USA (MNN) – When partnerships between global ministries and local churches work well, lives are changed forever. For George Wright, Pastor of Cedarcrest Church in Acworth, Georgia, partnership with Compassion International began soon after the church opened its doors for the first time.
“We were really praying about how we could get involved as a church around the world and really cast a vision for the nations and have a global perspective in what we do,” says Wright.
But like many young churches, resources were limited and their family was just being established in the community. “It’s difficult for people to take that step of faith to not only get out of the door with the mission but to get out of the country.”
A vision trip to Uganda was the defining moment for George and the Cedarcrest church family. He admits being a little skeptical as he traveled to Africa, because he had seen other organizations retain large percentages of donations for overhead rather than those dollars being used to care for the poor and vulnerable.
But Compassion’s ministry model removed any concern that his church’s contributions would be used wisely. George says that, while good stewardship was essential, the true turning point for him came in meeting some Ugandan families in the Compassion program. Those families were overcoming significant challenges in an area where the infant mortality rate was over 50%.
Their stories caused him to reflect on his own family. “It was like God was saying to me, ‘If you lived in this region and were native to this land, you would have already buried one of your kids – if not two of them.'”
Cedarcrest Church has been a Compassion partner for seven years, sponsoring close to 500 children and participating in other life-saving programs. The partnership has become part of the church’s DNA as it reflects the heart of the Great Commission.
“We’re called to not only care about our community, but to be deeply invested in other parts of the world,” George reflects. “We get to let a lot of people be involved around the world, instead of just a few that get to go on a mission trip.”
Cedarcrest Church was one of the first partners of Compassion’s newest program, CardFunder. The unique CardFunder program allows people to turn their unused gift cards into area of focus for those donations; unspent gift cards are registered online or collected and sent to Compassion.
George says Cedarcrest chose to support Compassion’s Water for Life project. “We’ve been given a gift through this CardFunder program to literally change the world for some children and their families. We got to provide clean water for somewhere around 50 or 60 families.”
George believes the Compassion CardFunder program is a powerful way to teach the Church in the United States how to be the Gospel to others.
“Use our excess, use what we’ve already got, to make a difference? I mean, why would you not do that? It’s an amazing gift to the Kingdom that God has provided, that allows a lot of change to happen in a very easy way. So find those unused gift cards that someone’s already given you, and let them make a difference.”