David Miranda has been fighting for the lives of children through Compassion Sunday for years. Now he's in the fight of his life.
David and Debra Miranda stood behind their Compassion Sunday table last September at The Father's House church in Vacaville, Calif., and wondered if they were done.
It was their sixth church service in two weeks. The pair had already witnessed God move in the hearts of 112 people from the church to sponsor a child through Compassion. They had only three child packets left.
Although most of the people were now gone, the Mirandas decided to wait a few more minutes before packing up. "Finally some people came up and took them," says David. "I looked at Debra and said, 'Can you believe this? This is unbelievable!'"
All 115 sponsorship packets had been claimed.
David and Debra were all smiles then but it wasn't always that way. The couple had found that getting your church to support Compassion Sunday can sometimes be akin to moving mountains with mustard-seed faith. For the Mirandas, to host a Compassion Sunday took faith, determination and a can-do attitude that not even past prejudices, debilitating illness or fear could stop.
History Foils Promising Beginning
"I've been speaking out for Compassion since 1999," David says. "When my wife and I recently started going to The Father's House, I thought it would be a great place to host Compassion Sunday." So David made an appointment with his pastor to see if the church would be interested.
"It took me some time to get in to see him," David says, "so I knew it would be important for me to be prepared."
In the brief time David had with the pastor, he spoke about what Compassion meant to him, showed a video, went over the Compassion Sunday Pastors Packet, and brought a three-ring binder filled with letters and photographs of the five children he and Debra sponsor. During the meeting, the pastor realized the video had been shot in a church he visited. Not believing in coincidences, David saw the experience as proof-positive that his pastor would give him permission to host a Compassion Sunday event.
"I don't want to discourage you," the pastor said, "but I need to share some things with you so you know where I am coming from."
David's heart sank as he listened to the pastor explain how the church had previously made a commitment to help fund several orphans' homes in developing countries only to have their pledge commitments dry up over time. That had left the elders scrambling to meet the church's responsibility. It was then church leaders decided not to engage in sponsorship obligations. "If it's God's will, I won't stand in the way," the pastor said, "but it is likely that the elders will say no."
Prayers Are Answered
David prayed the Lord would open the door. Two months passed before David received a call from his pastor. Believing in the Compassion model, the elders said yes.
David signed up to host a Compassion Sunday event and called Compassion to request child packets. Stepping out on faith, he requested 100 child packets, almost double the amount recommended for a church of his size.
After David's presentation on the first Sunday of his event, the pastor brought two packets on stage and said, "This is the girl and the boy that my wife and I have decided to sponsor. Let's get behind this. Go visit the table in the back and sponsor a child!"
Eighty-six children were sponsored that day, far more than what experts expect of a small church. David contacted Compassion for more packets. The next weekend not a single child went unsponsored. All the packets were gone. "We were so excited. I just couldn't believe it," David says. "When we walked back to the car, we were practically floating."
Tragedy Intervenes and Hope Is Renewed
A few weeks after that first miracle, David was flat on his back in the hospital with severe back pain and a numb leg. It was plasmacytoma, an aggressive form of blood cancer. "I went from a really big high," he says, "to a really big low."
But his son reminded him of the good he did by hosting a Compassion Sunday event, and David's days became brighter. "It was a great thing to think back to those kids getting sponsored and that what we did is going to last a lifetime," he says. "Life is short; don't wait to do something that you've always wanted to do."
David is taking his own advice. This summer, you'll find him at a Formula One car race, not waiting to miss out on something he loves to watch but has never before experienced live.
And as for his love of Compassion? David and Debra have added another Compassion child to their family and, of course, are planning to host another Compassion Sunday.