The Act for Compassion Conference was last weekend, but I wanted to make sure I had the time to make a post representative of just how fantastic it was. I think the best way that I could describe the conference, besides amazingly full of love and positivity, is a call to action. I know I, and I’m sure I speak for most if not all sponsors who attended, left with a feeling of wanting to do even MORE. More for children whose lives can be changed through Compassion and their sponsors. And this feeling didn’t come from guilting us, it didn’t come from lectures telling us what we should do, but rather through giving us the feeling that we have the means and the potential to help God in truly changing countless lives. With that, we can take the initiative. And through Compassion’s new site, actforcompassion.com, it’s easier than ever!
Shaun Groves on Friday night
The panel featured in the documentary doing a Q&A after
The conference started Friday evening, with singing with Shaun Groves and the premiere of Jon Ross’s documentary, “Central Help”. If you have followed Compassion, chances are you’re familiar with Shaun Groves and all he has done for the ministry. It was so great to hear him sing and even greater to hear him speak the next day! Jon Ross grew up locally in the Chicago area in poverty. His documentary features both stories of poverty in both Chicago and Nicaragua, and with this, it features HOPE. It was very touching and especially resonating to me because some of these stories, especially that of Deondre, featured in the documentary and present for the panel after, were so similar to the students of the school district I teach in. Here is a short teaser video:
Central Help from Jon Ross on Vimeo.
Takeaways from Day 1:
- Just LISTEN to those in poverty and let them share their stories- that alone can make a big difference.
- If you have a car, refrigerator, etc. you are part of the top 5% in the world.
- If only just all of the Christians in the US gave 10% of their income, we could eliminate extreme poverty.
- We can take religion and going to church in the US for granted. Whereas, in other countries, they are so HUNGRY for it and want it so badly.
- There is always hope, even in extreme poverty, and hope will get you through.
- Jon’s challenge: Now that you’ve heard these stories, what are YOU going to do to help spread their message?
Day 2 of the conference started with worship in song and a talk from Shaun, and then we all completed a Walk for Compassion together. Shaun’s talk was beautiful, and full of points through Bible verses that really hit home. And the walk was so wonderfully done, and so powerful. It is completed with your smartphone and set up in stations. Each station has a theme and a video, as well as a visual demonstration, with talking points for those in your group to discuss in between stations. It follows the story of a boy growing up in poverty, showing how these things are very real through his perspective. This is something that people really need to see and experience, because it is so influential. There was a quiet, almost somber mood as we went through, but it ended in beautiful hope. I took pictures of each station (click on photos for descriptions):
Station 1: Food, shows a comparison between a typical lunch for us versus a child in poverty.
A pile of garbage provided a powerful visual, thinking that children regularly search through piles like this to try to find something to eat
Station 2: Shelter, shows the size of a typical home with ropes, and allows individuals to step inside to feel just how small it feels
Station 3: Water, contains a very heavy jug of water, explaining that children often have to carry this very far back to their families to have clean water, and allows participants to pick it up and feel the weight. It shows visuals of what the dirty nearby water looks like, and provides water bottles to participants with the warning to drink carefully, because you’ll need to make it last all day.
Station 4 presents a dilemma of what to spend money found on the street on. Participants take a plastic coin and make a very heavy choice, by placing it into one of three jars. Coins were rather evenly distributed between the 3, showing that there really is no right choice in this seemingly impossible decision.
Station 5 features talk bubbles with very demoralizing, defeating comments children with poverty are told and can be convinced of, such as “you don’t matter”
Station 6 displays a banner with the word POVERTY shown largely on it. There is a table with stickers with the word hope on it. Participants write their names on the stickers, and stick them on the banner, in order to cover up the word poverty and replace it with hope through those who are doing something about it.
Finally, the walk concludes with tables of child sponsorship packets.
We were also given the opportunity to choose 2 workshops to attend. While I cannot speak for all of them, the 2 that I attended were fantastic. Hearing Shaun Groves speak to a small group of us in the social media one especially was full of really great, important points, that all advocates should hear.
Takeaways from Day 2:
- The goal is not for you to suffer so that others have what they need- the goal is for all of us to be more equal.
- If everyone took what they needed, no one would have too much or too little.
- Reflecting on the Lord’s prayer and “Give us this day our daily bread”, a fellow sponsor shared that we have so much more than our daily bread, and we need to give God the opportunity to provide this for us.
- There is a new role in the works of an encourager: you can sign up on your “My Account” and can write a letter to a child that hasn’t received one in 6 months. I know I personally can’t wait for this!
- With the new letter writing process, they are hoping to eventually get the turnaround time down to 2 weeks!
- It’s ok to show your children pictures of things that are better than how they have it, says a former sponsored child Ben Mwangi (aka “rolling meadows”), because it lets them know that there is something better out there to aspire to.
- From Shaun: To reach potential sponsors, it is better to provide stories than facts. Include your own personal story about why you became a sponsor. Ask yourself “What was it that convinced me?” If you are giving facts, compare them to something that people already know and find horrific (i.e. 9/11, the Holocaust).
- From Shaun: People will take the easiest option that is given to them, so if you ask them to pray about it, that is what they will do. It is ok to ask them to sponsor a child. Then give them an easy way to act on it, such as a direct link.
- From Shaun: You need to forgive your audience. It’s easy to become upset with people who don’t sponsor when you know they have the means, but “We need to be as compassionate to the rich and big as we are to the poor and small”. A very powerful reminder. Those guilted into sponsorships are the ones most likely to drop them. Make people so inspired and excited that they want to sponsor!
It was a fantastic weekend indeed, and as mentioned in a previous post, it inspired me to create my first sponsorship campaign and as a result, take on another sponsorship myself. (Here is the link to my campaign.) If you have any questions about the conference that I didn’t cover, feel free to ask!