I (Keith) believe we were made for more than the life we see right in front of our eyes. If you spend any time with my band or me, you’ll quickly realize that our hearts beat for things beyond just the music we play. If you’ve seen us play live lately, you know that for the past few years, I’ve had the honor of partnering with Compassion International to help free children from poverty in the name of Jesus.
Compassion provides many things to children, with opportunity being one of the most important. Living in the United States, we often take for granted things like eating daily, having the ability to read, or even simply applying for a job. Compassion partners with local churches in impoverished areas to provide opportunities that many children would otherwise never have. These children desire to capitalize on their opportunities by sharing what they learn and therefore further spreading the love of Christ. Because of Compassion’s work, these children aren’t looking for a way out, but a way to pour back in.
Last March, my wife, Emily, and I joined some other Compassion artists on a trip to Ecuador. We were able to experience first-hand the holistic approach Compassion takes to help provide food, medicine, education, and most importantly, the gospel of Jesus for children ranging from newborn to college aged. Even though they have multiple programs they use to serve people in need, Compassion is best known for its sponsorship program. Emily and I sponsor two kids of our own. One, Shelra, lives in Haiti. The other, Nayeli, is actually part of one of the Compassion projects we visited while in Ecuador.
Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote while we were in Quito, Ecuador.
I want to introduce you to Jenny and Rosa. Rosa is the 20 year-old mother of Nayelly, who is a 21 month old enrolled in Compassion’s Child Survival Program. Jenny is her CSP promoter. The Child Survival Program was created after Compassion realized that when kids would get involved in the sponsorship program, (beginning at 4 years old) the kids’ development from birth to 3-years-old was not where it needed to be. So CSP was introduced in part to help empower mothers to properly care for their children so they develop correctly. Each mother and daughter has a CSP promoter, who meets with the mother once a week in a one-on-one scenario, and then again once a week in a group setting. You can read more about the specifics of the program here, but trust me, it’s making a huge difference.
Rosa, her husband Byron, and little Nayelly live in a 10×10 room that was clearly unclean from the moment we walked in. It was complete with a queen-sized bed, a homemade wooden crib, a homemade dresser, and a stove. That left about 3 feet of empty space on the floor. That was it. The 3 of them in what, by American standards, would be considered a tiny room. Rosa said (through her translator) her only prayer for her daughter is that she would “grow up to serve Jesus and be in ministry to give back to Him for what God has given to her.” That was it. Not a prayer for her own bedroom. Not money for toys. Not more comfortable living. But Jesus. Only Jesus.
Three years ago, Jenny was in Rosa’s position. The local church invited her to be a part of Compassion’s Child Survival Program and once her son turned 4, he became part of the Sponsorship Program. Now that he is 6, Jenny’s son’s teachers say that he is the smartest kid in the class because of his early life development. After CSP changed her family’s life, it wasn’t hard for Jenny to decide that she wanted to be a part of the CSP team and become Rosa’s promoter. She now mentors seven other mothers and daughters too.
That’s the way God designed the church. Reach out to help somebody. They take what they learn to help others, who take what they learn to help others…and so on. When people know they are loved, they share that love. It’s infectious. The world will change because of it.
Oh and one last thing: When we asked Rosa if she had a message to share with everyone she said, “Thank you to the people who sponsor us. I pray that because of this Nayelly will fall at the feet of Jesus.”