Guest Blogger: Joy La Prade
Want to change the world? Sponsor a child.
This was the headline of a Christianity Today article about Compassion International’s child sponsorship program. When I read the story last summer, I was encouraged and a little relieved. We have sponsored a girl in Tanzania for several years, believing in Compassion’s goal of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name through church-based programs that provide educational opportunities and health care. But I knew there were critics who said the one-to-one sponsorship format was more of a marketing gimmick to boost fundraising, rather than an effective way to fight poverty.
The good news is, that’s not the case at all. That Christianity Today article, written by an economist at the University of San Francisco, summarized his research into Compassion’s sponsorship program. He collected data on more than 10,000 individuals in six countries and found that sponsorship caused measurable, long-lasting impact. Children were 50 to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education, and much more likely to get a salaried job and become a leader in their church and community.
Wess Stafford, the former president of Compassion, explained it this way: “The big difference that sponsorship makes is that it expands children’s views about their own possibilities. Many of these children don’t think they are capable of much. We help them realize that they are each given special gifts from God to benefit their communities, and we try to help them develop aspirations for their future.”
In other words, the difference is the gospel.
The lie that poverty tells to children is: “Your life doesn’t matter.” The truth of the gospel, as Brian preached from Ephesians 4, is that your circumstances aren’t what define you, but rather your relationship to Christ.
And the hope the gospel provides is not that your circumstances will get better, but that whatever they may be — even if they get worse — God is with you in them.
I pray that Nelia will believe that; that she will know Christ and be freed to live out his purposes for her life, whether or not that includes a university education or successful career. I’m grateful that our donations allow her to hear the gospel, and that I can remind her in my letters of God’s love for her; that he has made her for a reason.
I do believe that Compassion makes a difference for Nelia and many other children around the world, and that God is using it to bring children and families to him from all nations. This is why I’ll be giving a short presentation during the worship time this Sunday to introduce Compassion International and invite you to sponsor a child. May 4 is Compassion Sunday, and Exodus will be one of about 2,000 churches participating to raise awareness of the work this program is doing.
On Sunday, I’ll have information packets with photos of some of the children waiting for sponsors. I hope you’ll consider being part of what God is doing through Compassion.