Personal Story Injects Life into Compassion Sunday Event

Personal Story Injects Life into Compassion Sunday Event

By: Sean Sheridan   |   Posted: June 12, 2007

Church brings in more than 200 sponsorships after sponsored child's appearance.

George Jowi, left, joins Ken Murphy, Lead Pastor of Stonecreek Church, and George's sponsor, Lynn Witten, at the church's Compassion Sunday event.

You're one of them a good person who attends a great church. But you're bewildered because you just do not know how to connect your congregation to your heart's desire sponsoring a child through Compassion. You want to host a Compassion Sunday, but you just don't know what will get people to act. To move. To sponsor. You're like Pastor Ken Murphy.

"We had never offered a tangible application of Jesus' command for us to care for the poor," Pastor Ken says of his 1,300-member congregation at Stonecreek Church in Milton, Georgia. "We saw Compassion Sunday as a practical way to offer a step toward doing something for those trapped in poverty." But how?

Making Compassion Sunday Come to Life

In planning his church's Compassion Sunday activities, Pastor Ken and his staff remembered hearing George Jowi, a Compassion graduate, speak at a conference.

"I knew his story would have great impact on our congregation," Pastor Ken says. George, who grew up in terrible poverty in Kenya and is now studying in the United States, gladly agreed to share his story with Pastor Ken's congregation.

George left his university in Dallas and went to Georgia to speak to strangers. From the pulpit he told Stonecreek's congregation about his story. He relayed how even before he was born his life was full of death. Poverty had killed six of his siblings. They died from hunger and sickness, their mother too poor to afford to care for them.

As a little boy, George's playground was a huge garbage dump near Nairobi, Kenya. One by one he watched his playmates die from the malaria, cholera and AIDS that permeated his childhood neighborhood. Even as a young child George had no reason to believe his life would turn out differently. He was only a child but he had already lost hope. 

"Hearing the stories he shared of the prospects of his life without a sponsor truly were haunting," says Pastor Ken.

Making Sponsorship Come Alive

But then George began to speak about his sponsors and how their sponsorship helped to bring hope to a life lived in desperate poverty. Because of sponsorship George was able to go to school, study, and get good enough grades that he was accepted at a university in Dallas to study health sciences.

"My sponsor was very consistent in writing letters. And I would give a lot of credit to the progress that I've made to the letters that she wrote," says George. "She would urge me to be close to the Lord. And she would always encourage me and cheer me on. And all the efforts that she made has made me strong today."

Pastor Ken was moved by George's dedication to his sponsors and how much love the young man showed for them. Knowing that George had never met his sponsors, the staff at Stonecreek arranged for his sponsors to come to the church during the Compassion Sunday event. In an incredible moment for George and the congregation of Stonecreek, George and his sponsors met for the first time on Stonecreek's stage.

"Hearing George's story and then seeing his sponsors come from our audience was inspiring and compelling," commented Pastor Ken. "It made sponsorship tangible. It made it seem doable."

Event Garners Record Number of Sponsorships

Pastor Ken suspected that having George speak about his life and to meet his sponsor would be a motivating anchor for Stonecreek's Compassion Sunday. But he never dreamed it would move his congregation so much.

"We had hoped to have 100 children sponsored. That Sunday, 230 children were sponsored," Pastor Ken says happily. "And, we know more are being sponsored through a link on our church's Web site. In fact, as our congregation shares the story of what took place that day, they have taken the message of Compassion and child sponsorship to others in their neighborhoods.

"I've seen many that aren't connected to Stonecreek be moved to go to our Web site and click our link to Compassion International for child sponsorship."

Pastor Ken and his congregation proved that innovation and creativity can help make any Compassion Sunday event successful, but few activities beat seeing Compassion's ministry through the eyes and heart of a sponsored child.