Empowering the local church to transform lives

By September 21, 2016

USA (MNN) — “It’s like ripples in the water, where you touch the life of a child.”

For more than sixty years, Compassion International has been known for their commitment to serving individual children through sponsorship. But Silas Balraj, VP of Asian Programs, says Compassion’s partnership with local churches in 26 countries around the world has far-reaching impact on communities as well.

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(Image courtesy of Compassion International)

“When a program like Compassion in partnership with the local church enters into a community, it actually doesn’t just enter into the community,” says Balraj. “It actually enters into the home, to the life of a child in poverty — to the whole family in poverty. When you touch the life of a child, you’re actually touching the essence of why the parents are existing.”

Parents see the transformation in children who are sponsored through Compassion. They begin to see a child becoming more mannered, more respectful. They develop social skills and embrace education because of the support provided them.

“The essence of a child being able to play with other peers, enjoy his own self, be who he or she is as a child — that helps the parents begin to see it’s not just hope in words, but it’s hope that is living before them,” shares Balraj.

“The child is not just being provided a program or an activity, but they are being provided with a relationship coming, not just from a few people, but coming from a church in partnership with an organization they don’t see and they don’t need to see. But they see tangible evidences through the pastor, through a social worker, to an associate, to a tutor.”

Balraj says as the parents continue to watch their children make better decisions and live healthier lives, questions begin — questions revealing the Gospel lived out in love.

“That begins to ask the question, ‘Why are these people doing it for me? What is it that is so different from the other folks that never did it? And then it begins to happen that it’s not about religion, it’s about love in action, it’s about genuineness and consistency. It’s not a one-time kind of handout, but it’s consistency and it happens day-in and day-out, no matter what it is for the child. Even if the child is hospitalized, the church is there for the child. And they begin to see that and they begin to know truly there is hope for my child and there is also hope for my child’s future.”

In community after community, the children themselves begin to teach their parents how to read and write, mentor them on life skills and social skills, and even share the hope they’ve found in Jesus Christ.

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(Image courtesy of Compassion International)

Compassion’s partnership with the local church empowers that church to provide highly individualized programs for families of sponsored children. Balraj says the complementary interventions are personalized by community.

“In some cases it is de-addiction programs for dads because alcohol is prevalent. In some cases, because the soil is good, you grow a kitchen garden. In some places there’s no water so you make sure you bring in good, clean water. In some places there is water, but you put in a water treatment plant. So it kind of zeroes in and sees how the church may transform the community and the life of its members, versus what would a program do as a handout.”

Through child sponsorship and complementary interventions, the local church is strengthened as the community is strengthened.

Balraj continues, “The church begins to build and tap into local resources that it has. Compassion is the foundation and the seed, and then because of our partnership model, we work with the church and we support them, we equip them, we mentor them, and we walk with them in the journey so they become self-reliant and mature.

“Ownership has increased, local resource mobilization has increased, and engagement with the community and the family is two-way.

“It’s just not the church doing it, but it’s everybody doing it together. We always believe we do not want to do for the church what it can do for itself.”

Partner with Compassion and the local church through child sponsorship, and be part of life transformation that impacts communities around the world.

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