by Joe McAlpine
It’s a hot and sunny day. I am in a bus in Quito, Ecuador, headed to my first experience with a Compassion International project. I am traveling with a few other pastors, and as I look around I can see that they are probably thinking some of the same things I am. What am I going to see when I get there? Am I going to be disappointed? What if I learn that this whole child sponsorship thing that I have heard about basically my whole ministry career is exactly what I thought it was . . . a fundraising strategy that only really benefits the actual kids by a small percentage. I mean, I have been involved in global missions and children’s ministry for well over a decade now. I have seen some pretty disturbing things. I have played soccer with children that could be sold into slavery the next day in Ghana. I have walked the perimeter of the massive red light districts in India. This couldn’t be that bad . . . there is no way.
We arrive at the local church and I immediately see kids and parents waiting for us. They have HUGE smiles on their faces and signs that they have made welcoming us. They have prepared a meal to share with us and can’t wait to talk with us about all of the things God is doing in their community and life. I am amazed at how happy and thankful these people are in the midst of such poverty. I knew immediately that something different was happening here.
After our time together at the church, a small group of us were invited to visit a young mother in her home. It was then that I experienced the most earth shattering moment I have ever had. As I sat with Paola and her young baby daughter in her 10- by 12-foot concrete apartment (room) with no electricity or running water—and heard her speak about how much Compassion International has meant to her over the last year—my heart grew about five sizes. Paola became pregnant, was abandoned by the father and shunned by her family. She had nowhere to turn and the compassion project took her in as a part of the Child Survival Program. She had a difficult pregnancy and needed emergency medical help for her and the baby. Compassion provided that help. Her baby was alive that day because of the medical care provided to her through the project. Paola has a representative from the project visit her weekly who works with her on interacting with her daughter and helps her learn how to be a mother and care provider. At the church, she is growing spiritually. We left some groceries for Paola and left. I may never see her again, but I know she will be in my heart forever. I am so thankful that Paola has such a great support system to help her raise her daughter. That is what Compassion is all about.
In addition to Compassion, I have been involved with Orange for a very long time. I am an Orange Blogger and have been a fan of their efforts to connect the light of the church with the love of the home. Until that moment in Ecuador, I thought Orange was the only organization out there doing this well. Now I know that Compassion International is also committed to the same thing. Needless to say I was overjoyed when I heard that Compassion International and Orange were teaming up to do ministry together. It is truly a connection that will benefit so many families and kids around the world.
Both Orange and Compassion International are Christ-centered and child-focused. This leads both of them to reach into the family and be a part of providing physical and spiritual needs to kids and families. For less than dollars a day, this mission is accomplished in an amazing way. As for the money that you give, almost ALL of it goes directly to the church projects on the ground in these countries. If you don’t believe me, search it out for yourself. If you consider yourself an Orange church, I would highly encourage you to take a step into the world of Compassion International and challenge your families to sponsor a child. Have a sponsorship weekend at your church. You won’t be sorry. The partnership of Orange and Compassion is a huge step forward into eliminating the tragedies that kids face every day due to extreme poverty and lack of simple education. I hope you will join us in the cause!
Joe is the pastor of Share at Northbrook Church. Northbrook is a growing church just outside of Milwaukee, WI. He has been in ministry for over a decade, serving in staff leadership at churches ranging in attendance from 500 to 7,000.