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SEPTEMBER 2013 MAGAZINE


About this Issue Compassion child sponsorship. It works. At its heart are three fundamentals that together make child sponsorship a long-term solution to poverty: Christ, the Church and you. In this edition of Compassion Magazine we delve into these three key elements of Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, to see how child sponsorship is confronting the complexity of poverty and addressing the spiritual, economic, social, physical and emotional needs of every child. Through Compassion child sponsorship, over one million children have been educated, cared for and released from poverty in Jesus’ name. These children go on to become adults making a difference in their communities as mums, dads, pastors, teachers, doctors and even members of parliament.

Compassion child sponsorship. It works.


A message from the Chief Executive Officer

It’s hard to get through a day without being confronted by the offer of a combination in some form or another. If I were in the market for fast food (oh, perish the day!) and asked for a simple burger, I would be offered a “combo” and asked to add fries and a drink to make my meal complete. If I were shopping for shoes, I would often be told that if I bought one pair I could add a second for half price. At Compassion, we believe in the power of our sponsorship combination: Christ, the Church and you. That is the combo that changes the lives of children living in poverty. There is Christ, and in Him we see God’s affinity with the poor and the broken as he regularly stopped to minister to those outcast and lost and confirmed that, to enter His Kingdom, we must become like little children. There is the Church, His Body, charged with the mandate to make disciples, thus transforming lives and communities to become more like Jesus. And there is you, who has been created with both the capacity and deep-down desire to make a difference in the flawed world in which we live. If poverty was one dimensional, it would be easy to address. But it isn’t! Poverty itself is an insidious combination, one that involves physical, economic, social, emotional and spiritual components. That’s why it takes this dynamic combo of Christ, the Church and you to address it in a holistic way.

If you have had a chance to travel with Compassion, you would have seen for yourself how this combination is helping to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. You would have seen the very real stories of lives transformed, some of which we have shared with you in this magazine.

This combination spells opportunity. The opportunity to learn through consistent education, to have food security that most of us in Australia take for granted and to have basic health care that can address potential risks before they develop into major problems. This combination spells care, through the loving community of a local church—a body of people who can nurture, train and equip us for life and faith on this planet. This combination spells hope. To see children and their families encounter and experience the transformational message and life of Jesus is something that is beyond joy. This combination involves YOU. Let me say a HUGE thanks for your part in changing the lives of those who are the most vulnerable in our world: children living with the blight of poverty. Your giving, your praying, your writing and your visiting, if you’re able, are not just good things to do, but are actually part of this dynamic combination of Christ, the Church and you.

One encouragement I received recently was the results of independent research, carried out by Dr Bruce Wydick and a team of development economists and published in the April edition of The Journal of Political Economy. The research focused on the outcomes of Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program for children, now adults who have graduated from the program.You can read about the research results, on page one. In summary, the research showed that children experienced significant outcomes—above the norm for their communities—in the areas of education, employment and community and church leadership. We are very grateful for empirical evidence that combines with the anecdotal evidence to show that Compassion child sponsorship works. This edition of Compassion Magazine is designed to flesh out the value of the dynamic combination of Christ, the Church and you, and thank you for your part in this combo and your partnership in building the Kingdom of God. Blessings,

Tim Hanna CEO Compassion Australia


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IT WORKS

IT WORKS: CHRIST

New, independent research confirms that Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program works.

Compassion child sponsorship works because of Christ.Through Christ, lives are transformed.

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IT WORKS: CHURCH

IT WORKS: YOU

Pictured on front cover

Compassion child sponsorship works because of the Church. Local churches are driving change worldwide.

Compassion child sponsorship works because of you—sponsors who believe children deserve hope for the future.

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MEET CHIDCHAI

MEET BINTOU

As Chidchai shares life’s hardships and hopes with his sponsor, he begins to imagine a hopeful future.

24 MEET MUSA Thanks to his sponsor’s support, and an unexpected mentor, Musa has his sights set on university.

26 NOTICEBOARD All the latest news, including changes to your sponsorship donations and a new way to fundraise for Compassion.

Bintou and her twin brother, Alassane, navigate their teenage years with the help of Compassion.


COMPASSION CHILD SPONSORSHIP.

Words | Monique Fischle

Over the years, we’ve met thousands of children whose lives have been transformed through Compassion child sponsorship. We already know it works; but now, we have proof.

collar employment, and were more likely to be leaders in their communities and churches than their peers who did not participate in the program.

New, independent research confirms that Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program is highly effective as a long-term solution to help release children from poverty. From June 2008 to August 2010, independent, empirical research was conducted by Dr Bruce Wydick and a team of researchers.

The research team found that Compassion sponsored children stayed in school for an average of one to 1.46 years (2.4 in Uganda) longer than their non-sponsored peers. Those extra years can have an amazing impact. For example, UNICEF estimates that every additional year of primary school boosts a girl’s eventual wages by 10 to 20 per cent and an extra year of secondary

The research focused on six countries— Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, the

More time spent at school

goat. When the goat had kids, they were able to sell them in exchange for a cow. Compassion helped Evans excel in his academic studies; by the end of secondary school, he was at the top of his class. After graduating from the Child Sponsorship Program, Evans went on to study mathematics and chemistry at university, graduating with a Bachelor of Education. Experiencing the power of education firsthand motivated Evans to help all four of his siblings complete college. Their jobs now include government officer, forwarding agent, lab technician and accountant.

Independent research confirms that Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program is highly effective as a long-term solution to help release children from poverty. Philippines and Uganda—and involved interviewing over 10,000 people, including 1860 formerly sponsored children who were enrolled in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program between 1980 and 1992. The research results were published in the April 2013 edition of The Journal of Political Economy, one of the most prestigious economic journals in the world.

The Research Results The result of the research show that children who participated in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program between 1980 and 1992 stayed in school longer, were more likely to have salaried and white-

school by 15 to 25 per cent. Most interviewees said that educational support was the most beneficial aspect of Compassion’s program. Evans’ story Evans was a young boy when he became one of the first children registered in ACK Maseno Child Development Centre in Kisumu, Kenya. Evans’ parents struggled daily to earn money and make ends meet. Just putting food on the table was hard enough, let alone finding the money to send their four children to school. But when Evans joined the Compassion Child Sponsorship Program, everything changed. Through a gift from his sponsor, his family were able to buy a

With many children dropping out of the high school where Evans currently teaches due to financial strain, he encourages his students to persevere with their studies by sharing with them the important role education played in his own life. “I was once like many of you: a needy student,” says Evans.“But I worked hard to be where I am today.” Better employment opportunities The study showed that former sponsored children were 14 to 18 per cent more likely to have salaried employment as adults than those who were not part of the Child Sponsorship Program and 35 per cent more likely to secure white collar employment. It also verified what many Compassion sponsored children IT WORKS 1


New, independent research confirms Compassion child sponsorship works!

1-1.5 years

Compassion sponsored children stay, on average, this length longer in school

2.4 years

longer in Uganda

30-75%

14-18%

more likely to be community leaders

more likely to have salaried employment

40-75%

35%

more likely to be in church leadership as an adult

more likely to have white collar employment

Over 2 years Bruce Wydick and team interviewed:

around the world have said time and time again: that they aspire to secure jobs that directly benefit other children from their communities—becoming teachers, nurses, pastors, social workers and community leaders. Ronnie’s story Ronnie was registered in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program in Bolivia when he was just five years old. His mother didn’t work and his absent father provided no support. “We didn’t have money to satisfy any of our needs, [from] food to education and clothes,” says Ronnie. Ronnie says the Lord found a way to provide for him through Compassion. At his Compassion centre, he received meals and school supplies, and heard a message of hope. After graduating from the Child Sponsorship Program, Ronnie went on to study auditing at university and now oversees accounting at an autoparts importing company. Ronnie can’t imagine

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Over 10,000 people,

including 1860 sponsored children,

how different his life would be if it weren’t for Compassion. More likely to become leaders The study confirmed that as Compassion assisted children developed into adults, their leadership abilities came to the fore. Formerly Compassion sponsored children were on average 30 to 75 per cent more likely to become community leaders and 40 to 70 per cent more likely to be involved in church leadership as adults. This means that future generations of children will have better opportunities, inspiring role models and strong voices to speak up for them.

from 6 countries.

Over a period of three weeks, she spoke at churches, business meetings, Bible colleges, social gatherings and conferences, and even had her story published in a Dutch newspaper. Everywhere she went, Magdalene shared about how Compassion, in partnership with her local church, changed the feeling of hopelessness that children in her community felt throughout their childhood. Magdalene’s inspiring story resulted in 165 children and five Leadership students being connected with sponsors.

Magdalene’s story After graduating from the Child Sponsorship Program, Magdalene went on to study at university in India and has seen her leadership skills grow. In January 2013, Magdalene was invited by Compassion Netherlands to travel to the Netherlands to share her story.

SEE THE RESULTS Scan the QR code with your smartphone to see the results for yourself


Compassion child sponsorship works because of

Compassion child sponsorship works because of CHRIST. He is the reason Compassion exists, and the reason Australians nationwide give generously and faithfully so that children can be released from poverty. As Christians, we believe the Bible calls us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless and heal the sick (Matthew 25:34-40). Through the ministry of their local church, children are also shown and given the chance to respond to the love of Christ.Through Christ, lives are transformed.

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As the pastor of Winchester Memorial Nazarene Church in Bolivia, Pastor Genaro works long hours to see Compassion sponsored children given everything they need to shine—from food when they’re hungry, to medicine when they’re sick, and the eternal hope that only comes from knowing Christ. In his letter to you, Pastor Genaro explains how his church is sharing God’s love with children in his community, as well as providing for their physical needs. Through the power of Christ the local church is working to change lives—from the inside out.

Dear sponsors, I send you blessings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. My name is Genaro, and I am the pastor of the Winchester Memorial Nazarene Church in La Paz, Bolivia. My church partners with Compassion to run the Child Sponsorship Program in our community. Our centre, called the Tembladerani Child Development Centre, currently serves more than 200 Compassion sponsored children. First of all, I want to thank you for your support. I firmly believe that everything you sow you will harvest in the vineyard of our Lord; the Word teaches us to store up treasures in Heaven, and that you will be greatly rewarded for your generosity. In my community, there are various difficulties that we can only resolve with the help of our heavenly Father. The majority of our sponsored children come from broken homes, where single mothers are the ones who maintain the home and provide for the family. Another problem in the community is the lack of safety; lately there has been an increase in criminal and gang activities. The community is well aware of the benefit of the church’s service in the community. We clean parks, squares and the community in general, as well as run educational campaigns to promote health and disease prevention, trash recycling and respect for public law. It is truly gratifying to be able to work with so many children of different ages. Just seeing a child pray with fervour and seeing how the parents come to church and surrender themselves at Christ’s feet makes us think that all our effort is worth it. Our church wants to, and does, help all the sponsored children come to know their purpose in life so they can have complete peace and happiness. We run children and youth church services and we encourage the children to have prayer times. These

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activities help the children strengthen their relationship with Christ. The children’s parents also get involved in the activities at our church, such as services, festivals and fundraiser meals. We want our sponsored kids to be recognised both at school as well as in our community as noble, intelligent and compassionate people who, above all, help their neighbour. The children receive letters from their sponsors with great joy. At times, this is the only means by which they receive love and kind words, since many don’t get that at home. That is why the sponsored kids like getting letters from their sponsors, because it allows them to get to know their sponsors more. As I say goodbye, I ask that you continue to pray for the children and young people who lack financial resources and love. Please ask God to work in their lives and always protect them and keep them safe in the midst of insecurity. We will keep on praying that God would do His work through you and that you would never feel alone in your work. Let’s keep on doing this work together. I send you encouragement and cheer.

Prayer points: • Please pray for pastors across the globe who are serving their local church passionately, and providing spiritual and practical care to children and their families. • Praise God for the local church, which is working as an instrument of change in the world, bringing justice to the poor and oppressed.

Once more, thank you for your support. God bless you and always keep you. Genaro Pastor of Winchester Memorial Nazarene Church

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Words | Cesiah Magaña and Jacqui Henderson

Poverty sends a defeating, painful message into people’s hearts—a message that says, “you don’t matter”. Time and time again, Compassion has seen that introducing children and their families to their loving Father is the most powerful way of reversing this message. And when one life is irrevocably changed, others often follow.

town leaders tore down the wooden shack, leaving behind nothing but rubble by the road. Nonetheless, the believers continued meeting, and the town leaders grew angrier and more volatile; fury erupted in violence. They threw rocks at the Christians, aiming to kill, and drove many out of town. Anyone who

those early believers and the one woman who prayed. When Compassion saw the poverty in San Juan Cuauhtémoc, we chose to partner with this small but determined church. Together, we began serving the community’s children, offering them medical care, support through their school years and encouragement to

“Because of the church, and God, we now know that we are not alone,” says Lucia. More than 50 years ago, a woman sat in a wooden shack in the community of San Juan Cuauhtémoc, Mexico. This was her place to pray, to be still and to seek answers to life’s questions. At first, she sat alone. But as days passed she was joined by another, then more, all seeking to learn about the one she called God. When the town leaders heard about the movement, they were furious.They’d seen groups like this before—religious groups that sowed division and rebellion in their community. Fuelled by fear and anger, the

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attempted to re-enter the community was forced to walk through a narrow trail in the mountains that snaked through two stone walls—making them easy targets for the waiting townspeople, hidden in the trees with rocks and guns. But as the years passed, and the believers proved their desire to serve and not to destroy, attitudes began to change. The same townspeople who once hid in the trees began praising the services of the local church, born from

begin planning for their future. “We want to raise the best parents, the best doctors, the best teachers, engineers and mechanics, so that our town will live with a higher standard of service,” says Pastor Enrique Landeros.“We want to raise better citizens, better people, who can help instil good values into society.” With God’s help, the church grew exponentially. Today, half the community’s population worships at the local church and more than 250 children receive


one-to-one care and support through Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, as well as the chance to hear and respond to God’s Word. Two of these children are twins, Axel and Alan. Their father frequently travelled far from home in search of work and sent back money sporadically.The twins’ mum, Lucia, sold lollies and groceries from her home. Their combined income amounted to little—hardly enough to cover the family’s basic expenses, like food. Most days, the family survived on just one meal of beans and rice. As a mother, Lucia feared she had failed. Every morning, she fought against feelings of helplessness and incompetence as she watched her family’s future crumble. When Lucia heard about Compassion’s program from a friend, she immediately went to the church to find out more. The love her family received from the church members and Compassion staff was overwhelming; Lucia had never felt so valued. Her children began to regularly attend the Compassion centre, and eventu-

ally Lucia began visiting too, helping out where needed in the kitchen and assisting with program activities. “How could I not come and serve, if my children set the example for me?” says Lucia.“How could I not serve this church since God provides for my family’s every need through it?” At the centre, Lucia also had the opportunity to hear about God. She would often sit at the back of the classroom and listen to the children’s lessons, which included stories and teachings from the Bible. The idea of a God who could be her strength was foreign to Lucia and she wanted to know more. After months of reading the Bible, she decided to commit her life to Christ. Lucia believes that her commitment to God was a turning point in her family’s lives. From that moment on, Lucia began attending church services with her family and soon her husband and children also gave their lives to the Lord. Though life is still difficult at times, Lucia

is now filled with hope for her family’s future and is confident in her self-worth as a mother and a daughter of God. With His help, Lucia says she wants to raise her children with godly values and the desire to serve others. “Because of the church, and God, we now know that we are not alone,” says Lucia.

Prayer points: • Praise God that, over the past year, 257,057 sponsored children have received Bibles. • Please pray for the more than 125,042 sponsored children who made a firsttime profession of faith last year. Pray for Compassion staff and church leaders who are providing these children with ongoing spiritual support.

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Compassion child sponsorship works because of the

Compassion child sponsorship works because of the CHURCH. Compassion currently works with 6200 local churches around the world; it’s these local church partners who work day in and day out to identify and meet the individual needs of children living in poverty. The local church is uniquely positioned to identify the specific needs of children and contextualise Compassion’s programs to drive change in their own community.

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Words | Bernard Gbagba and Choe Brereton

There’s a church in Togo that takes the Great Commission seriously— so seriously in fact, they’ve named themselves after it. What started as a way to help their community has resulted in a tale of lasting transformation. When The Great Commission Church moved 25 kilometres from Lomé to Sagabo in 2004, they knew of the

ty-stricken areas, suffers from chronic issues like lack of electricity and clean drinking water, waterborne diseases, malaria and a scarcity of medical centres. As a church intent on practically loving those they knew and served every day, The Great Commission Church set about bringing the kind of change that transforms lives. In 2008, just

now leads the centre’s choreographic group and writes songs for the children to sing. He, like the other 243 registered children, also benefits from the centre’s efforts to enrol him in school and to keep him healthy. Still, despite the rapid progress staff at the centre observed in all the registered children, pressing needs in the commu-

“We knew very well that it was a poor area, but we accepted the Lord’s direction,” says Apostle Prospère Nove, founder of the church. hardships many of the families who lived there faced and, in turn, the challenges they would have to overcome. “We knew very well that it was a poor area, but we accepted the Lord’s direction,” says Apostle Prospère Nove, founder of the church. After resettling the church in Sagabo, it quickly became evident how much need was in the region. Sagabo is primarily a farming community and, like most pover-

four years after arriving in Sagabo, the church entered into partnership with Compassion International. A year later, they registered their first 200 children at The Great Commission Church Child Development Centre. Today, 244 children thrive from the holistic development activities the centre offers— children like Elolo Atti, a young boy who, prior to attending the centre, was shy and scared to socialise. But like a butterfly coaxed out of its cocoon, Elolo

nity continued to hinder advancements in long-term health and development. It was obvious the community needed fundamentals like a source of clean water, a way to reduce malaria, health screens, a medical centre that was close by and a means to improve literacy. Without them, the church’s efforts would become ineffective. So with Compassion’s assistance, staff at The Great Commission Church Child

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Development Centre secured funds for a borehole that currently serves the entire community. “I used to travel a distance of two kilometres before having access to water,” says Monique, a 43-year-old mother.“The community has no public [tap]. Through the church, we have good water quality that is very close to us.” The church also established its own medical centre, El-Rapha Medical Centre of The Great Commission Church, as a way to address the absence of a proximal health centre in Sagabo. There, both adults and children are treated for illnesses like malaria, intestinal worms and diarrhoea. Health workers also give advice, provide first aid, perform minor surgery and apply wound dressings. “On average, we treat five to 10 patients per day,” says Michel Atsou Tengue, a nurse at the centre.“Often, people come to be treated and they can negotiate to pay in installments. We’ve saved several lives like that.”

Testimonies of The Great Commission Church continue to spread throughout Sagabo. With a simple yet prevailing desire to help their community, they have instead transformed it. In addition to the borehole, medical centre and child development centre, children have also received insecticide-treated mosquito nets, water filters, HIV screens, and treatment for opportunistic infections, through Compassion.Their parents, also screened for HIV, now attend a church-organised literacy class on Mondays and Fridays.

Prayer points: • Worldwide, around 768 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Please pray that God will continue to use organisations like Compassion to meet the needs of these individuals. • Praise God for the remarkable gains that have been made in the fight against malaria. Between 2000 and 2010, mortality rates from malaria fell by more than 25 per cent globally. An estimated 1.1 million deaths from malaria were averted over this period.

What began as a heartfelt mission for the church has resulted in a lifetime legacy to Sagabo. “The Great Commission Church has changed a lot of things in our community,” says Togbui Innocent Semekonawo, Chief of Sagabo.“It’s not just a church, it is a development tool. It has even changed our perception of the Church.”

Scan the QR code with your smartphone to see more about The Great Commission Church.

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Words | Tuangporn Wiroonchatapunth and Richard Miller

“I like the word ‘partnership’, because it makes me feel like I have a travel mate who walks with me, instead of a master whom I must serve,” Mr Krisada “Max” Parinyanguag says. A committee member at the Sangkalerk Church in southeastern Thailand, Max reflects on his

surrounding the town, but low rubber prices meant spiralling wages and the rise of social problems that often come with high levels of poverty: drug addiction and alcohol abuse, gambling and petty crime. As the church searched for ways to help, they shared their funds

the church began to help children with their spiritual, emotional and physical development as well as addressing their economic circumstances. “Our primary goal [became to] preach the gospel and make disciples by focusing on children,” Max says.“As time has passed,

“Since the beginning [of the partnership], Compassion has been by our side and caring for us, until today, when we can stand up and walk on our own,” says Mr Krisada “Max” Parinyanguag. church’s successful 25-year partnership with Compassion. More than 30 years ago, a small group of Christians started a church in Samnaktong sub-district. Though small— the congregation numbered less than 10—the Sangkalerk Church made the most of their opportunities to serve the people of their community, many of whom lived in poverty. Most locals in Samnaktong sub-district worked in the rubber plantations

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with families who were in desperate need, but they knew they needed a long-term approach. In 1987, the church heard of Compassion’s work in the area and inquired about a partnership. With Compassion’s guidance and training, Sangkalerk Church began to focus on child development. Through tutorial classes, vocational training, home visits, youth camps, Bible study groups and regular health checkups,

we now see the fruit in each registered child. Many of them, after completing the program, went out to further their studies and [then] came back to the community to support the church.” Sasiprapa Rajangprateep, known as “Lek” among her friends, is one such graduate. “I graduated from the program in 2005. I am most impressed with my Sunday school teachers, who taught me since I was a child. They introduced me


to God and inspired me with a desire to serve the Lord.” Now pursuing her master’s degree in counselling at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Lek is heavily involved in her church’s ministry to young people.“This is a legacy I would like to pass along to the future generations: to make disciples among the children and youth.” In the 25 years since the church’s partnership with Compassion began, much has changed. The price of rubber continues to rise, and the town’s economy has strengthened. Many residents have been relieved of some of their financial burdens and are able to meet their own needs in a sustainable way. The Sangkalerk Church have reached a point where they are capable of serving the children of Samnaktong sub-district, independent of Compassion’s support. For Max, this is the fulfilment of one of the partnership’s great goals.

“Since the beginning [of the partnership], Compassion has been by our side and caring for us, until today, when we can stand up and walk on our own. “Compassion realised that we can now run our own ministry. So they stepped back, proud, and applauded us for the success we have earned. Compassion has been a great helper to our church.” While the Sangkalerk Church will now educate, care for and develop the children of their community without Compassion’s direct support, they will do so with the deep knowledge and experience that they have gained in 25 years of partnership. Compassion Thailand’s partnership facilitator in the area, Ms Kanokwan Sripongvarakul, says,“The church will continue to use knowledge and resources related to holistic child development, and Compassion’s curriculum, to run activities in the area.”

When asked about their future direction, the church members point to their ministry among children and families of Cambodian descent who have moved to the community in search of work. Many of these families lack legal status and therefore don’t have access to education, health care and other basic services. A ministry that has helped more than 1000 local children looks set to continue for many years to come.

Prayer points: • Praise God for the local churches that have become equipped and empowered to continue serving their communities without Compassion’s ongoing assistance. • Please pray for Compassion over the coming months as we close our doors in south-east Brazil and open 56 new centres across north-east Brazil, where the need is greatest.

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Compassion child sponsorship works because of

Compassion child sponsorship works because of YOU—sponsors who believe every child deserves to eat nourishing food, drink clean water, go to school and have hope for the future. Through child sponsorship, you have the unique opportunity to show a child living in poverty they are loved and cherished. On the following pages are three stories from passionate sponsors, just like you. When you read their stories, it’s easy to see why sponsors are critical to making Compassion child sponsorship a long-term, effective solution to poverty. 14


David Chalmers David is a committed sponsor who has supported up to 50 children with Compassion in the past—29 of whom he has met while travelling with Compassion. How do your sponsorships affect your lifestyle—like the type of car you drive? Since embracing the reality that all I have belongs to God, and I’m just looking after it for Him, I have chosen to live simply and am content with a roof over my head, food on the table and clothes on my back. This enables me to give a substantial part of my income as a primary school teacher towards child sponsorship and also to visit the kids I sponsor. I believe I’m doing what I was created to do, and that brings me incredible joy and freedom.

How have you changed as a sponsor over the years? A few years ago, I was a “face on the fridge and monthly bill” sponsor. I’ve met people like that since, and I can understand it to a point. After all, if the children are just a face on the fridge, and I remain ignorant about the truth of their circumstances, my heart can’t get hurt by what I might find out. I was absolutely a “face on the fridge” sponsor early on. It took time and patience [to change], and a realisation that Compassion sponsorship was God’s purpose for me. Once I realised this, I had to go all in and be the best sponsor I could be, no matter the cost. How do you know you’re really making a difference? In 2009, while working part-time as a teacher, I took a leap of faith and visited three of my sponsored children

in Bolivia, Colombia and El Salvador. On these visits, my eyes were opened to the realities of poverty for the first time, as well as the impact that [sponsorship] had on the family. I would never have understood this through letters only. What was it like to visit your sponsored children’s homes? The home visits wrecked me. I stepped way out of my comfort zone, and made the choice to come face to face with the realities of my sponsored children’s lives; I could not have done it without God. Can you tell us about one of your sponsored children? Ana Cristina, from Brazil, is in a family caught up in drugs and violence. One of her uncles was murdered and another uncle committed murder as an act of revenge. The family is constantly on the run because of it. Her parents were going to pull her out of the Compassion program,

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since it was too hard to get her to the centre. But when they learned of my visit, they allowed her to continue. Victor, one of the Compassion staff members, travels on his bike to collect Ana each week, take her to the Compassion centre and return her home! Do you write to your sponsored children? I used to be a one-or-two-letters-ayear writer; but, while on a trip with Compassion, I became aware of just how important letters are to sponsored children. I could feel the disappointment in one of my kids that they didn’t hear from me regularly—it was the

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kick I needed to start writing more often. Now, I write every month to my sponsored kids. Since then, God has blessed those relationships out of sight! The children have written incredibly honest letters about parents fighting, deaths, fears and worries, as well as triumphs, salvations, baptisms, hopes and dreams.

“THE MAN WITH 50 KIDS” Watch David’s inspirational story. Visit www.compassion.com.au/50kids or scan the QR code with your smartphone.


John Miller To raise money for Compassion, 19-yearold John Miller is cycling and busking his way from his home in Burrill Lake, south NSW, to Cairns in far north QLD and back home again—more than 6000 kilometres in total. How did the cycling idea come about? I haven’t really done any real cycling before, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years. I planned the trip last year while driving around Australia with a friend. Between May and July, I rode 1975km from Burrill Lake on the NSW south coast to Gladstone. Then it’s about 1200km from Gladstone to Cairns, where I hope to arrive sometime in September.

Have you had any moments of doubt— that you mightn’t be able to cycle all the way to Cairns and back? Totally; I doubted myself so much leading up to the trip. Even now when I’m riding I struggle to stay motivated, but I’m always praying for the strength for each day’s ride and the mental perseverance. Tell us some of the highs and lows of the journey so far. I’ve had about eight too many flat tyres and have been lost many times, having taken wrong turns that added 20km to my day. These sorts of setbacks make me lose daylight and I’ve had to ride in the dark. When I get to my destination, I always enjoy dinner and bed—whether that’s powdered soup cooked in the billy over a fire or at a relative’s table with plenty of food.

Some of my favourite riding was up the Gold Coast along the beaches, and through Sydney’s Royal National Park. I also loved the smell of riding through Queensland’s sugar cane fields. Why did you choose to raise funds for Compassion? I like the simple focus of providing for peoples’ basic needs—needs that I sometimes take for granted. I’ve been a Compassion sponsor for a little while; my sponsored child, Meechai, is six and lives in northern Thailand. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow up.

Want to support John on his journey? Scan the QR code with your smartphone to donate.

IT WORKS | YOU 17


Rowena Fan Rowena Fan is a passionate Child Advocate who uses any opportunity— including her wedding day in 2008—to speak up for children living in poverty. Why did you decide to sponsor a child? I’d seen images of hungry children on TV since I was a child, but always felt the issues were distant from me. Then, at a Christian conference in 2006, I saw a Compassion video and was caught by the phrase: “You can change the world for one child.” This instantly gave me hope that my contribution could give one child a better life. I’ve been a sponsor ever since, and am continually encouraged and inspired by Compassion staff, like Elizabeth Hardwicke and Karl Chan, as well as other Compassion sponsors,

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like Wyn Finlayson, to keep fighting on behalf of children.

Why do you believe Compassion child sponsorship works?

Can you tell us about how you incorporated Compassion into your wedding day?

While travelling with Compassion, I saw how God uses sponsors to change children’s lives, and how Compassion’s vision—to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name—is not just a slogan. Compassion is empowering and assisting the local church to care for children, but never takes credit for it. You couldn’t find Compassion’s logo on the wall of the local churches—it’s the hard work of the local church that the neighbourhood recognises.

At my wedding reception, I set up a table with Compassion brochures and displayed big cardboard hearts of happy children’s faces. During the night, I asked my bridesmaids to share why they chose to sponsor a child. I didn’t fundraise at the wedding, because we wanted to focus on thanking our guests. My husband’s brother and parents passed away in an accident four months before our wedding, and his grandma was in hospital; so as well as talking about Compassion, we used our wedding as an opportunity to thank people for taking care of us during this time.


Meet Chidchai Chidchai joined Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program when he was just eight years old. Six years later, a lot has changed in his life: his father has left the family, his older brother moved away for work and his mother has assumed the responsibility of being a single parent. But through it all Chidchai has had the support of Compassion and his sponsors, who encourage him to dream big for the future.

Words | Jacqui Henderson

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In Prapadang District, Thailand, 14-yearold Chidchai examines his computer with expertise far beyond his years. His mum watches on, proud of her son’s curiosity and immense desire to learn and understand. He has been like this for as long as she can remember. When he was first registered with Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, at age eight, the centre staff noticed Chidchai’s gifting immediately. “He likes to learn and experiment; he has an interest and eagerness to discover new things, especially about computers,” says Compassion staff member Prasit Turawan. Chidchai’s dad, a computer technician, was the one who showed Chidchai the ropes. Neighbourhood families used to visit their home regularly, computers under arm, and Chidchai would watch eagerly as his father took apart and reassembled the pieces with deft hands.

20 SEPTEMBER 2013

When Chidchai’s father left the family, Chidchai was on the brink of his teenage years. The change was hard on the family, especially on Chidchai, who still looks up to his father as a role model. Though his father visits occasionally, that’s where his support ends. Instead, the family relies on Chidchai’s older brother, who moved to his aunt’s home in Bangkok to work. The small amounts of money he sends home allow the family to use electricity and for Chidchai to go to school. There’s no doubt that, like many children in the neighbourhood, Chidchai was forced to grow up quickly. In a community where poverty is rife, drugs are an easy escape from reality and have become near commonplace. The problem is most prominent among youth who, like teenagers the world over, yearn to belong and be accepted by their peers.

But Chidchai was fortunate enough to find his place at just eight years of age. At his Compassion child development centre, Chidchai made close friends and participates in a wide range of activities. “My favourite part of going to the Compassion centre is participating in the swimming activities and going camping with my friends,” says Chidchai.“I made many friends and I get along well with my teachers at the centre. Also, I have learned more about Jesus.” At the Compassion centre, Chidchai writes letters to his sponsors, a family from the US who encourage Chidchai to grow and learn. Their encouraging words have inspired him to imagine a hopeful future, one of endless possibilities. Right now, he likes the idea of becoming a police officer who can help protect the vulnerable in his community—especially his single mother.


“If I were a police officer, I could help my mum if ever she were in danger,” says Chidchai. In his letters to his sponsors, Chidchai shares about everyday life: the sticky, hot weather of the rainy season, his favourite school subjects—health education,Thai language and science—and the fun he has swimming, singing and playing at his Compassion centre. Sometimes, Chidchai even shares the hard stuff, like the pain he still feels when his father visits, only to leave again. “I wish to have my family altogether once more, that we would be able to share meals together,” says Chidchai.“Because, right now, we don’t normally eat together; we go our separate ways.”

from Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, but already he is different because of it. His confidence and self-esteem have grown, and Chidchai’s mother has renewed hope for her son’s future— hope that it will be free from the poverty that has always bound her family. “The Child Sponsorship Program is a very, very good program because it helps a lot of children,” says Chidchai’s mum.“They can get knowledge from this program; they have so many activities that help them to learn. The Compassion staff teach the children to unite together.”

Prayer points: • Please pray for children in Thailand, and across the world, who are growing up in broken families. Pray that they will feel safe and secure, despite the difficult circumstances in which they may live. • Please pray for children who are exposed to drugs in their home or community. Pray that God will give them the strength and wisdom to make good decisions for their futures.

At 14 years of age, Chidchai still has a number of years before he graduates

IT WORKS | THE STORIES 21


22


Meet Bintou The day Bintou and Alassane were registered in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, their lives changed course. Once, their mum worried that her limited finances wouldn’t allow her children to go to school. But today, the twins go to school every day, and receive extra tutoring at their Compassion centre, as well as nutritional snacks, life skills and support as they navigate their teenage years. Words | Jacqui Henderson

Twins Bintou and Alassane sit crosslegged on the floor of their home in Song-Naaba, Burkina Faso, heads bent together and pens scratching softly in the quiet of the afternoon. When Alassane pauses, brow furrowed, Bintou looks up instinctively. The eldest by two minutes, Bintou shines in her role of big sister, protector and encourager. “Sometimes, when Alassane learns his lessons by heart I ask him questions from the textbook to help him,” says 14-yearold Bintou. Though both work hard at school, academic success comes easier for Bintou, who graduated from sixth grade with flying colours. Alassane, on the other hand, finds school more difficult; as Bintou prepared to start seventh grade, Alassane was advised to repeat. “I remember the letter I wrote to my Compassion sponsor, the one that said I didn’t succeed in my exams,” says Alassane, eyes downcast. But despite the initial disappointment, Alassane is now hot on his sister’s heels, with the help of extra tutoring at his Compassion centre and old-fashioned hard work. “Since I have been in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, I’ve grown more intelligent and I’ve learned a lot,” says Alassane.“My Compassion tutors help me understand the lessons that I don’t understand at school.” Their mum, Alizeta, says it was the help of Compassion that allowed them to go to school in the first place.

“The twins’ schooling was a great problem for us,” says Alizeta,“but since they joined the program, their school fees have been met by Compassion. But our two children are not the only ones who benefit—the whole family has been impacted by Compassion’s support.” As well as support for her education, Bintou has received multiple financial gifts from her sponsor that have benefited the whole family. With one of the gifts, Alizeta purchased a roll of fabric and a weaving machine, which now sits pride of place in the family’s home. In the past, it took days for Alizeta to weave a piece of fabric to sell at the markets. But with the new machine, Alizeta can now weave and sell her products every day for about XAF$2500 (AU$5) each, which is enough to buy more rolls of fabric to grow her small business, as well as food and clothes for her family. “You know, because we have nothing, because we are poor, everything [Bintou’s sponsor] sends us—even if it’s not much—we consider it very much,” says Alizeta.“What they send us helps a lot.” As well as practical support, Bintou’s sponsor sends letters regularly, sharing prayers and Bible verses when Bintou is disheartened and applauding her achievements. “When I was in my final year of primary school my sponsor wrote and told me she was praying for me and my brother to succeed in our exams,” remembers Bintou.

After years of writing back and forth, Bintou was overjoyed when her sponsor decided to visit her community of Song-Naaba. From the moment she received the news, Bintou counted down the days, and planned how they would spend their time together. Bintou’s first glimpse of her sponsor was at her child development centre. After a shy hug, the pair walked with Compassion staff to Bintou’s home to meet her family. “We were both really happy to meet each other,” says Bintou. “It was one of the greatest days in our life,” adds Alizeta. Her sponsor’s loving encouragement— both in person and through her letters— has inspired Bintou to reach further and higher than she had ever dared dream, and to work hard to see her goals accomplished. “In my community, there are no doctors and many people die,” says Bintou.“That’s why I want to be a doctor—so I can help people who are sick.”

Prayer points: • Praise God that the number of children with access to education has increased worldwide over the past five years. The most marked improvement was in sub-Saharan Africa, where enrolment rates increased from 58 to 76 per cent. • Please pray for the children who remain without access to education. In 2010, 61 million children of primary school age were out of school.

IT WORKS | THE STORIES 23


24

Pictured on front cover


Meet Musa Without the support of Compassion, 15-year-old Musa would never have had the opportunity to go to school, let alone be planning to study environmental management at university. Armed with an unwavering faith, a strong support network and a love of learning, Musa knows he has the power to lead a unique life—one of his own choosing—that will impact thousands. Words | Jacqui Henderson

At his local library in Arusha,Tanzania, 15-year-old Musa walks amongst rows of books, stopping here and there to examine a title. His love of reading began in childhood; back then, he would spend hours buried in the tales of Aesop’s Fables. Today, Musa’s favourites are National Geographic magazine, which nurtures his aptitude for geography, and the Bible he received from Longido Baptist Child Development Centre—now well-worn with use. “I love going to the Compassion centre early in the morning to study the Bible,” says Musa.“In particular I enjoy reading about David, because he was a young man chosen by God who was able to conquer Goliath.” Like David, Musa has never backed down from a challenge. On the soccer field, he plays the role of goalie—tackling the ball fearlessly. In life, he faces challenges with the gusto and confidence of a young man who knows he is loved. “I believe, if you stand with the Word of God, everything is possible,” he says. At the tender age of 15, Musa has already overcome more challenges than most face in a lifetime. Though he was too young to remember his dad’s battle with illicit drugs, he acutely remembers his father’s health declining. When Musa turned eight, his father passed away leaving Musa’s mum, Agnes, the single mother of two children. To support her family, Agnes worked on a farm and later as a kitchen

hand at a local hotel, where she earned about Tsh 5000 per week (AU$3). Agnes never had the opportunity to complete high school, and refused to see her children walk the same path. With Compassion’s help, she encouraged Musa to attend school, study and pursue a career. “I want Musa to study hard, so that he may be able to support himself one day,” explains Agnes.“He gets a lot of help through Compassion; I would not be able to send him to school, or give him many other things, if not for Compassion.” Musa has a dream of helping build a better world—a dream that was planted in an unlikely manner. While browsing the library one afternoon, Musa met a man who shared his love for Tanzania and its people. “I met Dr Steven at the library, and we fell into discussion,” says Musa. “He works in wildlife management. His career path has influenced me; it’s encouraged me to pursue an environmentalist role.” That meeting was a turning point in Musa’s life. With the support of his family, sponsor and new mentor in Dr Steven, Musa worked harder than ever at school and began making plans for the future. Though he is yet to complete secondary school, Musa already has plans to study environment management at univer-

sity. He doesn’t know exactly where his degree will take him, or how his future will pan out, but he is sure of one thing: that he wants his life to be unique. “I want to live a unique life, different from any other person,” says Musa. “I don’t want my life to look like anyone else’s.” Musa aspires to use his life to serve others and to fight the big challenges on behalf of his nation. And with his unshakeable faith, book-smarts and passion for overcoming the seemingly impossible—just like David in the Bible—Musa has the potential to bring long-term change to his community. “If I could ask God for anything, I would ask Him to eradicate HIV/AIDS in my country and restore the world to be a safe place for man to live,” says Musa.

Prayer points: • Please pray for everyone who is currently living with HIV/AIDS, and for those who have lost loved ones to the disease. In Tanzania, around 1.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS; in 2009, approximately 86,000 Tanzanians died from HIV/AIDS. • Please pray for all Tanzanian families who currently live below the poverty line and can’t afford to meet their basic needs. Right now, approximately 35 per cent of Tanzanians live on less than US$2 per day.

IT WORKS | THE STORIES 25


Important notice: $4 increase to your monthly child sponsorship donations

Thank you for supporting children with special needs!

Due to increased costs in the developing countries where we work, as well as here in Australia, Compassion Australia is asking sponsors to increase their sponsorship donations by $4 per child per month. This change will occur for new sponsorships from 1 October 2013 and for current sponsorships from 1 January 2014. We know that, for some, this change may not be possible at this time. If you would like to discuss alternative payment options, or have any questions about the change, please call us on 1300 22 44 53.

Thank you to everyone who donated to this year’s Compassion Appeal.Together, we raised more than $1 million for children with special needs in the developing world! This amount could buy 4000 wheelchairs for children in India or 40,000 pairs of reading glasses for children in Uganda.Thanks for helping to provide critical support to children with special needs.

Want to fundraise for Compassion? There are lots of ways you can fundraise for Compassion, from hosting a trivia night, to running a marathon or even encouraging your friends to donate in celebration of your wedding or birthday. To make fundraising easy for you and your friends, we’ve put together a new fundraising pack—including posters, brochures, videos and more. To order your free fundraising pack, or to find out more about fundraising with Compassion, visit www.compassion.com.au/fundraising

LET YOUR

COMPASSION LIVE ON The year in review

Gifts that change lives

Include Compassion in your Will

Compassion Australia’s Annual Report will soon be available online at www.compassion.com.au. If you would like a hard copy of the report, please call 1300 22 44 53 or email compassion@compassion.com.au

Looking for a unique birthday or Christmas gift idea? Why not swap the usual box of chocolates for a Gifts of Compassion gift—such as a toothbrush, pig, or chicken—that will help change the life of a child living in poverty. In return, you’ll receive a cute card to give to your loved one.

Leaving a gift in your Will is a powerful way of providing lasting and transformational assistance to children living in poverty. The process is easier than most think, and we are here to offer support and assistance as well. If you would like to include Compassion in your Will, visit www.compassion.com.au/bequests

Check out our Gifts of Compassion range online at www.compassion.com.au/GOC

26 SEPTEMBER 2013


Your support will help give every child a gift this Christmas. To donate, visit www.compassion.com.au/christmas or call 1300 22 44 53.

COMPASSION MAGAZINE Compassion Magazine is a publication of Compassion Australia. All articles and images are © of Compassion Australia unless otherwise stated and may be reproduced with permission from the editor. All scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise stated. THE COMPASSION DIFFERENCE Compassion’s ministry to children is uniquely: Christ-centred, Child-focused, Church-based Compassion Australia is part of a global network of both funding countries and 26 developing countries that is Compassion International. Together, we are a Christian child advocacy ministry that partners with local churches to release children from all forms of poverty in Jesus’ name.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Dr Tim Hanna MARKETING DIRECTOR: Andrew Streat CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Andy Meier EDITORIAL: Amy Lanham, Jacqui Henderson, Richard Miller, Choe Brereton and Monique Fischle DESIGN: Daniel Cummings, Nicole Spier and Kym Basoka VIDEO: Tom Anlezark and Kym Basoka WEB/SOCIAL MEDIA: Matt Spier, Benjamin Webb and Tristen Klum PHOTOGRAPHY: Ben Adams, Jake Thomas, Andy Meier and Chuck Bigger

Editorial permission, story ideas or feedback: compassion@compassion.com.au ABN 67 001 692 566 Contact us at: Compassion Australia PO Box 1, Hunter Region MC NSW 2310 Tel: 1300 22 44 53 Fax: 02 4935 5099 Email: compassion@compassion.com.au Website: www.compassion.com.au Compassion Magazine is printed using processes and practices that help to minimise environmental impact.


COMPASSION AUSTRALIA PO Box 1, Hunter Region MC NSW 2310 Phone: 1300 22 44 53 Fax: 02 4935 5099 ABN 67 001 692 566

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Compassion Magazine September 2013