Compassion Sunday

This past Sunday we held our 3rd ever Compassion Sunday event at Hope Community.  Our church numbers around 250 attenders and our people already sponsor around 50 children through Compassion.  My goal going into the day was 2-fold.  First, was to encourage those who already sponsor to deepen their relationship with their child through regular letter writing.  The second was the opportunity for our newer members to have the chance to sponsor a child or possibly for some sponsors to add a child.

The entire service was geared around our partnership with Compassion.  Several sponsors spoke on how sponsorship had affected them personally.  Our pastor did a wonderful job preaching on the importance or serving the poor and marginalized.  When the day was done 11 children had been sponsored.  I could not have been happier!

We have a bulletin board at Hope that has all of the kids photos and locations on it.  What fun to add 11 new faces!

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Compassion sent me 25 sponsorship packets this year and that means I still have packets for 14 beautiful children who are still waiting for a sponsor.  Sponsorship with Compassion costs $38/month.

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It still remains as one of the best decisions I ever made.  It’s amazing to me to see how one small decision to sponsor a child changed my life.  It’s fun to how sponsorship starts to change other people and their perspective too.  I will have packets for these 14 children until May 15th.  If you would like more information about any of these precious kids or sponsorship through Compassion contact me at dhhackney@sbcglobal.net.

Empty Mailboxes

I look forward to hearing the mail truck outside my house.  Each day I go to the mailbox hoping to find a cream colored envelope from Compassion with those happy words in blue, “A Message From Your Sponsored Child.”  With 15 children that I am either sponsoring or corresponding with, letters do come regularly.  While I know it’s not realistic to find a letter every day, I have to admit to a tiny twinge of disappointment when there are no letters.  If a week or two pass without a letter that twinge starts growing a little.  However I realize that soon again I will open up my mailbox to a cherished letter.

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Now imagine you are a child growing up in the poorest of circumstances.  Life is hard, but you are part of the Compassion program.  You get to go to school and eat nutritious food.  You get regular medical screenings.  All because of your sponsor.  You hear about God’s love for you and you know the workers at the Compassion center love you.  But one thing is missing.  Time and time again you have to watch your friends receive letters and your hands are empty.  You get to see the joy on their faces as they read words of encouragement and love, yet your sponsor’s voice is silent.  Not just week after week, but sometimes year after year.  I can only imagine that you would have to wonder “Why?”.  Was it something you did?  Does your sponsor not love you?

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Last week I received a packet of letters from each of my children’s pastors.  Fifteen letters from ten different countries on four different continents.  They had a common thread that ran through them.  Without fail, each pastor spoke of the importance of sponsor letters.  They spoke of the children’s joy when they read words of encouragement from their sponsors and their happiness to know their sponsors loved them and were praying for them.  They also spoke of the sadness and disappointment by those who did not hear from their sponsors.

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If you sponsor a child I want to encourage you to write today!  If you’ve been a less than stellar sponsor in the past, it doesn’t matter.  Today is a new day.  Commit to writing to your child and building a relationship with them.  Encourage them.  Share your life with them.  Share God’s Word.  Let them know that they are special and that they matter.

Proverbs 16:24 – Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body.

Perhaps you want to take the step to sponsor a child and partner with Compassion to help release them from poverty in Jesus’ name.  Click here to start your sponsorship journey.  It will be the very best decision you make today.

One Year

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It still seems fresh in my mind.  Waking up ridiculously early to get to the airport.  Sitting on a plane for an hour waiting to take off.  Navigating a long line at United’s customer service counter to get on a flight to JFK after I missed my connection.  Still so fresh.  Exactly one year ago, as I’m typing this, I was on a plane headed for Amsterdam.  I was with 40 people whom I had just met a few hours prior and we would spend the next 12 days together in Africa.  I think I can speak for all of them when I say we would come back changed people.

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Over the course of those 12 days I saw culture and lifestyles that were completely foreign to me.  I experienced sadness and heartbreak.  I saw the effects of poverty first hand.  But these would not define my experience.  I spent those days seeing what can be accomplished by God’s people.  I saw Compassion’s work up close.  I saw what sponsoring a child can do.  Yes, there was still hardship.  Yes, there was still troubles.  But in the midst of these things I experience something far greater.  I experienced joy, laughter, love, and hope.  I experienced God.

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My 12 days in Africa forever changed me.  Some experiences have faded a bit over the year.  Some will never leave.  I continue to think of my 40 fellow traveling buddies often.  I’m thankful for each of them.  I remember our day on safari with almost childlike wonder.  In my mind I still see the smiling faces of beautiful Tanzanian children.  I will be thankful for the rest of my life for the day I got to spend with Mwajuma and Fadhila, my sponsored children.

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I came home with a renewed and deepened commitment to Compassion’s mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.  I came home with a changed perspective on American life.

Tanzania will never leave me.  I will forever be grateful that God gave me the opportunity to go.  One year later, I find myself longing for another adventure. Hopefully, one day, God will bring that to pass. My heart yearns for Thailand. There is a little 9 year old girl there and I long to wrap my arms around her just like I did with Mwajuma and Fadhila. My sweet Wannaporn lost her mother to cancer last May and I so much want to hug her and tell her I love her.

7 years ago our family selected Mwajuma from Compassion’s website as the child we would sponsor.  At that time I could not even have imagined how this little African girl with the slouchy socks would change my life.

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I don’t always make the right decisions.  I don’t always act when I should.  However, this is one decision I know I got right.  Sponsoring children through Compassion has given us perspective, given us joy, and given us a chance to be obedient to God.

Click her to sponsor a child through Compassion today

It just so happened….

I don’t believe too strongly in coincidences.  I think things happen for a reason and can be used for God’s purposes.  This is especially true when it comes to my experiences with child sponsorship and Compassion.

I’m always fascinated by the process of selecting a child to sponsor.  Some people search for a child from a particular country.  Some are looking for a specific gender, age, or birth date.  A lot of times I hear this phrase, “Something about him/her just spoke to me”.  So many sponsorship stories could be told with the phrase, “I just happened to…, there just happened to be…, etc.  I know better.  The God who knows every detail about me and you is the same God who knows everything about each of these children waiting for sponsors.  I believe He knows their every need and He knows who their sponsor is.

This past week I had the privilege of working at the sponsorship table for two events,  Stand Strong with Nick Vujicic and Living Proof Live with Beth Moore.  If you haven’t heard of Nick you need to head over to YouTube and watch some of his message.  Nick was born without arms and legs.  He has dedicated himself to sharing God’s message of love, forgiveness, and hope around the world.  He never cuts corners when declaring his faith and how God has changed his life.  God is using Nick in a great way!nick

I always try to find a child who’s birthday is on the day of the event I am working and put it out front and center on the table.  At Nick’s event I couldn’t find one for that day, but I found a little boy who’s birthday was the next day.  Since this was our first event with Nick our goal was more about presence and awareness than high numbers of sponsorships.  There were two children sponsored that evening.  One of them “just so happened” to be the little boy from Africa with the birthday coming up.  As his new sponsor was filling out the forms I came to this realization:  in Africa, where this little boy lived it was already the next day.  God did indeed provide him with a sponsor, and it happened on his birthday!

At Living Proof Live, we rejoiced that 119 children were sponsored!  Again, there were sponsorship stories that made it undeniable that our God is working out everything according to His plan.

One woman asked if we had any children from Brazil to sponsor since she didn’t see any on the table.  I told her that Brazil was one of the countries that we worked in and I sat a box full of packets on the table and began searching through them.  After a few moments and no Brazil I asked, “And there were none on the table, right?”  She said no and then immediately said, “Wait a minute!  It’s right there in front of my nose.”  Sitting on the table in front of both of us was a little girl from Brazil.  I discovered that this woman was from Brazil and after looking at the information we found that the little girl lived not too far from where this woman had grown up.  Smiles all around!

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However this has to be one of my favorite stories.  This is Cindy. I asked permission to share her photo and story with you and she happily agreed. I was at the table taking sponsorship forms and answering questions and saw her speaking with the Compassion rep. She was holding a packet and ready to fill out the info. She told us that she had attended conferences and concerts in the past, but never felt particularly led to sponsor. This year she said that she prayed that if God wanted her to sponsor a child that he would lead her to the right child and make it obvious. Cindy had adopted a boy from the Philippines. He is now 17 years old. In her hand she held a packet for a little 9 year old boy from the Philippines. This little boy had the same first name as her son! As icing on the cake….he had the SAME BIRTHDAY as her son!  We all agreed that God could not have spoken more clearly.

No matter how a person chooses a child to sponsor,  I’ve got to believe God has His hand on it.  Maybe He’s already chosen you to be a sponsor of a precious little boy or girl.  He knows their name, knows their joys & fears, and knows that what they need is you.  All you have to do is say YES!

 Sponsor a child today!

It’s my Birthday, and I’m shamelessly asking for….

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Wednesday, Aug. 13th is my 39th birthday.  It’s not my “39th birthday, because I’ve actually passed 40 and can’t bring myself to say it” birthday.  It really is my 39th birthday.  One more year in my 30’s!   I’ve got a great family, great friends, and most of all a GREAT God.  I’ve been to Africa this year, and had my world opened up and changed forever!  Life is good!

So what do I want for my birthday?  If I’m honest, it turns out that I really don’t need a thing.  If I could wish for something, I would wish that Ebola and all these other horrible diseases were wiped off the face of the earth, but I can’t.  Here’s one thing that I can do….in fact, we can do together.  I’ve been promoting Compassion’s Bite Back against Malaria campaign this summer.  Many of you have donated and together we have raised $315 toward the prevention of malaria.  To everyone who has given I send you my most sincere thanks.  There’s still more time however, and that’s what I would like for my birthday. 

Ebola is ravaging East Africa and almost 1,000 people have died, but did you know that 1,000 children will die TODAY from the effects of malaria.  It’s 100% preventable!  That may be the real tragedy.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  $10 will provide a treated net to a family living under the threat of malaria.

To donate to Bite Back you can pop over to our Hack Pack Bite Back page by clicking here.

Maybe you don’t like to mess with online donations, credit cards, and the like, but you want to join us.  Find me at church tomorrow.  Got a dollar? Got five? Got a quarter?  I don’t really care about the amount.  I take every little amount and send it to Compassion.  Let’s see what we can do working together.  

So to sum up…….I’m shamelessly asking you to give for my birthday.  Actually I’m just asking you to give.  Not because it’s my birthday….that’s just a fun side note.  Give because God’s given to you.  Give because no mother should have to bury their child because of malaria.  Give because we have all been given way more than we need.  Give.

Bite Back with the Hack Pack!

My Inspiration…

I love Compassion International.  If you spend more than 2 seconds on this blog that should be evident.  I am a volunteer child advocate for Compassion and I love to share with people how they can help change the world through child sponsorship.  Currently my family and I are sponsors to two beautiful girls. Mwajuma from Tanzania & Wannaporn from Thailand.  I also correspond with 9 other children from all over the world for Compassion.  They are our international family and we love them.

But what made me take that first step to sponsor a child?  For years I had done like a lot of people I know.  I would attend a concert or conference, hear the artist or speaker talk about sponsoring a child, avoid eye contact with anyone passing out a packet, and then go about my merry little way.  Sponsorship came up in conversation with my husband occasionally, but it was always connected to these words…some day.  Some day when we are making more money, some day when this bill is paid off, some day I think it would be good to sponsor a child.

That all changed in 2008.  That year Compassion took a group of bloggers to Uganda.  One of them was Carlos Whittaker.  I was a regular reader of Carlos’ blog and enjoyed his gift for weaving words and sentences into blog posts that were challenging and full of authenticity.  I read his words and watched the video updates.  I began to read blog posts from others in the group, but the photos were what grabbed my attention.  As a photographer, I love how a good photograph can capture a moment, convey an emotion, and move an individual.  That’s what happened to me.  The photographs began to move me to action.

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Photo: Compassionbloggers.com

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Photo: CompassionBloggers.com

God spoke very clearly and said it was time that “some day” became “TODAY”.  My husband agreed and with our children we chose to sponsor little 9-year old Mwajuma from Tanzania.

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That move from “some day” to “today” started me on an incredible journey.  We began writing and building a relationship with this special girl.  “Some day” again made its way into my vocabulary when I thought about sponsoring a 2nd child.  In 2012, God clearly said again “TODAY”, and we became the sponsors of Wannaporn from Thailand.

I kept following the various Compassion blogging trips through the years and was inspired over and over by the beautiful photographs.  Some conveying hardships, some conveying joy, but all conveying the hope that can be found by releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

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Earlier this year God blessed me with the opportunity to create my own inspiration.  I traveled on a sponsor tour to Tanzania.  After 6 years of seeing our precious Mwajuma only in photographs, I got to hug, laugh, and just be with her.

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I got to see first hand the difference that sponsorship makes not only in the life of a child, but also in their family and community.   I have many photographs from those incredible 12 days.  Photographs to remember wonderful memories and hopefully to inspire a whole group of new sponsors.

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Want to know more about sponsoring a child through Compassion International?  Click here

The Pack is Growing!

$315!!!!  That’s where The Hack Pack Bite Back campaign sits right now.  It’s great!  That’s enough to purchase over 30 treated mosquito nets.  30 changed families….30 chances to protect against a deadly illness that claims the lives of over 2,000 children each day!

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Thank you so much to everyone who has given so far!  However I feel that we’re just getting the ball rolling.  Social media has an amazing reach.  In the past week this blog has received hits from not only the U.S. but Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, and even Saudi Arabia!!  We’ve had donations from friends, family, my Compassion travelling buddies and fellow Compassion sponsors, high school classmates, and even some I don’t even know personally.

So to everyone who has shared this on Facebook or Twitter….Thanks!   Spreading the word is great and I am extremely grateful, but I also want to ask one more thing.  To everyone who is reading this….please consider donating to the Bite Back campaign.  That’s where the real difference is made!  We can work together to make a life-saving difference!  One person (me) can’t do it alone.  But with my family and friends and their family & friends & co-worker’s & neighbors & Twitter followers & Facebook friends……the sky is the limit!

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$10 provides a treated mosquito net for a family living with the threat of malaria, but a donation of ANY amount would be greatly appreciated.

Join the Hack Pack and Bite Back!  Click Here to Donate!