And then there were 9

As I wrote earlier, we had a wonderful Compassion Sunday at Hope Community.  I am so appreciative of our church members and their generous hearts.  In total our church’s members sponsor over 40 children all around the world.

After our event I still have 9 child sponsorship packets.  These packets have been prayed over earnestly.  I know that God knows who their sponsor is and he will provide.  However, I really don’t like to have to send packets back to Compassion.  I would be remiss if I didn’t give one more opportunity for someone to sponsor these special kids before they are out of my hands.

Patience - Ghana

Patience – Ghana

Steven  - Rwanda

Steven – Rwanda

Jhon - Ecuador

Jhon – Ecuador

Gayanaikha - Haiti

Gayanaikha – Haiti

Dessy - Indonesia

Dessy – Indonesia

Derick - Ghana

Derick – Ghana

Dalma

Dalma – Dominican Republic

Brice - Haiti

Brice – Haiti

Yididiya - Ethiopia

Yididiya – Ethiopia

One of the responses that I often get is, “They look so sad.”  And while this may be the case in some circumstances it’s not necessarily so with every kid.  It is very serious and important for these families that have a child selected to enroll in the Compassion program.  This is an important event to have their photo taken for their sponsorship packet and parents remind their kids of this fact.  What you may take for sadness may just be seriousness.

I will have access to these children’s packets for a few more days.  If you’ve ever considered sponsoring a child, I’d love to talk with you further.  Send a message to hhackney@visithope.org.

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Filled up and Challenged

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Photo: Kathy Schreirer

My husband and I had the opportunity to attend a Compassion Advocate’s conference this past weekend in Chicago.  I had immediately went to sign up when it was announced.  After I realized I could bring Dusty as well, we registered, made arrangements for the kids, and looked forward to a weekend away.  The conference was a wonderful experience.  We got to hear from Daniel Njenja.  Daniel grew up in Kenya as a sponsored child.  He went on to graduate from Compassion’s Leadership Development Program.  Daniel is currently studying at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

To hear how sponsorship had changed the entire course of his life was inspiring.  He told of his mother dying when he was 9 from tuberculosis.  He spoke of the days when his father was unable to find work and as a result he and his siblings would go without food.  Then he spoke of the care he received from the staff at the child development center.  He received educational help, food, and encouragement.  He was told how God loved him and had a plan for him.  Daniel committed to follow Jesus.  His family came to know Jesus.  Today Daniel’s father is an associate pastor, his sister is married to a pastor, and he is studying to become a pastor and church planter.  Sponsorship changes lives!

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Photo: Kathy Schrierer

We also go to hear from Shaun Groves.  Shaun is a music artist and worship leader.  He leads Compassion’s blogging tours.  (And, yes, that is me right down in front.)  I became a Compassion sponsor after reading about a trip to Uganda in 2008 from one of the bloggers that I followed.  I was so glad to have the opportunity to say hello and thank Shaun personally for his work with Compassion.

There were other wonderful speakers and great breakout sessions.  Sessions to helped to further clarify the mission of Compassion and how they are serving one child at a time.  It was neat to talk with other advocates and hear about their travels.  I came home filled to the brim….and challenged.

I can’t fully articulate to you right now some of those challenges, but they are the kinds of things that make my mother nervous!  They make me a bit uncomfortable…and excited.  However, I have never read a verse in the Bible where God commands us to be comfortable and take it easy.  I’m sure these things will work themselves out more clearly in the near future.  Right now, for this day, along with some trusted friends, I’m seeking God for his direction.

Serve Side by Side

You may have heard youth and children referred to “the church of tomorrow”.  Personally I think there’s a grave error in this thinking.  Our children should be part of the “church of right now”.  I’m blessed to serve in a church that feels this way too.  I’m always looking for ways to make the ministry of Compassion real and relevant to my children and the children of my church.

I was to speak at a conference in March and as part of my topic I was going to share my Compassion story. I had sent for 15 child sponsorship packets to take with me to the conference. A week prior to the conference I took a notecard and wrote each child’s name and country on the cards and passed them out to trusted friends and prayer partners who I knew would pray specifically for each child to be sponsored. One of my friends has twin 7 year old girls, Chloe & Jasmine. I asked the girls if they would like to pray for a child and they each selected a girl to pray for…Angelica & Alexandra. The twins mother said that they prayed every evening for the week leading up to the conference, and that their prayers became more specific as the week went along. That God would provide the sponsor, that He would keep them safe, and give them food.

Jasmine & Chloe - my prayer warriors!

Jasmine & Chloe – my prayer warriors!

I spoke 3 times during the conference and during the course of the weekend God provided sponsors for every single child that I had a packet for….with some more being sponsored online. Later in the day after my 1st session I was thinking back over how many packets had been taken and which ones when it hit me. I was sitting next to the twins mother. I looked at her and said, “You know the kids that your girls had prayed for, Angelica & Alexandra…..the were the FIRST packets taken for sponsorship!”

They prayers of children are powerful. The ministry of children….unstoppable!

In our home, child sponsorship is a family ministry.  Rachel, my daughter, frequently draws pictures to send with our letters.  Our 2 sponsored children share their birthdays with each of our kids.  On our kids’ birthdays after we have sang “Happy Birthday” and blown out candles we relight them.  We take a family photo with the cake and that child’s photo and then send it in the next letter.  Then we sing another round of “Happy Birthday” just for our sponsored child.  It’s a way to show them that we were thinking about them especially on their birthday.

Celebrating Aaron's birthday....and Mwajuma's

Celebrating Aaron’s birthday….and Mwajuma’s

My friend Heather helped to make sponsorship more real to her kids by preparing a special dinner one evening of foods from their child’s country.  They had written to Emmanuel and asked him what he liked to eat.  Heather then looked up the foods on the internet and prepared a special Ghanaian meal.  ghana2 ghana1

Now I know from this photo it seems that one of the boys was less than thrilled, but that wasn’t the case.  Heather said that all 3 of her boys ate the food and there wasn’t any complaining.  What a wonderful way to bring our kids and our sponsored kids one step closer.

There are a lot of ways to involve our kids.  The Family of God serving is a wonderful thing.  The family serving God together is truly beautiful.

Happy, Happy, Happy

Pardon the Duck Dynasty reference (you got to love Uncle Si).  This past Sunday I was able to make a presentation for Compassion at our church.  It was our 2nd year in a row of participating in Compassion Sunday.  Last year 25 children were sponsored.  Setting up my display with the 20 sponsorship packets that were sent to me, I had a few reservations about how this year would go.  After all there is a high percentage of families that already sponsor in our church.

Forgive the photo quality...iPad doesn't have a great camera!

Forgive the photo quality…iPad doesn’t have a great camera!

So my goal was 2-fold.  To inform our newer friends about the work and mission of Compassion and to encourage those existing sponsors to keep writing letters.  I wanted to remind them of the vital work they were doing.  Everything came together wonderfully.  When I left the building that morning 11 of the 20 sponsorship packets had been taken.  There was a mix of new sponsors and families adding another child to their Compassion family.

I am so blessed to be part of a church that gives of itself to serve those around the world.  I am anticipating and prayerful that after next Sunday even more of the children will be sponsored.

Of course you can always find beautiful kids waiting for a sponsor at Compassion’s Website

What to do with “After”

Our group has finished the 9 weeks of our Seven Experiment Bible study. We’ve been inspired, challenged, perhaps even a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes with a study it’s not the “during” that I find the most challenging. It’s the “after”. How do you implement necessary changes into your daily life. It’s one thing to focus on minimizing food waste and healthy eating for 7 days. It’s an entirely different matter to make sweeping lifestyle changes that will result in a more wholesome eating and less wasteful spending. To look at your home and begin to formulate a plan for reducing possessions is a lot easier than finding the time to begin sorting, purging, and organizing the rest.

So here’s where I face the real challenge.  How to take what I feel that God has been saying to me and weave it into my everyday life.  How to daily choose to live simply and not give into the culture that says more, newer, and shinier equals better.  How to best manage my time so that my life is poured into the eternal things that matter and not wasted on the fleeting and irrelevant.

It’s a challenge.  One that requires daily wisdom from the Lord, encouragement for the journey, and a focus on what is needed for this day.

On a side note my family and I just enjoyed a wonderful, fun, and restful week in Colorado where we were treated to the beauty of God’s creation!

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