Contributed by Katherine Jones
Megan Caddell is a woman on a mission. Given that she’s the World Vision Child Ambassador
Team Lead, you might assume that her mission is to get as many kids sponsored as possible. But
you would assume wrong. Because while that, of course, is something she desires and believes in
deeply, her mission is something other: to give Child Ambassadors every tool she can muster so
that we may live out the calling God has given us.
“I want to work with Child Ambassadors to give you what you need to fulfill your calling,” she
says. “To me, there’s no greater people or mission. There’s nothing better for me.”
Megan’s aim is born out of experience as she knows firsthand what it means to live a life of
calling. A vision for her future began taking form when she was a teen as she planned her high
school prom. “I love moving people toward a goal,” she says. “In college, I designed my own
minor in Event Planning. Once out of college, I worked for one of the top planning firms in
Seattle. But there I was planning events for people who already had everything. Then I went to
church one day and my pastor challenged us: Be a blessing in a world of oppression.”
That challenge hit its mark. Megan quit her prestigious Seattle job and went to Africa for a
season. While there, she found herself praying a very specific prayer: “It was, ‘Lord,
break my heart for the things that break yours.’ And I was like, Who said that? Because that
didn’t sound like me, but I knew I meant it. It wasn’t until years later that I learned I’d prayed
[World Vision founder] Bob Pierce’s famous prayer.”
In Africa, God did break Megan’s heart for those suffering in the AIDS crisis. And soon after her
return to the U.S., she signed on with World Vision.
That was eight years ago, and her commitment to World Vision and its global impact has only
increased. “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I care about the work World Vision does in
the world more than anything. I read State Department emails for fun because I care about
international foreign policy.”
Any Child Ambassador who has ever been in the same room with Megan has witnessed firsthand
her gregarious personality in action. Is she really the extrovert she seems?
“Oh, yes!” She laughs. “For better or worse. I was a cheerleader in high school, and now I’m a
cheerleader for my job. On our recent Vision Trip to Nicaragua, we, of course, had a mix of
introverts and extroverts. We had to be intentional about giving the more introverted ones a way
to show us when they’d had enough. But me? I don’t get peopled out.”
Which makes her a brilliant fit for this job that requires constant, intentional, energetic
interaction with people. Interaction that isn’t limited to those she leads, but to her sponsored kids
as well. These include a boy in Swaziland and a recent addition, a boy she met in Nicaragua.
“One day we were visiting a school,” she says, “and there was a boy who was one of the best
readers, who was mentoring others. I found out he was not sponsored and spent the rest of my
time there being with him as much as possible. I was so excited to see his great, great, great
potential as a leader -- his potential to go places.”
That’s the same kind of potential she seeks out in the Child Ambassadors she works with, and
what inspires her to throw all her energies into her job. “Let me help you,” she says.
She goes on to say that while she’s traveled to three countries with World Vision, she doesn’t
have any great desire to keep adding to her destination list. “I already believe in World Vision’s
model and their mission. I don’t need to see it in action. My most remarkable moment in
Nicaragua was when the World Vision staff there realized who these women with me were—the
Child Ambassadors—and what they are capable of. That was a turning point for the staff as they
began asking, ‘What can we do to make sure these Child Ambassadors have all they need?’”
Because the corollary is plain. When Child Ambassadors are empowered and equipped, when we
have the tools that help us tell compelling stories with up-to-date information at our fingertips,
we are able to fulfill our own mission: matching sponsors with children.
“My role,” Megan says, “is to help CAs live out their faith. For me, it’s a lot less about where I
want to go next, and more about who can I take on those trips. Which Child Ambassadors can I
take with me so that they may live out their potential? This is my question, and it’s my great,
blessed pleasure to help facilitate that."
Contributed by Laura Walls in Stories from the Field
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." II Corinthians 1:3-4
I knew that look.
The look of someone who's been hurt before. Someone who's been left before.
Her eyes were wary, untrusting, and less than comfortable making contact with mine. After a half an hour together, her first real smile came when her beautiful, little daughter's eyes lit up with wonder and joy while she was blowing bubbles. But she looked away quickly and her smile faded. And it was in that moment I knew.
I've been in that place.
I asked the translator to confirm what I'd already guessed. Yes, Fatima's mom was a single mom, trying to care for her two children while living with her mother. Yes, it was just the four of them living there.
"What does she do for work?" I asked. Gustavo, our translator paused and repeated the question, this time in Spanish. She shifted and explained.
"She goes house to house and does laundry or house cleaning. Whatever she can find..."
She looked at me and looked away.
"Tell her, tell her I was a single mom, too. Tell her I know how hard she's working to take care of her children. Please tell her that her daughter is beautiful and that she's doing such a good job raising her."
Our eyes locked as he repeated it to her and she smiled and nodded.
I hadn't realized that fact when I was coming to meet them on a Vision Trip to Nicaragua with the Child Ambassador team. Little Fatima was just a picture then with an ID number that I showed to my cousin after she expressed an interest in sponsoring. There was no other information about Fatima's background. But God knew her needs. He knew that there was a special little girl who needed some extra support and encouragement. He knew there was a kind and wonderful woman in the US who longed to connect with and love a child through sponsorship. He knew Fatima's mom needed that hope and kindness. And He knew... He knew I'd relate and that I should be the one who brought them together.
I gave Fatima all the things her sponsor, Susan, had lovingly picked out for her. A jumprope, a doll, a coloring book... each item was exciting to her and her smile was irrepressible. She loved looking at the picture of Susan and passed it to her mom. They pointed at it and I heard her mom say, "Patrocinador." Your sponsor. Fatima smiled and carefully began taking each item from Susan out of the little plastic tote. She lined it all up on the table, eyes wide with joy and approval. Then she gingerly placed it all back inside the tote, closed the lid, and gave a deep, satisfied sigh. She looked up at me, grinned, and abruptly squeezed me close in a tight hug.
Oh, be still my heart!
You know, life isn't always easy. For some of us, maybe even most of us, it takes a lot of regrettable sharp twists and turns. Sometimes, we can feel all alone, as though we don't matter to anyone. We can shut down, afraid of being hurt again. But then... God surprises us. He sends someone unexpectedly into our lives to gently whisper to us that we matter to Him. We are not forgotten. He sends someone like Susan to remind us that we are seen. We are known. We are loved.
Friends, this is child sponsorship. We often think of it as affecting only the child but really, it affects the whole family and their community. And through it, God will work to bring healing to brokenness, lift up the lonely, and to move families from poverty to HOPE. And this work - changing how stories end - this is what we are blessed to be part of as child ambassadors. So be BOLD! Know that what you do is changing lives - like the life of little Fatima in Nicaragua.
Photos and stories contributed by Laura Walls in Stories from the Field
Ever wondered what it would be like to go on a Vision Trip?
Pull up a chair and ride along with us to Nicaragua - land of lakes and volcanoes. Click through the slideshows below and meet some extraordinary people. You'll have some new stories to share with family and friends about the power of World Vision sponsorship!
The Basket-weaving Family
The Importance of Volunteers
Teachers and Schools
The "Entrepreneur's Bakery"
THE SPONSORED CHILD VISITS!!!
Other Stories to Share
Angelica has served as a World Vision staff member for the past four years. She was once a sponsored child and, though her sponsor didn't write a lot and even discontinued the sponsorship after a couple of years, she still described her sponsor " ...as a friend, like someone you're close to - like a family member."
Though Angelica's contact with her sponsor didn't continue, it wasn't a negative experience in her life. Even without a sponsor, she was able to be part of World Vision programs in her community. "It's one thing to say you have a sponsor. But with World Vision, you have a network of sponsors." And without that, "I never would've acquired the skills I have today."
And not just Angelica, the whole community has been helped. "All of these strategies benefitting and giving back to children, without World Vision, they wouldn't have taken place."
Rafael describes his family as "very humble." He and his sister were raised by their grandparents. Like many rural families, his grandparents didn't see the value of an education beyond elementary school. World Vision helped their family to see the benefit of Rafael and his sister continuing in school.
He and his sister were sponsored by the same donor. She encouraged them to dream and set goals for their futures. When he wrote that he would like to become a civil engineer, she said she would like to help him achieve that goal and fulfilled her promise by helping him pay his way through college.
"Thanks to her, I am now an engineer and working for World Vision. I can actually say that, 'I know that World Vision changes lives' because I was once one of them."
Contributed by Laura Walls in Ideas for your Ministry
Getting together with friends, your life/small group, or family to share a meal is a wonderful way to share your ministry as a child ambassador! By choosing a menu from a specific region of the world, you can invite others to experience the culture and flavors of faraway places and help them to identify with the children who live there.
Here are a few steps to get you started!
1. Choose your location.
World Vision works in nearly 100 countries! Browse through their list and see which countries offer sponsorship or perhaps choose to have a Syrian meal and have a few Refugee Responder folders available.
2. Order your Picture Folders.
Once you've selected a region, hop online to the volunteers site and order your picture folders or refugee responder folders. You can specify what country the children are from by typing your request in the box that says "notes." Allow at least two weeks for delivery.
3. Select your Menu.
Now for the fun part! There are some fantastic resources online that will help you create a special feast for your guests. Following are just a few links to some great-tasting regional meals!
4. Write out your Invitations.
Put your invitation list together and pick a date! Be sure to let people know that this meal will be a fun chance for you all to learn and experience another region together and that there will be an opportunity to help children from that region if anyone feels led.
5. Consider watching a film from your selected country or even make a craft!
Try watching Journey to Jamaa (free to order from the volunteers site on the supplies page) or stream a foreign film from Netflix. It can be a great way to further immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of another country. If you're the crafty type or having a gathering that involves kids, consider making a craft from the country you've selected! There are tons of ideas out there - especially on Pinterest!
6. Prepare your heart and home.
You've chosen your country, selected your meal and possibly an activity, now take some time to prepare your heart. Learn about the country's history and needs by searching on World Vision's country profiles. Take some time to pray for the children and families who live there and for the staff who serve them. Pray for your guests and for your time together.
Once your heart is ready, put your shopping list together and purchase your groceries!
7. Open the Doors!
It's the big day! Through prayer, your heart is ready, your food is prepared, and your guests are arriving! Enjoy this time of fellowship together and remember to be bold on behalf of the children we serve! Don't forget to invite them to sponsor a child or help refugee children. Even if they aren't able to make that commitment at this time, it may plant a seed for a later opportunity!
Please share with us how it went. We'd love to hear your stories and see photos of your meal together!!!
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.