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”.

IMG_0469

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.

How can it be enough?

Last Saturday I received several pieces of mail from Compassion.  I took a break and sat down to read my “Happy Mail”.  The last letter was from 9-year old Godfrey in Uganda.  The front page of the form letter told me about his village and community.  I flipped the letter over and was stopped cold by this: IMG_2990Godfrey was writing to tell me that his mother had died in April.  Tears immediately began to fall and I sat in silence clutching the letter praying and mourning for him.  This little boy who is only 1 1/2 weeks younger than my daugher had already lost his father before I had began to write to him.  Now he was an orphan. I wondered what illness had taken his mother’s life.  Was is AIDS?  Was it malaria?  I will probably never know.  I soon sat down and wrote him a letter.  What do you say to someone so young who has lost so much?  I told him that I loved him.  I told him how sad I was.  I reassured him that God knew how he was feel and the He loved him.  I wrote scripture from Psalms.  I made a “hug” to send him using my hand prints and sent a photo of me holding his “hug”. IMG_317copy7 I placed it all in an envelope and held it tightly, prayed over it, and dropped it in the mail slot.  As I left the post office I though of how it seemed insufficient.  I wondered how it could ever be enough.  God gently reminded me that it was.  Even though all I had to offer was feebly written words, they were penned in love and written besides the unchangeable truth from God’s Word…and that made it enough. God reminded me of just how much power words have….both healing words and hurtful words.  Proverbs 12:8 states that, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”  Word of encouragement to a child have great power.  It’s why I have committed to writing to children all over the world. If I hadn’t been reminded of the importance of what I do as a Compassion advocate and correspondent by that point, God had one more reminder for me that day.  As I pulled into the parking lot of my next destination, Audio Adrenaline’s “Kings & Queens” began playing.  These lyrics came from my speakers.

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me Will we leave behind the innocent too brief On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun These could be our daughters and our sons And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating I know my God won’t let them be defeated Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

Break our hearts once again Help us to remember when We were only children hoping for a friend Won’t you look around these are the lives that the world has forgotten Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open

Boys become kings, girls will be queens Wrapped in Your majesty  When we love, when we love the least of these Then they will be brave and free Shout your name in victory When we love when we love the least of these

So to those people who saw someone at the farmer’s market wandering around with a tear-stained face, sorry, but I had just had a holy moment with my God. UG4280278 And to Godfrey…You may wonder how it’s possible that someone on the other side of the world who has only spoken to you in a handful of letters can love you so much.  It’s because God placed you into my life and into my heart.  We may never get to meet face to face, but I commit to continue to pray for you, and to write words of encouragement to you.  I will keep your precious letter close.  It will serve to be a reminder to me of the ministry that God has for me to do.  I won’t let you down.

The Next Steps

I have been home from Tanzania for over a month now.  All too easily I’ve slipped back into the routine of my life, but I’m fighting it a little.  Meeting Mwajuma and Fadhila was certainly the highlight and main goal of traveling to Tanzania, but I had some other goals in mind.  I wanted to be able to take the incredible experience of the trip and use it to help enrich my task of advocating for children on Compassion’s behalf.

Dusty & I traveled to Chicago this past weekend for our 2nd Experience Compassion conference.  It was a wonderful time of connecting with other sponsors and advocates.  We had the experience of Skyping with a Compassion project in Bolivia.  It was such a treat to see the smiling faces of Bolivian teenagers and to hear the difference that being enrolled in the project had help to make in their lives.  The students proudly showed us their letters, certificates of accomplishment, and their written plans for their future.

bolivia

We also heard from Satish Kumar.  Satish is from Bangalore, India and is a graduate of Compassion’s Leadership Development Program.  He is currently serving an internship at Compassion’s headquarters in Colorado Springs and will return to India in several months.  I always enjoy hearing the life stories of formerly sponsored children.  They are always powerful and always a living breathing example of how sponsorship through Compassion truly does work.

The weekend was full of great testimonies, information, and music (led by Nathan Tasker).  I think that the speaker that had the most impact on me might have been Dr. Scott Todd.  Dr. Todd, besides having a great story about his experience as a Compassion sponsor, also gave a compelling presentation about the positive outlook for eliminating extreme poverty in our lifetime.  Dusty and I both agreed that it can become very easy to view the world with pessimism, especially when bombarded by negative news stories about the state of the world.  Dr. Todd presented numerous statistics and examples of how the state of extreme poverty is being dramatically diminished.

It all served to encourage and continue to solidify in my mind that Compassion International works!  Outside studies have proved that sponsorship with Compassion does dramatically affect the life of a child.  Diseases are being combated.  Education is empowering the poor.  Now I can say I have seen it first-hand.

Yudesi

As we left the conference there was a table full of sponsorship packets.  I was a little hesitant to take one.  I don’t like to be entrusted with finding a sponsor for a child and then having to decommission a sponsorship packet because the deadline passes.  However, I saw one packet for a little girl from Tanzania.  The country has become near to my heart for obvious reasons.  It’s where my sponsorship journey began.  I have walked along her dirt roads, I have shared meals with her beautiful people, I have seen her indescribable beauty.  I know there is more work to be done.  This is Yudesi.  Yudesi needs a sponsor.  Sponsorship is $38/month.  I can tell you that your money will be used with integrity, and the results will be far-reaching and unmeasurable.  I will have her packet until May 16th.  If you would like to know more about sponsoring Yudesi or if you have any questions about sponsoring a child with Compassion, then send me a message at hhackney@visithope.org

The “In Between”

IMG_1935[1]We’ve have moved into a routine for Easter the past several years.  We have Good Friday service at our church.  We have a great day of celebration on Sunday.  We celebrate the resurrection with our church family.  We eat lunch with our friends and we usually finish up the day sharing dinner with family.  Saturday has become a day full of preparation.

We had another fun morning at church with the Easter Egg hunt, and then the prep work kicked into gear.  In the past 9 hours I have cranked out a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (and then proceeded to OD on the leftover frosting).  I have hard-boiled 2 dozen eggs and now they are two full plates of deviled eggs.  In the fridge is the cheesecake that my brother loves.  I have made gluten-free cookies and gluten-free rolls.  The second batch of yeast rolls is currently in the bread maker.  The first batch, while acceptable, didn’t rise up as much as I would like so I had to make another attempt.  After all I have a reputation to maintain with the kiddos who love Ms. Heidi’s rolls!

Beyond the food there is preparation for worship and celebration.  Music to practice, elements of the worship service to arrange, and happily this year, baptisms to prepare for.

It’s a tiring day, but a fun one.  I like the anticipation of what tomorrow brings.  I like to know that I’ll spend the afternoon with family and friends.  I love that tomorrow morning brings the joy of worship.  But for this day, there is preparation.

Much has been written (by far more knowledgeable people than me) about the disciples.  What was their Saturday like?  There was no preparation for worship and celebration, but a preparation for burial.  The pain of the cross on our Good Friday is overcome by the anticipation of the celebration of the resurrection that only 2 days away.  How deeply they had to still be feeling that pain on Saturday.

Saturday – It is the day in between.  After Good Friday and its focus on the sacrifice of Christ.  After the quietness of communion.  After the soberness of the cross.  Before the day of celebration.  Before the day of victory.  Before the day of resurrection.  It’s the day of preparation. He is Risen!

The “No Where Near Complete” List

So we come to the end of this particular journey.  I hope there will be more to come.  Some of what I experienced will never leave me,  some I’m sure will fade with time.  There are some experiences that I’m still processing and some that I will never be able to fully process.  But for this evening, if I had to boil what I’ve learned down to a short and tidy list it might look something like this:

  • One person can not change the entire world, but you can help change the world for one person.
  • A smile and laughter are universal and can cross any language barriers.
  • Being a part of the family of God is a bond that transcends culture, language, economic status, and nationality.
  • The economy class on a Boeing 777 was not designed with sleeping comfort in mind.
  • Most of us in the western world are incredibly ignorant and unaware of how rich we really are.
  • Pack light, but be prepared.  (If you can reconcile those two then…bonus!)
  • Always go for the window seat!
  • The world is breathtakingly beautiful and also tragically broken.  See and delight in the beauty, but don’t ignore the broken.
  • Have patience and kindness for the airline customer service employee.  They didn’t cause your plane to be late and they are the only one who can really help you.
  • We take things for granted:  I have a new appreciation for indoor plumbing, the Indiana Department of Transportation, clean water, immunizations, access to quality healthcare, a secure home…..really this list could go on forever.
  • We are too distracted and too busy in America.  Distracted by a flood of useless information and busy doing things that have no lasting value.
  • When your bus passes a child jumping up and down, waving, and yelling “Wazunga!”, it makes you smile to know you brought that kid some fun just by being white and funny looking.
  • Words are important.  Words of encouragement to a child are invaluable.
  • Monkeys can and will steal a yogurt right out of your hand.
  • I love a good photo, but don’t miss experiencing the moment while trying to document the moment.
  • I could go for a cold Stoney Tangawizi right now.  (African kicked-up ginger ale)
  • When you are exhausted and at the breaking point, God will put people in your path that will show you mercy and kindness….don’t forget to pass it on.

The world is home to a vast sea of humanity.  God sees and knows them all.  There are none too small to be noticed, none too poor to be dismissed.  There are none too powerful to be beyond need of Him and none too broken for His forgiveness.  I saw a seemingly unending parade of faces and people.  They passed me in the airport. They served me dinner.  Their faces flew by as I traveled down an African highway.  They tagged and transported my luggage.  Face after face; all of them known and loved by God.  For those 12 days, I hope I was able to serve as His hands and feet.  I hope they saw Jesus in me.

IMG_1611

 

Enter as Strangers…Leave as Family

I remember seeing an interview with an actor where he said that one of the things he liked most about going to the movies or theater was this:  you entered with people from different places and different walks of life but you exited as a collective group because you had just shared a common experience.  Now if you take that sentiment and multipy it many times over you get what I got to experience with the 39 other people that I traveled with.  That common experience reaching much farther and deeper than a movie or play ever could.

A couple of weeks before I left I received the list of who I would be making this trip with…their names and where they were from.  I was excited to see that they were coming from all parts of the United States.  From Alaska to Florida, from Pennsylvania to California and everywhere in between.  Young, not as young, married, single, and widowed, we met sharing this common bond:  we believed in the mission of Compassion International and we had committed to investing in the life of a child.

IMG_1771

Over the course of 12 days, I came to realized what an amazing and talented group of people that God had seen fit to put together for this trip.  People like Dinah and Kelly.   Dinah works for Compassion in Colorado Springs.  Her husband, Kelly is an incredibly talented musician and artist who makes his own guitars.  You can see his work at www.montarado.com.  There was Don & Laura who were my group leaders.  I found out for a time they lived in a town in Indiana that was only 10 miles from a town where I used to live in Illinois.  Margaret and Lauren who shared my safari vehicle with me.  I found out near the end of the trip that Lauren was a highly skilled doctor.  Made me feel better that he was around when people started getting sick later in the week.

God had me meet up with Terri & Harlan early in Washington D.C. while waiting on a flight.  Instead of worrying about navigating JFK in New York, I just followed them.  They were on their 2nd trip to Tanzania.  Fun people, Harlan and I would share our “excitement” for rice for the duration of the trip.  I later discovered that Harlan has written several books about computer security.  At least I think that’s what they are about, after I read the title and description I quickly discovered that he’s far more intelligent than me.  Stacie and her daughter Emma.  Emma had been writing blog entries the entire time we were in Tanzania.  The talent displayed by this middle schooler was great.

I shared life changing experiences with people like Jeanie, Dave, Stephanie and others as we prayed over a beautiful girl so affected by Compassion’s investment in her life.  I got the benefit of sharing dinner with Robert, another Compassion employee, as he shared a unique perspective on the trip.  Robert is African-American.  He said he didn’t come looking for it, he couldn’t explain it, and it would take some time to process it, but traveling to Tanzania was like coming home.  It was a perspective on the trip that I could never have, but I was glad that he shared it with us.

I laughed with Krista as she realized that a phrase on a gift she had received from her sponsored child translated to “God Bless Your Marriage”.  Three days after we returned home, Krista’s boyfriend proposed.  Congratulations Krista!

I prayed with Elizabeth after she was notified of a family issue happening at home in Alaska.  It wasn’t life or death, but was still troubling to be so far away and not be able to do anything about it.  I danced in the African rain with Stephanie.

I am thankful for my roommate Amanda.  After I had to practically empty my luggage on the floor looking for something I had in my hand only moments before I’m sure she was wondering what she was in for.

All the time we were under the watchful care of our trip leaders, Sean & Keith.  Sean had 70 trips under his belt and wisely guided us through this entire experience.  Keith had a wonderful sense of humor and by the end of the trip I do believe we were cracking each other up joking about rednecks on planes.

There are so many more, and if anyone from our group is reading this what I want to say is Thank You!  Thanks for sharing this life-changing experience with me.  Thank you for making the time away from my family not as painful as it could have been.  I hope that I was able to bring just a fraction of the happiness to your lives that you did to mine.

Asante sana

IMG_1815

My wonderful family group: Teisha, Tawnya, Don, Laura, Kelley, & Dinah

Survival Mode!

Ever find yourself in survival mode?  That’s about where I’m at right now.  It’s a busy time of year for me anyway.  The last few weeks of October are usually jammed with photo shoots.  I’m moving into collection season for Operation Christmas Child.  Throw in a part-time job and life’s normal mundane tasks like laundry and cleaning and it’s a recipe for craziness.

I was cruising along in this mode when we got hit with something unexpected.  My daughter, Rachel, had not been feeling well for several weeks.  She had a reoccurring stomach ache and was fatigued.  Several other symptoms convinced me that this was not just a passing bug.  After a trip to the doctor and some tests it was determined that she had an intestinal infection and we started on antibiotics to clear that up.  Two days later the doctor called again.  The rest of her blood work was back.  They had also tested her blood for Celiac disease and her numbers were sky high.  We were referred to a pediatric GI doctor.  I began researching Celiac more in-depth and the symptoms were all lining up with what we had been experiencing.  The meeting with the GI doctor went as I expected and she is scheduled for a endoscopy to make a definitive diagnosis.  Her doctor is certain that we are dealing with Celiac.

nobread

The test is scheduled for next Wednesday.  For the test to be accurate we were not to alter her diet.  Rachel loves fettuccine; so off to Fazoli’s we went!  We’ve got one more week of not having to worry about gluten and then we will have to go gluten-free.  Yes, it will be a pain, but there are so many issues that are far worse to deal with.  When we were at the children’s hospital for her appointment I saw precious children who had lost their hair walking with walkers while wearing masks.  In comparison, this is a minor annoyance.  Her body should begin to heal the damage within weeks and we’ll just adapt to a new lifestyle.  We’ll probably be all the better for it!

So for this day, it’s “one day at a time”.  Honestly when I try to think about all that I need to accomplish in the next month and the probable challenges that are coming my way I start to feel like I’m drowning in quicksand.  But I’ve learned that the best way to press forward is to focus on what has to be accomplished today.  Plan & prepare; but focus on today.