|   Posted: April 27, 2023

In our constant effort to end extreme poverty and help children thrive in their God-given potential, Compassion is working to reach children in additional countries! Find out why, where and how we’re compelled to expand.

4 New Countries: Expanding to Reach New Children

In our constant effort to end extreme poverty and help children thrive in their God-given potential, Compassion is working to reach children in additional countries! Find out why, where and how we’re compelled to expand.

a boy smiles and leans out of a window

We want to see the end of poverty in our lifetime. And we believe that it’s possible with God.

So as the problem of poverty increases, so does our God-given responsibility to combat it. Children’s lives are on the line. That’s why Compassion is expanding into new countries.

“Our desire to grow in more countries is driven by the magnitude of the need,” says Sidney Muisyo, chief program officer of Compassion in North America. “According to the best expert data on poverty, approximately 356 million children1 live in extreme poverty2 around the world. And we believe that millions more children have been consigned to extreme poverty due to the impact of COVID-19 in recent years. At Compassion, we serve 2.2 million children and youth – a fraction compared to the need.”

Poverty steals the ability for kids to dream, play and thrive. So we are compelled to expand, beginning with Malawi, with plans to continue in Zambia, Cambodia and Myanmar.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

— Romans 12:4-5 (NIV)

By expanding, we’re joining God where he already is: in the hearts of people gathering in all kinds of churches who want to serve children. These local churches know their communities best, and partnering with Compassion means their reach and ability to help children will grow. Working in the specific context of each of these countries is new for us, but the local churches know the ins and outs of their cultures, and their leadership will grow more influential over time.

“The hope for new expansion is that we can reach millions more children and youth – providing them with contextual programs that will allow them to thrive and end the cycle of poverty they often experience,” Muisyo says.

To know how to meet children’s unique needs, we turn to local churches. Compassion launch leaders look for churches in the economically poorest regions of a country who already demonstrate a heart for children. They get to know them, and together they begin to determine what might be the best place to give children a stronger start. Over the first few years the people in the church become experts in how to serve the children in their care and their community. And it is already happening in Malawi.

Sidney Muisyo, foreground, with staff in Malawi.
Sidney Muisyo, pictured here in the red shirt, with staff in Malawi.

It takes time to do the groundwork to start serving children in a new country. Current events change the environment as the work happens, so we don’t always expand as fast as we plan. But we are encouraged by the changes we are already seeing in each country. We’re most excited about the more than 1,500 children that 17 local partners are now serving in Malawi and how the first partners are passing on their year of knowledge and experience to the next ones.

So how do we choose exactly where to expand? We go where God leads. The expansion comes after years of prayer, relationship building, biblical discernment and intensive research. “Discernment is especially important, and a core part of discernment is having a deep understanding of the data on child poverty,” Muisyo says.

To determine the level of need, we analyze the Human Development Index, gross national income per capita and life expectancy at birth. Other indicators include risk or ease of operations, such as the political stability, free movement of funds, freedom of association and the ability to register as an NGO in straightforward ways. We also assess risk factors, such as operational barriers, religious hostility, regulatory laws and measures restricting religious beliefs and practices.

Finally, we examine the indicators of church presence, such as the percentage of the population who are Christians.

“The process of discernment is both data- and prayer-driven,” Muisyo says.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

— 2 Corinthians 4:15, NIV

Of course there are challenges to expansion. The most immediate challenge is that the need always exceeds the funds available to partner with more churches and register children into our program. Entry into new countries means that the level of development investment is high upfront.

“For example,” Muisyo explains, “churches located in and serving poor communities are typically poor themselves. This means they do not have the infrastructure and facilities to host a children’s program. So certainly, we support these churches with upfront investments so they can start the programming activities well. This further establishes trust with the community.”

Another challenge we encounter is simply establishing trust. Many “development” actors come to communities in poverty with lots of promises, and nothing ever comes of these promises. “So naturally, we encounter deep-seated doubt and mistrust when we enter new communities,” Muisyo says. “Development takes patience, respect and transparency to establish trusting relationships. We do not show up as if we are the experts, but we show up as neighbors who want to listen, understand and serve together to solve the problems that the community identifies as affecting their children.”

Compassion’s current expansion efforts are already being funded by generous supporters. But we gratefully seek prayer for the work! And we’ll be certain to share when there are opportunities to support or encourage children in these countries.

In Matthew 9:37, the Lord Jesus commanded the disciples to ask the Father to send 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 says.

Please join us in praying that we stay aligned with God as work in each country progresses. Pray specifically for the journey of each person connected to this work now and in the future:

  • National team members
  • Local Church Partners
  • Community leaders
  • Children and families
  1. https://www.unicef.org/social-policy/child-poverty.
  2. World Bank defines extreme poverty as $2.15 per person per day: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/factsheet/2022/05/02/fact-sheet-an-adjustment-to-global-poverty-lines

Pray for Expansion

a girl prays in a field of flowers

Join us in asking God to guide every step of our work to reach more children in poverty.

a girl prays in a field of flowers