Contributed by Paula Hemphill in Ideas for your Ministry
Did you know that October 11th is International Day of the Girl, friends? It is! And I have a fun suggestion for how you can celebrate this year.
A few years ago, CNN released an absolutely beautiful, well made, high-dollar documentary called Girl Rising. I had the honor of hosting a showing of this film in Nashville-- while other CAs around the country were also able to do the same in their cities.
It was amazing to see how God worked to bring this film to the big screen across the nation-- educating and empowering our countrymen to help be the change we wish to see in the world.
So, for International Day of the Girl, throw a movie night party! Invite friends to your house and show it. Rent out a room at your local library. Ask your church if you can host a film night. Depending on your locale you could make snacks or set up a concession stand with all proceeds going to benefit girls growing up in developing countries. Don't forget to take a few minutes at the beginning and the end to share about World Vision, sponsorship, and how we can all make a difference for girls around the world.
Here's a checklist to help you get started in your planning!
Girl Rising Movie Night – cheat sheet
Contributed by Celeste Sherman and edited by Laura Walls in Ideas for your Ministry
3 years ago, we decided that our ministries, due to Stu’s physical condition with ALS, needed to be honed down. We were youth leaders, church chair, missions chair, church board, Child Ambassadors and also new to the Leadership Team. Our criteria for what needed to be stripped away was -- anything we did MUST be KINGDOM work. Which is why we now entirely focus our service to World Vision. Sharing our hearts for the Syrian people and allowing God’s people to respond by becoming Refugee Responders IS building the KINGDOM. We are so very blessed that God allows us to do that. And we will continue to speak for the least of these, as long as He gives us strength and voice.
Child Ambassadors have focused on many targeted campaigns over the past years: clean water, education, child protection, the ‘margins’, and now the refugee crisis. I confess, some of these have had a greater impact on me and have allowed my husband, Stu, and I to share with more passion. One in particular, was child protection. As a mom and dad of two beautiful girls, I cannot imagine what parents go through when their daughter is stolen from them. We shared passionately, from the heart, and people responded.
The refugee crisis has a similar impact on us. We've been moved to respond for the following reasons:
We believe children should be carefree!
I’m a teacher: a teacher who LOVES summer. I spend many summer days hanging out at the beach. I love people watching, but the people I love watching the most are the kids, perhaps, because they love summer as much as I do! I love watching them play chicken with the waves, build sand castles with their dads, chase seagulls and then scream with delight. There is no crying at the beach.
Children should always have that carefree existence.
So, when I watch videos of children…. babies, telling about the horrors of war that they themselves witnessed, it deeply touches me. They talk about how they cry at night because they are scared of the sounds of planes. They miss their friends, their houses, and in some case their parents. No child should have to carry these burdens. Every child should be tucked in, given butterfly kisses, and float off to night filled with sweet dreams.
We know what it's like to have life come to a grinding halt.
We have a glimpse of what it is like to have your world turned upside down.
3 years ago, Stu was diagnosed with a terminal illness, ALS. We felt like we were sucker punched. Our world turned upside down. Then, God showed up. His peace and protection surrounded us. His people ministered to us. We were restored.
2 years later, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Based on past experience, we knew God and His people had our backs. Terminal is not a term we use anymore. God gave us hope and a future, and we are convinced that these infirmities that He allowed in our lives, make us more sensitive to the difficulties of those around us. For example, normally a car breakdown would cause much stress. Our car broke down on the way home from my first 5 hour-long chemo infusion. I laughed as I told my daughter that upon calling AAA I played the cancer card and said we needed a tow truck right away. Her reply, “as if a guy with a walker and a service dog isn’t pathetic enough!” Compared to some of the other serious issues with our health we faced, a broke down car was pretty minor.
I’m sure the Syrian’s would long for the day to have a deadline on a work report, or a flat tire, or having to meet payment for the monthly the bills. We have an idea of what it’s like to have your world come to a screeching halt. We also know what God’s peace and provision does to take away that mindset and give hope for a future. I want my Syrian friends to know that same peace and hope when God shows up and His people respond.
We want the love of God to be known.
Very dear friends of ours are missionaries to the Muslims. We are in awe as they share with us God’s working to draw the Muslims unto Himself. Henry Blackabee says: ‘He (God) wants to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision, and His kindness to His people and a watching world. This is the only way the world will come to know Him.’ We want to see God be glorified through World Vision as these workers assist these precious people: to those Christians, many who have faced severe persecution and to the Muslims, as God makes Himself known to them.
Our missionary friends tell us of the many who are coming to know Jesus, even in secret. We will be surprised, one day, when it is the Muslim-background Believers who will make up the Majority Church. We want to be part of that movement. The church needs to be a part of that movement. It is our job to let them know what can be done!
And that, my fellow CA’s, is why we ALL do what we do with passion and excellence. Speak you heart, find YOUR passion, let the world know and watch God work.
Would you like to host a Refugee Sunday at a church in your area? Here are 4 steps to get started!
1. Watch some of the videos below, read some current articles like this one recently written by World Vision's president Rich Stearns, and pray that the Lord would break your heart for what breaks his.
2. Visit volunteers.worldvision.org and click on the "resources" tab. Look for the "Refugee Response Initiative." On this page, you'll find TONS of videos, articles, talks, email templates to send churches, a powerpoint, and virtually all you need to host your own Refugee Sunday!
3. You can order Refugee Responder folders on the "supplies" tab of the volunteers site or order a Refugee Sunday kit. (Enter your CA Source Code under "Role at Your Church.")
4. Research the churches in your area. Hop online and read their mission statements and the ministries they're involved in. Pick one of the churches to go to and visit on a Sunday and then take a minute to introduce yourself to the pastor. Let him know that you're a child ambassador with World Vision and that you are working with area churches to host Refugee Sunday (and/or Hope Sunday sponsorship) events. Ask him if you could send an email that explains more and then follow that email up with a request to meet for a few minutes sometime. Be sure to keep your CA Leadership Team member informed of your plans so they can help you along the way and pray for you!!!
Contributed by Laura Walls in Meet Other CAs and Ideas for your Ministry
I heard Vicki speak at my first Child Ambassador conference nearly six years ago. In my mind, she was legendary for getting at least 100 children sponsored each year. At the conference, Vicki shared her "30 second spiel" - a quick overview she gives to potential sponsors about World Vision's work. Hearing her, my jaw dropped. In a friendly, engaging, and unbelievably fast way, she summarized the key points of World Vision's work in under a minute. She went on to explain that she looks for sponsors wherever she goes - even the grocery store!
Today, Vicki continues to inspire me and I'm so grateful I've had the chance to know her as a both a co-laboring child ambassador and as a dear friend! This "Ask August," as we take intentional steps of faith to be bold in sharing sponsorship, I believe her journey as a child ambassador will be an inspiration to many!
Eleven years ago, Vicki Casper knew she wanted to do something more for others. "I believe everyone needs love and care and I really love children. God has always provided for me so how could I not help others to have what they need, too?" Already a child sponsor, she was looking through her World Vision magazine when she saw it - the very first advertisement for the new volunteer Child Ambassador program. Immediately, she knew this was what she was looking for and was filled with joy!
But her first couple of years as a child ambassador were more challenging then Vicki expected. "I remember going to my first conference and we were all talking and just surprised at how hard it was to find sponsors. We thought it would be easier." But early on, she realized something. "I realized that it even though it was hard, if you just keep asking, you will find sponsors."
And with every sponsorship, came encouragement. Her first sponsors were her new neighbors. "A young couple moved in across the street. They didn’t have much money but they were my first sponsors and seeing how willing they were to help, even though they didn't have a lot... I was so encouraged."
Vicki wants all child ambassadors to experience the joy of finding a sponsor for a child. "You don't have to find sponsors for that many kids each year... I'm really encouraged by just finding sponsors, one by one. The sponsors are so happy about it and God gives you this joy, too, because you’re doing something he wants you to do."
Pivotal to her success in finding sponsors is discipline. "I’m really disciplined. I don’t always have a lot of time but when I go home, I make a list of people I can connect with and places to share. I think of these connections in my regular life. I've left picture folders on the kitchen counter and sometimes my kids’ friends have brought one home and sponsored. I’ve left picture folders on the table beside me at a restaurant and a waitress once sponsored three, right there.'
Look for the smaller ways to share. The big things – big churches, big events don’t happen very often, at least for me. But the small things, everyday things that happen in communities, like restaurants, your hairdresser, places you walk by every day - whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, talk about it.
"I make sure that I'm always thinking of someone to approach for sponsorship or that I have an event I'm planning for. And I write my list. It might take a while but I work through that list. I don’t let up on it. We need to be disciplined in doing this work. This is for Jesus. And this is such an important work! I look for sponsors every day. All the time. I may not ask someone every day but I think about it every day. And I walk and pray about it every day. We really need to pray about this ministry and keep it in the forefront of our minds. It is a ministry. We need God to help us and we need to be in prayer in it."
Being brave is also key. "Sometimes, God just tells me, go up and ask that person to sponsor a child. It’s about losing the fear. I think that’s the main problem with all of us – we’re afraid. But we need to ask and ask and ask because you just never know. I've seen moms who are on the street. They aren't afraid to ask for something for their children and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask, either, because these kids need us.
Vicki has so much practical experience to offer child ambassadors and has put together a great resource! In it, you'll find wonderful tips for making this ministry a doable part of your daily routine! Click below to download, "Everyday Sponsorship."
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
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.
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.