Meet Merrill Swenke
She is from Dallas, Texas and lives with her husband, Kevin. They have three sons: Cole, Grant, and Ryan. Merrill is a speech pathologist and she works with 0-3 year old developmentally delayed children. Her favorite non-World Vision hobby is reading, but she admits being a CA is her number 1 favorite hobby! Most of her free time goes towards this ministry and she loves it!
Her journey began after reading The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US. This book clearly laid out a way for her to be a part of changing the world where she was and gave her an opportunity to put into action what we are asked to do by Jesus. Immediately after finishing the book, she sponsored her first child from Zambia. After a year or so she learned about the child ambassador program and she knew instantly that she wanted to be a part of this team! That was at the end of 2012 and she brazenly states that her life has never been the same, nor would she ever want to go back! Since then, she has sponsored nine (yes you read that right, 9) more children she has had the incredible privilege of traveling with World Vision to Cambodia and Nicaragua on Vision Trips. She loves being a part of a team whose passion mirrors her own. What could be better than sharing with anyone and everyone about how World Vision is helping to end poverty through child sponsorship? She believes that we, as child ambassadors, have one of the absolute coolest and most precious opportunities in the world-- to share the love of Jesus through child sponsorship!
Merrill, could you tell us a little bit about your favorite event/favorite sponsorship story as a CA?
My favorite sponsorship story was when a 9 year old boy named Grant stopped & talked to me at my World Vision table at a festival. He was the only one from his family to stop and he showed amazing compassion and concern for the children. He kept looking at one picture of a boy his age from Ghana. Grant asked a lot of questions. He was very despondent when he found out that it took money to sponsor a child. I explained that there would always be children to sponsor and that he could sponsor when he got a little older. At that point, his Mom called him away and they left. About two weeks later, the grandmother of this child tracked me down through the event chairperson. She explained that prior to this event, Grant and his sister had been complaining because their family didn't have all the material things that their friends did. This grandmother was so happy to see him thinking about someone else! Because of Grant's compassion and because he went home and talked about the little boy from Ghana nonstop the family decided to sponsor him! He does chores for neighbors to help pay for the sponsorship.
Is there a bit of encouragement you could give to other CA's?
Don't give up! Just ask anyone and everyone. You will never know if the answer could be yes if you don't ask! You have to devote some time to this and don't forget to PRAY!
Which scripture/quote gives you encouragement in this ministry?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” - Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
You can reach Merrill via email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.