In this Compassion Magazine, we are highlighting the local church partnerships that are so critical to every aspect of our ministry. Compassion has an extensive network of more than 6,200 church partners throughout the countries where we minister. It is these local heroes who most directly influence every child who receives care through Compassion’s programs. We are also blessed to work with resourced church partners across North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea whose congregations sponsor Compassion-assisted children. I’d like to share some excerpts with you from a recent conversation I had with a pastor of one of these resourced church partners, Pastor Jeff Lockyer from Southridge Community Church in Ontario, Canada. Jeff and his team are passionate about leading their congregation to be a restorative force across their community and around the world. Compassion is honored to play a servant role in Southridge’s strategy to realize that vision.
You encourage every individual in your congregation to develop “a lifestyle of global action” to combat poverty. Can you tell us about that?
We believe that every member of the Body of Christ is intended by God to be a global missionary — to serve the global poor with our everyday lives regardless of where we live. However, since the majority of our congregation will never have the opportunity to travel abroad to serve in direct proximity to the global poor, building this aspect of our faith has been a challenge.
Will you explain how Compassion has been helping you meet that challenge?
In recent years, Compassion has come alongside our church as we developed a discipleship process called the Global Action Plan. The Global Action Plan is a six-month training experience we designed to help our congregation live as global missionaries — in our mindset, our priorities, our consumption and our relationships. Compassion has supported us in this, not only by facilitating child sponsorship for every participant, but also by helping us develop and improve the curriculum and process. From behind-the-scenes planning to frontline implementation, Compassion has been actively involved in leading our community on this discipleship journey!
It’s great that your church has embraced the concept of global missions through child sponsorship. Can you tell us more about that?
We believe this is a humble, economical and effective strategy. But our partnership with Compassion doesn’t stop there; Compassion also supports the stewardship of our finances in ways that maximize the impact of our investment. Our leadership believes that global poverty is best addressed by the local church and is best supported by proven experts in holistic ministry. This way, domestic caregivers meet domestic needs, and resources from churches like ours are appropriately allocated through experienced, credible organizations like Compassion.
And Southridge has found your unique global niche?
In our context, that’s meant partnering with Compassion with an increasing portion of our operating budget to support the Child Survival Program. In recent years, we’ve become the sponsoring agent for Child Survival Programs in Ecuador, Uganda and Indonesia. And now our own church members, particularly those who are involved in our Global Action Plan, have the opportunity to sponsor children who graduate from our partner Child Survival Programs.
So Compassion not only enables us to maximize our global impact corporately, they’re also helping us grow every member of Southridge into a global missionary!
You told me once that your experience with Compassion’s ministry has been life transformational for you and your family. Will you tell our readers about that?
I’m not just the lead pastor of Southridge Community Church; I’m also a church member who’s seeking to live more like Jesus. So when our church introduced the Global Action Plan a few years ago, my wife and I were part of its first graduating class.
A core part of our journey as a family has been the sponsorship of our own Compassion child named Edgar. He, his mother, Brenda, and his younger sister, Yohanna, live in Guatemala. A few years ago my wife, Becky, traveled to visit their family and strengthen the relationship we were developing with them. Then, for a couple years, she took our two boys with her to celebrate Edgar’s birthday. [In 2012] our whole family of five went to Guatemala to visit their family, and at this point we’re planning our next visit this coming spring!
I love that! Since you’ve traveled to visit Edgar, you’ve seen firsthand how each child in Compassion’s program is ministered to within the context of a local church. Have you also seen your family’s sponsorship of Edgar impact your own children in tangible ways?
For years now, our kids have forfeited receiving birthday presents and have instead raised funds to buy birthday presents for Edgar to take with us when we visit. Our oldest son “double tithes” the income from his newspaper route — one tithe to our church and one to Edgar and his family. And as Southridge continues to raise us up into global missionaries, our relationship with Edgar’s family has helped put our lives, our opportunities and our responsibilities into perspective. Compassion is not just helping release Edgar’s family from the poverties of his world; they’re helping release our family from first-world poverties, too.
At the end of the day, we’ve fallen in love with Edgar’s family as God has merged us into one extended family. There is no family vacation our children look forward to more or would consider more non-negotiable than our annual Guatemala visit. Edgar, Yohanna and their mom are part of our daily prayer lives and are regularly referenced in our family conversations.
Compassion has helped our family grow as global missionaries and they’ve also provided us with an extended family to share Christ’s love!