Yesterday, I talked a little bit about involving our kids in ministry and shared a story that shows one way we were able to minister as a family.
But like I said, there’s so many ways that we can share with our children how to be light in the world. It doesn’t look the same from day to day or from family to family. I think what’s important is to share with each other, to inspire each other and learn from each other.
Over the summer, we took the opportunity to visit The Compassion Experience that was set up fairly locally.
I wanted to share this with you mamas, because if you’re looking for a ministry to be involved with, Compassion International is a top-notch organization that would be a perfect way to get started.
“Compassion International is a child-advocacy ministry that pairs compassionate people with those who are suffering from poverty. The ministry releases children from spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty. The goal is for each child to become a responsible and fulfilled adult.”
While sponsoring a child is one of the main ways you can support the ministry, you can also make direct donations or purchase items directly for families through this link.
When you sponsor a child, you’re sent information about that child and his/her country as well as photos. You pay $38/month which provides education, health care, the opportunity to be part of a church home, and most importantly, the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Children from the poorest countries in the world often do not have the opportunities that they are afforded once they receive sponsorship.
While I’ve supported children through Compassion for as long as I can remember, I wouldn’t say I’m the best sponsor. I didn’t write letters to the first two children I sponsored. Sure, I prayed for them but not the way I could have. Or should have.
I was feeling very convicted about this with the two current children we sponsor and when I saw the opportunity to visit the Compassion Experience, I thought now was a great time to remedy that. And to involve our children in it more.
Because even though we’ve shared a little bit with the kids about the two children we sponsor, we haven’t involved them as much as we could. Or should. What a perfect way to try to open their eyes and hearts to children who live in much different circumstances than they do.
When we showed up to the experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised to see it was just a large tent, set up in the middle of a parking lot. We made a reservation online and showed up at our assigned time. There was only one other group there during our time which helped us get through much more quickly. If there were a lot of people in front of us, it would have taken a bit longer.
Once we signed in, we were all given headphones connected to iPhones. Oh yes, the kids really thought that was cool. There were two stories we could experience and we chose to do both. There was an option to do a more “kid friendly” version which we didn’t do because we figured the older kids could handle it and the younger kids had no idea what was going on anyway.
So once you have your headphones and phones ready, you walk into this tiny little room representing where your sponsored child might live. Then through your headphones you hear the child telling their story. Then you go to the next room when you’re prompted. I think there were maybe 4-6 rooms for each story, and each room lasted a few minutes. So in 30-45 minutes we were able to do both stories.
From the moment we stepped into the first room, I had chills. The first room set the stage for the difficulties of the child’s life. Both stories brought me to tears as I’m listening. There’s something very powerful when the reality of what millions of children around the world live in suddenly is in your face. And they were telling a real story about real children.
The stories were definitely intense. At one point, I looked at Jason, wondering if we should have chosen the “kid friendly” version. But then again, I didn’t want to shelter my kids from the reality of their stories. It was somber moving to each room, feeling the weight of each child’s story. But just as Compassion offers hope to these children, you felt hope rise when you entered the room that represented the Compassion centers that each child attends.
One of the neat things was at the end of each story, there was a 3 minute clip we watched on the phones of the actual child and where they are today. Both stories were inspirational and shared the message of hope and the power of the love of Jesus and how it changed their lives.
When we came out of the last room of the story, we entered a room where volunteers were waiting to take our headphones. Lined up on the wall were pictures of children waiting to be sponsored. The kids wondered what the pictures were for and we explained it to them. Jason and I watched them as they studied the pictures, looking at the names and where they were from. They kept looking at us and looking at the pictures. We knew what they were thinking. We were thinking it too.
Jason told them to pick out another child to add to our sponsorship. They were so excited! It took them a good ten minutes of studying the photos and looking at the birthdays (trying to find one who shared their special day with one of us) and
fighting over discussing whether we would take another boy or another girl. They finally decided and we took our new information home. I’ll be honest with you. We don’t have an extra $38 for this child every month. But we know that God honors our hearts and will provide a way to make it happen.
Overall, this was an awesome way to jump start deeper conversations with the kids about how other people around the world live. And while we can’t really understand it because we don’t live it and see it everyday, it surely did open all of our eyes to the needs in the world, in our own communities, and to the power of God’s love and how it changes lives.
The most rewarding part for me was the kids excitement when they found out we could write letters. So when we got home, all three older kids wrote to the three sponsored kids. We printed out pictures to send. We read informational booklets we had about their countries. They asked if we could visit them. We told them that unless God provided that, it would be incredibly difficult (but Compassion does offer trips to visit your child should you desire to). But we were able to talk about the fact that even though we can’t visit, we can pray for them and write to them and share God’s love with them in that way.
I encourage you to check out this amazing ministry. Click here to see a list of children still waiting for sponsorship. And if the Compassion Experience comes near to where you live, please consider a visit!
If you currently support Compassion’s ministry, comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!