes beyond some one-time dimwit event organizer. Sad. Exploitation of someone in a vulnerable position.

    Nothing I would kill my sponsorship over, though.

  12. Lisa Miles July 29, 2010

    I can see both sides of the argument, but I wouldn’t dump my sponsored kids over it.

    Something I love about Compassion’s website and advertising is how the kids are portrayed. Compassion shows joyful kids, smiling, laughing, (as kids do.) I’ve seen child sponsorship organizations portray children as crying, dirty, and pitiful — something to be pitied — I guess in an effort to guilt people into calling the organization. That kind of pathos feels manipulative to me. So I appreciate Compassion for avoiding that. Their photos may at times show the reality of life in impoverished parts of the world — what flooding looks like, what slums look like, etc. — which I think is appropriate to educate — but the children are most often portrayed in a way that shows their strengths and potential — their victories. Just something I like about Compassion. Children are so wonderful and bless-ed — and worth lending a hand to.

  13. Mary July 29, 2010

    Dear Crystlgib,

    I’m so saddened to read your comment but like Nathan, I’m more saddened for your sponsor child who will learn of the news that their sponsor is no longer sponsoring them.

    Affects like this makes me pissed off that we can’t focus on the important things.

    I am reminded of a news story I heard on NPR very recently. A lot of poor countries still use espestos because it’s a very cheap and highly fire retarding building material. If the world forbidded the government of those countries to let their people continuet o use esbestos, the ones that would suffer are the people who would be forced to buy more expensive materials, if they could. Or worse, die in a fire that could have been prevented.

    Only God knows how everything we do affects everything else in the world. When we presume to think that our ways are better, we are trying to play God. If what Compassion is doing is unpleasing in God’s eyes, I am confident that it will be made beautiful, in His time.

  14. Crystlgib July 28, 2010

    So I found out last night Compassion continues to surprise the LDP students, during their testimony before a crowd, with meeting their sponsor. They just no longer make that information public. The fact that they have heard the concerns, and chose to disregard them, disturbs me. I even witnessed a staff member apologies to the student afterwards saying “we never know how these things are going to go.” Compassion’s “the ends justify the means” attitude is unacceptable. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems my vote does not count. I will be ending my sponsorship tomorrow. I will take my service elsewhere as I feel you have lost much of your integrity over the last year.

    1. Chris Giovagnoni July 29, 2010

      “Compassion continues to surprise the LDP students, during their testimony before a crowd, with meeting their sponsor. They just no longer make that information public.”

      You are correct. Compassion does still introduce some LDP student speakers to their sponsors at public events, but no one is attempting to hide that fact.

      Do you mind sharing with me why you feel that Compassion is trying to keep it hidden?

      The decision to invite the public into a personal moment between a sponsor and student is done for many good reasons. And it’s done for reasons that are less than altruistic. Those are my judgments.

      The conversation thread on this post highlights the different perspectives that people have, the different judgments people make. I’m not trying to be relativistic here. I’m simply saying that right or wrong, people have different perspectives and getting one person to change his or her opinion is difficult, let alone trying to get several to do so.

      Change doesn’t come easy. It often comes over time. I can’t say, and I’m not promising, that Compassion will change this action, but just because change hasn’t occurred doesn’t mean it won’t occur.

      I encourage you not to give up on your child because of this difference of opinion. However, I can certainly understand how strongly you feel about it. What else can you do? How else can you make Compassion understand what you feel, that this behavior is not acceptable to you and that it causes you to seriously question what Compassion is all about?

      Your vote does count, especially since you often are one of the few dissenting voices calling it like you see it. If you leave, if you stop fighting for what you believe, then the chance for change is smaller. And who will speak up in your absence?

      I appreciate your participation on the blog, and I’m sorry that this policy has wounded your relationship with us.

      I ask that you reconsider your decision.

    2. Michael Patterson July 29, 2010


      I think the fact that Compassion is willing to link this discussion openly is one indicator of their level of integrity. The fact that they have not done what you suggested should not imply waning integrity.

      I believe our ‘vote’ counts plenty with Compassion, or they would not have linked this discussion to their blog. Compassion’s ministry is about encouraging relationships between the sponsor and the sponsored child. I hope you will consider your sponsored child before you turn away from this ministry.

    3. Nathan Creitz July 29, 2010

      Hey Crystlgib,

      I’m the person who originally raised this issue at my blog “ChurchETHOS”. I had some concerns about how they used what should have been a private moment (in my opinion) to make an emotional appeal for new sponsors.

      I mostly raised the issue as a communicator who seeks to inspire people to serve God with their lives. In other words, my point was to raise the question as a teaching tool.

      Though I have concerns about technique, I highly respect Compassion International and I want to urge you not to end your sponsorship. Don’t let a marketing technique that you and I may feel uncomfortable with dissuade you from helping the child you are currently sponsoring. By ending your sponsorship you are sending a message, but the only person who is going to hear that message is the child who no longer has a sponsor.

      Again, I’m with you that CI’s marketing needs to be tweaked and I’m the one who originally brought people’s attention to this issue. At the very least, spend a week praying about your involvement with CI and then make a decision. I know there’s no reason for you to listen to me but I wanted to just type this out quickly.

      God bless,

  15. Mary March 3, 2010


    I hope my comment didn’t come off as sounding like letters were NOT important. Contrary, letters are SO VERY important… but I just thought, at first reading, that once a week was maybe too much? But then again, it probably is not! May also depend on the child as well. =) Loved your story/video Jimmy. Thank you for sharing it with us. I hope you have a great experience at Moody and continue to live out God’s great calling for your life. =) I look forward to meeting you in heaven, and if God allows, on earth!

  16. Jimmy Wambua November 5, 2009

    @Michelle, Kees, Amy, Mary,
    Letter writing is very important to a sponsored child. All the letters I received were dreams and hopes. Today I am living those dreams and hopes.

    In his first letter,my sponnsor Mark, introduced me to this friend called Jesus. Today I am at Moody Bible Institute knowing more about Jesus to go back to my Country to introduce this friend my sponsor introduced me to, to as many as possible.

    My sponsor’s words kept my hope alive; a hope that there is a better day, a day when the sun shall rise in my heart, a day that I will know the truth and the truth shall set me free! Six years in the sponsorship, I gave mylife to Jesus. It is at that point that I understood what my sponsor meant when he wrote to me saying, there is a true friend and His name is JESUS.

    That is why when I rose to speak in Atlanta, my story would not be complete without this letter that changed my life!

  17. Amy November 4, 2009

    @Kees, yeah, we’ve gotten off-topic. Perhaps Compassion could set up some kind of user message board/forum?

  18. Kees Boer November 4, 2009

    This is a totally different topic than the original topic, but I think we’ve pretty much said everything that can be said about this.

    But on the topic of writing too much. I write the children a little more than 2 times/month.

    I have asked several of the children, including several that were on the reciprocal system, if I write too much. They all told me, not to send less letters. One girl even asked me if I could write her more. 🙂


  19. Amy November 4, 2009

    @Kees. I sponsor two kids and have a correspondence child as well. I’m totally cool with them not writing nearly as often as I do. Just want them to know they are loved and thought of and prayed for a lot.

  20. Kees Boer November 3, 2009

    @Amy. I think it is okay to write them once a week. You might consider becoming a correspondent for a Compassion child too.

    Also, realize that the child might not get the mail, but once every month or every other month. So, if that’s the case, the child might receive multiple letters from you every time, the mail comes. I.e. the mail doesn’t come once a day like we get it. 🙂

    But your child is very blessed with you and many other children in the project are wishing that they would get letters like that!


  21. Kees Boer November 3, 2009

    Hi, Michelle,

    That is awesome, that you started writing your child more! I always tell people that it takes about 6 months to see the results of your letters, 3 months to get the letters there and 3 months to get a reply. If the child is in in country, where they write the standard 3 letters, than you might not see the result in number of letters that you get back, but your child will definitely be so encouraged by the extra letters that they receive. The question, I always get when I visit a project is why some sponsors don’t write letters.

    BTW, going back to the topic at hand, I did ask some other formerly sponsored Compassion children about how they would feel if they met their sponsors the way, Jimmy did and without exception, all of them told me that they wouldn’t mind it. They would be very happy. It is their dream in life. Not that it is my dream in life to get a $1,000,000, but I wouldn’t mind getting that kind of money publicly… Unless it was cash in a football stadium! I might become an easy target for someone wanting to mug me! But I’m just using this as an illustration. The formerly sponsored children would all be so glad to meet their sponsor, that they really don’t care that it was publicly and they were all glad that it served to sponsor more children.

    Again, I think the real issue is probably more whether it should be on video, because the ones watching it on video might at times have a question.

    Having said even that, when you are a big organization like Compassion, I think there is always going to be some people, who don’t like what you do regardless of what you do. So, there is a point, where you just have to go on.


  22. Michelle November 3, 2009

    Amy, it might be too much if your child/children are on the reciprocal system… or if it is bogging down the transcribers…. You may just want to ask the Compassion office.

    I am writing an actual letter about once a month and enclosing a book, coloring book, maze book, etc. and then I am sending something small (like stickers or just a cute note card) once or twice a month. Now and then I will write an email message. I am trying not to write too much that has to be transcribed….

    Ludis isn’t on the reciprocal system, so I don’t feel too bad about sending things more often as she doesn’t have to respond! She writes in January, May, and September.

  23. Mary November 3, 2009

    @amy, once a week might be a bit too much but i’m not a compassion staff person so i’m just saying out of personal experience. the children are instructed (led?) to write back when they get a letter so yeah. i write to my kids about once every month or two… including replies to their letters. once you start, in about a year or so, the “cycle” kind of establishes itself cuz they write you back, and you write them back, etc.. but it can take a while for them to get your letter… and i’ve also gotten my kid’s letters in bunches. one of my girls lives in the philippines and it takes like 4 months for the letter to get there and also from her to me.

  24. Amy November 3, 2009

    Can someone comment on how much writing is “too much”? I write to my boys about once a week, either over the email system or handnotes, which will usually include pictures.

  25. Michelle November 2, 2009

    Hi Kees!

    I’m hoping that after my son finishes high school and graduates college that finances will improve enough that I can go and visit Ludis. By that time she will be almost 16 years old……. and we should have gotten to know each other through the mail very well by then!! :o)

    Ever since I discovered this blog I have been writing far more often than I had been. I haven’t heard from her since I started the onslaught of mail, but I’m curious if I am overwhelming her!!! lol So during October I cut back a bit….. But you are right: letters are oh so very important!

    Yes, I am a member of Compassion.org…. but I am not all that adept at the blog thing!

    Also, as to asking Jimmy what he thinks? I am REALLY glad that you did, Kees, as the incident revolved around him and I was worried about what he thought. I don’t know him and can’t ask him myself.. so thank you for doing it for me! (and anyone else who couldn’t do it…..) I appreciate it.

    (((HUGS))) and best wishes to Jimmy if he reads this!

  26. Michael Patterson November 2, 2009

    I should clarify… I do not presume to know what conclusions Compassion’s president has come to on this matter. I only meant to say that he obviously has been aware of these encounters as long as they have happened.

  27. crystlgib November 1, 2009

    We were specifically asked to share our reaction to the video. That was not an invitation for anyone here to try and “enlighten” anyone else into just how wrong their perception may be. I know how big the hearts are in here but, I too am a sponsor who has met several of her children and advocates for Compassion. After hearing all the arguments I still hold to my initial reaction. That being; STAGING a surprise meeting between a sponsor and a former compassion child in order to PANDER to a large audience looks far more like a STUNT than discipleship.

  28. Michael November 1, 2009

    Steve, Kees is one of the most prayerful people I know. Other prayerful people have seen these kind of encounters, and not come to the same conclusion you have (ie; Wess Stafford). Your comment appears to make the assumption that if a person has not come to the same conclusion as you, he must not be talking to God.

  29. Steve Mooradian October 31, 2009

    @Kees – I wish you would stop asking Jimmy what he thinks, and start asking God what He thinks about using sponsored folks (the defenseless?) for public reveals.

  30. Kees Boer October 31, 2009

    Hi, Michelle,

    Visiting your children is priceless, but sometimes it is too expensive. I know what you mean. An individual visit is far less expensive than a group tour though. In the mean time, your letters can be of huge impact to the children. The vast majority of children never get to meet their sponsor.

    Are you a member of Ourcompassion.org? If so, it is a good way of meeting other sponsors, and who knows, maybe you’ll meet someone who will visit the country that your child is in or maybe even the project. That has happened with me several times now. Then I can send a little video on a CD with extra pictures for the child. Then I’ve gotten videos of the children that way and I feel like I get to know them so much better.



  31. Michelle October 30, 2009

    Ben, even though I didn’t agree with surprising Jimmy like that and then the immediate appeal for sponsorship while he was still kneeling on stage and crying….. I never thought Compassion’s (or Catalyst’s) motives were wrong. I’ve always thought they were just trying to help as many kids as they could.

    I am also one of the ones who don’t get the “reality tv” thing… I hate that genre of programming and I never thought this moment resembled that at all. (definitely a good thing!)

    But that is why I think this “conversation” is so appropriate…. I don’t agree with everyone’s perspective, but I can respect that most people only wish the best for Jimmy and all our kids. :o)

    Also, one thing that came from it is that I learned that Jimmy got to spend several hours with Mark…. and I’m sure that was priceless for him!!!! I’m one of those people that will not be able to afford to visit my Compassion child… and so I know how it feels to think it will never happen. I hope I will someday find out how it feels to meet… but I am not holding my breath! lol

    Compassion is wonderful. The people that post on this blog are wonderful… because deep down we care about one thing: THE KIDS. :o)

  32. Ben Rough October 30, 2009

    As many of you have mentioned previously, the issue isn’t really whether Jimmy enjoyed the moment or if our motives were pure, but whether or not these types of surprise moments are necessary or appropriate.

    I definitely can see other perspectives and I am grateful for everyone that left constructive feedback. And I recognize this isn’t just about me or the Catalyst event, what we’ve discussed here will help all of us here at Compassion who coordinate these types of events.

    The perception of a moment, how it is viewed both as it happens and as it lives on the social web, by the audience, the sponsor and the graduate and everyone who comes across it is not something to disregard.

    Compassion must always consider the points you have made here. Thank you for your thoughts and for your continued support of our ministry.

  33. Kees Boer October 29, 2009

    I just spoke with Jimmy about the video and what he thought about it.

    This is what he said:

    I am just grateful that God rescued me from poverty. When HE heard my cry in poverty, I never question how HE moves. Having said that, What I experienced was a God’s Moment. I was caught up a kind of GRACE! People don’t know how many times I went on my knees praying to meet this young man who heard and responded to the voice of God to sponsor me. When I was in college,a number of times I fasted and prayed that one day I meet him. Because , the full picture was clear to me at that time. I am still processing the encounter at catalyst.

    When I asked him, if he would have rather met his sponsor in person, he said:

    I plan to use the Christmas break to think through all the happenings. It’s alot
    I don’t question God’s way of Doing things. Mine is to Pray
    How HE answers, I submit!

    Then we talked a little about the hours he had with his sponsor, who used to write him a lot and very encouraging letters. His big question was to his sponsor: “Why did you pick me?”

    His sponsor told him:

    “I heard about Compassion when I was attending a church. I walked up to Compasiion
    desk. My eyes scanned through the over 50 child profiles
    then rested on you. I picked your profile because in your eyes, I saw you say to me
    ‘I want to live, I just don’t know how.’

    Then Jimmy said: “Interestingly
    It was at the same time I was roaming the streets eating form dumpsters.”

    This is a little different than things that happen right now. Right now, children are registered into the Compassion project and get all of the benefits, except for the love of a sponsor through prayers and letters from the moment that they were registered. I guess, back then, they had to wait to be sponsored, before they got those benefits.

    Jimmy also started the conversation about what happened at Catalyst and how to interpret it by saying: “It is a difficult question because I wondered from which culture should I evaluate from.” He had also followed this whole blog. (So, Hi, Jimmy! 🙂 )



  34. oh amanda October 29, 2009

    I hear you, David. I wasn’t suggesting church be like Survivor. I *do* think that this surprise-someone-in-front-of-live-audience thing that we saw with Jimmy is common in our culture. And *most* people think it’s interesting. That’s the point I was trying to make.

    And the authenticity thing is a factor—people want to see where their money is going and who its going to. They don’t want an actor, a CEO or even someone prepped beforehand. People appreciate seeing “behind the scenes”.

  35. Kees Boer October 29, 2009

    Hi, David,

    I’m with you as far as reality TV is concerned…. How real can you be if you have a camera following you and you have to redo a scene several times, because your watch created a flash from the reflection of the light and sometimes it takes a long time to set up the shot…. So, there is very little reality in a reality show. It’s not a show nor reality. Like Grapenuts doesn’t grape nor nuts!

    Anyways, I can’t understand why this is such a big problem for you though, because Jimmy doesn’t seem to mind the audience doesn’t mind, the sponsor didn’t mind.

    I don’t think it degraded anyone in this video. I think we’re going in circles a bit though.


  36. David October 29, 2009

    i had to comment about the “reality tv post” above. i guess i am just a weirdo…but i don’t watch reality tv (in fact, i think almost all tv is the biggest life-waster on this planet). and i certainly don’t use it as a model for church or authentic living in christian community. and i cannot believe someone would seriously compare that to what was going on in this video or otherwise use reality tv as an example of how compassion should carry out these moments. however, if you saw reality tv when you saw this compassion video, that is all the more reason why it is all wrong.

    come on. are you serious? is this really the model/example/illustration you are going to hold and put forth as an example of authenticity? really? the type of authenticity we need in the church is worlds apart from anything you will find on “reality” tv. we are in big trouble if christians are looking to reality tv in this way. and besides, if anyone thinks those shows depict reality…well…

    maybe that puts this whole comment in perspective.

    (and, as i have mentioned before, this issue is not about being pro-emotion or anti-emotion. i am a firm believer that what we feel is very important to our spiritual life. in fact, the bible commands us to feel and to have certain emotions. but that is not the issue here. that entirely misses the point. re-read my posts and others. to be “emotional,” these moments do not have to be one-way surprises that objectify the sponsored person. there are a million other ways to righfully tap into the emotions. and this is not one of them in my view.)

  37. oh amanda October 29, 2009

    I am just so surprised that someone would question Compassion’s motives AND that they would think it was inappropriate to have a sponsored child (now adult) meet his sponsor in a public arena. We watch reality television for this same reason. We like to see the REAL stuff. Not spliced/diced, not led thru an interview but REAL. Hasn’t the church been shouting authenticity for years?

    And if Jimmy had not reacted so strongly, then what would the conversation be?

    I’m just baffled by this conversation. I think Compassion’s work will always evoke emotion. It SHOULD evoke emotion. If poverty and children dying without even HEARING Jesus’ name does not make you emotional, well, I don’t know what would.

  38. Michael October 28, 2009

    David, we just completed our adoption, and our daughter came home on Sept. 13. It was a long grueling process, but she is doing very well at home. Thanks for your well wishes. Have a great trip to Costa Rica.

  39. Michelle October 28, 2009

    It seems to me that there are a lot of people on both sides of this issue… (Seems like more on the side that it was badly handled… but perhaps that is just my perception!)

    Good points are being made on both sides…. but it seems to me that enough concern has been showed that Compassion (Catalyst, etc.) should at least review any further plans for surprise sponsorship meetings and how things are handled.

  40. David October 28, 2009


    I just watched the other video you linked in your message. And, I must say, I have the same concerns that I had watching Jimmy’s encounater. It is not that there is nothing special that happens during these public “reveals.” It is the whole premise of them, and the fact that they are not necessary to accomplish the goal that I think is at stake here.

    As Steve pointed out more succinctly than I have been able to, there is such a positional difference in the two parties that it is disturbing. Having worked in international affairs for over 15 years, perhaps I am more sensitive to these issues. But I still believe that there are a million other ways to awaken folks in that audience to the need to sponsor a child or to show them the stories and the outcomes.

    If the goal is to show sponsor/sponsored “reveals,” I would ask a deeper question: Why? To what end? What is the ultimate goal here? If it is, indeed, to share the amazing stories of how God works in these situations, I see no reason why surprise reveals have to be a part of that. In fact, I believe they could be detracting from that – as evidenced, for example, by this and many and other conversations about the whole issiue.

    Why not unite sponsor/sponsored first in private with all parties fully informed and fully prepared and then have them share publicly about it. I think that would be just as powerful – perhaps not as “entertaining” as we would like in our entertainment-obsessed, reality-TV rivited culture. But it would seem to me it would meet the same objective without objectifying the sponsored person. I am not sure why there is such a strong determination to continue to create these talk-show-like encounters live and in a public forum when that should not be the main issue. (And again, it is irrelevant whether or not the person is not offended or seems to have been fine with it. Please, that is not the point.)

    The issue should be the substantive impact of the sponsorship (on both sides of it), not the secretive staging of the surprise encounter. And all encounters might not be as exciting. Then you have to be careful. Because what you win people with is what you win them to. If you are seeking new sponsors, and the method you are using to “win” them is this exciting, dramatic, surprise reveal that always ends in tearful gratitude and smiles, that is what you are winning them to. As opposed to winning them to a relationship that may never be noticed, acknowledged, celebrated, or connected this side of heaven, but is nonetheless God-glorifying.

    Just some more thoughts.

    So, I guess we will have to agree to disagree on that one.

    Best to you,

  41. David October 28, 2009


    Thank you. And I certainly could have worded that last paragraph differently. It was not necessary for me to pile on like that. So, I apologize as well.

    And, for the record (and for Vicki), I have been associated with Compassion for over 15 years, when I first sponsored a child. I just recently signed up to sponsor two additional children because two of my three kids (one of whom we adopted from China) wanted to sponsor their own child (hope that makes sense). So, I do believe in what Compassion is doing. And I believe they are a solid organization. And I will continue to support them. (Again, my last paragraph was not my best.)

    My main point is just that even a solid organization can make mistakes and perhaps some serious thought should go into doing any more of these surprise sponsor/sponsored “reveals.”

    But beyond that, at the end of the day, I need to fall flat on my face and humble my sinful heart before God and put him at the center of everything – including this discussion. So, the only final comment I would make for all of us is just an exhortation for us all to be aware of our default man-centeredness, and to instead be God-centered/Christ-centered in all things. To HIM (not to Compassion, not to me, not to Jimmy, not to Mark) be the glory forever and ever. Only in him do we move and breath and have our being. And all our best efforts to be compassionate are filthy rags without the righteousness of Christ being imputed to us. I am thankful that God has used this medium to again bring me to my senses and center me in Christ. I hope and pray for the same for all of us…because we are all worse than we think we are…but Christ is greater than we could ever imagine!

    With a contrite spirit,

    PS – Michael, I travel abroad extensively. And I see from your blog that you are adopting from Haiti. I have been to Haiti myself for various reasons on a couple of occasions (once in 1994/5 – I forget – when Aristide had been removed and our troops were on the ground there). I love the people and pray often for them, as that country is in such bad shape. I have considered adopting again -this time from Haiti. But the process there is so tortuous in ways. I am hopeful that the new legislation that I read about recently will be put in place there. I don’t recall all the details, but provisions in the legislation would supposedly make the process better. Good luck with your process!

    Finally, I am headed to Costa Rica for two weeks with my family of five November 6-20. While there, in addition to vacationing, we will be delivering three suitcases full of donations to Homes of LIfe Orphanage (www.homesoflife.org)! Exciting!

  42. Steve Mooradian October 28, 2009

    I can’t blame David (or anyone) being upset at a bunch of you. (Christ got upset at people when necessary, too, don’t forget) I wish folks here would start addressing the pertinent questions rather than retreating to “sponsored kids love meeting their sponsors” and “it was such a powerful moment”. None of that is in dispute.

    And getting a positive reaction from Jimmy after the fact means nothing. You are practically an angel of the Lord in his eyes… how can you use his appreciation as justification? That totally misses the point… hence aggravation in you folks direction.

    If I give starving children food… and then stand back and videotape them… and then ask them if they minded being videotaped – OF COURSE they will say that they did NOT. In these situations there a positional difference between the sponsor and the sponsored. I think Crystlgib and David already did a great job at making this point… and then were promptly ignored.

  43. Michael October 28, 2009

    David- I apologize that my comments came off as harshly as they did. I should speak as if we were across the table from each other, so I hope you will accept my sincere apology. I have commented previously about my thoughts on this particular issue both on this blog, and the churchEthos blog, so I did not feel a need to restate my opinion. Just as you know your heart (and I believe you care greatly about these issues, or you would not be here), I feel that I know the heart of Compassion’s ministry. I have been to dozens of Compassion development centers abroad. During sponsor tours, Compassion staff members educate sponsors on local etiquette & customs. I know that Compassion aims to treat those they serve with the utmost dignity. The fact that they are encouraging this discussion is evidence of that. This has been a hotly debated topic, and I think healthy that Compassion is willing to look at their practices so openly. I also think there is no better way to demonstrate to people just how meaningful this ministry is to sponsors & sponsored children alike. I was at this event, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed:

  44. Kees Boer October 28, 2009

    Michael has a deep love for the Compassion children. I know him myself and have attested to that.

    David, the thing that probably should be asked instead of whether these events were done properly is whether it is a good idea to video tape them. The reason being for this is that:

    Jimmy didn’t mind.
    The sponsor didn’t mind
    The ones, who were there didn’t mind.

    The only ones, who have shown any questions are the ones, who saw the video tape and weren’t able to see the greater context of this event.

    This is another similar situation of a friend of mine, Rafonzel meeting her sponsor:


    That was a HUGE blessing to Rafonzel.

    I guess anytime we do anything of a surprise, it can backfire, but thus far, I’ve never heard of it backfiring.

    Part of this is that I’ve seen Compassion at work. I was in the Dominican Republic, when over 150 children met their sponsors. My job was to photograph it all. So, I saw each of these meetings. I also heard how the sponsors were prep’d for this event, plus I’ve done 50 child visits myself. If there is anything that Compassion International is not, it would be insensitive.

    We don’t know what type of talks were there before with the child and with the sponsor. It would be presumptive to jump to conclusions.

    Having said this. It is totally fair to talk about this, after all that was the question of the block. Compassion even asking that question shows that they want to be sensitive.

    Maybe Jimmy himself can comment on it. He is aware of this discussion.


  45. Vicki Small October 28, 2009

    David, you say you have just begun sponsoring children through Compassion. Thank you! Now, will you please slow this rush to judgment against Ben and against Compassion, since your relationship with this ministry is so new. If possible, go visit your sponsored child or children and see what Compassion is doing in the field. Get to know the heart and soul of this ministry and the people involved in it, both here and in the field. If that does not convince you that Compassion treats the children and their families with dignity and respect, nothing will.

    I was going to ask Chris, et al., about the possibility of having an interview (vid’ or otherwise) with those former sponsored children who have been surprised by such meetings. I thought possibly that it might help if they were asked, not only how they view those surprises, now, but how they felt about them, at the time. After reading David’s reaction to Ben, I don’t think such an interview would help, even if all of them would want the same experience, the same way, again.

    The sad truth is that we all believe what we want to believe. We will impute good motives, or bad, where we will, and we do not want to be confused with facts or other perspectives.

    If I were “listening in” as a non-believer, I think I would write off Christians as no more able to get along than anyone else.

    Please be clear: I am not opposed to dissenting opinions; I am heartily opposed to the way some of those are being expressed.

  46. David October 28, 2009


    You’re mixing two entirely diffrent contexts and points. My comments are not ironic at all.

    In the context of a discussion with a brother (admittedly an imperfect one via the computer) about an issue he himself raised, sometimes the greatest dignity we can give to a brother is to be honest. And that is honestly how I believe the organization came across as a result of this incident. That does not take away at all from my call for us to treat folks like Jimmy with Christ-like dignity. (By the way, notice, I did not say that is how Ben was. I said that is how the organization came across. Read carefully.)

    Regardless, your comment totally avoids the main issue and just seeks to be pejorative and start a fight. So I will not respond further to posts that are just seeking to incite a conflict between Ben and me. Otherwise, I am not sure what the point of your comment is. If you want to comment, comment substantively about the issue. Don’t avoid the issue just to try to make a point that essentially seeks to claim that if I don’t want people like Jimmy to be treated this way, then I can never say to the person who treated Jimmy this way that he treated Jimmy this way. Kind of circular, don’t you think? Let’s get beyond this.

    I know my heart. And, in fact, I am not questioning Ben’s heart. I said up front that I had no doubt that his intentions were right. My point is that sometimes all of us – including me – can be blind to the reality that exists beyond our intentions. You too. So, instead of trying to start a fire (between Ben and me), and instead of looking for a way to be offended, why not seek to put a fire out (no pun intended since you are a fireman)?

  47. Michael October 28, 2009

    David, I find it ironic that you have a concern that we treat “these brothers and sisters with Christ-like dignity,” then use these words to describe one of your brothers: arrogant, prideful, insensitive, lording-over, condescending, patronizing, pitiful.

  48. Kees Boer October 28, 2009

    @crystlgib — Your thoughts do make sense, but…. all of the formerly sponsored children that I know of, including Jimmy didn’t seem to mind and it was a huge blessing to them.

    Having done over 50 childvisits myself and hearing the instructions that I get before the visit and during the visit…. Compassion is very sensitive about a lot of these details.



  49. David October 28, 2009


    I think we all understand the intent. At least I do not believe there was ever an evil intent or plan to manipulate people or take advantage of Jimmy. But the intent isn’t the issue. And what is disappointing from you is that you totally fail to see how this whole episode could be perceived differently than what was in your heart in orchestrating it. That shows a total lack of discernment. And I wonder what role you play at Compassion if you cannot see and anticipate issues like this.

    I am someone who just recently signed up to sponsor two children through Compassion, but your comments on this blog make me wonder what is really going on at the organization if you are the voice or mouthpiece for them on this issue. I would love to hear from someone higher up. Your explanation did not make things better. It made things worse, because your explanation or defense is so trite – “that was not my intent.” That is basically all you say, with absolutely no validation or serious understanding of how your intent is not the main issue here.

    Your comment that “you hope everyone saw the beauty and power of investing in a life” totally misses the point. Yes, we see that. We know that. That is why many of us give of our time, money, and talents. But that is not what was on display in this moment. Even if Jimmy is okay with it now, this does not take away from the fact that some other sponsored child might not have been. And it could have been disastrous on even more levels that it already was. And the fact that Jimmy is okay with it now does not take away from the fact that many who watched it were very disturbed that this vulnerable young man was put in the spotlight like that without full knowledge of what was going on.

    You wrote above that, “When I originally contacted Mark, (Jimmy’s sponsor) he was thrilled at the opportunity to meet Jimmy and was also quick to share his excitement that their story might inspire others to sponsor. Compassion, Catalyst, and Mark all shared that same goal.” Where was Jimmy in all of this? Why was he not worthy of being asked what he thought about being ambushed on a stage as thousands of strangers watched? This is the point. The fact that this point evades you is highly troubling, especially since you represent Compassion. It is not compassionate, not considerate, not respectful, not loving to exclude Jimmy from that advance knowledge and treat such a life-changing, emotional moment with such disregard for him and how he might react – positively or negatively. It treats him as less than equal, less than human.

    Again, even if he is okay with it now, it might now have been that way with someone else. And it left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.

    Your orchestration of this without getting Jimmy’s advance permission is an example of the subtleness of our arrogance as Americans (or fill-in-the-blank rich Westerners) and puts on dispaly our total disregard for the dignity of the very people we are seeking to help. Please pray that God would open your eyes to at least see this point of view. Because, from what you wrote above, you are just blind to this perspective. And that is scary.

    These folks are not pawns that we can use in any way we want just because we help them. They are equals and should be treated as such.

    So, if it seems there is a lot of interest in this discussion and that it just is not going away, that is because there is rightfully a concern that we treat these brothers and sisters with Christ-like dignity and really put ourselves in their shoes. I would never want to be put in a situation like Jimmy was put in. And most people would not. We need to cry out to God to free us from the bondage and blindness that our affluent American culture places on us, which makes us do things like this that are so patronizing and unworthy of the real work of God in Jimmy’s life and that of his sponsor.

    There were a million other ways to awaken folks in that audience to the need to sponsor a child.

    So, stop trying to defend this and just never do it again. And if you are the voice of Compassion on this issue, I have serious concerns about continuing to sponsor children through your organization when there are many other Christian organizations who may not be quite as blind to such an insensitive, arrogant, lording-over, condescending, patronizing, pitiful display.

    Praying for you (and for all of us comfortable, arrogant, prideful, pitiful sinners who are trying to do the right thing)…

  50. Michael October 28, 2009

    I have met quite a few LDP students, and would be stunned if any of them said they would not want to meet their sponsor in this way. The Compassion staff treats those they serve with great respect and dignity. I hope to see many more such celebrations in the future!

  51. crystlgib October 28, 2009

    Well this is the second video I know of in which someone is surprised with meeting their sponsor. The more I think about it, the less I like the idea. I tried to imagine my feelings if it happened to me. There I am standing in the kitchen washing the dishes when DING DONG the bell rings. When I open the door, “Surprise! Here’s your sponsored child.” At first I would be shocked, and then ecstatic, but eventually a bit disappointed. I wouldn’t have had time to prepare a small sentimental gift. I wouldn’t have had a chance to bring my friends and family’s well wishes etc. I would feel I had missed out on the opportunity to truly savor that blessing.
    So if you asked the LDP students if they “minded” being surprised with their sponsor I am sure they would say no. But if someone were to ask them before hand how they imagined it would be if/when they met their sponsor I doubt the answer would be. “well let me see. I’d like to be on a stage in front of a few hundred, no let’s make that thousand people. I’ll have just given my personal testimony so my emotions will be especially raw having just relived my own personal peaks and valleys. And then a big cake is wheeled out and my sponsor pops out yelling ‘surprise’ to the roar of the crowd.” UH NO
    Meeting your sponsor or child for the first time is a once in a lifetime event. Both parties should be treated as equal partners in that exchange with some say in when, where, and how that encounter occurs. Most sponsored kids will tell you meeting their sponsor is a day they dream and pray for constantly. I think it is pretty lousy that Compassion would treat these individuals as inferiors upon which they have the right to inflict a “surprise” during what amounts to one of the most important moments anyone could ever hope to experience.
    So to answer your question, yes I think it was manipulative and wrong.

  52. Ben Rough October 27, 2009

    My name is Ben Rough and I am the employee of Compassion that arranged the moment at Catalyst. I’ve recently had a chance to read through all the comments and it has been very interesting to see so many different perspectives and opinions on this topic. I’d like to offer a response that could help broaden everyone’s understanding of the introduction between Jimmy and his sponsor.

    I believe the question raised on this blog is valid. It is important for Compassion to understand how unpredictable these moments can be as well as how others can perceive them. It is a responsibility that we cannot take lightly. Personally, I don’t think the sponsorship ask was presented in a manipulative way. There are many ways this could have been manipulative but the emcee, at my request, simply asked the audience to raise their hand if they were willing to consider sponsoring a child. The fact that more than 1200 people asked for a packet speaks to how God moved through that moment. After watching it on video, I feel like you needed to be at Catalyst to truly experience that moment for what it was. It was genuine, sincere, and heartfelt. It is fairly easy to remove yourself from the emotion and break it down on video. This wasn’t meant to be a video, it was a live unpredictable moment that I believe God orchestrated.

    I’d like to clarify that Catalyst and the emcee had the absolute best intentions for that moment. There seemed to be quite a few uninformed comments criticizing Catalyst – I can assure you they simply wanted to be a voice for children in need. The emcee as well as the producers of Catalyst personally sponsor children through Compassion and have a huge heart for children around the world. After one of them met his sponsored child in Rwanda and experienced personally the bond between a child and a sponsor, I suggested the idea of arranging a sponsor introduction at Catalyst. The goal was to show the power of child sponsorship and provide honest answers to frequent questions like “does the money really go where they say it goes”, “do you actually have a relationship with the child”, “does monthly sponsorship really make a difference”. When I originally contacted Mark, (Jimmy’s sponsor) he was thrilled at the opportunity to meet Jimmy and was also quick to share his excitement that their story might inspire others to sponsor. Compassion, Catalyst, and Mark all shared that same goal.

    The moment was much more emotional than any of us expected and it is important for us to consider that in the future. Being there in that moment, I was overwhelmed emotionally and can certainly understand the range of strong feelings people have after watching the video. Sure, there are things that the emcee and I may have done differently with our knowledge now, but the reality is God worked powerfully through the circumstances and was glorified through their testimony. No one knew exactly what to expect and that was certainly the danger of that moment unfolding on stage. I have spoken to Jimmy several times since Catalyst and he has nothing but positive things to say about it. He is excited about how God is using his story to inspire many others to invest in the lives of children. Before, during, and after this moment our main concern was for Jimmy – desperately wanting this to be an amazing opportunity for him to meet his sponsor.

    I hope everyone in the audience saw the beauty and power of investing in a life and were better for it – whether they chose to sponsor a child or not. I know I went home and immediately wrote a letter to each of my sponsored children. I know others were more open to adoption which was the focus following the interview with Jimmy. My prayer is that God will continue to move through this story and inspire people to action. I sincerely hope that those reading this blog and commenting on it can appreciate the intent of the moment and recognize that many lives where changed – from those in the audience to the lives of hundreds of children living in extreme poverty who now have sponsors.

  53. Amy October 27, 2009

    @Kees… good to know. My correspondence child is the youngest of mine, actually, not even five yet.

  54. Kees Boer October 27, 2009

    @Amy… That is awesome! I am closer to some of my correspondence children than some of my sponsored children.

  55. Kees Boer October 27, 2009

    Yes, Rochelle, you are right. He was very glad to meet his sponsor and he wasn’t embarrassed. This was a HUGE blessing to him.

  56. Rochelle Spivey October 27, 2009

    I dont think Jimmy minds at all.I think he was glad to meet his sponsor.I think Jimmy is happy that all the packets where given out and more kids like him are going to be sponsored. If that is being used, I dont think he minds.

  57. Amy October 23, 2009

    @Kees… just when I got home last night, I got my correspondence package for a little boy in Burkina Faso!

  58. Steve Mooradian October 22, 2009

    @Vicki: You referenced a different quote of yours than I did. You said…

    To suggest inappropriate, even evil intent to Nathan, to Catalyst, to Compassion, to the emcee does not speak to me of Christ’s love.

    …then I said…

    Vicki even went so far as to say that even SUGGESTING anyone involved in this did anything “inappropriate” was not reflecting Christ’s love.

    I think I quoted you correctly.

    @Nathan: Yeah, I’m not disagreeing with most of what you just said. I do think that referring to the advancement of child sponsorship in the context in question as an “agenda” and portraying the Catalyst organizers as closet hypocrites (by saying they would have criticized a televangelist for doing the same thing) is considered throwing stones. Granted you may have rewritten the post to not throw stones… but they were already thrown. I bet you, like I, have seen other Christians toss stones from behind the “judge my stone throwing not, lest you be judged” wall.

    I’m not saying you’re a chronic stone thrower… (indeed, I’m a straight shooter and I wish more Christians were, too, rather than tap-dancing around the truth)… I am saying that after reading up on your blog before I posted anything about you I detected a subversive tone against modern church-dom that felt to me to speak more about rebellion against traditionalist perspectives than to promote Christ-centeredness. I found that the VAST majority of those bearing the mantle of “social justice” seldom seek to give the glory to Christ as they feed the poor (or fight for homosexual marriage, or amnesty for aliens, or tax-funded abortions for the poor, etc.). Indeed, there seems to be a groundswell of emerging-left demi-Christians who would partner with secular organizations to use their tithes and offerings to promote that organizations secular agenda rather than promoting Christ as the only answer to the social injustice. Even the Mormons do good works – all the way to hell. 🙁 Our good deeds are like filthy rags, so without Christ being at the center of our “social justice” we aren’t helping anyone, really.

    I don’t think any of that qualifies as ad hominem, but I could be wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time).

    Oh yeah… some of your blog stuff I agree with a lot. 🙂

  59. Kees Boer October 22, 2009

    @Amy — Yes, I did, now I am looking for a sponsor for a little boy, named Marvin, who lives with his grandparents. He is 6 years old. And his granddad is sometimes employed. There are 3 children in the family and… he likes playing with cars and marbles. 🙂


  60. Amy October 22, 2009

    @Kees — a little off-topic – did you find a sponsor for that little girl?

  61. Sarah Charles October 22, 2009

    I forgot to say, Nathan, I like the premise of you blog a lot! I think it is great to have open, honest discussion about these things.

  62. Mick Bauer October 22, 2009

    Manipulative might be too strong a word – but it was a very intimate moment and for that reason it was inappropriate to make it public. Even though I had tears in my eyes, I felt almost disgusted at how I was privy to this vulnerable moment. A video (therefore not live) summary would have had the same impact, but without the awkwardness.

  63. Sarah Charles October 22, 2009

    We all disagree on some points but I think we have much more in common.

    We love God.

    We care about the unchurched.

    We care about the well-being of children in poverty.

    We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and even though we disagree sometimes we will still love one another.


  64. Kees Boer October 22, 2009

    I’m not too concerned with this presentation by itself, because it emphasizes the relationship that the sponsor has with the child. Yes, there were a lot of emotions involved, but that’s not always a bad thing by itself. If you got married, there were probably a lot of emotions involved, when you sold each other on the idea of getting married.

    My concern in presentations is that when sponsorships are being presented only in light of physical poverty. In other words, pledge $38/month, so you help this child who lives in poverty. The problem with that is that the sponsor doesn’t know that the child sees the sponsor as a very important part of their life and looks towards their sponsor for prayer and letters, not just money. (For all intents and purposes, the financial part was already taken care of before the child got sponsored. Instead of being funded through the unsponsored child find, now they are getting funded by one person.) Also, the child might feel like they got rejected, if the sponsor quits sponsoring. So, when a someone steps into this sponsorship, they need to understand what is involved in sponsorship. It is prayer, writing an encouraging letter from time to time and the funding part of the sponsorship. So, unlike regular sales, there is another dynamic involved and that are the feelings of the child. If I “sell” someone a product for instance a refridgerator, I don’t care if 1 year down the line, they throw the refriderator away or if they never put food it it. But this is different.

    So, in my advocacy, I always look at the picture of the child that I’m trying to find a sponsor for and I ask myself: “Would this child be happy with the way I am representing her or him?” And so at times, I have talked people out of sponsorships, because the child should get another sponsor.

    On the particular of this event, maybe someone who actually worked with this event or knows the sponsored child can comment about the details involved. We’re just seeing part of it.



  65. Bob October 22, 2009

    Amy Says:
    I think it’s important to differentiate between Compassion and Catalyst here. The awkward host is a representative of Catalyst, NOT Compassion.

    Compassion is very protective of its “brand” (for good reason). So we have to believe that Compassion presumably choreographed this emotionally-charged element, vetted the host, and scripted the sponsorship appeal.

    Introducing Jimmy to his sponsor in a very public manner, is the primary issue here—and that responsibility belongs fully to Compassion.

    Personally, I don’t have an issue with the subject inferred by this blog post, “Emotional Appeals for Sponsorship … “, however I do believe that making a decision to sacrifice personal privacy of others is best left to the individuals involved. We are called to extend the Kingdom—but not to trod on the backs of others to accomplish His purposes. God may choose to do so, but that is not our prerogative.

    I am curious to hear what Compassion is learning from the dialog this event birthed.

  66. David October 22, 2009

    It was totally inappropriate in so many ways. When I saw the video at another blog, I posted the following comment:

    I am a big supporter of what you and others are doing in the way of orphan care and adoption. And I am an adoptive father myself. I am leaving this comment because I was very disappointed, confused, and concerned about the clip from Catalyst that you referred to and referenced as “one of the most powerful moments in Catalyst history.” After watching the video, it would have been more accurate to refer to it as one of the most exploitive moments I have ever seen. It is disgraceful to have put this young man from Kenya up on stage and then pull a TV talk-show-like surprise on him by bringing him face-to-face for the first time with his sponor of 19 years in front of thousands of strangers. This was something that should have been done first back stage and in private, not on display in front of thousands of people just so the smooth, scripted, Ryan Seacrest-like facilitator on stage could get a big reaction. Really. Think about it. I do not think the way this was done considered fully the dignity of the young man from Kenya. Unbelievable. Very American, paternalistic, arrogant, presumptive, insensitive, lacking in class, etc. Very disappointing. I would have expected better. The point could have been made just as well by having these two meet first behind closed doors and then come out to share about that encounter. It would have made both of them feel and look less awkward… and could have made the same point calling people to sponsor compassion kids. Let’s not exploit these vulnerable people any more than they already are exploited – and certainly let’s not do that just to try to create some extreme emotional moment in a desperate attempt to wake up prosperous Americans from our slumber on the sofa of the world as children starve and die all around us. Are we really that fast asleep, that dead to the world around us that we have to do something as distasteful and explotive as this like this? Well, probably so. God have mercy on us.

  67. Mary October 22, 2009

    This whole discussion has been weighing on my mind. I don’t know exactly why but it really is bugging me. I know the purpose of your blog Nathan and I KNOW that there are ways that churches and Christians behave that can be improved upon but I really don’t think that the Catalyst moment is one of them.

    1. It was catered for Christians and I know you say that we need to be careful how we act cuz videos go on YouTube and non-Christians can see it and criticize us but I really think that if Christians are just consumed by how non-Christians view them, then they won’t be able to do anything because I assure you, anytime you stand up for something, in America, someone will hate you for it.

    2. I think you are assuming too much in that non-Christians will think that the event was taking advantage of their emotions. Has anyone indicated that they felt taken advantage of? I kind of feel like you are creating a problem where there wasn’t one. I didn’t even notice any awkwardness until you pointed it out. I was just touched by the moment and I felt that the host waited a sufficient time before asking people to consider sponsoring.

    3. I do understand that you’re using this one particular event as an example of a bigger problem of how Christians can manipulate people’s emotions. I absolutely agree that when tele-evangelists use emotion to get people to give them money for a bottle of “holy water,” it is WRONG and contributes to people thinking that when you go to church, they only ask you for your money. But I think I would be MUCH MORE offended if someone asking me for money without laying out the reason for it. And how can the reason for it (poverty) not MOVE a reasonable person?

    I really do not agree with you that the Catalyst moment was destructive. I think there are a lot more clearly destructive things about church that you can blog about instead of trying to find fault in this one.

    Is using emotion to make an appeal to some worthy cause a destructive habit that the Church has developed? I think in the instances of 30 second clips on T.V. yes. But not this particular instance that we’re talking about.

  68. Amy October 22, 2009

    I think it’s important to differentiate between Compassion and Catalyst here. The awkward host is a representative of Catalyst, NOT Compassion.

  69. Nathan Creitz October 22, 2009


    You give a very thorough summation of what has been stated thus far. I think you are right that we aren’t trying to dismantle Compassion International because of this video. I’m really with you on all of your first three paragraphs. We are in basic agreement, but then comes your fourth paragraph.

    When the temperature in the room is rising am I wrong for asking people to show God’s grace just because I’m the one who asked the question in the first place? It’s obvious that a lot of people were uneasy about this moment and I believe it is important to talk about how we can be more effective in our appeals. You are basically saying exactly what I’m trying to say by first saying this isn’t attack on Compassion but that we need to take notice of the way it was handled and think how we could present things better in the future. The fact that you were more articulate makes you less of a stone thrower? Just for the record, I wasn’t throwing stones though it was construed that way. I can take disagreement but I don’t appreciate character assassination. Does that make sense?

    As far as your understanding of what my blog is about it’s clear that you haven’t spent much time on it. What’s wrong with striving for orthodoxy and orthopraxy? Have you been discouraged by some of the habits that Christians have formed? Have you had a desire to change the habits that are destructive and do more of the habits that are healthy? Does it not bother you that many people have left the church and others won’t attend a church because of some of our destructive habits?

    That’s what my blog is about. That’s what my post is about.
    I never said all social justice efforts are Christ-centered but social justice is caring for the poor, caring for God’s creation, etc. and these are things that even many unbelievers strive for though they don’t know it’s innate in their human nature because God gave them those desires. Why do we always have to disagree with the world. How about we work together on those things that we hold in common and help others see the Truth in those things that we don’t hold in common?

    I know I make lots of mistakes. I acknowledged that by rewriting my post to be more clear (that’s what we communicator’s try to do) But in all other things, please tell me the error of my ways. Trust me, I can take honest and Biblical critique if it isn’t couched in ad hominem attacks.

  70. Vicki Small October 22, 2009

    Yay, Chip!! You are so right!

  71. Vicki Small October 22, 2009

    Steve, if you’re going to quote me, then please quote correctly.

    What I said was, “Those who think Compassion pulls stunts do not yet grasp the integrity and character of the organization.”

    I did not say anyone who suggested Compassion did anything wrong was not showing love.

    There’s a big difference.

  72. Amy October 22, 2009

    @Chip – I think 1200 kids were sponsored, not 5000.

  73. Chip October 22, 2009

    Hundreds of kids were sponsored? Try thousands…probably better than 5,000. There were 13,000 people in the room and they ran out of Compassion packets and people were lining up for them outside.

    The bottom line is this…they had an opportunity to help thousands of poverty stricken children in one moment. We can debate the details of how the MC handled etc.

    The saddest part about all of this is that what we MISS is the inexplicable blessing it is to the person who is the sponsor. The blessing that God would use a sinner for His Glory. And if you don’t get the overwhelming joy of that then you have not experienced it. It is one of the most humbling and at the same time joyous moments I have ever experienced. What God wants us to understand is that we can experience him in a way that transcends words by giving…especially to the least of these. And I think Compassion did a great job putting that on display so that others might see it and have the opportunity to be blessed by God in the same way.

  74. Steve Mooradian October 21, 2009

    Oh boy… seems like everyone’s mind is firing on random cylinders in here lately. :-/

    Many of you responded to the reservations about the Catalyst meeting of Jimmy and Mark by saying, basically, “Compassion can do no wrong.” Now, you didn’t use those exact words, but pretty much that’s what you said. Vicki even went so far as to say that even SUGGESTING anyone involved in this did anything “inappropriate” was not reflecting Christ’s love. What?! Folks, it’s an organization of fallen humans… it’s going to make mistakes. That doesn’t mean necessarily to break off contact or anything… but always keep a keen and honest eye on the ministries you support.

    Now, in my opinion was the Catalyst event in question wrong the way it was handled? I say yes, and I think that’s the slight majority opinion (not that the majority defines the truth). BUT, do I think that this lapse of judgment reaches all the way into the bowels of Compassion? NO. Of course not, that’s silly. Why drag the whole of Compassion into this discussion? This was some small group of Catalyst event organizers who probably did NOT sin by CO-mmision by having an “evil” intent or desiring to pull off a “stunt”. It was more likely O-mmision in failing to consider and respect their brother Jimmy as they should have. We’ve all sinned this way. Not as big of a deal as Nathan made it out to be… although a good example of what not to do.

    Now, as far as the efficacy of emotionally driven sponsorships… I have no real data to evaluate, but I have to guess that anyone who looks into Compassion before getting a sponsorship (as a good steward would) is going to get a little emotional. This isn’t planting trees in former Eastern-bloc tundra… this is little boys and girls getting food and schooling… AND GETTING CHRIST!! Emotions are okay, people. I sponsored my little Bolivian girl after Michael W. Smith made a good sell at his concert… and that’s fine, selling is fine. The word “sell” is not Satan’s word… and commerce (despite the mindless dronings of the postmodern-quasi-Christians) is not a sin in and of itself.

    @Nathan: Dude, seriously… it’s not very compelling when a stone thrower who gets stones thrown back at him appeals for “Christian love and grace”. That being said, most of the attacks you mentioned against you seemed inaccurate and probably mean-spirited. We all are Pharisees and we all are all-around losers… only Christ truly measured up as a good guy. I can appreciate your edginess… and I often say that Christians who don’t take flack for occasionally going over the line probably, on the whole, aren’t saying anything very substantial — so in that way I’m commending you, even encouraging you, I think.

    But you lose me with the whole “don’t do anything that makes us look bad or weird to the world” thing. Christ-followers who are actually doing what he did will look bad and weird to the world. It’s okay. And I wish folks of your flavor would stop appealing for “social justice”, which is a secular humanist notion and does more to rejoice at the power of human community than to glorify Christ. Not all social justice efforts are Christ-centered… but all Christ-centered efforts are Christ-centered… so why not ask, “How do we persuade members of our churches to be more Christ-centered?”

  75. Michelle October 21, 2009

    Actually, on Nathan’s blog… in the comment section… a lady wrote who actually had Jimmy living in her home for several weeks. She spoke with Jimmy about the matter and then wrote about it on the other blog.

    Catalyst was the one who hosted the event… Compassion was apparently one of a group of organizations being promoted. I doubt Compassion had any part in the pre-planning of the way this was handled. (the hard sell after the meeting)

    I like what Vicki said about the grace and love showing through in posters’ comments. Good thing to keep in mind… 🙂

  76. Vicki Small October 21, 2009

    Nathan’s comments and admonition are right on: The highly-charged language needs to stop so some grace and love can come through. One place to start would be all references to a “stunt.” Let me be clear: Compassion does not pull stunts (I’m so tempted to yell that, but…grace needs some space!). Those who think Compassion pulls stunts do not yet grasp the integrity and character of the organization.

    Enough people reacted negatively to the way the appeal was handled in the wake of this first meeting between Mark and Jimmy that I’ll concede it was handled badly.

    But before a ban is imposed on all future surprise meetings, I humbly suggest that Compassion consult several other former sponsored children who have had similar experiences.

    Would they have preferred that the meeting be arranged privately?

    Did they feel used or manipulated?

    Or was this an instance of an inexperienced emcee who was unable to smooth the way and invite people to sponsor a child, as God might lead them, rather than use this first meeting to bolster the emotional impact?

    I maintain, however, that those who would write off all or most of the sponsorships that took place as strictly emotional decisions, suggesting that the bulk of them will be reversed in cooler moments, are lacking faith in the Holy Spirit’s ability to move in people’s hearts.

    I can also testify to the fact that my first introduction to Compassion was at a table bearing child packets. No announcement (that I recall) had been made, I hadn’t been prepared, and it was one of the most profound, life-changing and yes, emotional moments of my life.

  77. Kees Boer October 21, 2009

    Hi, Kathy,

    Without knowing the details of this situation, but this ‘stunt’ might have been thought through more than we know. I assume that they had talked with the sponsor about this before. I’m sure he didn’t appear out of thin air. Who knows, maybe the sponsored child was asked if he wouldn’t mind meeting his sponsor in public, in some really way that he didn’t know. Knowing Compassion, they tend to be very conservative on a lot of these issues. Also, I spoke with Michelle Tolentino about this one time. She was a sponsored child and this same thing happened to her. She considered it a huge blessing. I could maybe ask her, more specifically, but I think he is just very happy that he got to meet his sponsor.


  78. Kathy Olson October 21, 2009

    Jimmy’s story was motivational enough to encourage sponsorship. Whoever planned that stunt should have thought it through. I think that was really unfair to Jimmy. Compassion is an awesome organization and doesn’t need emotional manipulation to get sponsors. This kind of stunt can backfire and Compassion can end up degrading their well-deserved good reputation. This video made me really sad for Jimmy and for Compassion International. I hope this stunt never gets repeated.

  79. Nathan Creitz October 21, 2009

    I’ve been following this conversation here and on my blog and I appreciate Compassion for being willing to learn from this moment. Thanks for being willing to ask the questions that I’m asking.

    I know now that I was out of line in calling this a stunt. I said I wasn’t attacking motives but my words didn’t really come across that way. My intention was to consider the methods that were used to persuade. Since my blog post caused so much confusion and angst, I chose to rework it from start to finish and try to communicate my own thoughts more effectively.

    I’m sorry for any offense that any of you might have taken by my post.

    Having said that, I’ve seen here and in my own comments (and on facebook) a complete disregard for Christian love and grace. I went through a character assassination with people implying that I don’t give to the poor, that I feel guilty or I wouldn’t have brought it up, that I’m a Pharisee, and that I’m an all around loser. Whether those are attacks against me or against any brother or sister, we need to be more careful how we communicate online. I’ve learned my lesson and I’ve retooled my post because I’m trying to be teachable.

    It comes down to this: my motivation for writing the post in the first place was from a communication standpoint. I’m basically asking the question: “How do we persuade members of our churches to be involved in social justice?” In my opinion what I saw on the video was not a good way to do that. Others disagree and so I wanted to get people talking about that. This wasn’t anything personal against Catalyst, Compassion, or Jimmy and Mark.

    Again, I appreciate that we are having this conversation and I hold Compassion International in the highest regard. Thanks again for hosting this conversation.

  80. Kees Boer October 21, 2009

    I don’t know what to think about the public meeting of a sponsor. It’s sort of like someone, who proposes on National television or with a banner in the sky or what have you…. It’s obviously very effective in demonstrating the relationship that a sponsor has with his child. Maybe the sponsor was asked beforehand, if they would think it would be appropriate. They know the child…. I guess, it would depend a lot on the child.

    As far as someone being emotionally involved in sponsoring a child, I don’t see a problem with that. Jesus looked at the multitude and He was moved with Compassion, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

    For instance, right now, I’m looking for a sponsor for a girl, whose dad has recently left the family for another woman. She lives up at an altitude of 14,000 feet in probably a brick home without heating. It’s almost freezing there every night. Her mother was just crying because she has horrible arthiritis and her hands are disfigured as a result of all ot this. These facts, about her, make me really want to find this 10 year old girl from Bolivia a sponsor. As a matter of fact, you can pray that I can find her a sponsor soon. I don’t feel bad, that I am emotionally motivated to help this little girl. She needs someone to speak up for her and to love this girl and pray for her.

    Therefore the problem with emotions is that they can not be the thing that runs our lifes. That needs to be done by the Truth of God’s Word, the Bible. But when the emotion is in accordance with God’s Word, then there is nothing wrong with it.



  81. Gail October 20, 2009

    I’ve seen several videos where LDP students have met their sponsors. It’s always an amazing display of emotion – sometimes I feel as if we are intruding. This video felt especially though. Not because of Jimmy or Mark, but because of the host. While Jimmy and Mark are obviously feeling God’s presence, the host jumps in and almost sounds like he’s selling Ginzu knives. For only $38 a month, but wait there’s more. While his motives may be true, the method seemed a little crass.

  82. Jeanie Frank October 20, 2009

    Compassion is a fabulous ministry; I greatly respect their work in the field and their commitment to the Name of Christ. However, I think they would have been better served to make a less emotionally charged appeal in hopes of getting genuine, sincere sponsors who are committed to following through for years to come.

    This is an extremely powerful story and a tender moment between two long time friends.
    I think it could have been done in a way that protected the dignity of both Jimmy and Mark. Perhaps they could have met ahead of time with a photographer who captured the moment with a few discrete shots.

    Jimmy could have shared his story and then introduced Mark and brought him on the stage. The emcee could have explained the meeting earlier and shown one or two pictures of the encounter. Both Jimmy and Mark would have had a chance to pull some thoughts together and make a compelling call to action for the audience, together. The realized potential of a sponsored “child” is incredibly convincing.

    The shock value of the whole scenario was a bit much. I too felt like it was a Jerry Springer or Oprah moment and felt very sorry for Jimmy. This made me quite uncomfortable.

    My thoughts went to the people who sponsored a child that night out of an emotional reaction. What kind of a commitment will they actually make to sponsorship? Will it last? If the sponsor doesn’t continue what happens to the child who thought they had a sponsor but was dropped? Were the sponsorships thoughtful and careful decisions or knee jerk reactions?

    I am a Christian and a child sponsor since 1992, but have become weary of all the emotional hype that seems to go along with pleas for money. Let’s get our dignity back…..maybe the world will take notice and join us.

  83. James Lanchester October 20, 2009

    I was really choked up, and cried uncontrollably. I kind of felt, when the emsee started pushing on with the sign ups, that it wasn’t the right time to move on, but I don’t know the time constraints. I didn’t think that Jimmy would be hurt about the moment being so public. However I did feel a lot better when I read Jill’s blog, saying that she had talked to Jimmy, and got no feeling of embarrassment. I’m a strong advocate of compassion, and believe in everything that they do.I too, am proud of the way they are asking for our thoughts. They definately have the kids, and GOD foremost in what they do.

  84. Vicki Small October 20, 2009

    I have seen videos of a few other first-meets between young adult, formerly sponsored children and their former sponsors. They are always emotional and, as far as I know, are often a surprise to the young person. I have never felt it was inappropriate.

    Through my own tears–and imagining such a meeting with one of my own sponsored children–I was a bit surprised by how long Jimmy continued to be overcome. I did not think it was inappropriate, because it was honest, even raw emotion, and coming from his depths. There may also have been the element of embarrassment, as Mary suggested, above.

    The emcee was also taken by emotion and, at one point, commented that “We didn’t script for” this kind of scene.

    Shaun Groves’ comments on Nathan’s blog were excellent and probably explained why this emcee was a bit awkward. An emcee with experience and coaching could probably have done better, as Shaun suggested.

    But the “Monday morning quarterbacking” could get out of hand, if we don’t guard our hearts, our tongues, our fingertips (on the keyboard). To suggest inappropriate, even evil intent to Nathan, to Catalyst, to Compassion, to the emcee does not speak to me of Christ’s love. My life is riddled with things I could have done better, times in which I could have been more loving, less critical, less suspicious of motive, and times in which I could have dispensed grace, IF … if I had been better prepared, coached, prayed up, experienced….

    God’s word will not return to Him void, and I’m thrilled to know that many, hopefully the vast majority, of the sponsorships resulting from the Catalyst experience will be good and long-lasting.

  85. Jill Foley October 20, 2009

    I felt two things while watching the meeting….first I felt honored and privileged to be witnessing such an amazing moment. Secondly I felt like I was intruding on a very private moment. I don’t think anyone could have predicted Jimmy’s response… not even Jimmy.

    I was in on a phone conversation with Jimmy yesterday, and when asked how he was feeling about meeting his sponsor, he said it is hard to talk about because he is still processing it. There was no embarrassment in his voice or his words. I think he was truly overwhelmed by the opportunity to meet Mark and the goodness of what God had done in his life through Compassion’s sponsorship program.

    If you listen to his story again, you will hear that Jimmy witnessed his sister die of starvation and knew he was close to starvation himself. He eventually lost both parents and really had no one except his sponsor. He held his sponsor in such high regard that meeting him was completely overwhelming.

  86. Paige Farmer October 20, 2009

    I find it ironic that this blogger has an emotional appeal for money through PayPal for he and his family on his blog. Just saying.

  87. Cheryl J October 20, 2009

    This is an interesting discussion. In the end, though, I would have to still believe it was a sweet, Holy Spirit moment. I don’t know what Jimmy thought about the meeting in public. That would help me. But I know the impact it had on my husband. He was in tears. It made him really understand the meaning of sponsors to the children. I have sent this link to other friends of mine who sponsor but still don’t quite “get” it. Many people give their hearts to the Lord in a moment like this at church. I don’t think the appeal was manipulative. I think it is wonderful to help people understand what sponsorship really means and then give them an opportunity to go to the table themselves.

  88. Mary October 20, 2009

    Compassion: I support you 100%, and I sponsor a child.

    I also work as a missionary in Africa where I know emotions, especially those of a man are often a much more private matter.

    I cried and I think nothing was wrong with the event other than the fact that next time give the “Jimmy’s” a heads up for what’s coming. He might have buried his head for so long out of embarrassment of his emotions

  89. Mike Stephens October 20, 2009

    Two things that I have heard best about things are visiting your child “is like meeting them on the battle field” and “I go to visit to meet Jesus” these two statements took the words right out of my mouth. I often think I have seen so much and nothing new could shock me or excite me but I have NO IDEA. Which is often nice b/c I have hope that one day I may have “an IDEA”.

    Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him, he will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream it does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

  90. Chelsea October 19, 2009

    I admit I was crying when I saw Jimmy’s reaction, but then I became concerned when the host didn’t let God lead. He definitely had an agenda, and he pressed on with that agenda regardless of the raw, pure emotion happening on that stage.

    Regardless of whether the moment was handled correctly, it is a testimony to the work that Compassion does. I tell my Ugandan Compassion child that I cannot wait to spend eternity with him in heaven. He’s so precious and I adore him even though we’ve never met and likely never will on this earth.

  91. Kerri Mann October 19, 2009

    I saw the video posted on Facebook and sobbed uncontrollably when I watched it. In watching it, I felt sorry for the lack of privacy for Jimmy. I felt like his sponsor felt awkward as well, and as the emotion droned on, I think someone should have allowed them to step backstage and return later. I almost felt a bit intrusive and voyeuristic in watching such a personal moment.

    I was confused (and still am a bit) because I could not figure out what Catalyst was/is and what it had to do with Compassion.

    Regardless, I trusted the person who shared the video with me and I filled out the form to sponsor a child.

    I was worried about showing the video to my unchurched & cynical husband, because I was afraid he would say it was certainly a scam and that I was a victim of manipulation. Against my better judgment, I did share the video with him -he did watch it, and said nothing negative – or positive, which made me breathe a sigh of relief.

    I truly don’t feel Compassion would/should be faulted in any way – IF there is even anything to be at “fault” over. This seems to have been the responsibility of the Catalyst program.

  92. Steve Mooradian October 19, 2009

    1) It was an absolutely beautiful moment, without a doubt. God’s love was reflected in Jimmy and Mark’s relationship. Powerful! Fantastic! It makes me feel a little like a dirtbag of a sponsor even though I know I write and give fairly often… but my letters just don’t seem to have the same sumthin’ sumthin’ that Mark’s did. :-/

    2) This was a colossal lapse of judgment on the part of Catalyst 2009 event organizers. Someone thinking about Jimmy first (sponsorships second) probably would have wanted to give Jimmy his first moment meeting his sponsor with some manner of privacy. It could have easily been captured by a non-intrusive camera crew for tasteful editing and eventual display at the event, and would have served its purpose.

    But don’t confuse that criticism with agreement of Nathan’s referenced post, because…

    3) Nathan, from ChurchETHOS, wasted no time in assigning Compassion an evil motivation… calling the advancement of child sponsorship an “agenda” and portraying the Catalyst organizers as closet hypocrites (by saying they would have criticized a televangelist for doing the same thing… all in some imagined alternate reality, I guess?). I don’t much care for ChurchETHOS… where being acceptable to the world seems just as important as being more like Christ (the latter of which, coincidentally enough, gets you hated by the world… but such is our calling).

  93. Amanda October 19, 2009

    I am impressed that Compassion actually came forward to ask our opinion of this moment. Most organizations shy away from these types of conversations.

    I was also very touched by the video. However, I feel that it is inappropriate to have a formerly sponsored child meet his/her sponor in a public arena such as this…especially as a surprise. I also question publicizing the video of it. I can’t help but wonder how Jimmy and his sponsor feels about this? Were they asked if it was ok to make this even more public by putting the video out there? (And if they were asked did they feel like they had to…because of all the organization has done for them.)

    I love Compassion and what they are doing for both the children and the sponsors. However, I hope that when/if I get to meet my precious kiddos it will be a preciously private event.

    I do respect Compassion for raising the question.

  94. Chris Giovagnoni October 19, 2009


    The description of your blog says it all:

    “A blog that encourages thinking Christianly about the habits and customs of the Church and about our reputation with the unchurched”

    I feel you recognized the Catalyst moment as an opportunity to raise a bigger question. To me your question isn’t specifically about Jimmy and Marc or about Compassion and Catalyst; it’s about the motives behind what we (i.e., individual members of The Church) do in Christ’s name.

    Thanks for starting the conversation. We can all learn from it – and from one another – if we’re willing to.

  95. Mike Stephens October 19, 2009

    I think people are only skeptical b/c they want to know if they can make such a difference. And they are and will make “such” a difference. I think it is a great way and invitation to show people the AWESOME difference a “regular” person can make.

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  96. Melissa Rhodes October 19, 2009

    I did feel that the pitch for sponsoring children was too heavy during this emotionally strong moment. Seeing the emotional meeting of Jimmy with his sponsor was so special (although I do agree that it being a surprise to Jimmy was probably unneeded) and to cheapen it by giving a spiel about becoming a sponsor was too much. I’m sure that there were many moved to sponsor a Compassion child through Jimmy’s testimony and his emotional meeting with his sponsor and I’m sure booths were already (or could easily be) set up to help those moved find a child to sponsor. Even though the host said there was “no pressure”, I know that I would have felt pressured in that situation.

  97. Michael October 19, 2009

    I witness a similar moment at CreationWest in July 09, with a student named Faith:


    It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever witnessed. I say, what better way to demonstrate how much child sponsorship means to both sponsored child, and sponsor?

    I find it disappointing that people CHOOSE to look for reasons to be critical, rather than choose to ponder a beautiful moment.

    There is however, a common theme in the ChurchETHOS discussion that I do agree with… most people in the discussion have commented that Compassion is an organization with pure motives.

  98. Stacy October 19, 2009

    I felt sorry for Jimmy and his sponsor after watching the video. I’ve never met any of the children I sponsor, but I imagine it would be very emotional and personal. Probably not something I would want to share with a crowd of strangers. I think it could be just as powerful to have shown a video of Jimmy and his sponsor meeting before the conference – similar to videos we have seen during the blogger trips. It might not have the shock factor, but it would still show how valuable sponsorship is and how much that relationship means to the child and the sponsor.

  99. Nathan Creitz October 19, 2009

    Thanks for hosting this conversation. I hope my readers and your understand I did not intend to attack anyone’s motives. On the other hand, I do believe our church leaders must be extra careful when it comes to passionate appeals for money (specifically). Though this was an event for Christians, I know there are ALWAYS people outside the church who are looking in.

    Thank you for everything you do to combat poverty and to help children in need. I was deeply moved by Jimmy’s story and I pray that many will be inspired to give sacrificially whether through your organization or another.

  100. Bob October 19, 2009

    Terri K’s has some sound points…

    Knowing that this meeting was not pre-arranged with the knowledge of Jimmy and his sponsor, shares elements with Jerry Springer’s “ambush journalism” where a highly charged emotional event is unexpectedly introduced, in a very public way, to an unprepared guest.

    [At least the guests on Jerry Springer are aware of the show’s emotional volatility, so they are not completely unaware.]

    Coming from another culture, Jimmy may have an entirely different perspective, but the whole event seemed to rob Jimmy and his sponsor of a private, holy moment together with our Lord.

    It also appeared that the sponsor wasn’t thrilled with the spotlight arrangement (maybe I’m reading too much into what I saw).

    As these “chance arrangements” become more known, they set an expectation for the LDP students who have not yet met their sponsors… an expectation that may not be met.

    That said, the video choked me up, because I know Jimmy’s emotions were from his heart. What he experienced was a taste of what we will know when we meet Christ—who gave Himself for us unreservedly, not for anything we did, but because He first loved us—he died for us so that we might be reconciled with our Heavenly Father.

  101. Caitlin October 19, 2009

    I wouldn’t say the motive was bad. I do feel that perhaps the speaker should have stepped back and let the moment empower itself, because it was such a powerful moment, words really just cheapened it. I think the plug still should have been made, but maybe the full blown plug should have been done before the surprise sponsor appearance, with a simple reminder afterward. However, I don’t think we should beat the speaker too hard for it. He clearly was following a script and was not ready to improv.

  102. Terri K October 19, 2009

    I agree with Heidi’s comment on the blog – the thing that concerned me was that they were using Jimmy – I don’t think that it is appropriate to put such a personal emotional encounter on display without his permission. Yes, it is a heartwarming and powerful thing to watch, but I know I would be very upset if someone did that to me. I’ve thought that watching Michelle(?) meet her sponsor – its setting up a situation that doesn’t have their best interests in mind, but to produce an effect on an audience. The only way I can think to do it that seems ok would be to let them meet in private knowing it was being taped and then ask them if it was ok to show the tape.

  103. Amy October 19, 2009

    I don’t think it was manipulative. Just incredibly awkward. The “host” could have handled it a lot better, but he did fine.

  104. Juli Jarvis October 19, 2009

    No — not manipulative at all; just real, true emotion. We’ve been taught as Child Advocates never to play on peoples’ emotions — we want them to sponsor because God calls them to do so, not because we drummed up feelings of “pity” or guilt. We simply share the facts and solutions — and if the emotions come, they are real and God-given.

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