Compassion International works to release as many children as possible from poverty in Jesus’ name.1 One of the ways it does so is through child sponsorships. When you think of sponsoring a child, it’s easy to assume you are only impacting one person. While the focus is indeed on the one child, the entire community where that child lives is impacted as well.
About five years ago, I began to sponsor a child of my own—a sweet five-year-old boy named Pedro from Brazil. I chose him because he shares the same birthday of someone very special to me. Pedro is now ten, lives with his grandparents, loves art, hide and seek, running, and toy cars. I write him letters, and he’s getting better at drawing me houses with every response. While I hope to visit Pedro one day, I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to go on a Compassion trip to El Salvador a couple of years ago.
I prepared for my trip with my friend Savannah, and we set off not knowing much Spanish and definitely not ready for the heat. While Savannah got ready to meet her sponsored child, Karla (you can read her story here), I was going to gain a different perspective. I didn’t get to meet my sponsored child, but I got to meet several others in the community where others had sponsored children. I met pastors, church members, mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, teachers, business owners, and even political leaders who all benefited from Compassion’s presence in their community.
Compassion works “in partnership with local churches because [they] desire to equip the Church to fulfill its role as salt and light to the world.”2 This is something I had heard before, but I honestly just assumed that the partnership with local churches stopped at serving as a facility to house the projects. I had no idea the level of involvement the pastors of those churches had. Compassion could very well delegate what types of programs to instill in the projects it establishes, but instead it entrusts and empowers the ones who understand the needs of the people in the community best—the pastors. One of the projects we visited had started a chicken farm and grew other local crops teaching the children in the project how to build the skills needed to make a good living in their community. Another project taught children how to make shoes, and another, clothes.
We also visited the homes of some of the children in the Compassion projects during our stay. When we visited Karla’s home (Savannah’s sponsored child), we got to meet her mother, father, sister, and grandmother. We also visited another family’s home in a different neighborhood. The homes were humble. Some had corrugated metal sheet roofs and dirt floors, and one had an outdoor sink that also served as a shower. They were proud to invite us in, and when we asked how we could pray for them, some of their biggest prayers were for their children. You could tell they were grateful for the Compassion project and how much hope it brought them.
Another portion of our trip was spent at a Compassion Survival project. Here, we saw teachers help young mothers of newborns learn the basics of caring for their babies. That particular day we saw babies learning to crawl. The mothers were taught to use the sounds of their voices to call their children to move toward them. Through the project, the mothers are also provided education and support.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was when we got to visit a fair showcasing all the goods from Compassion projects across the area. People from all over came out to eat yummy food, purchase handmade goods, and enjoy entertainment. We watched a fashion show where we saw clothes of all styles modeled proudly, and then we got to attend the grand opening of a shoe store. To stand there and witness the culmination of such hard work that resulted from a project Compassion initiated was one of the most impactful moments of the trip for me. Even the mayor attended the event for the ribbon cutting ceremony. His support proved to me that this was more than just impacting one life. Generations to come will be impacted for Christ because one child was sponsored.
So yes, it’s true that for thirty-eight dollars per month you will be providing one child ongoing Christian training through a local church, educational opportunities to defeat illiteracy, key life skills training and vocational programs to provide a brighter future, health care to prevent and fight disease and sickness, supplements to protect against malnutrition, recreational activities to develop self-confidence and social skills, and protection from crime, violence and danger. But that’s not all you’ll be doing. The ripple effect of your investment goes well beyond that.
To learn more about how you can help visit Compassion.com/LifeWay.
Darilynn Keith is the Digital Event Coordinator for Lifeway Christian Resources where she leads Lifeway Women Simulcasts as well as other live events. She’s passionate about creating environments for people to encounter Christ and loves seeing the transformation that happens in their lives as a result. She grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida, but Nashville, Tennessee has been home for more than twelve years. She and her dog, Teddy Ruxpin, reside in Germantown, where she enjoys live music, new restaurants, and all things creative!
1. “About Us,” Compassion International, 2020, accessed August 26, 2020, https://www.compassion.com/about/about-us.htm.
2. Ibid., “What Makes Us Distinct?,” https://www.compassion.com/about/what-makes-us-distinct.htm.