Have you ever been disappointed because a product you invested in didn't live up to its advertised promise?
We value nothing more highly at Compassion than integrity. You can judge whether we mean what we say by our "product" — changed lives. In fact, we encourage and facilitate your visiting our child development centers to confirm it for yourself.
For many years Compassion used the slogan: "You may not be able to change the whole world, but you can change the whole world for one child."
But nearly 60 years of ministry to children one by one eventually adds up to a lot of changed lives. If the 1 million children Compassion has sponsored plus the 1 million currently in Compassion's program were to hold hands in a human chain, it would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles.
Each year, 100,000 more join the ranks — almost 100 additional miles. (Picture that the next time you take a long road trip!) Such exponential growth is enough to change the world, which led to our updated slogan: "Change the world — one child at a time!"
Many of those 1 million formerly sponsored children are now Christian spouses and parents, doctors, pastors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, government workers and businesspeople.
My greatest joy is meeting these amazing people. Some remember sitting on my lap when I visited their Compassion centers 33 years ago.
They are deeply committed to the local churches that, in partnership with Compassion, served them as children. These churches are the very fabric of their societies, God's plan to bless the world.
When we say we are Christ centered, child focused, church based and committed to integrity, we aren't just stringing together a bunch of optimistic ideals; this maxim is the strategic heart and soul of our ministry.
In Peru last month I met Mapi, a young woman who volunteered to translate for our group of American visitors. At the end of the day she said to me with a smile, "Papa Wess, I am one of your daughters."
She was born into poverty, but because of her sponsor's intervention and the loving care of her pastor and church, she now beautifully illustrates another Compassion motto: "Change the life of a child … forever!"
Mapi's life was indeed forever changed. She is a Christian, a nurse, and she sponsors a child from Haiti and a child from Rwanda.
It thrills my heart that in Mapi, and so many like her, Compassion's mission statement is being achieved every day:
"Compassion International exists as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults."
In the previous issue of Compassion Magazine, I shared with you that Robert Hawkins, Compassion's Board Chairman, and I met with 500 Compassion program alumni in Haiti only two months after an earthquake devastated their country.
In the midst of their own sorrow and loss, they joined with Compassion staff to lead their churches' rescue and relief efforts.
And those 500 represented only a small percentage of Haiti's 50,000 Compassion program alumni in Haiti; we heard of many others who are similarly determined to be the hands of Jesus in the process of Haiti's healing and reconstruction.
One by one, but also increasingly united together, Compassion program graduates are changing the world.
As in Haiti, associations of Compassion "alumni" are springing up in many countries. It is a phenomenon made possible by the global reach of technology and social networking sites.
They want to gather for worship and fellowship, challenge each other to pass on the blessing they received, and mobilize in service to God and their countries. They want to serve in the churches and Compassion centers where they grew up, to breathe hope and inspiration into the next generation.
Like Mapi, they want to be sponsors themselves. They want to elect godly leaders and be godly leaders at all levels of their governments.
In short, they want to change their world! I have met them and believe they will do it!
We don't just hope Compassion's tagline, "Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name," is occurring as a result of our ministry; we know it is the outcome, and we work hard every day to keep getting even better at it.
We consider it a sacred trust to change the lives of desperately poor children, and we could not take our promise or our mission more seriously. At Compassion, our mottoes are our battle cries on behalf of all the little Mapis who still need our help.
As it turns out, by faithfully persevering, you can change the world by changing the life of one child at a time. I speak for a grateful worldwide staff in thanking you for the integrity of your words — for saying "Yes!" to sponsoring your child, and for your encouragement and prayers for your child and for Compassion.
May God bless you as you partner with us. Your investment is changing the world!