By: Abby Ryckman   |   Posted: July 13, 2023

The journey of a church funding a child development center in Rwanda and sponsoring the children who will attend it.

Saying “Yes!” to God: An Advocacy Story

The journey of a church funding a child development center in Rwanda and sponsoring the children who will attend it.

Written by Abby Ryckman
Photography by Kyle McKaskle
a guy points at child packets hanging on a wall

What would you invite your church family to do if you knew their answer would be yes?

There’s something special about a collective yes. It shows that an entire community of believers is eager to respond to God’s call. And when God’s people are in step with his lead, powerful things happen.

That’s what Marie Burns, Lindsay Heard and Stacie Clinton experienced earlier this year. These friends and fellow members of Trinity Church in Ruston, Louisiana, embraced God’s call to care for children in poverty. They invited their church family to respond as well and were left in awe of what God can do.

How it Started

Stacie and her small group gave to missions for years before getting involved with Compassion. They anonymously raised funds by putting cash in an envelope. Every now and then, they added up the contents of the envelope and decided on a ministry to donate it to. All the small group members got to be part of giving the gift, no matter how much they contributed to the envelope. This helped everyone feel like they were a part of giving, "which just seemed to inspire more generosity," Stacie explains.

This habit of generosity continued, and eventually the group partnered with Compassion International. So when they found themselves with a large donation to make, they decided to fund a new child development center in Rwanda.

Meanwhile, Lindsay, who had been passionate about child sponsorship for years, was working on bringing a Compassion Experience to Trinity Ruston. Compassion Experiences are an interactive, family-friendly way to learn about daily life for children in poverty. They make extreme poverty more tangible for those of us who are far removed from it. Often people walk away with a better understanding of poverty and a desire to help. At the end of an Experience, participants have the chance to sponsor a child.

Lindsay and her daughter saw firsthand the impact of a Compassion Experience a few years before. She knew it had potential to inspire her community to come alongside children in poverty.

The Challenge

Lindsay and Stacie brought the idea of hosting a Compassion Experience to the church staff. This is how Marie, a member of the outreach team, heard of the idea.

two moms with their children

Friends Lindsay Heard, left, and Stacie Clinton are both moms.


When she learned how soon they’d need everything to come together, she was hesitant. Not only was the deadline tight, but the church was also in the middle of a difficult transition. A lot of the church’s focus was on this situation at the time, and she didn’t want to burden the church staff or overwhelm the congregation. But as she and the other church staff prayed about it, they felt a deep confirmation that God was leading them to host a Compassion Experience. “Of course God said yes,” Marie reflects.

“I loved getting to see excitement in Marie as she really walked in obedience. God filled her with his joy about it,” Lindsay adds.

Once the staff was on board, they were all in. “Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, take off, and watch what God does,” Stacie says.

The Journey

Finally, it was time. Stacie’s small group had fully funded the new Compassion center in Rwanda. The Compassion Experience was at Trinity Ruston. And to make everything even more special, most of the children available to be sponsored from this experience would attend the new center in Rwanda.

children listening to something on a phone

Stacie, Marie and Lindsay stepped out in faith to say yes to God. They estimated that 20 children would be sponsored based on the number of people who attended the Experience.

But they were thrilled to find that their church also stepped out in faith to say yes to God: over 80 children have been sponsored so far from this experience!

“It was all God,” Marie shares. “I knew as I watched everything unfold.”

woman smiling with trees in background

Marie Burns is a Trinity staff member and a mom.


Amid this difficult season for the church, the congregation rallied together to support children in Rwanda and share the hope of Jesus with them.

This event reminded them of their purpose as a church. They saw what God can do when his people are committed to saying yes to him.

“In the middle of this really hard time at our church, it brought our eyes back to our mission as followers of Jesus. Our mission to love people and children and take care of them,” Lindsay says.

God brought healing and focus to the congregation as they united to care for children halfway across the world.

And it wasn’t just a few adults who said yes. This was an intergenerational experience in obedience. The children of the congregation were also moved to respond.

Young Advocates

Stacie brought her kids and her friend’s son, Will, to walk through the Experience. After she explained what to expect, Will said, “You know, there are a lot of people who need help. You’ve got two choices: You can turn away, or you can do something. I want to do something every time.

Other kids in the church family were enthusiastic about the Experience too. Some sponsored children with their own money. Others went through several times and encouraged their friends and family to join.

Marie, Stacie and Lindsay were encouraged by the younger generation’s response. “We adults over-complicate things,” Marie shares. “It’s very simple for children. They think, There’s a need. I can meet it, so I’m going to meet it.” Lindsay continues, “I’ve been able to see a remnant of little generations being brought up to love the Lord and love other people. And I am so hopeful of these little ones coming up and their hearts for others.”

The Future

Stacie’s prayer is that all this would be a seed. This is not a climactic moment — it’s a part of the bigger story, the start of everything else that’s to come. As these three women look to the future, they don’t know exactly what’s next, but they have a lot of hope. Stacie reflects, “God says, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things you do not know’ (Jer. 33:3, NIV). He says to just follow him, one step at a time. Sometimes we can’t plan because we can’t know those things. But he knows.”

“This all started with the willingness of a small group to say yes,” Marie adds. “They wanted our church family to say yes. And our church said yes.”

Stacie encourages others to offer God that same kind of willingness, because you never know what it may start. “Pay attention to what God’s already doing, say yes to him, and just watch him put things together that we could never figure out.”

Say yes to helping a child in need.

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Help equip even more children to thrive and reach their God-given potential.

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