Getting slimed for Clean Water

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We recently completed a great week of Vacation Bible School at our church.  I was part of the planning team for my church’s Vacation Bible School.  This year we decided to select Compassion’s Water of Life program for our mission project.  We had a boys vs. girls “loose change war” with all money collected going to Compassion.

We had so much fun with this project.  I thought about what goal we should set. We are a church of around 250 members and our VBS attendance was 125 each night. I decided that collecting enough for 3 filters would be doable.   If we got enough for 5, then “Wow!” that would be great.  I decided to speak about Water of Life during our VBS promotion Sunday that was held in March.  We had buckets to collect loose change and donations at the end of the service.  We collected again during our VBS kick-off Sunday.  God began to show me how limited my thinking had been early on.  We collected enough for 5 filters during those 2 services and our VBS had yet to begin.

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During VBS we challenged our kids with the realities of what life looks like for a lot of children around the world.  The week would be the boys versus the girls with the team leader of the losing team being “slimed” at the end of the week.  The competitive spirit was great!  Our leaders and volunteers got involved as well.  Our pastor led the week’s mission class.  During the mission time he would encourage the kids to pray for those who would receive the water filters.  He suggested that they pray for God to provide funds for 4 filters.  When told this, one little girl said, “I’m not praying for 4…I’m praying for 5!”  That number continued to grow throughout the week.  Near the end of the week the kids were praying for God to provide 20 filters!  The excitement continue to build throughout VBS.  We demonstrated the filter and drank dirty water that had been filtered.  When asked who was going to win the response would be all the kids yelling for their team.   Boys!  Girls!  Boys!  Girls!  Without fail, one child would raise their hand and say, “No, it’s the kids who get the buckets that will win.”

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I have to think that after hearing my prayer for 5 filters God smiled to himself and with love thought, “Isn’t that cute.”  He had a much bigger plan in mind.  Not only did he provide the 5 filters I asked for, He provided the 20 that the kids asked for.  If only we would have the pure faith of a child!  The boys prevailed and it was with great joy that I was slimed at the end of the week.  I’ve never been happier to be that messy!

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When it was all said and done, $2,100 had been collected.   That money is on its way to Compassion headquarters in Colorado Springs.  It has been earnestly prayed over.   Prayers that the families who receive these filters would not only have clean safe water for life, but also with the dedicated work of Compassion staff around the world, they would know the True Water of Life that is found in a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

5 Reasons to consider sponsoring a child with Compassion International

IMG_0535If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that the work of Compassion has become very important to me.  My family and I sponsor 2 children and I am a correspondent sponsor to 13 more kids from all over the world.  I have been a sponsor since 2008, and advocate since 2013 and last year I traveled to Tanzania to meet my sponsored child, Mwajuma.  You may say, “So that’s great for you, but why should I sponsor a child?”  If I had to boil it down, I would give you these 5 reasons.

  1. God’s word is VERY clear about our response to the poor & hurting.

There are over 2,000 verses in the Bible that deal with poverty, injustice, and what our response should be.   Just a few of them…..

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…” MATTHEW 25:35-36 (NIV)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” PROVERBS 31:8 (NIV)

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” PSALM 82:3 (NIV)

We can not say we believe God’s word and then ignore His commands regarding the poor.

  1. Sponsorship gives me a much needed dose of perspective

Before I sponsored a child if you were to ask me if I was rich, I might have scoffed in your face.  No way!  I’m NOT rich.  I would not have claimed to be poor, but I certainly did not think I was rich.  The problem with that thinking though is that I was comparing myself to the people around me.  I live near Indianapolis and I could drive you past many affluent neighborhoods to demonstrate just how “not rich” I was in comparison.  However compared to the 7 billion people on this planet (and I believe that’s how God sees it) I am downright loaded.  Consider this:

If you made $1500 last year, you’re in the top 20% of the world’s income earners.

If you earn $25,000 or more annually, you are in the top 10% of the world’s income-earners.***

If you earn more than $50,000 annually, you are in the top 1% of the world’s income earners   (Source:  MSN Money)

 There’s no other way to put it….we are rich.  Sponsoring a child has given me and my children a more Godly perspective on money and possessions.

  1. Sponsorship has connected me and my kids to other parts of the world

I can’t tell you how fun it is to learn more about our children’s traditions and customs.  We gain a new understanding of different parts of the world.  We also get to share our traditions with them.  My kids learn about a world that is so much more than just their little corner of it.

  1. Sponsorship connects me with God’s church around the world.

Each Compassion project is facilitated through a local church.  When I give my sponsorship money, I am partnering with God’s family.  I get the incredible privilege of working together with His church all over the world as they do this work in Jesus’ name.  These center and church staff are the true heroes of Compassion in my opinion.  They are the ones getting their hands dirty; working constantly to serve, meet needs and share the truth of the gospel to these children, their families, and their communities.

  1. I get the privilege of speaking truth into a child’s life.

I believe the most important component of sponsorship is the letters.  Yes, the money is of great worth.  It is used to provide much needed services, but the letters I write can be used by God to change a life.  Poverty will lie to kids.  It will tell them that life is hopeless and that they are worthless .  God can use words of encouragement and Bible verses that I’ve written to remind my child that they are of great worth, that they have value and there is hope.

Bonus reason #6.  It moves me from agreement to action

For years my husband and I both agreed that child sponsorship was a good thing and that we should do it someday.  Someday.  After these bills were paid…when we were making a little more money…someday.  In 2008, God got my attention and someday became NOW.  It’s all to easy to agree that something is a good idea and not ever act on it.  Social media begs us to click “like”, to retweet, or to “share” a post.  We do these things and feel like we’re making a difference.  They have a word for that…slacktivism.  “Liking” something never fed a hungry child.  Agreeing with a principle never treated an illness.  “Someday” doesn’t accomplish God’s purpose.  It’s time for “Now”.

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Sponsorship costs $38/month.  I currently have 14 child sponsorship packets of kids who are waiting for a sponsor.  If you want to move from someday to now send me a message at dhhackney@sbcglobal.net.  I would love to introduce you to one of these beautiful kids.

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.

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!

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!