When God puts a child on our hearts, it is easy to answer His call … at least initially. However, it can be difficult to remain invested in the commitment over time. And current economic circumstances aren’t making this any easier. Sponsors at my church have been experiencing financial hardships with gas prices, unemployment, and the overall cost of living. We were just squeezing by, paying what is necessary, but mostly going about things without passion.
I’m not sure if you’re experiencing this same tension, but I suspect that with finances being tighter, some of us are investing less time or financial support in Compassion’s ministry to children in poverty. We’re having to reassess the decisions we’ve made about our time, talent and treasures.
I held a Compassion Sunday at my church, but given the tough financial times my pastor and I felt it would be best to not participate in next year’s Compassion Sunday campaign. We wanted to give full attention to the needs among our congregation.
Taking our church’s situation into account, my pastor suggested that I continue to encourage existing sponsors within our church and community. That way, when we do give another presentation, we will have more families who can testify to what a wonderful organization Compassion is and encourage others to sponsor children.
So after meeting with my pastor and my advocate coach, we began to implement activities to help keep sponsors engaged and keep Compassion’s ministry present at our church. I also came up with some strategies to welcome new sponsors and acted as their contact person should they have any general questions about the ministry. Here are some of the ideas we have started or are in the process getting off the ground:
- Welcome Kit for New Sponsors I purchased pocket folders in bulk. They were inexpensive and served as a nice addition to the child packets sponsors receive upon beginning their sponsorship.Inside each folder, I included quick facts about poverty, information about Compassion’s financial integrity and its holistic child development model, and a few other pamphlets affirming the new sponsor’s decision to get involved.
Inside each folder, I included the CI Fact Sheet (IN017), Financial Summary (IN255), CI’s Child Development model (BR041), and the brochure “God’s Mandate, Our Challenge” (BR007). I also hand-made the Sponsorship Collection Bank (PM401) so that it was ready for use.
For those of you who are advocates, you can access the order form on Compassion's advocate website to receive these supplies to help support you in your advocacy.
- Compassion Board I purchased a world map from Barnes & Noble to create a Compassion board in our church gathering area. I then called Compassion with the names and numbers of the children who are sponsored from our church. Compassion sent us pictures of the children and we posted them on the map near each child’s location.
- Compassion Sponsors’ Letter-writing Potluck Any time you can involve food, you can get people to come and fellowship! The idea is to get sponsors together once a quarter for a letter-writing potluck.
In addition to bringing their favorite dishes to share, participants also “potluck” letter-writing supplies. For example, one person brings envelopes and another brings a variety of stationery. Others bring small items we can include with our letters, such as stickers, paper frames to put pictures in (construction paper cut into the shape of a frame with contact paper around it), paper dolls, small children’s magazines, etc.
The potluck creates a place for everyone to give updates about their children and to encourage one another as we continue our relationships with our sponsored children through Compassion.
- Bible Studies/Book Groups About Compassion I was doing a Compassion-related Bible study on my own when a friend asked about it. As I described Compassion’s commitment to releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, she mentioned that she wasn’t in a place where she could financially support a child sponsorship, but that she would like to do so in the future.
I told her she could pray for children in poverty and that God’s hand would be upon the Compassion ministry. She asked if she could borrow the study after me so that she could learn more about God's direction to us about serving the poor. We also plan to do a study together in the future.
I recommend “Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration” by Amber Van Schooneveld and “Passport to Prayer: A Journey of Compassion” by Amber & Michael Van Schooneveld. They can be found in the Compassion store online and are also available on group.com. Other great books for a book group are “Unshaken” by Dan Woolley and “Too Small to Ignore” by Wess Stafford. Both are available on christianbooks.com.
I know that God has pressed it upon the hearts of others to explore ways to keep the Church involved and to encourage existing sponsors while looking for new ones. It would be great to get fresh ideas to use. What are some ideas you can share with us?