Denver Beirman traveled with Compassion to Ecuador to meet his sponsored child, Angie. "It's so hard put into words . to express how much we love that little girl, how much she's a part of our family," says Denver.
Denver Bierman is used to accolades. This Indiana-farm-boy-turned-Christian horn player has delighted crowds all over the country. But seven years of applause and admiration from music fans can't compare with the reception he received one spring day from one lone Ecuadorian girl.
It was a sunny afternoon in April 2006 in the coastal city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Denver and his wife, Amy, were on a trip with Compassion. Denver had been singing the praises of Compassion's Christian child sponsorship ministry at his Christian concerts, and this was his chance to see the ministry's work in action. But there was also another perk - Denver and Amy were going to meet their sponsored child. After a tour of the Estrella de Belen Student Center (EC-248), Denver and Amy walked a few blocks to the home of 5-year-old Angie Villon.
Colorful clothes fluttered in the breeze as Denver and Amy sat in a small courtyard surrounded by Angie and her family. Neighborhood children peeked shyly from windows adorned with thin t-shirts and tattered shorts, wondering who the strangers were. Denver looked at Angie, her mother, father and brother, and was in awe.
Angie's mother couldn't stop crying, so grateful was she for Denver's assistance through sponsorship. Angie's father clamored to pray with the couple who he believed will change his daughter's destiny. The experience rocked Denver's world.
"When a mother comes to you with tears in her eyes and tells you 'thank you' for saving her child's life . Well, let's just say you go on these kind of trips thinking you're going to make a difference, when in reality the person really being changed is you," says Denver.
A Day in the Life
Denver and Amy have been sponsoring children through Compassion since 1998, but this was the first time they actually met one of their sponsored children. Going to Angie's home, visiting the sandy playgrounds where she played, and sitting on the same gray benches at the Compassion project that Angie sits on each week allowed Denver and Amy to see the world through Angie's eyes.
They saw the one-room houses precariously perched on mountainsides in Angie's neighborhood. They walked the dusty roads with no electricity or telephone poles, and without sewer lines to offer comforts that Americans take for granted. The experience allowed Denver to appreciate the work that Compassion is doing in countries all over the world.
"It was a mind-blowing and eye-opening experience," Denver says. "Through Compassion, you just know that you're part of something so much greater than yourself. You're truly building the kingdom of God.
"Compassion lives out the biblical mandate of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and giving the homeless a place to rest their head."
No Cookie-Cutter Solution
Denver says his trip to Ecuador made him appreciate all the more the blessings God has bestowed upon him. And seeing the children at Compassion projects whose lives have been changed for the better has renewed his sense of advocacy for the lost.
In addition, Denver says the trip opened his eyes to Compassion's commitment to break the cycle of poverty - no matter what.
"One thing that I noticed over and over was that Compassion is not a cookie-cutter organization," said Denver. "For example, within Ecuador there are a lot of different cultures and people groups. Compassion pays attention to those subtle differences and helps children and communities in the most effective way possible."
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