September is a big month for Compassion International. In an effort to raise awareness of the organization’s mission and services and to release more than 3,100 children from poverty, Compassion is working with bloggers around the world to share stories, insights and resources with our readers.
Whether by coincidence or providence, I was excited to learn last month – not long after I heard about Compassion Bloggers Month – that two of the pastors I work with were visiting Ecuador with Compassion and Stadia, a church planting organization.
As soon as they returned home, I pounced. Pen and paper in hand like the old-school reporter I imagine myself being, I requested an interview with Josh, my friend and recent Compassion trip participant. He was gracious enough to give me his time, and today I’m sharing a bit of what I learned from Josh.
Where exactly did you go on your trip?
We visited Quito and Manta, two big cities in Ecuador. We also visited a small community outside Quito.
Tell me about that small community.
Before Stadia planted a church in this community and Compassion began providing services there, it was literally off the map. It had no water, no power, no medical resources and no road – despite the fact that a few thousand people lived there!
Now, there’s a nice road so water can be trucked in. They have electricity now, and there’s a plan for water lines to be built to get water directly into the village. In addition, the amazing resources from Compassion’s Child Survival Program have radically increased the survival rate.
Did you see the same need throughout Ecuador?
No. Ecuador is not a poor country. It’s a country with a huge distribution problem. Ninety-five percent of the country’s GDP is consumed by merely 5 percent of the population. It’s incredible that just a few miles outside a modern, thriving metropolitan city, you can find such desperate poverty and need. Seeing that complete discrepancy of resources in such a small geographical area was shocking.
What did you know about Compassion before your trip?
I’d been a sponsor for almost 10 years. I first learned about Compassion when my sister began sponsoring a child right after she became a Christian. She couldn’t actually afford the monthly sponsorship, so she’d skip lunch a few times to have enough money. I sponsored a child then, too, and sponsored another child about five years ago. I knew my money went to my specific kids, but that’s about all.
What surprised you about Compassion during your trip?
I was really surprised to see first-hand Compassion’s attention to detail and accountability for making sure money goes to the right place. I also learned that they provide a hand up, not a hand out.
It was also really cool to find out that they work with local people. The Compassion workers in Ecuador are from Ecuador. As a matter of fact, many of the Compassion leaders there now actually grew up as sponsored kids.
What do you believe Compassion does well?
Compassion is excellent at raising up the next generation of leaders through children. Sponsoring a child is not just feeding him. It’s making sure he’s educated and has the opportunity to grow up, lead and effect change.
That’s what Compassion is doing – catalyzing long-term change within the country. Compassion’s Ecuador director was actually involved in politics previously. And instead of following a career that legitimately could have resulted in him serving as the country’s president, he chose to work with Compassion, because he knows that Compassion is making a long-term difference, while his nation’s government has too much turnover for long-lasting change.
Did your trip change how you see Compassion?
I believed in Compassion before, but now I’m even more confident in my sponsorship. I also want to encourage others to sponsor children through Compassion. I see now that child sponsorship through Compassion makes a long-term impact not just on one child, but on a family, a community or even an entire country.
How did your trip change you?
I’m definitely more aware of what I have. And I’m more cognizant of my lack of intentional behavior with the kids I sponsor. I want to write them more and send additional money when I can, and I’d even love to meet them someday!
Thank you so much for your time, Josh! I know you’re busy preparing for the launch of Restore Community Church’s Brookside campus coming up in a few months, and I appreciate you sitting down with me to share your insights from visiting Ecuador with Compassion.
By the way, Compassion is holding a Pinterest Contest this week! Here are the details. In short, create a “My Sponsored Child” board. Pin ideas for supporting your child (letters, crafts, etc.). And the pinners who get the most repins will win gifts for their sponsored children. Awesome, right?
If you’d like to join Josh and me in releasing kids from poverty, visit Compassion today and sponsor a child!
Have you ever been on a mission trip? How did it change you?