A Great Divide
As a sophomore at Northwest Nazarene University, I was studying religion with a minor in missions. I was hounded with images of the world’s ever-present needs. I felt strongly that America — in her abundance — needed to help the poor living in developing countries. And as a believer, I was sold on making disciples of Christ around the world.
That was 17 years ago.
Today I am still aware of the great divide between the well-resourced and the poor. And my passion is still to make disciples — locally and globally — as Jesus commissioned us to do.
Jefferson and I are making disciples within our family — that’s just about as local as one can get. We are also heavily involved in Calvary Chapel Yuma’s children’s ministry — more local disciple-making. But we sensed there was more for us to do.
What Our Church Wants — and the Challenge to Get it
So last summer Jefferson and I got involved in our church’s missions group. They were wrestling with the question, “How can we make the Great Commission tangible to each person in our church?” We needed opportunities in “our” Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
I had recently read a story in a Compassion publication about a U.S. church who focused their international mission efforts on a specific community in Sri Lanka. I learned that all of Compassion’s work is deployed through child development centers hosted by local, gospel-centered churches. Members of this U.S. church strategically sponsored children from one center in an effort to make a difference in that indigenous church’s community.
This idea was intriguing to me. Our church could follow the same model. We could focus our international mission efforts in any of the 25 countries where Compassion works. We could choose to impact a unique community by sponsoring children from one center. Since Yuma is a border city, it made sense for us to focus on a community in Mexico.
Compassion Affects Our Church
With help from Compassion, Jefferson and I planned Compassion Sunday at our church. We requested and received packets of children needing sponsors — all from one center in Poza Rica, Vera Cruz, Mexico.
One couple felt the Lord’s prompting to sponsor a child. They were especially delighted when they found out that our focus was in Poza Rica — close to where they have family.
A young woman in our church connected with me later because she wanted to find her place in missions through the church. For her, Compassion child sponsorship is a perfect fit because she can have Christlike influence on a child through prayer, letter writing and financial giving that allows the front-line church to actively disciple her sponsored child.
The Children Affect Us
Jefferson and I desperately want our children to be aware of what life is like outside our comfortable bubble. Just yesterday, Garrison, our 5-year-old, threw a tantrum over a toy we could not purchase — evidence that we are still on mission!
But we have great hope that as he grows up with Ervin, our 5-year-old sponsored boy in Mexico, they will influence each other to know and understand God’s best for them. Our daughter, Alia, is also growing up alongside another Compassion child we sponsor in Mexico, 8-year-old Aimee.
Erwin and Aimee may think we are helping to rescue them from poverty, but Jefferson and I fully believe that they are rescuing us from our culture’s poverty of materialism and self-centeredness. Clearly we need each other as we continue to grow as passionate followers of Christ — and raise our children to be the same.
If you’d like to join thousands of sponsors like Carla who are bringing Compassion to their church, visit our Compassion Sunday page and order a Planning Guide today!