My Compassion Sunday Project

April 21, 2013 is a very special day, and not just because it’s my 35th birthday. ūüôā It’s also Compassion Sunday. On this special day, people in churches around the world share their stories and tell others about the joys that come with sponsoring a child through Compassion International. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to host the event at my home church, but there is something I can do. I can be an advocate.

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How can you resist that face!?

My goal is to find a sponsor for one special little guy from El Salvador. His name is Lisandro, and he’s six years old. You can read all about him, and choose to be his sponsor, by visiting my Compassion Sunday Page.

If I get Lisandro and another child sponsored, I win a $50 gift for one of my own sponsored children. Talk about a win-win-win-win!

El Salvador (which means “Republic of the Savior”), which is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts, is both the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America.¬†Approximately¬†5.75 million people currently call it home. It lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire and is often impacted by earthquakes and volcanic activity, both of which occurred last in 2005.

Severe weather (both droughts and heavy rainstorms) also impact the people and national¬†prosperity.¬†It currently has the third largest economy behind Costa Rica and Panama, but that doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It also has a large crime problem, especially gang-related crimes and¬†juvenile¬†delinquency, and boasts the highest murder rate in the world. However, thanks to some successful¬†initiatives gang-related violence has been down over the last year or so.

According to The Encyclopedia of Nations, “The wealth in El Salvador is held by a small minority of the population who made their money from coffee and sugar and have now diversified into finance and commerce. Land reforms and, property redistribution in the 1980s improved the situation for many small farmers and peasants, but there is still a substantial divide between the rich and the poor. According to a report from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), El Salvador’s per capita income is the fifth lowest in the Western Hemisphere (when adjusted to reflect the cost of living).

The health-care system in El Salvador is in a state of disarray. Medical unions are resisting government moves toward privatization, and as a result strikes by hospital personnel have become common. Supplies of basic drugs and medical equipment are often inadequate. Hospital budgets are used up to pay salaries, with little left over for other costs.

The education system in El Salvador is weak. According to the USAID report published in 1998, less than 50 percent of Salvadorans graduate from the sixth grade, only 1 out of 3 complete the ninth grade, and only 1 out of 5 complete high school. The Ministry of Education has worked to improve the quality of schooling in El Salvador, and some of its efforts have met with success. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported in 2000 that programs designed to increase community participation in education at rural schools has increased student enrollment. The school day has been extended as well. Also, in 1995 a program was introduced integrating health care and public works agencies with education initiatives to ensure students had clean water, regular medical examinations, and nutritional monitoring.”

This is where we come in. We can help bridge the gap by sponsoring children in the rural areas of this country—those who qualify as “have nots” in their country. For $38 a month, just a couple of meals out for us here in the United States, someone can sponsor Lisandro and provide both him and his family with access to clean water, food, healthcare, education, and–most importantly–a place where he can learn about Jesus Christ. Compassion International is a top-notch group to work with. You have constant access to your records, and you receive letters from your child¬†regularly. So you know the money you’re giving is doing the greatest good possible. It’s an amazing feeling to know you’re making an impact in a child’s life, even if he or she is halfway around the world. We can do great good as God’s people!

Check out my Compassion Sunday page linked above if you’re interested in getting involved and visit the other Compassion bloggers’ pages to see if the children they’ve selected for this special project speak to your heart.

26 Lives in 5 Hours

For anyone who already sponsors a child through Compassion International, I don’t have to tell you how rewarding it is. If you aren’t already doing so, I highly suggest you check out their organization¬†and see if there’s a child you’d like to sponsor. For $38, about one dollar a day, you provide a child access to a church-based child sponsorship program that provides so many wonderful things.

When families find out they have a sponsor, you can only imagine how overjoyed they are. Someone they will likely never meet reached out to help them in Jesus’ name, and the money that might otherwise go toward one more meal out or a new pair of shoes for us can do so much more for them. Here’s a video Compassion recently released of a family finding out their child has a sponsor. I can’t understand what they’re saying, but I don’t think I need to.

I also highly recommend getting involved with serving as a Compassion International volunteer at one of their sponsorship events. It’s very simple to do and only takes about five hours of your time. Wayne and I volunteered to help match sponsors with children at an event located here in Marietta as part of a¬†Fresh Grounded Faith women’s event.

It only took five hours of our Saturday, and we helped match 26 children with new sponsors!

Wayne and me behind the booth.
Wayne and me behind the booth.
All the packets arranged by continent.
All the packets arranged by continent.
Just take a look at all those cute faces!
Just take a look at all those cute faces!
These beads were a gift we gave to every person who chose and child and made a first payment. Gorgeous, yes?
These beads were a gift we gave to every person who chose a child and made a first payment. Gorgeous, yes?
If you're interested in the beads, visit this site. They're made by women in Uganda.
If you’re interested in the beads, visit this site. They’re made by women in Uganda.
I saw this sweet little girl in the stack and put her on top. I said that if no one adopted her, I would. But thankfully, she got her sponsor that day!!
I saw this sweet little girl in the stack and put her on top. I said that if no one chose her, I would. But thankfully, she got her sponsor that day!!
Wayne liked this little guy.
Wayne liked this little guy.

Now, I warn you, this can be addictive. It is so much fun to help people find the child God has in mind for them, to help them search the world over right at the table. Some folks had a country or gender in mind, but many were open to anything. We had one woman ask for a child with special needs, and we dug through the packets until we found the little guy she was meant to help care for. Others told us, “Give me one that’s been waiting the longest” or “Which one has the greatest need?” It was great to see so many people who wanted to help others.

Working the table as a volunteer made me realize how much I need to bone up on my knowledge of countries like Togo and Columbia. If I am more educated next time, I can point people towards the countries where children are at the greatest risk of sex trafficking or where AIDS is still running rampant. I knew enough to muddle through this time, but I want to be able to help people make the best choice when sponsoring a child.

The other warning I have is that once you’ve looked at these photos, you can’t stop thinking about the kids in them. As Wayne and I went through the unused packets after the event and saw how many children there were on the list who had been waiting more than six months for a sponsor, we decided to go through that priority pile and choose two more. Two of those 26 are now ours.

We are now the proud sponsors of four Compassion kids—Edmond in Burkina Faso, Paromika in India, Tania in Nicaragua, and Brayan in El Salvador!

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