Act for Compassion Conference

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!

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Shaun Groves on Friday night

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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):

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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

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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.

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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.

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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”

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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.

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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!

Meet Luna, and a Challenge

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This beautiful girl is Luna. She is 12 years old and from Colombia, and we share the same birthday. She is the newest addition to my Compassion sponsored children. Here’s what happened… Last night, as I was reviewing my sponsorship campaign site (more on that in a minute), I felt inexplicably drawn to browse through the children waiting for sponsors. It always pulls on my heartstrings when I see pictures of these children, and I like to pray for them that they find the right sponsors and soon. However, when I saw Luna’s picture, I felt something else; something more. I saw her and I knew, she had to be my newest Compassion daughter. I’ve found with my other children, that when you feel a strong pulling towards a child, as I’m sure any of you sponsors do, that that is the hand of God. Still, I decided to pray. I prayed that if Luna was supposed to be mine, that God would let me know by keeping this calling in my heart. I walked away and did other things to see if when I came back, I still felt that calling. Well, I did. I had it within my means to take on another sponsorship and still be ok, at least right now, so I clicked through to start the sponsorship and immediately I felt a combination of excitement and peace. You see, I have an income through the rest of the summer, but I chose to resign from my current teaching job at the end of May due to many changes to the district and practices that affected me and my students this year that I am not comfortable with. I don’t currently have a job lined up yet for the fall, although I am actively working on it. It is quite scary, leaving a job without having another one lined up, but it is a huge exercise in trusting in God.

Considering all of this, I thought back to one sponsor who shared her story this past weekend during the Act for Compassion Conference. After saying the Lord’s Prayer one day, she reflected on the line “give us this day our daily bread”. She realized that she had more than enough, and she wasn’t giving God the opportunity to truly provide her daily bread, since she had enough to provide it herself and more. As a result, she felt called to sponsor a large number of children, and ever since, God has provided and she has miraculously had enough to fund their sponsorships month after month. Her amazing story really stuck with me. And if she could sponsor many, many more children, I could certainly sponsor Luna, and trust that God will help to provide us both our daily bread.

Which brings me to my sponsorship campaign. After the conference, I was inspired to create a campaign through Act for Compassion, with a goal of getting 5 children sponsors. Now, thanks to a push from God, I have 1 child out of 5 sponsored. So, I challenge you this: whether you’re already a sponsor or not, I challenge you to take a leap of faith and put your trust in God to sponsor a new child. My page features children who have been waiting the longest, but you can specify more or other search conditions within the page. Just click this image below to get to it:

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Just look at some of the beautiful faces who have been waiting so long to hear those life changing words that they’ve been sponsored:

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Who will you release from poverty?

Linking up with:

Off to the Act for Compassion Conference!

Tonight begins the Act for Compassion Conference. This week has been a very difficult one. I have a dearly loved one who has been in the hospital and now in a rehab facility who needs to recover both physically and emotionally, so it’s taken quite a toll. And along with that, I’ve been sick all this week, feeling quite tired and miserable. But despite all of that, I’m so ready for this conference. I can choose to feel blessed that God placed this Compassion conference in my life at the end of a difficult week, because He knew that I would need it for renewal. And more importantly, when He’s using me to help others, as is the case here, I know that He always provides for me to do His work. I’m just a happy servant, feeling blessed to be a part of His plan to help children far less fortunate than I am.

I can’t wait to share all about the experience, as I know it will be wonderful!

 

Walk With Compassion

As a part of the Act for Compassion conference that I’ll be attending in 9 days, we’ll be doing our own Walk With Compassion. I’m so excited, because there’s never been a walk done near me before, and I think it’ll be a great experience. Since this one is just for Compassion sponsors attending the conference, it will be to give us an experience to see what the walk is. I can’t wait! Even though it’s not focusing on the fundraising portion, we are still able to sign up to fundraise. I’m sharing my fundraising page in case you feel so inclined to generously donate to, of course, a great cause. No obligations, and I don’t get any of the money, it all goes to Compassion, which we all support 🙂

 
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Upcoming Conference and Letters from Maria

It’s been awhile since I said I would post the received letters. I went on vacation a couple weeks ago and was very busy with the packing and planning before that, but I guess better late than never!

I also am so excited that I’m going to the Act for Compassion Conference in 2 weeks! When I saw it shared and found out that it’s actually quite close to where I live in the Chicagoland area, I couldn’t believe it! I know it was a sign that I was meant to go, so I registered right away. I can’t wait, because I know it’ll be an amazing and powerful weekend, filled with people with the same values and passions as mine.

I’m going to share the letters I’ve received so far from Maria first. Maria is the child I sponsor through World Vision, and I have to say, I receive far more letters from her than my Compassion kiddos. Since I started sponsoring her in November, I’ve already received 6. The first 2 came a day apart, and the last 2 came together on the same day- that was such an exciting surprise! I absolutely adore how she traces her hand on each letter. I can hold my hand up to hers and pray for her. And I hope as she gets bigger, she’ll still do it and I can see her growth. It’s such a sweet, personal touch.

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Letter 1:

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Translation: Hello! This is Maria. I like to paint and to play at school. I am the flag bearer of my class color guard. I will attend elementary school soon. How are you? Are you fine? I hope you continue writing to me. I say goodbye. See you soon! I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (My mother helped me write this letter.)

Letter 2:

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Translation: Hi, I got your letter. My favorite color is blue. I go to church on Sundays too. I am happy because I got your letter. I know how to write a little bit. I bid you farewell. May God keep you safe. See you soon.

Letter 3:

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Translation: Hello! This is Maria. How are you? I am fine. I am back to school now. I would love to meet you in person. I got your letter. I had a great year. I thank to God because my cousins are back to us, because their parents are separated. I pray to God to protect them and help you in your work! (My cousin, ____, helped me to write this letter).

Letter 4:

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Translation: Hello! How are you? I am fine. I went to the church or Christmas Eve. I got together with my family on December 31st, but I thought that I missed you there. I hope you are doing well. May God care of you at your home and your work! I say goodbye for now. I hope to hear from you soon. With love, Maria

Letter 5:

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Translation: Hello, I am happy because I got your letter. I keep all your letters that you have sent me. How are you? I am fine. My father’s name is ___. My mother’s name is ____. My brother is ____. The weather is cold here now. There are many trees with fruits. I live in the state of _____ close to the state of Veracruz. I hope you have a wonderful birthday! I send kisses and hugs to you. Maria

Letter 6:

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Translation: Hello, I am happy because I got your letter. I really enjoyed the sheets that you sent me. I hope you send me more sheets. The weather is colder now. I got cough and flu, but I am taking medicine. See you soon! Maria

If all of these sweet letters aren’t motivation to always keep writing and not let her down, I don’t know what is! She is the age of the kindergarteners that I work with this year, so I love that connection, and she sounds like such a little kindergartener learning to write in these letters. Whenever I see an orange and white envelope in the mail from Mexico, it’s a happy day 🙂