Contributed by Paula Hemphill
Dear Aspiring World Changer,
I have a confession.
I'm an introvert. Through and through, to the depths of who I am, I am an introvert. People used to say I was shy - perhaps even painfully so - at least until I got to know you.
Five years ago that all changed. Five years ago, despite an overwhelming sense of fear and doubt, I enlisted in this small orange army of World Vision Child Ambassadors. I started hesitantly, sharing sponsorship with friends and churches I knew closely. I later learned my early success was the result of a good Father who wasn't willing to let me wash up after hearing no. We both know that if I hadn't heard yes in those first few months, I wouldn't be here today.
Later on in that year, God showered His grace upon me once again. He brought the CA conference to my city. To my home. He brought World Vision to me. And I signed up to attend because what possible excuse could I offer since it was in my backyard? I. Was. Terrified. Introverted. Shy. And I didn't know a single person. I was literally giving myself a pep talk the whole ride there-- which caused me to take a little bit of a wrong turn, but I digress. I was scared. I felt very alone. But I went anyway.
And then something extraordinary happened… Stuart Sherman sat down next to me and asked me for my story and I, the shy, introverted girl, lit up like a Christmas tree. My story about Yael, my first sponsored boy, was one of my favorite stories to tell. I loved telling Stuart about why I became a CA and in that moment, my fear about not adding up started to fall away.
Stu wasn't the only friend I made that day. There was Andrea, April and Bev. There was Tessa and Vicki and Erin. There was Jo, Deana, MaryAnn, and Mary Ellen. Each one was so kind and took such care in getting to know me.
I walked into that conference scared and alone and terrified of the work ahead of us. And I walked away seen and known and loved and belonging.
As a new CA (or a veteran) I encourage each of you to join us for National CA Day. I know I speak for each of the hosts when I say we want to be your Stuart Sherman. We want to sit down, hear your story, and love you just because of who you are.
So, confession? I'm still an introvert. And I can still be shy. But I am confident in who I am as a follower of Christ. And I've grown new confidence thanks to Stu Sherman and a bunch of other amazing World Vision volunteers who sat down beside me, met me where I was, and welcomed me into this beautiful family. We are #GreaterTogether.
By Laura Walls in You're New. What's Next
Most of these tips come from Steve Quant's presentation at the Child Ambassador conference in January, 2013. To see his presentation and hear even more of his tips, check out the YouTube video: Storytelling. I highly recommend it!
Some people are natural storytellers. They seem to intuitively know how to captivate the hearts and minds of their listeners. We experience their moment vicariously because, through their vivid words, we're there, too.
Others, though, are more like me. I want to be a natural storyteller. I love a good story but, sometimes, when I start talking, the story seems to slip away. And as a child ambassador, I need to be able to tell a story that will capture my listener's heart. Fortunately for me, though, good storytelling can be learned.
Here are 10 tips for telling a story:
1. Start at the beginning end and work backwards.
What does that mean? Try starting out your story with a little taste of the end -- just enough to capture your listener's interest but not enough to give anything away. For example -- "Did you know that a little boy in Mozambique changed my life?" or "Anjona from Bangladesh is just 10 years old and dreams of being a doctor."
Why is this a good idea? Well, if you don't know where you're going with your story, how are you going to get there? Starting with a glimpse of the end gives your story a framework to build on. It also creates interest and curiosity on the part of your listener.
In other words, don't start out with World Vision's mission statement. This can come later, after you've grabbed their attention with your story.
2. Put yourself last.
Don't use "I" at the start of your presentation/story. Try "Would you like to hear an amazing story?" or "Do you know that a bicycle saved a life in Sri Lanka?"
3. Never be typical.
Talk naturally in a way that works for you. Use your own spin or style. The Lord has created each of us as unique individuals. Be okay with who you are and don't compare your style to someone else's style.
4. Use your own language.
Be conversational, not presentational. Try not to use terms that your audience isn't familiar with and talk to them like they're your best friend. Relax. :)
5. Don't read to me.
If you're using a Powerpoint, don't read from it. If everything you're saying is already written down in the Powerpoint, then why are you there? Use a Powerpoint as a visual tool to build on the stories you are telling.
6. Find another angle.
Try looking at your story from a new lens. Put yourself in someone else's shoes.
Imagine a picture of a float at the Rose Bowl. A typical story or caption would read, "This float is comprised of ____ flowers and took ____ hours to complete..." A new angle could be from the perspective of someone sitting on it. "My cheeks hurt from smiling so long and I still have two more hours to go!"
If you are showing a picture, don't just describe the facts. "This is a slum in New Delhi where over ____ children are living on the streets." What about a new angle, instead? "These children don't have a place to sleep tonight. They forage in waste cans or beg from people passing by in order to survive. They don't have anyone read them a story or tuck them in at night..." By switching the angle from which you tell your story, it may become more compelling.
7. Speak visually.
Use imagery in your story and set the scene. Was it raining? What season was it? Describe your setting using visual terms that evoke a sense of place -- describe the colors, sights, sounds, feelings... The longer the story, the more visual cues you may need. Keep it interesting.
8. What's the point?
Each story should include an element of "why." Why do you care? Why will they care? Make an emotional connection with your story yourself and, odds are, you'll make an emotional connection with your audience, as well.
9. Make a call to action.
Ask. Don't just assume that people will sponsor a child if you tell them about it. Invite them to be part of this work.
10. Be sure of your facts.
As child ambassadors with World Vision, we need to be certain our information is accurate. A good rule of thumb is, "If Rich Stearns (CEO of World Vision) was in my audience, would I be comfortable saying this?"
If you get a chance, try watching the complete version of Steve Quant's storytelling presentation from the Child Ambassador conference. I personally found it really helpful and think my presentations have become more compelling as a result. I hope it can be of service to you, as well!
May the Lord continue to bless each of you in your ministries and lives!
By Laura Walls in You're New. What's Next?
I was at my child ambassador team leader's house when I saw it. A clear plastic tote filled with everything she needed for her Hope Sunday at a local church. It was my first event and I was trying not to miss any details of how she made her ministry work. She explained her tote's contents and it went something like this:
1. Picture Folders of children needing sponsors
You can order them at http://volunteers.wordvision.org on the tab marked "Picture Folders."
How many should you request? A good rule of thumb is to estimate the size of your audience and aim for no higher than 10%. If it's a large festival setting, my personal recommendation is to not go higher then ten. In my experience, too many can be overwhelming to people, especially in that type of busy setting but ask your leadership team member for their recommendation.
Also, did you know that you can request picture folders from a specific country or of a particular gender? As you're filling out the picture folder order form, look to the right where it says, "Notes." You can make any special requests in that space. In addition, be sure to have your "Cause" page set up prior to your event. If you don't have a child from a country that a donor is looking for, then you can use your phone, tablet, or laptop!
You'll want a tablecloth for most events - generally black, tan, or orange work well. A table runner is a nice touch, too. My team leader had a couple of inexpensive options that she picked up from a fabric store - one for a South American theme and one for an African look. She varied the look of the table based on the region the church or event was focusing on.
3. Letters and pictures from your sponsored child
One of the most powerful stories you can share is that of your relationship with your sponsored child. A great way to store that correspondence is in a three-ring binder using page protectors. Potential sponsors will love to see it! Be sure to share with them that they will hear from their sponsored child "letter for letter."
Haven't been a sponsor for very long? Don't let that discourage you! Read your World Vision magazines or look online for stories of the impact of sponsorship and share them.
Bring a handful of pens for filling out the sponsorship cards.
5. "How a Community is Transformed" brochure
This brochure will help you explain World Vision's development model. Because they are expensive to print, I'd recommend taking yours to an office supply store and having it laminated.
6. Display Board
A trifold display board purchased at your local store can be a great way to catch someone's eye as they walk past your table. You can see examples of other child ambassador's displays and find World Vision images and logos on the volunteer website on the Resources tab under "Sharing Sponsorship."
(Keep in mind that if you're outside, the wind may be blowing and a standing display may not be practical.)
7. A Small Map or Globe
This will make it easier when the inevitable question like, "Where is Burundi?" comes up.
8. Sponsorship Brochures
I keep these in my tote underneath the table to have available upon request. If I put them on top with the picture folders, then people have a tendency to just take a brochure and walk away, rather than connecting with one of the children represented there. But every now and then, someone only wants a brochure so I like to have them handy. They are also available on the volunteer site on the picture folder order form.
9. Post-It Notes
I use these to write little notes for the picture folders based on the child's story inside. I write things like, "My grandma works hard to take care of me!" Or, "I love to climb trees!" Or, "My dad is a teacher!" Just little things that will help show the individuality of the child and help the sponsor make a connection. I don't generally write them on every folder because that can be a little overwhelming. I'll pick a few and, if they are sponsored, then I'll add little notes to a few more! I also use them if someone requests that I hold a picture folder for them while they think or pray about it.
10. The Hole in our Gospel
This book has touched a lot of hearts and it's great for starting a conversation!
11. A Bowl for Candy
It's totally optional of course but a great way to bring people over. Plus, you might want some for yourself, too!
It took me a little time to get my tote's contents together but once it's filled with these items, then hosting an event is easy! I can just order my picture folders online, grab my tote, and go!
By Laura Walls in Ideas and Resources
Are you familiar with the film, Journey to Jamaa? Jamaa is an award-winning short film based on the incredible true story of two children in Uganda. It was originally designed to be part of a Sunday morning worship experience but there are many other ways you can use it for your ministry. It's a fantastic resource for sharing sponsorship with others! You can order it on the volunteer website under the "Picture Folders" tab. It's located on the drop-down menu in the last box.
Following are a few ideas for ways you could use Journey to Jamaa in your ministry:
1. As part of a Sunday morning service
Journey to Jamaa was originally designed to be part of a Sunday morning worship experience. It's about 35 minutes long and fits in nicely between opening worship and a closing message by a pastor. It's a powerful film with a message that really resonates with its audience.
2. As a movie night for a church
Jamaa could be also be used as a movie night at church. This works particularly well if paired with a time of worship.
3. Home Movie Party
Have you been looking for a way to share with neighbors, family, and friends about your CA ministry but can never find the right words? Try hosting a Jamaa movie night in your home. This movie will help put it all into words for you. Try using some Ugandan recipes for an additional way to connect with the region!
4. Lunch Break at Work
In some workplaces, it may be possible to advertise a Journey to Jamaa showing and host it over a lunch break. Check with your workplace and see if it could be possible for you.
5. Ministry Groups
Men's breakfasts, women's luncheons, MOPS groups... See if they would like to host a showing.
6. Community Movie
One church hosted an outdoor movie showing in a community park. They put up a big screen and advertised it around the community. They had a great showing and even used it as a springboard for community outreach.
7. Local Colleges
One college in Minnesota used Jamaa as part of a ministry fair. The students loved it! They laughed, cried and applauded. It was an incredible experience! Generally, to get in at a college, a student needs to request that the film be shown there.
8. Youth Groups/ YoungLife
It never hurts to check with your local youth and see if there is an interest.
9. ??? Any other ideas? Share them and we'll pass them on to the other CAs. Let us know what works for you!
By Laura Walls in You're New. What Next?
I never thought I was a fearful person. My family, for example, would probably describe me as fairly daring. But, in this ministry, I've had to dig deep for a level of boldness that stretches me. I'm writing this for those of us who feel a little overwhelmed and/or terrified at times. For those who, like me, may feel a little stretched beyond their comfort level.
I am not a natural public speaker. In my mind, I can speak freely in front of a group but, in the actual moment, I feel frozen in fear. Can you relate? We aren't alone in this fear. Moses, for example, had a fear of speaking:
Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” - Exodus 4:10-12
Know that the Lord can and will use you in spite of your fear. He will give you the words to say. He will speak through you and help you prepare. He will be with you.
Maybe it isn't a fear of speaking but a fear of imposing. Often we are so afraid of making someone else uncomfortable that we don't want to share with them about sponsorship. We don't want to ask them if they would like to sponsor a child because we worry about putting them "on the spot."
I share this fear, too. Maybe it has something to do with my reserved Scandinavian and British roots! But, I memorize verses like these as reminders of what God desires from me:
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. - Isaiah 1:17
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:27
Knowing the Lord's heart for the "least of these" helps me to be bolder than I feel. When I remember why I wanted to be a child ambassador, (so I can serve Him by loving what He loves) I can take a deep breath and ask in spite of my more natural timidity.
Sometimes, I just plain have a fear of hearing "no." I'm afraid it could be awkward for them and, well, awkward for me. In that case, I go to my memory bank of sponsorship stories. When I remember the children who have been helped through sponsorship and the children in desperate need of help, then my own fear of the awkwardness of a "no" suddenly seems so unimportant. To create your own bank of sponsorship stories, read your World Vision magazines, watch World Vision videos like "Because I Sponsor" and "Touch the Invisible" and volunteer at Artist Associate events (like concerts and Women of Faith). You will hear amazing stories of changed lives.
Finally, I try to remember what Mother Teresa said, “I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.” For me, it's not about the numbers, it's about being faithful.
I don't know your individual fears but the Lord does and He has given you all you need to overcome them.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. - Isaiah 41:10
Be bold, my friends. The Lord will give you the courage and strength you need!
By Laura Walls in You're New. What Next?
You've taken a leap of faith and signed up to become a Child Ambassador with World Vision. We are so happy to have you as part of this ministry! You have joined a group of people who, like you, are passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and families. It's an exciting journey to take part in and an amazing group to travel with on the ride!
Following are five steps to getting off to a great start!
Step 1: The Training Videos*
This three part video series will equip you with the knowledge you need to feel confident about sharing sponsorship. Each video is 15-20 minutes long and includes interviews with other child ambassadors so you have an opportunity to hear how they do it! These videos are a great way to get familiar with World Vision's work on a deeper level and feel more comfortable sharing as a child ambassador.
* Note: In the training videos, the cost for sponsoring a child was $35. That price has now increased to $39.
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.