Cognitive Dissonance Theory, Wealth and Poverty

As humans we like consistency. We are uncomfortable holding contradictory beliefs and actions … so how do we balance Christian principles with the disparities we see around the world?

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5 Ways to Teach Children About the Needs of Others

Appreciating the abundance we’ve been given can help us and our children gain a perspective that empowers us to live generously.

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The Seven Greatest Human Needs

Beyond your basic physiological and safety needs, what are the most important needs in your life? What are your thoughts on these seven human needs we’ve selected?

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Understanding One Another’s Needs

Are the needs of a man driving a Lexus the same as a man living across the globe who will never own a car? How about the needs of a family who can’t afford bread? How do their needs compare with broken families who eat in separate houses?

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“That’s Not a Need, That’s a Want”

It was during the first major global food crisis a few years ago, when rice and bean prices were out of control in Haiti, when the daily news was showing pictures of mud-pies being sold for food on the streets of Port-au-Prince. What perked my son’s money-tuned ears was the words “fifty cents.”

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What Does God Want From Me?

what God wants Jesus is traveling with a crowd, teaching as He walks. A blind man sitting by the road hears the passing commotion and asks what is going on. When he learns that Jesus of Nazareth is near, he calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Several times the man calls out, even louder after some in the crowd tell him to be quiet. “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

– Luke 18:40-41 (NIV)

I am that blind man calling out to God.

Encourage me. Strengthen me. Provide for me. Comfort me. Save me. Give me. Help me.

That’s what I want.

What do you think these kids want? What are they crying out for?

Fifty kids in Haiti. All at the same center. All need God’s love. All need God’s mercy.

How about you? What are you calling out to God for?

All the while we cry out, God is calling out to us. Follow me. Be like me. Share my love.

Is it possible that my needs and your needs complement these kids’ needs? That we offer one another an opportunity to give God what He wants?

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Outliers Need Opportunity to Succeed

Malcom Gladwell’s latest book, Outliers, doesn’t mention Compassion once. But it’s still about what Compassion does: We transform lives by giving children in poverty opportunities to succeed.

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Highly Vulnerable Children: What Special Needs Do They Have?

Highly vulnerable children in our programs are children at greatest risk of physical, psychological or social harm relative to other children in our child sponsorship program.

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Benson’s New Classroom

Benson wakes up at 6:00 a.m. every Saturday excited that he will see his friends and learn Bible lessons. On this particular Saturday, the children at his child development center learn a life-lesson, and child development director, Mercy, takes them through the devotion.

It’s chilly and the teacher starts the lesson. As drum beats fill the air, children fill with excitement — the right mood for a story.

Teacher Mercy starts,

“Once upon a time there were two buckets that hung by the Simenya Well. They kept on being drawn by the residents of Simenya. One late afternoon, tired with the day’s work, they took time to rest and spoke to each other.”

At this point Teacher Mercy coughs and holds two buckets as visual aid while pointing them to the children.

In the background, one hears a symphony of coughs and sneezes from the children because of the weather. Her “classroom” is outside.

She continues,

“One of the buckets was always grumbling. It never looked at life cheerfully. On this particular day, as it rested outside the well it said to the other bucket, ‘I am tired of the life we lead. However full we are when we are drawn up out of the well, we are sent back empty again. This makes me disappointed and dissatisfied.’

The second bucket looked at life differently. It did not grumble because it looked at the positive side of life. It said, ‘That’s true, but I always look at it this way — that however empty we are when we are set down, we are always full when draw up.'”

Teacher Mercy declares the end of the story, looks at the children, sees the cloudy skies, and whispers a prayer to God, “Please Lord, help us build classrooms to house these children.”

For the last three years, trees randomly placed in the Simenya Child Development Center church compound have been serving as “classrooms” for the children. Unfortunately the days can be nightmares for some of the children in the center, especially when they come to the wall-less classrooms, during extreme weather conditions.

According to Mercy,

“The long rainy seasons fall in March to May, while the short rainy seasons are during the months of August to September and sometimes trickle into October.

These are dreaded months by children, teachers and parents alike. One is likely to meet children shivering in the chilly days with hands tightly clasped across their chest, to preserve the little body temperature.

It is during this period, we have seen children affected by periodic fever. These are the times when we see children walk out of class or even stay away from the classes, with parents citing fear of fever attack.”

During the hot season months, we have not been spared either. This area has characteristic dry spells, which leaves the indigenous trees without leaves. Scorching sunbeams through the sketchy branches penetrate the out-door classes. Because of this, Simenya Child Development Center has made numerous efforts to address this immense challenge.

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The World Needs Light Now More Than Ever

I expect that many of you are aware of the global economic situation. Developed economies around the world are reeling. Food prices around the globe have skyrocketed. Businesses are struggling.
Non-profits are laying people off, cutting back programs and scrambling for donations. The world seems dark.

So, how will we respond?

We will not shrink back in the face of adversity. God has called us to be an advocate for children in poverty, and the children need our voice to ring strong and clear when speaking out on their behalf.
We know that when the rich of the world catch a cold, the poor get pneumonia. When the well-off suffer, the poor die. The world needs light now more than ever.

Nonetheless, economics are a reality.

You, our sponsors and donors around the world, are feeling the financial strain already and will likely feel this for months, if not years, to come. So, what do we expect the impact on Compassion to be?

Truthfully, only God knows. But we know that in the end God will prevail.

We know that He will be faithful to His word and to His promises and so, with God’s help, we will prevail. Things may not go exactly according to our plans, but I am confident that God will continue to allow us to help more and more children in a deeper and more profound way, despite the economic and food crises.

In our Executive Group devotions the other day, my co-worker Laurie shared from Isaiah 42 and I think it was Scripture meant for all of us.

Since we are to be Christ in this world, read the passage below knowing that Compassion is God’s servant:

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. …He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. …I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles. …I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (VS. 1, 4, 6, 16, NIV).

So, be encouraged. We are all in the palm of God’s hand, and as we pray for the children one million children around the world are praying for us.

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Complementary Interventions With Heidi Partlow

The first thing Heidi Partlow does each morning is check her e-mail. It’s always packed. As Compassion’s complementary interventions manager, she gets all kinds of e-mails each day.

E-mails about how to submit a proposal for a complementary interventions (CIV), e-mails from marketing departments about the particulars of a CIV, e-mails about a disaster that has just occurred.

So her e-mail inbox pretty much dictates her day. After attacking the onslaught of messages each morning, she has a cup of tea at 10 o’clock. 

Then she spends a lot of time running around, especially during a week where there has been a crisis, like with the recent hurricanes, getting approvals for funds to be distributed.

But she slowed down enough to give us a peek into CIV and her world.

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Comfortably Numb

Have you ever repeated a word over and over in your head so many times that it eventually loses its meaning and starts to sound like nonsense? It happened to me the other day with the word “lemon.”

I said lemon so many times that it started to sound like a word I made up. Or like a word from a foreign language. After a while, the word “lemon” was meaningless — it no longer represented a tangy, yellow fruit. It was just a funny sounding nonsense word running through my head.

I think Satan likes to use a similar technique to get us to stop caring about the hurting people of the world.

Whenever we make an emotional connection to someone in need, we are motivated to act. So by getting us to feel disconnected from a certain group of hurting people, he gets us to stop acting on behalf of those who need help. One of the ways he does this is through what’s been called “compassion burnout” or “compassion fatigue.”

When a major crisis happens, the news media often reports it so quickly and intensely that for a time, it’s pretty much impossible to get away from it.

Remember watching TV the week after September 11, 2001? No matter where I looked, I couldn’t escape the horrific images. Those first few days, I couldn’t watch the news without crying. But after a while, I had heard the same stories reported so many times that they no longer affected me the way they did at first. I got used to the horror. I got numb.

Were any of you in this same boat with me? Maybe for you it was the coverage from Hurricane Katrina. Or the Asian tsumani. Or the earthquake in China. Or the Global Food Crisis. The list seems endless, doesn’t it?

This article, recently posted on urbana.org, addesses the idea of compassion burnout.

What do you do when you’ve heard something so many times that you get fatigued … you’re tired of helping, tired of giving, tired of caring?

How do you keep from getting overwhelmed with the desperate needs of the poor or numb to their pleas for help? How do you not get discouraged by the never-ending necessity for compassion?

The article includes several good suggestions for preventing burnout.

But what I’d love to know is how you deal with this on a personal level. Are there things we can do in bringing the needs of the poor to your attention that will help create the emotional connection and keep our stories from getting stale?


UPDATE: Aug. 25, 2011 – The article is no longer available on urbana.org.

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