Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision once prayed, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” Wow. As the owner of an incredibly selfish and uncompassionate heart, I thought that the only way I’d ever really be able to be truly used by God was to follow this example. Here’s a prayer that really needs some kind of consumer warning, folks, because believe me, He gave me a passion for helping hurting children around the world. Day after day, He has broken my heart for kids starving in Africa, working under dangerous conditions in India, and caught in trafficking in Bangladesh.
Stupidly, I thought that if given the opportunity to reach out and save a child, most people would jump at the chance. I didn’t think that people could actually peer into the eyes of a first grader, starving to death, and say, “I’m good, thanks.” But they do, don't they? I wanted to tell him that I kind of figured he was ‘good’ when I saw him pull up in his $70,000 car. My super judgmental alter ego was furious at me for not sharing with her that with what she’d spent on her manicure, she could save a child from dying, or from being sold into slavery, or from being made a child bride, or worse.
I’d meant to share this opportunity with the people of North Hills until 4pm that day, but at 3:30 I wasn’t hardly able to manage a smile, so I packed it in early. I cried most of the way home to find my girls just getting ready to come see me and offer encouragement. Immediately, both of them knew I was deeply sad and asked what had happened. “I wasn’t able to find sponsors for a lot of these kids,” I said to my 4 1/2 year old in a shaky voice. “Who are they? Can you tell me their names?” She knew what this really meant – those kids, kids with names, and faces, and real stories would continue their struggle for survival. My husband, always more pragmatic, began counting the remaining folders. “You’ve made a huge difference in the lives of 13 kids in the last month,” he stated. “Yeah, but that doesn’t help Ruth or Aimee or Benjamin or any of the others,” I’d said as the tears began flowing down my cheeks once again.
My heart was breaking for the hearts of the 20 kids I’d not found sponsors for. Logically, I knew that the problems in Africa had been festering for a very long time. I also realized that this problem wasn’t just waiting around for me to come and solve through Child Sponsorship, but I really did think that I could make a difference for these kids, at least. Then, Pollyanna Salina found a table in the corner at which to sit, sulk and update her Facebook status to read: “Pollyanna needs a nap. And a hug. And a Xanax. Maybe not in that order.” Seeing her opening, Selfish Salina joined the party and started talking about how stupid it was to have spent a day away from the family and a huge to-do list only to end up mentally, physically, and emotionally too worn out to enjoy what was left of the Saturday. Cynical Salina saw us sitting there and decided to add her two cents, “I don’t know why you even bother. It isn’t like you’ll be able to change any part of this world. What good can you do?” Pollyanna Salina, though feeling quite defeated, answered in a small voice, “Isn’t it better to do something than nothing? What if our child was the one who was hungry, lost or hurting?” Snarky Salina quickly chimed in, “The one thing you’ll accomplish through all this is feeling like you’ve done nothing other than spending time away from your actual responsibilities and crying in front of your kid. Are you ready for the award for that?”
And so Pollyanna Salina, who had had enough of these other voices, headed out to do the weekly grocery shopping with her family, her 4 year old remarking from her pink booster in the backseat that, “Mommy is still sad about the kids who don’t have sponsors”. Once at Target, feelings of guilt for having ready access to an abundance of high-quality, healthy food wasn’t helping. At the checkout, Pollyanna Salina listlessly checked her UrbanSpoon app for a nearby restaurant that would cater to a host of food intolerances, still mentally more sitting at her pity party than at Target.
Then, a beautiful French accent broke through the heavy haze of her commiseration, asking,
“Do you work for World Vision?”
Somewhat startled, I look up and said, “I volunteer with World Vision,” realizing I was still wearing my bright orange World Vision t-shirt.
“I know they do great work back home in Africa, but I didn’t know they were here in North Carolina,” she said excitedly.
“I spent my day trying to find sponsors for kids in Africa today,” I replied.
“Since I came here from Kenya, I’ve wanted to get involved with giving back through World Vision because of what they do for my people in Africa,” she said more as a question than a statement.
And right there, I saw the reason to keep letting my heart be broken, to keeping giving the time that I could use to finish my grocery shopping, to give the money that could be spent on a lunch date with a friend, to give my heart to real people with real problems in real places. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other because God tells me to, and I’ll pray that God will repair my faith in humanity and help me not to judge others by their reaction to something I’ve become passionate about over many years.
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
1 John 3:17-19
Paula: When you decided to do the walk/run, what were some of your fears?
Staci Buck: We worried about the weather and a good turnout. We desperately wanted many people to walk away changed, informed, and ready to act.
Kristen Herbst: Probably our biggest fear was that people might not come. But also the usual weather concerns when you are planning an outdoor event. Also, finding the best location with both safety and accessibility in mind--a location where we wouldn't have to close roads ideally--was essential!
P: How did you overcome those fears?
SB: God. God. God. Lots of preparation and lists! We had a great team of volunteers.
KH: I guess, once we decided to do the Water Walk, we just threw ourselves into it and tried not to let worry ruin it or take our focus in the wrong direction. We definitely prayed for the event and the weather, but if I do it again, I think we will make it (prayer) a bigger emphasis-- especially for our participants!
P. How did you market the walk/run?
SB: We contacted our local newspaper, put up flyers, and distributed flyers to businesses and churches. We contacted the International Studies Dept. at our local college. We did a Facebook invite to everyone we knew. We promoted it at our two church campuses and during VBS. We posted facts about water almost daily leading up to the event.
KH: Social media!! We created a page for the event and we created an event. Then we invited and shared like crazy! We also made T-shirts and we utilized the Team World Vision site so that people could more easily fundraise. We made announcements at our church and VBS as well. And the VBS focused on the Water Walk as its mission.
P: Who did you invite?
SB & KH: All of our contacts near and far via FB. Churches, small groups, clubs, schools, businesses, and families.
P: How did doing this event change you?
SB: It brought us so much joy! We also really realized that so much of what we do as Child Ambassadors is education and seed planting! But don't worry, some of our participants sponsored children months after the event and some sponsored children just from seeing the posts on social media about our event.
KH: It gave me greater faith in God. In our initial planning, Staci and I were talking about goals. She mentioned raising enough for a hand dug well. And I said, "Okay." but secretly I want enough for a deep well (which is $15,000). I think she thought I was crazy. But we both jumped in with that being our goal and God made it happen!
P: What will you do the same/different this time?
SB: When we did our walk, we created a lot of checklists, etc ourselves. Now World Vision has a great template and we will use that to save time. We still loved our personalization of the Water Walk by highlighting a specific country and educating with specific facts and signage about that country. We also had a lifelike hut, buckets for water, a course, games, and crafts for younger participants, lanyards which depicted different scenarios from developing countries, and a take-home paper for further resources.
KH: Well, it will be a little different by adding the run option--which will affect our location maybe. And carrying water may have to be optional or a side activity.
P: How did it inspire you as a CA and Christ Follower?
SB: The community really got into this event! We loved hearing the stories from the younger generations. Kristen and I both feel this is key to our "job" as CA's. The younger generation may not be able to sponsor children now, but we can educate, educate, educate and open their eyes to the injustices of the world! People around our town still wear their special t-shirts and talk about the event! They felt so good making a difference in the lives of children lacking water.
KH: It made me realize that we can truly make a difference in the lives of a whole community across the globe. Knowing that people who had NO CLEAN WATER, would soon have water for a lifetime was amazing. Staci and I were truly on a spiritual high! As a Christ follower, I grew in my faith in God and in gratitude to Jesus for allowing us to do something of this nature. We truly had tears of joy when we reached our goal.
P: How did it change your family and community?
SB: Our families helped with everything. They had check-in jobs, tour guide jobs, set-up and tear-down jobs, etc... I believe they felt proud to be part of such a meaningful event. It was a definite memory-making experience for our families. Our community was put on the map! We had other communities reach out to us about replicating a water walk in their small towns.
KH: Our families were very involved, supportive, and helpful. It was a great project to do together the first few weeks of summer. I think they really enjoyed it, and I love that they proudly wear their Water Walk shirts to this day. I have pictures of the kids painting our signs, leading groups, and driving the gator to dump the full water buckets back into the reservoir. Such good memories! Essentially, our tiny town of Selma raised a tremendous amount of money for a community that was very different from ours--with no expectation of payback of any kind. It was a triumph for sure and it made me feel very proud of our people and very thankful to God!
It may be too late to become an official host site for a Global 6K, but it's not too late to join an established Global 6K or to host your own special event on CA Day. Let's all do something to continue the conversation and make a global impact on May 6th & 7th!
contributed by Katherine Jones
Countdown to Compassion: Bringing the Refugee Virtual Reality Experience to Your Church
A Child Ambassador’s primary focus is to connect sponsors with children. In the last year, however, as the refugee crisis has escalated, we’ve also embraced the opportunity to invite people to become “refugee responders.” Unlike with the sponsorship program, responders do not support a specific child or family; instead, their monthly donation of $29-$49 is dispersed among established camps where World Vision has a presence, mainly in the Middle East and Africa. As with child sponsorship, these funds provide clean water, latrines, food, health care, and—especially vital for refugee children—kid-friendly spaces.
While connecting sponsors to children is rarely easy, the political and social complexity of the refugee situation adds layers of challenge to our work of engaging response. Aside from not understanding why so many refugees exist, there’s often also a gap in understanding why they need our help.
Surviving Syria helps to bridge that gap in vivid, compelling detail.
Surviving Syria is a 360-degree, virtual reality, short film about a young boy named Ali and his family. Using state-of-the-art Oculus goggles, participants are immersed into the life of a real boy and his family, and thus into the sights and sounds of an actual refugee camp. The sensory experience helps people walk a short mile in Ali’s shoes, bringing his reality closer to home. It transforms abstract knowledge into concrete understanding.
World Vision is eager to enable you to bring this powerful tool to the people of your home church. World Vision handles shipping, volunteers, and oversight of the exhibit, allowing you to mobilize volunteers who share your passion for doing a world of good.
Interested making it happen? I invite you to learn from my experience as I brought VR to my church in Kent, Washington last month. Here, I’ve provided a checklist along with notes from my experience.
3-4 months out
One thing to note: VR does require a large amount of space, so you’ll want to check and double-check that you have the necessary physical capacity. To maximize participant flow, a large square-ish space works best, though WV will do their best to make less optimal floorplans work as well.
2 months out
2 weeks to go
Set up was easy. Kristen is a veteran VR organizer and knew exactly what to do. We had to simply follow orders. Our team of about six church volunteers, plus Kristen, assembled the exhibit in about 90 minutes.
Exhibit assembly included putting together the backdrops, stools and cordons. I set up my tri-fold and table, and I also helped get all the phones charging (which are attached to the Oculus goggles) and prepped for use.
We had twenty viewing stations available. At our peak, all were in use, with a line of people waiting their turns. Everyone I talked with afterwards appreciated the experience. The most common responses were, “I didn’t know” and “Thank you for bringing this here.”
A few people were reluctant to participate until I explained that while the film is provocative, it’s not traumatic. A very few declined to do it altogether. About half the people who showed up for church that Sunday participated in the exhibit, and about 1 in 15 of these made a donation.
I made a note to myself to follow up with the church in a week’s time to remind people who took a responder card without turning it back in to mail their cards to WV.
I also reported to the church the numbers collected by WV (attendees and donations) so that our church could celebrate their generosity and the power of doing good.
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.