Scholarship and Spirituality
Live out the very nature of God’s character in an excellent manner. Be the summa cum laude of godliness, kindness, and humility.Continue Reading ›
I know that the only way I can express my gratitude to my sponsors for helping me as a child and for reconnecting with me to support and encourage me even more is through hard work.Continue Reading ›
Vallarasu the Outlier
NOTE FROM EDITOR: This content honors Compassion’s historical work in India. While we no longer have an India sponsorship program, we are grateful for the lives changed and meaningful work achieved through our sponsors and donors in our nearly 50 years there. For a detailed explanation of the end of our sponsorship program in India, please visit: compassion.com/india-update.
Outliers are men and women who do things out of the ordinary; men and women who have drive, skill and talent, but who also are given an opportunity to succeed.
“When outliers become outliers it is not just because of their own efforts. It’s because of the contributions of lots of different people and lots of different circumstances.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Vallarasu is an outlier.
Vallarasu hails from Srivalliputhur. He is now 30 years old. Though his physique suggests that he is very soft guy, his words are weighty and powerful. There is a passionate boldness in his face.
Vallarasu’s dad was a shopkeeper and sold household goods. When Vallarasu was 6 years old, his father was murdered by a gang. Thereafter, the family suffered greatly. They had no money to afford even one square meal a day.
One year after the murder, Vallarasu’s mother committed suicide, and Vallarasu and his two sisters were left orphans. His two sisters were brought up by an uncle, but Vallarasu was left behind in the streets.
Compassion found him in the streets, and he was taken into St. Andrews Child Development Center. The center supported him so he could study in the school. The school had a hostel facility, so the center provided him with not only education, but also gave him shelter, food and comfort.
The problems that Vallarasu experienced as a little child instilled a deep burden within his heart. He developed a burning desire to help orphans and desolate children. He took the initiative in solving every little conflict that arose among the children at St. Andrews, and even teachers marveled at his efficiency.
Some teachers commented, “In the future, you will become a big leader in the society.” While others said, “I am sure you will stand as an advocate speaking for thousands in days to come.”
Opportunity Knocking: Knockout the Poverty Bullies
Will you respond when calamity knocks? When a poor child has no defenses? When she’s cornered by the bullies of poverty?
What is Poverty?
What is poverty? Our President, Wess Stafford, defines poverty and describes our solution for releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
UPDATED: Nov. 18, 2011 – We also have a photo essay from the Compassion Bloggers trip to Ecuador which asks the same question; What is poverty?
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.
Yellow Leaf Spirits
In the high mountains of Northern Thailand lives an extraordinary tribe who have no written history and whose way of life is disappearing with the forests.
They knew only how to survive in the deep jungle, building homes from fresh banana leaves. They would sleep on the leaves and use them as a roof to protect from the rain and dew at night.
If they could not find food in the area nearby, they would move on deeper into the forest. They would wander in the forest, staying together in small groups. Education, a house, and clothing were of no value to them, as they had no use for these things living in the forest.
The isolated tribe was also afraid of strangers. If they met any outsiders, they moved away immediately, like spirits. They lived like this for centuries, the last nomadic tribe to survive in the northern forests of Thailand and Laos. (more…)
World AIDS Day
Poverty is multi-faceted. It is much more intricate than just a lack of money.
And like many other aspects of poverty, HIV and AIDS have the ability to take a frightening toll on children.
Today is World AIDS Day, and I’m taking it as an opportunity to let you know how committed we are to fighting the disease.
It begins with our AIDS Initiative program, which is working on a grassroots level through the local church to take on the AIDS pandemic, one child at a time.
AIDS Initiative, pandemic, poverty . . . I don’t like throwing around these words. It is easy to just roll over the keyboard and punch out the words. But can you imagine? I mean really, can you even imagine what it is like to be infected with HIV or affected by AIDS?
To better understand the effect HIV and AIDS have on people, particularly people in the developing world, and to get a better glimpse into what the Lord is doing through Compassion, I think we need to unpack a few details. I hope your mind is engaged and your heart is prepared because I am about to give you just that.
Now, as I was saying, our AIDS Initiative works to aid one child at a time. For example, this child:
The Poverty of ME
Last week, I was in Mexico. On a sponsor tour. And I saw the deepest, darkest poverty of my life.
But I didn’t have to travel to ME, the abbreviation we use when referring to Mexico, to see it. I only had to look at me.
I was in Mexico for the wrong reason. I didn’t go for the children, to become a stronger, more passionate voice for them. To serve them better. To serve you better. I went because I like to travel. I went for me.
There certainly are solid business reasons for me to have gone on the trip, but I didn’t get out of my own way long enough to realize them. I hate that.
How do I redeem the opportunity God gave me and that I squandered? (more…)
Running for Children
Just crossing the finish line of Colorado’s U.S. Trail National Championship June 29 in Steamboat Springs was quite a feat on its own. Winning an age-group division in this 12-kilometer race was even more of an accomplishment. But what really qualifies Tim Smith as a champion is succeeding in all this with a symbol plastered across his chest to represent the millions of impoverished children around the world.
Tim is a Mail Services Specialist at the Global Ministry Center (GMC) in Colorado. As he says, he is “deeply passionate about and committed to our work … to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”
Tim is a prolific runner and runs as passionately as he works. He approaches both his job and his races with fervor because in his mind these two worlds are not isolated.
The U.S. Trail National Championship was the 10th race he competed in since March 2007 while wearing his jersey and representing Compassion — clearly Tim utilizes running as an opportunity to speak up for children living in the bondage of poverty.
How many eyes saw his Compassion jersey as he warmed up, raced and recovered?
How many individuals wondered about Compassion or for the first time considered the harsh reality of poverty that affects so many today?
Neither Tim nor anyone else may ever know the results of his choice to race in that jersey. All Tim can stand on is that we are all called to “seek justice,” “encourage the oppressed,” and “defend the cause of the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17) in every area of life. The results are not our responsibility.
Tim’s grass-roots advocacy captures the core of Compassion’s desire: to break hearts for the poor in a way that permeates who we are and causes us constantly to remember the voiceless.
Not only that, but as Tim explains, “I wear the Compassion shirt because my desire is to honor Compassion and the ministry. … I use the shirt as a platform upon which I can witness to other athletes that I come in contact with.”
Not only could his jersey cause people to consider the poor, but it presents an opportunity for Tim to share with other runners the purpose Christ has given his life. Wearing a Compassion shirt is a simple act, but God uses nonglamorous obedience to further His kingdom.
Story by Barb Liggett, Global Strategy Office Intern
Compassion Togo: Putting Faces to the Statistics
This is part four in our four part series – The Case for Compassion Togo
Driving through the streets of Lome, Togo, scenes unfold that are far too common in sub-Saharan Africa. Individuals ranging from very young to very old sit and stand at the side of the road, hoping to sell baked goods or sweets or small kitchen items or a myriad of other trinkets to passers-by. The roads are bad and get worse as you depart the busiest streets. Many of the buildings — showing signs that they were beautiful at one time — appear to have been abandoned long ago but are, in fact, current offices and businesses.
In a place where even those with “stable” civil jobs have no guarantee of being paid, the overarching atmosphere is one of apathy brought on by too many years of being resigned to the situation. But in the midst of all this, there are people who refuse to accept the current circumstances, who reject the idea that there is nothing to be done.
Take, for example, Pastor Happy and his Pentecostal congregation located in the heart of Lome. Pastor Happy possesses a smile and exudes an optimism that confirm in every way the appropriateness of his name. Though the congregation is large, it is also poor and so the sanctuary is a work-in-progress, complete with rustic wooden scaffolding and tarps over areas that don’t yet have the protection of a roof.
Pastor Happy explains that his church recognized a few years ago that they must “have a vision for helping those in need — and addressing more than just their spiritual needs.” What the congregation lacks in financial resources it has made up for in passion, creativity and dedication. When they outgrew the one room they had available for children’s Sunday school, rather than waiting to come up with funds or space for another building project, Pastor Happy simply went to the school located next door and asked if they could use the classrooms on the weekend. The school agreed.
In addition to the Bible classes, the church now houses a medical clinic, provides food, clothing, school supplies and more to those with the greatest need in their community and shows films with a positive message after school so children have a safe place to go. All this is accomplished largely through the donation of goods, time and services of church members with a vision. The church would like to be able to do more, but in the meantime has decided to be faithful with the opportunities that present themselves.
Among those who have been positively impacted by the church’s ministry is the family of a couple called Mesa and Ama. Even before one has an opportunity to speak with their six inspiring children, this couple is exceptional. In a country where pastor after pastor estimates that 80 to 90 percent of the families in their communities are headed by single mothers, that Mesa has stayed faithful to his wife and family is a notable fact.
Mesa is a carpenter and Ama sells secondhand clothing. Their two daughters and four sons join in, but the family has also made sure that all the children stay in school.
Awolfa, 19, is the right arm of her mother in caring for the rest of the family but also has been able to complete secondary school and is currently attending classes to become a tailor. Her 16-year-old brother Francis and 12-year-old brother Felix both dream of being doctors, and 15-year-old Edem hopes to become a pastor.
Though they struggle to meet all their current needs, this family has not lost the belief that the future can be different. It is tempting to consider how far such a motivated group might go with the added support of Compassion’s child development program, and it is in the faces of the two youngest, seven-year-old David and his four-year-old sister, Gracia, that one sees the possibility of this future.
David is quiet and contemplative and Gracia is his exact opposite. When asked what he hopes to be when he grows up, he whispers “a carpenter.” Gracia does not wait to be asked, but announces loudly, “I will be a seamstress like Awolfa.”
By starting a work in Togo, Compassion has the opportunity to minister to the Davids as well as the Gracias, along with the tens of thousands of children whose lives are even more unstable and uncertain because they have only one parent or have no one to advocate for them regarding the importance of staying in school. It’s an opportunity to support and encourage those parents like Mesa and Ama, who by some miracle have not lost their hope and vision for the future — and to bring back hope to those who have begun to despair.
Story and photos by Phoebe Rogers
It’s About More Than Survival
Last month, I was reviewing the next newsletter that will be sent to people who support our Child Survival Program. I wasn’t too far into it when the tears started coming. Ok, so it isn’t completely unusual for me to cry while doing my every day work … I mean I do work at Compassion. But this time was different.
This time I could hear my son’s giggle, I could picture his face and I knew that if I had been born in one of Compassion’s ministry countries, most likely neither my son nor I would be alive today.
And Edison, my sweet Edison, who was born by c-section after hours of labor that went nowhere will probably be 15 pounds in a few weeks … an average weight for a four-month-old boy in the U.S.
- What would I have done alone in a ramshackle house with a dirt floor after hours of pushing and no baby?
- What would I do now without the multiple child health and development resources that I pour over weekly?
- What would I do without Jesus and the support of my local church community?
It’s a miracle that a small number of women and children in these circumstances actually survive. How can I not do everything I can possibly think of to tell others about what Compassion’s Child Survival Program is doing?
How can I not pray that this program can grow and grow and grow? So the children around the world growing up along with the amazing boy God has blessed me with will have the opportunity to reach their potential.
In a world with a growing global economy it is no longer about children and mothers who are far away, it’s about my next door neighbors … it’s about my own child.
And it is not just about survival it’s about women and children thriving so that they can change their own communities and countries and build a better world.