Something to Get Excited About

Meet Jeffry. He lives in Nicaragua. He is our one millionth registered child.

small boy standingA registered child is different than a sponsored child in that the registered child doesn’t have a sponsor . . . yet. Once the registered child gets a sponsor, that child is a sponsored child. Makes sense, right?

The registered children are the ones whose pictures you see on the sponsor a child page at and in the child packets at concerts and other events, such as Compassion Sunday.

The registered children are the children who are waiting to be chosen by a sponsor and who the Unsponsored Children’s Fund assists until that sponsor comes along.

The Unsponsored Children’s Fund bridges the gap between registration and sponsorship. It allows the registered child to have all the same benefits as the sponsored child.

We don’t have one million children waiting for sponsors. Jeffry is the one millionth child concurrently registered. More than 850,000 of those children already have sponsors. And since Compassion began in 1952, nearly two million children have been part of our programs.

That’s a little context for this post that Mark Hanlon, Compassion’s senior vice president of sponsor and donor development, submitted from Nicaragua yesterday.

It was like so many other Compassion child home visits I’d done before (and in my 28 years at Compassion, I’ve done a few!), but this one seemed to hold a bit of extra anticipation and excitement for me.

I happened to be in Nicaragua two weeks after we had registered our millionth child for the very first time. It turns out that this millionth child is a little 3-year-old boy in Nicaragua.

The office staff there was so excited, and they set up a home visit for me to meet little Jeffry.

It was kind of strange because Jeffry had no idea what a historic milestone he is in the history of Compassion.

In fact, when I got there with several of the Compassion Nicaragua staff and some of the center staff, he was totally overwhelmed. Too much attention by too many grown-ups all at once – and he did what many normal little 3-year olds do – he covered up his eyes with his hands (a la “see no evil”) and pretended we weren’t there!

When his grandmother (who is his caregiver since his mother now lives in the U.S. and couldn’t take him with her) tried to get him to take his hands away from his face, he ran away crying.

That was OK. We shifted our focus to the grandmother and asked her questions about the impact of having Jeffry registered in the program at the church.

She talked about the hope and a future she had for Jeffry to get through high-school and maybe even go to university.

She expressed concern over his health and the health of her husband who has diabetes.

She talked about the challenges of supporting a household of 17 adults and children in her dirt floor, cinder block structure in the heart of economically challenged Managua.

Her husband (the diabetic) and her three sons work hard as day laborers – when there is work – and they have terrible difficulty in making ends meet. She wanted better for her little grandson, Jeffry.

Then it struck me that this visit indeed was like most other visits I’d done. Parents (and grandparents) worldwide want the same thing for their children – a better future than what they have.

Mark Hanlon and Jeffry

It didn’t matter one bit to Jeffry or his grandmother that he is Compassion’s millionth child. What did matter is that they now have some hope.

And now, I really was excited to be there! Not because I got to meet the millionth child in his home, but because I got to see something that Compassion gets to be a part of with the local church every day. Releasing a motherless child, living in extreme poverty, living with 16 other people, from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Now that’s something to get excited about!

22 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Chris Giovagnoni June 24, 2009

    @Rachel – Jeffry was the 1 millionth registered child.

    The first three paragraphs of the post make the distinction.

  2. Rachel June 24, 2009

    Typical three yeaer olds! 😉
    Hey, Brittany, do you have a daughter? You look really young for that. 😀 So glad that Jeffry is sponsored! 😉

  3. Rachel June 24, 2009

    Hey—what’s going on here? I thought that Fellow was the one millionth child sponsored from Compassion?!? 🙁 Anyone know what the problem is?

  4. Britt March 25, 2009

    This brought a smile to my face:
    “…he covered his eyes with his hands…”

    My 2 1/2 year old daughter hides behind me when she’s shy.

    Moments like that are just too cute!

  5. Chris Giovagnoni March 25, 2009

    As of the end of February, we have more than 1.1 million registered children worldwide.

  6. Chris Giovagnoni March 12, 2009

    As of the end of January, we’re approaching nearly 1 million sponsored children – almost 965,000 sponsored children worldwide.

  7. Chris Giovagnoni June 2, 2008


    Jeffry is indeed sponsored. 🙂

  8. Peggy May 26, 2008

    Is Jeffry sponsored yet?

  9. Tere Rohret April 28, 2008

    Hi Becky,
    I think you opened a can of worms with your question, I’m sure the answer is very complicated. The sad thing is that she did have to leave her child behind. While we support these children we also should find a way to work for justice, economic and otherwise.

  10. Mark Hanlon April 28, 2008

    Unfortuneately, a lot of the parents of Compassion children have a very difficult choice to make. To go where there is work, leave their children with relatives and send money back home to care for them or to stay with their children but struggle financially. Often fathers make this decision and wind up never returning home, abandoning the family due to the pressure and shame. However, we see this happening with mothers from time to time. I can’t imagine her anguish over doing this, but the poorest of the poor are often pushed into these impossible decisions out of practicality. That’s why Jeffry being in the Compassion program is so important…it provides him the much needed hope to know that God loves him, the church will be there to support his family in caring for him and that someone across the world cares enough to sponsor him. Scott Todd, a co-worker of mine here at Compassion says, “Hope cannot be recklessly spent when so little of it is left in the heart.” Here’s to giving a little bit of hope to a child and grandmother in a desparate situation.

  11. Becky Hass April 28, 2008

    I was wondering why Jeffery’s mother could come to the states and she had to leave him behind?

  12. Chris Giovagnoni April 27, 2008


    The answer to your question is yes. Finding the Treasure is an article on that talks about one Nicaraguan child freed from life in a garbage dump. However, is there more to your question? A simply yes or no answer feels incomplete to me.

  13. Tina Randell April 27, 2008

    Can the children who live at the dump in Nicaragua be sponsored by Compassion?

  14. Yvonne Zdrojowy April 26, 2008

    I’m so very grateful to people like Mark Hanlon who go where I cannot physically go and reach people that I cannot physically reach. What an honor it is to be a part of such an awesome organization! Keep up the good work, Compassion!

  15. oh amanda March 10, 2008

    here via Rocks in my Dryer…

    AWESOME! I just sponsored my first little girl today! So excited to get the info about her.

  16. compassion dave March 3, 2008

    Praise be to God. Can’t wait to see Jeff’s updated photogragh when we register the 2nd millionth child.

    Lord willing Jeffery won’t look that much differnt.

  17. Amy February 29, 2008

    You’re right Andrzej, because I have most certainly felt like that sort of person in my life. I’m so grateful for God’s grace.

  18. Andrzej Gandecki February 29, 2008

    I meant ‘we would NOT feel the urge…’

  19. Andrzej Gandecki February 29, 2008

    Yes, Amy, but we need to remember about the children that are not so adorable, too, those who are sick and dirty, and we would feel the urge to hug them…

    I do not intend this as a critisism, I just share my thoughts…

  20. Amy February 28, 2008

    Very, very cool. He’s so adorable, I just want to scoop him up and give him a hug.

  21. Vicki Small February 28, 2008

    I get excited every time I see someone sponsor a child–especially when I see the look of wonder and joy on the new sponsor’s face! Then I know that more than the child’s circumstances will be changed; lives on both sides of the relationship will change, will be greatly blessed by God. I get excited, and then I am humbled as I realize, once again, how blessed I am to be a part of this great ministry.

  22. Jason February 27, 2008

    Wow what an amazing story. I love that so many children have been helped by Compassion. My wife and I have been a sponsor for several years now and we enjoy it so much. Jeffery is very luck and I am sure if he doesn’t have a sponsor already he will soon and If not let me know an he will……..God Bless these children.

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