compiled/edited by Paula Hemphill in Meet Other CAs
By now you've probably heard about our special campaign for this month: Ask August, where each day in the month of August, you do one thing for your World Vision ministry. If you're anything like me, this challenge is absolutely terrifying and one you may not want to participate in, but the one consistent thing for every CA in this ministry is that this work takes all of us out of our comfort zones and makes us do some things that we might think are crazy.
But that doesn't mean that stepping out into the challenge isn't scary. It is. And I find that the best way to combat fear is to sit down with my friends and talk about it. So, today I'd like to share with you the hearts of some of my friends. Here is some advice to keep you asking throughout August-- even when the going gets tough!
In this work-- even when I hear no after no-- I'm reminded of the scripture that says that we "have not, because we ask not." That's pretty simple. God is alive and well, He wants to move in His creation, but He wants us to be a part of it; He want us to be involved. He enjoys when we are involved in His wonderful works. With this in mind, He likes it when we ask for things that are close to His heart. The foreigner is very close to his heart. Leviticus 19:34 commands us to "treat [foreigners] as [our] native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt." Not to get too deep in this, but fast forward to today's Christian. We were foreigners in the land of captivity (Egypt), captive to sin, but we have been brought out of darkness and into His marvelous light," so now we have a responsibility to treat others, who are still foreigners as well as we would treat ourselves. We are compelled to move according to the Biblical command. In a more practical sense: How do I keep going after someone says no? Easy. Every no, puts you one step closer to a yes. Babe Ruth, the home run king was also a leader in strikeouts. Those who strike out the most, can also have the potential to score the most. Be ok with striking out.
If you're fearful, I think 1 Peter 5:7 says it pretty well. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." The second suggestion is a bit more practical. Prepare. Know what you want to say and have it ready to go at any moment. Just start. Start with what you are most comfortable and then work up to things that are a bit more "difficult." You will notice that as you continue, your confidence will grow, and before you know it, you'll be doing things that you never dreamed of. But you have to start. Be nice to yourself. Within any challenge the hardest critic is always yourself. Don't be so hard on yourself if you don't hit a daily task, or make connections, or setup special services. Just keep going. If you forgot to do something, don't fret, just pick up where you left off. Remember, God loves you and cares for you.
- Javy Diaz (pictured left)
You might not know how to start these daily asks/conversations. I don't either, so I blame it on World Vision, CA’s! I say, "Hey, I have been challenged this month to make one ask a day, and you are lucky enough to be that ask. Would you just hear what I have to say? No obligation.” You might not feel like you know enough to make daily asks, but that's ok! Every time I share, I have to prepare myself with information. Looking for the stories of refugee children, learning more about the situation people are living in, learning to be a good resource for people who are seeking answers. This is always a growing experience for me….like the Grinch, my heart grows 3 extra sizes.
If you're afraid, remember you are not advocating for yourself. You are speaking on behalf of a forgotten group of people. Share your heart and your passion. Make it personal. What would you do if your sisters or brothers were forced from their home? Wouldn’t the church, your friends, neighbors all work together to help? People want to help, but don’t know what to do. World Vision responds to the need and uses our resources in the most effective way possible. Don’t be shy about telling all the good that World Vision is doing in the refugee camps (child safe zones, counseling, schooling). I talked to my friend today and shared about this video I saw last night (children of war, i think?), where the little boy who’s parents were killed, said: i love my parents and they USED to love me. If that doesn’t break your heart…..
Remember that if you're hearing no a lot eventually, there will be a yes. It is not my job to get people to do this. It is my job to inform and ask. God does the rest. When we take the pressure off ourselves to GET a sponsorship or an Refugee Responder our job becomes easier. I like to say that getting sponsorships is not in my job description. Asking is.
Ask August is a challenge. Make it a fun challenge and not a burden. Wear a key around your neck. maybe people will ask YOU! Remember, it's okay for people to say no.
- Celeste Sherman
compiled/edited by Paula Hemphill in Meet Other CAs
I think one of the most beautiful things in life is how unpredictable it can be -- how one seemingly unimportant decision can totally change your world and your life forever. I have had the privilege of experiencing a few transformational moments like that in my own life. Our child ambassador conference was one of them for me. I shared my story about it in a previous blog post. But since you've already heard that story, well, I want to tell your stories.
I'd like you to meet some of my friends and hear them tell their stories about conference. Each one of the people who shared is unique and a precious part of our team. And so are YOU. That's why we are all extending a warm invitation for you to join us at conference this year! Get the details and register here.
"Come away full..."
- Tamara Vazquez
"I felt a little like Moses as I came to God with my little list of excuses of why I couldn't go to conference. And one by one He took them away: My parents watched my son, I carpooled to the conference with another CA, I paid for the conference from my savings, and God is faithful to provide just as He always is. And in His faithfulness, He showed me that we need each other for this ministry and we need to lift up each other in prayer...
I came not knowing what to expect at all, I just felt like I should be there. I was excited about going to Seattle and meeting other CA's, but I was a little nervous too. But I made friends with other CA's I hadn't met before and I was inspired by the prayer team to pray more. (Now) I pray that God would use me to change lives. I pray for other CA's. I pray over the picture folders. And I pray for the events we participate in. For me, conference was life-changing -- it's an amazing experience. It is celebrating God's goodness and faithfulness as we do His work. So, if anyone is on the fence, I would tell them to come. Come with an open-heart, and you'll come away full."
"Conference is fuel for the soul..."
- Linda Stombaugh
"I definitely sat on the fence about conference for months. I came up with so many reasons why I shouldn't go. My family continuously encouraged me to go but it took a lyric from Matt Maher to really shake me: 'If anyone remembers my name, if I'm ever known for anything, let it be I ran into the night running with a firelight, firelight.' This made me examine what my purpose in life is. It shouldn't be to live a comfortable life, acquire things, and die. It made me ask myself, 'What impact can I make that will be eternal for the Kingdom of God?'
So, I went to conference and I discovered that conference is fuel for the soul to accomplish our God given purpose. Being a Child Ambassador doesn't simply change the lives of children and their communities. It changes you."
"Recharge, re-center, and connect..."
- Cari Conklin
"I registered for conference because I wanted to meet my heroes and learn from them. I also wanted to build relationships that would bring community. And I'm coming back to conference this year because I still have so much to learn and I want to see my heroes (now friends) in person! These are the kind of people I want to walk through life with. Coming to conference and being with them for a few days has taken what I knew I should do as a Christian and helped me move beyond it into a rich and joyful journey of faith. Conference is where the orange army comes to recharge, re-center, and connect to the larger mission we have as a team. This is not just an experience that is over when you leave. It is the start of many things beautiful, and growing, and good."
"I now have this clarity in my heart..."
- Candice East
"For me conference means a weekend surrounded by the Body of Christ in the most concentrated setting I have ever experienced. I was reassured by the LORD over and over that this is HIS organization-- doing the work of His hands and feet. God built this organization through the prayers of faithful followers and being a part of it that weekend completely fueled my ministry. As with all things in my life, once I know the LORD is in something and He reassures me of it, I am all in! The Lord used conference to do just that for me last year. I simply felt the Lord leading me to this ministry like never before. I now have this clarity in my heart, in my confidence, in my purpose, and it had not been this strong before conference!"
"It helped me know I'm not alone..."
- Beth Adkins
"I'm not really sure what made me decide to go to conference last year. I think I was disgusted with myself for not doing much as an ambassador. But I underestimated how amazing it would feel to be around other people who have the same heart as me for the people of the world. Conference was a great experience because of the orange army unity, but also because it brings you back to the heart of why you became a child ambassador in the first place. I got to reconnect with that right away. I invited my sister to attend with me, and she said yes. She had always had a heart for people before the conference, but she hadn't taken on sponsorship yet. The impact of the conference though, made her decide to not only start sponsoring, but to become a CA too! The heart of the conference helps to keep our WV heart beating and makes it bigger too. It helped me know I'm not alone, I'm not the only one who struggles with certain things, it reminded me of the first time I saw the work of World Vision, and the way it made my heart open. That bolsters me up. Conference is a great experience that is difficult to put into words, but has an amazing impact on your heart. Do it. You owe it to yourself to, at the very least, try conference once. If you want to be renewed as a CA, you have to try this. As far as the time and money are concerned, pray about it. Ask the prayer team to pray for you. I didn't know how I was going to make it there last year and the prayer team prayed for me and I made it. God even gave me an extra $100 as a gift from a friend!"
"Immediately and lovingly welcomed..."
- Shannon Legler (pictured back row, right side)
"By the end of day one, I was shocked and humbled to my core! I have never been around a group of people so accepting, honest, real, and devoted to doing good! ...I walked away (from conference) with connections to new friends that still persist strongly today. Before even touching on the topics covered and resources provided by the conference, the antendees themselves--the warriors in the orange army who immediately and lovingly welcomed me into their ranks--did a lot to restore my faith in humanity."
"I knew God was telling me to go..."
- Tercelina Matias
"I'm a very shy person. I really don't go out much. So, I asked my mom if I should attend my first conference two years ago and she told me to pray about it. I did and in my heart I knew God was telling me to go. I went not knowing what to expect. But I received a blessing. I worshiped, I met new brothers and sisters in Christ, and I learned new things about World Vision. But the best part of my first conference was that I won a stool from one of the mothers' in the Congo. It was an awesome experience. I love the people I met that year and I love everything about conference. Being there helped me to realize how many people in the world need help. My tears wouldn't stop when I saw so much need in this world. This knowledge gave me more motivation to talk to people about World Vision and their program. Also, it helped me to value what I have. For me conference is a BLESSING, a change of heart, a learning experience. The experience of my first conference brought me back the second year, and the experience of my second conference is bringing me back this year."
"The conference answered the spiritual concerns we had and also allowed us to know that we have a lot of support not only from the staff and team at WV, but also from the other CAs in our area."
- John & Tracey Miller
"A sense of belonging..."
- Rob Lebby
"The difficult part for me as an introvert is that I don't always feel well-connected. Being a CA gives me a sense of belonging to something much bigger than myself and it's a very worthy endeavor. That was why I decided to register for conference the first time. I was excited about being a brand new CA and I wanted to connect with the larger group of CAs. The second year, I came back because of all the new friends I had made a year earlier. And it's why I hope to be back again this year."
Contributed by Wendy Hemphill and Shannon Legler, edited by Katherine Jones in Ideas for your Ministry
As Child Ambassadors, we want to seek out every opportunity to encourage, teach, team-build, and increase our networks of compassionate souls. One very practical way we can accomplish all of these things is by a hosting a party for writing letters to our sponsored children. The benefits are multiple. For the kids, it means blessing them with a tangible expression of their sponsor’s love and care. For sponsors, it means allowing them a guided opportunity to connect with their kids, which in turn expands their sense of purpose. There’s a communal benefit as well as sponsors share their stories, bringing them into the bigger picture of child sponsorship, while also offering them a time of genuine fellowship.
Interested in hosting a letter-writing party of your own? Here’s how:
First, determine the date, time, and place. Most CAs invite sponsors to their home, but you can do it anywhere that works for you: at your church, community center, or local library—wherever suits your purposes best.
Next, send your invitations. Be sure to include the 5Ws: Who, What, Where, Why, & When. Facebook or group-email invitations are fine, but personal invitations go a long way, whether they’re by individual email, phone call, or handwritten note. Request RSVPs so that you may better prepare for the event.
For the party itself, experienced CAs suggest that you keep it casual, and always offer some light refreshment—snacks, coffee, tea. Ahead of time, you may want to ask a few sponsors to be prepared to tell their sponsorship story, which helps to build a true fellowship among sponsors.
After you’ve hosted your first party, start planning the next one! Every-other month works for many CAs and their sponsors. Try not to be discouraged if attendance is low, or nil. It happens, but you can still benefit yourself by using the time set aside to correspond with your own sponsored kids.
But what to put in those letters? This is a question that stumps even seasoned CAs and sponsors. Here are some ideas you can share with sponsors to make letter writing easier and more enjoyable for both writer and recipient.
First, always keep your sponsored kids in your thoughts. This means getting into the habit of not only keeping them in your prayers, but looking at the world through a filter of what you can share with your kids. Turn a watchful eye on life and surroundings to find creative things to write about: the bird nesting above your door, a family get-together, your walk to work, or hanging out with your friends' pets—all of these can turn into treasure-troves of topics to write about.
Pictures, pictures, pictures! Nothing connects kids to experiences like photos. Try snapping photos on your phone whenever anything catches your eye, so that you’ll have a nice stockpile to pick through when you write. If you dislike having your own picture taken, this may be just the thing to get you to come out of your shell a bit, because you know that kids love to receive pictures of their sponsors. Take a few selfies for a good cause—especially while holding pictures or letters they've sent to you!
Think like a penpal. If you ever longed for a penpal as a child, think back and harness that feeling. Consider what you would have wanted to hear from your new friend in another part of the world and the sorts of things you would have wanted to see. And be reassured by how thrilling it is for a child to receive a letter from someone far away. Don't be shy or fret too much—hearing from you is exciting in itself!
Keep it simple. There are a lot of big subjects or depthy thoughts that you might love to hear from your sponsored kids, but more often than not, anything that isn't phrased simply and clearly gets missed in translation. Keep phrases very simple and follow an easy line of thought, which in turn helps facilitate a more personal response.
Be thoughtful with your questions. Asking questions is great! But tying them to other relevant topics is even better. Do more than just ask for random facts. Instead, try linking questions to facts you’ve shared about yourself, or about something else mentioned in your letter. For instance, when explaining that autumn here is a time for sharing stories and songs, you might ask if they have any favorite songs or stories of their own.
"Time" is a good topic. This might be a little specific, but successful letter-writers have found it surprisingly effective. Talk about things that naturally show a progression of time. Not only does that help the kids link one letter to the next, but it helps the sponsor as well. Mention the changing weather, for instance, or update them on how those nesting birds above your door are doing, or take pictures of how the trees look at different times of the year, etc. This also helps to build upon the letters that came before, instead of each point of contact being its own isolated island.
Differences are fascinating, but commonalities are meaningful. When coming up with things to write to about, try to search for ways in which your lives are similar and spin concepts in a way that kids might most identify with. Instead of talking about your vacation to Chicago for your sister's birthday, for instance, talk about traveling very far to visit family you haven't seen in a long time. Dig into the pictures, video, and information about your sponsored child's community for inspiration, and pay attention to their likes and hobbies. There are so many things our lives have in common—family, travel, celebrations, art, nature, music, dancing. And you’ll always find more when you think to look.
Most importantly, relax and put your heart into it. Hearing from you at all, especially with regularity, will be enough to show your sponsored children that you care. As long as you keep your them in your thoughts and reach out to them in any way (even a postcard whenever you think about it), they will get the message. And the more you reach out to them, the more they'll come to know that they are truly a part of your life.
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.