COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - April 27, 2023 - Compassion International announced today its expansion efforts in four new program countries as part of the ministry's global growth strategy. Founded in 1952, the child development organization partners with thousands of local churches in low- to middle-income countries to deliver physical, social, economic, and spiritual care to more than two million children in poverty. With the additions of Malawi, Zambia, Cambodia, and Myanmar, Compassion now works in 29 countries to achieve its mission of releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.
Compassion's expansion to new countries is driven by the magnitude of the need. An estimated 356 million children live in extreme poverty, which the World Bank defines as surviving on less than $2.15 per day. Children living in extreme poverty are highly vulnerable. They lack access to clean water, health care, housing, nutrition, educational opportunities, and social services, and they remain at risk of exploitation, child labor, abuse, and preventable disease.
Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado, president and CEO of Compassion, shares, "We stand at an unprecedented moment in Compassion's history. The needs of the poor are unbelievably urgent, and the resources entrusted by God to his global church have never been greater. Given the scale of the need, we believe God is calling Compassion to extend its Christ-centered, church-driven, child-focused ministry to a greater number of children and youth than ever before."
Compassion's expansion countries are not immune to the pain of poverty.
Malawi is one of the world's most impoverished countries, ranking 174 out of 189 countries on the 2020 Human Development Index. Recently, extreme weather and a deadly cholera outbreak have wreaked havoc on the country's water, sanitation, and healthcare systems, leaving already-malnourished children more vulnerable to death and disease.
With more than 58 percent of the population living in poverty, Zambia "ranks among the countries with [the] highest level of inequality globally," according to the World Bank. Millions of children in Zambia lack access to safe drinking water, sufficient education, and nutritious food.
Myanmar has the second highest child mortality rate in the region, with more than 6 percent of babies dying before they turn a year old and more than 7 percent dying before the age of 5. Conflict and political unrest have left children out of school, internally displaced, or even abducted and recruited for armed conflicts.
And because of Cambodia's long-term political turmoil and widespread poverty, the World Bank reports, "A child born in Cambodia today will be only 49 percent as productive when grown as she could be if she enjoyed complete education, good health, and proper nutrition during childhood."
When the need feels overwhelming in impoverished countries, that's when Compassion deploys its not-so-secret weapon: its partnership with the local church. Launch leaders look for churches in poor regions who demonstrate a vision and a burden for children. These local churches know their communities best, and partnering with Compassion grows their reach and ability to care for children. After several years of relationship-building and training, the local church becomes the expert in serving children in their own community.
Building a firm foundation for lasting impact takes time. Sidney Muisyo, chief program officer at Compassion, adds, "We can expect challenges along the way. However, when God's people resolve to do his work together, the church is unstoppable and effective. Fighting poverty is hard work, and it matters that we faithfully lay the groundwork today so we can successfully deliver our program in the future."
Since these expansion efforts are in the beginning stages, the ministry will not be offering opportunities for child sponsorship or other financial support immediately, but Compassion does seek prayer for the work.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus commanded his disciples to pray for more workers. The harvest was ready, but resources were in short supply. "I would ask our supporting churches and Christians to pray for the same thing," Muisyo explains. "We are embarking on this initiative with God-sized expectations for the work he will do in these nations, transforming communities and breaking generational cycles of poverty for good. We hope to reach millions more children and youth."
To learn more about Compassion's expansion efforts or sign up for prayer updates, visit compassion.com/whatsnext.