My First Compassion Sunday: Crying for Compassion

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

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

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

When Compassion Sunday rolled around last year, Lisa and Eric Kjeldgaard were brand-new volunteers and they were eager to share Compassion with their church body.

We’ll let Lisa pick it up from here.

We were pleasantly surprised when our elders gave us an entire 45-minute Sunday school time to speak about Compassion.

We started to plan. We viewed all the video clips at our disposal. We read the many recommended ideas and modified an interactive activity we hoped would help the children realize the plight of children needing sponsors. We copied coloring pages and we strategized what I would talk about and what Eric would talk about. And we prayed.

We have a small church — at that time less than 180 people, with 100 of them children — but we were hopeful that two or three families might become sponsors.

Compassion Sunday came and our children were eager to help. We set up our table with Child Packets and a large display showing a little African girl with the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen.

We displayed our binders of letters from our sponsored kids, and we were all ready when our church family started to arrive. I was nervous.

Eric introduced what we were doing and we showed our first video clip.

Then it was my turn to speak. I started to share my heart for the work Compassion is doing, and then it happened.

I cried.

Now, crying isn’t anything new to me. And unfortunately, crying in front of a lot of people isn’t new either. Somehow giving birth to eight children unleashed a flood of emotions in my body and I can rarely speak about something or someone I feel deeply for without tearing up.

But this was different.

family photo

I felt my heart breaking as I thought about the wealth we Americans have and the wretched poverty so many children are faced with.

I kept staring at all of the clean, well-fed, well-dressed children before me and my heart was crying, “Why? Why Lord? Why do these children have more than they need while so many others don’t have even enough?”

It was all I could do to pull myself together and finish the presentation.

My tears embarrassed me. I didn’t want my friends to think I was trying to guilt them into sponsoring. I didn’t want to detract from our purpose in showing the exciting work Compassion is doing. But God used my tears.

As I pulled myself together, I realized I wasn’t the only one in the church crying.

God blessed our efforts that day. Between that Sunday and the following one, nine children found sponsors. Nine! Including a beautiful girl from Kenya that our own 13-year-old daughter felt called to sponsor.

And a sweet friend, who I hadn’t known was already a Compassion sponsor, came to me struggling through her own tears, convicted that they hadn’t made communicating with their sponsored child a priority.

When I look back at our first Compassion Sunday, I’m thrilled with what the Lord did. Sure, our numbers don’t compare with many of the efforts of larger churches, but our fruit that day was threefold what we prayed for, and I know without a doubt that nine little lives were changed forever because I was willing to stand in front of my church family and cry.

3 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Maria December 20, 2010

    I gave my first Compassion Sunday presentation on November 14th. I also teared up when I spoke of Mark 10:14 and shared that the children pray for you even before they are sponsored! What faith they have! Tears of joy are good – it shows that the Holy Spirit is moving!

  2. James April 14, 2010

    Thank you for sharing, the church I attend is also small. Two years ago, we had a Compassion Sunday, nothing as big a yours, just one of the videos and a few words from the advocate. Last year I was lucky enough to be in worship with my kids on the Compassion Sunday. I asked them if they were willing to make a comittment to someone less fortunate and they didn’t hesitate to say yes. I have been feeling the call to step up and stand up for the ones that just need a helping hand for a season. Keep caring, and perhaps this may be my turn to stand up and if I cry as I am sure I would so be it.

  3. Amy Wallace April 14, 2010

    I’ve broken down a few times giving presentations…These tears just show how big your heart is, Lisa!

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