Hello, my name is Brianne and I cancelled my Compassion sponsorship.
File that tidbit right under, the thing I didn’t want any of my co-workers to know. And definitely something I didn’t want you to know.
But I am currently suspended in the air, wrapped up in a metal vessel, headed back to a country that haunts me. Peru.
Peru, the first country I visited outside of the United States. Peru, my first overseas mission trip. Peru, the first place I saw the beach.
The country I first sponsored a child with Compassion.
I don’t live in the age when jazz is on its rise, a hot scene. Or when the industry is booming. I live in the “social injustice” age.
When I was in college poverty, social injustice, and the depravity of the world was hot. It was burn-your-heart hot. Most of my friends were involved in missions work and worked to bring awareness to our campus.
When I was in college the question wasn’t,
“What company do you want to work for when you graduate?”
“What mission field are you going to move to?”
I think technology had a huge role in this. All of a sudden Africa, Asia and South America weren’t a faraway land. It had people, and we saw their pictures. It had statistics, and we could look them up.
It wasn’t a world away, it was one Hotwire or Cheap Tickets purchase away.
When I was in college, I wanted to get out. I wanted to go help. I wanted to be the solution. Not the ignorance. Not the problem.
Amidst this I went on a mission trip to Peru. A rip-my-heart-out trip, an “I don’t think I ever cried on that trip, never, not even after I came back home because I was afraid I’d never stop crying” kind of trip.
And then I went to a conference and heard about Compassion.
I marched myself directly to a table after I heard a Compassion Leadership Development Student speak. I looked and looked and looked at the pictures and there she was. A girl from Peru. That day I became her sponsor.
I was told that I could write her letters and she would write me too. I was told she would know she now has a sponsor. Shortly after the conference I received materials from Compassion about their program and their financial integrity.
Quickly, too quickly, I forgot about what that Compassion student said. I was sure that it was not truly her writing me letters. A girl in poverty? Writing me?
And Compassion somehow keeps track of that? And gets the letter to me? And then takes the time to process and translate my letter and get it to her? Um, right. But thanks for the warm fuzzies.
A few years later I decided to cancel my sponsorship.
The problem with the burn I experienced from all the social injustice hype in college was that I only let it burn me, not brand me.
After awhile I was all of a sudden graduating college. I was going to be dropped from health insurance. Oh my gosh. I needed to pay for health insurance. And then there was the real growing up.
Several of my friends did go to the mission field. But I didn’t feel that pull anymore. I needed to get a job. I needed to pay bills. I needed health insurance.
And then one day I realized I didn’t believe in what Compassion was doing. I never researched the ministry. I never read the materials they sent me. I barely even read the letters from my sponsored child.
So, I cancelled. Surely, she wouldn’t know. I mean, she didn’t even know I existed. Right?
Years later, God did call me to minister to the poor in Thailand. And then He called me to work at Compassion.
I remember when I started working here thinking, “And now I will see the underbelly of a ministry that so many people I know support.”
I’ve almost been here for five years. I now have sponsor two children. I believe in what Compassion does. I know the children I sponsor know my name. And I know they read my letters.
Now, I’m branded. I’m not branded by hype or an emerging movement. I am not even branded by Compassion. I am branded by the heart of God.
He showed me the beat of His heart. He showed me that He is close to the poor. I want to be close to Him. I want to be close to whatever it is that He is close to – even if it means being in the throes of too many, “will I ever stop crying? It’s all so much to take in” sessions.
The problem is, not everyone reads the mail they receive. Or looks up information on the ministry they support.
In fact, once in a marketing meeting I was asked,
“What can we do to really bring the reality of Compassion’s ministry to the hearts of people?”
I thought and thought about it and I could only respond with two answers. It wasn’t sending more mail. It wasn’t pushing people to get online and research us. It was either to hire everyone to work at Compassion (which is how my Compassion conversion happened) or to take every sponsor to the field. That was it.
Thankfully, in a room I wasn’t in, a few brilliant people decided that we do need to take people on trips. Trips that people who can’t go on trips could follow. And thus the birth of Compassion blog trips. You might not actually get to board the plane and walk through the villages but it is so very close.
When you follow a blog trip you see through the eyes of several different bloggers and you read what they have to say about Compassion’s ministry.
They are in the field asking the hard questions, going through filing cabinets, asking about how finances are handled. They are faithfully conveying, the best they can, about what this thing called Compassion is and where God is in all of it.
Have you cancelled your sponsorship? Do you want to? Or have you thought about it? Do you have questions about letter writing, financial integrity, and what people without a filter have to say as they put Compassion under a microscope? Then follow them.
In fact, you can follow them this week. I know they’ll be tackling some of these questions in Peru.
If you are a sponsor, do you remember why you’re a sponsor? Are you branded by God and His heart for the poor?
Your heart for the poor can only carry you so far. My heart for the poor led me to cancel a sponsorship.