A Community Resource for Child Ambassadors
compiled/edited by Paula Hemphill
A team of CAs just returned from Bangladesh. I was one of the people who got to be on this trip. One day during a long van ride I asked my friends to begin to think about what we'd like to share with our team back home about how the beautiful Bangladesh was changing our hearts. These are the stories of how God wrecked our hearts in Bangladesh. We hope that He will use them to wreck yours too!
Traveling to Bangladesh was the most outrageous thing I have ever done. Never have I flown so far around the world or been exposed to a culture and environment so different from my own. From the smog smells and the trash piles, to the traffic and the rickshaws, to the man selling live chickens from a basket on top of his head—these differences really only pointed to one important thing: our shared humanity. I expected to see people who had less than me. I expected to see children who had more hardships than my children. I knew the stories on paper. My new sponsored child Lamia is 2 1/2 years old and lost her dad to cancer last spring because there was no way for him to be treated. Her 15 year old sister was tricked into early marriage and her mother does not know where she is living. Her brother is no longer in school and doing odd jobs. It is a real fear that while her mother is at work in a garment factory, she will be snatched or have a serious accident while being virtually unattended.
But what the stories cannot tell you is the joy, pride, and resilience that resides next to the pain and impossible circumstances. It was the most welcoming and kind spirit I have ever witnessed. Everything I knew about the work of World Vision transforming communities was in black and white and this experience turned it into living color. Being on a Vision Trip will not only change how I serve as a Child Ambassador, it will also change how I look at life. I see hope where I saw despair. I can now help more clearly my sister on the other side of the world get a sewing machine of her own in order to leave the garment factory and work from her home so she can watch little Lamia and take her to a WV Child Friendly Space. I can more adequately express to potential sponsors just how a community becomes self sustaining. I have seen the fierceness in these mothers’ eyes when they tell me how World Vision has already helped them and how they will not let their children leave school to be married off at 15—something that happened to many of them. Not only are we helping one child at a time but we are helping to weave the fabric of a whole community to protect and defend the most vulnerable children.
We grieved the children that were already lost. The 12 year old girl who works in the garment factory 6 days a week for 8 hours a day for $25 a month. The 12 year old girls who walk unattended an hour to go to alternative school for a few hours in between their jobs cleaning houses and picking rice off the floor so their family has food to eat. Tears of sorrow and joy mingled when we heard from an orphaned girl who was found by a World Vision staffer while she was begging on the streets. She was sponsored, put into school, and is thriving due to consistent Gift Notifications. Current and former sponsored children proudly recited their ID numbers and recounted how they were helped and how much they enjoyed receiving mail. Born leaders were trained through the Youth Forum and spoke to us so poised and ready to dream about their future and fight for it to become reality. Husbands stood proudly by gardens made possible by their wives participation in savings groups for the ultra poor.
I have only scratched the surface to see how traveling to Bangladesh with the most extraordinary group of volunteers will continue to impact my life, faith, and ministry. I reached across the globe and held another mother’s hand. A mother whose life had been defined by loss. But there is hope and healing in the future and I have a front row seat to see God’s work in these newest ADP’s. I hope that traveling is not the most outrageous thing I will ever do, but a catalyst to speak out for the vulnerable and to live outrageously for God.
-- Courtney Crowder
Bangladesh was a place I had to look up on a map when I first found out I was blessed enough to be included on this vision trip. It was a country that was never on my radar. But, God had this trip laid out for each of us and and I could never have imagined the lasting impact it would have on my life.
Here I am a week after returning from this amazing learning experience and I am still trying to process what just happened. I don’t know if it is fully possible to know all of the ways Bangladesh changed me yet. But one this is certain, l came home more on fire, more passionate and a better human being for having met George and the staff in the field in Bangladesh.
I learned what love is. Love knows no religion or economic boundary. Love knows no distance. Love knows no age. I saw how to love as Jesus loves in Bangladesh. And it isn’t contingent on any of the qualifications I tend to justify who I extend love to. Muslim, Hindu, Christian, rich, poor, American, Bangladeshi, etc. offer such beauty because we all unite for the common goal of loving one another and helping the most vulnerable.
-- Holly Metzger
Going to Bangladesh has made me more humble and has softened my heart.
Bangladesh, we SEE you, we HEAR you!
I can tell friends and all that I talk to about World Vision how they have changed lives, and in some cases saved lives. Through connecting with the staff in the field, I can speak of the care and kindness they show to the families and children they serve. I have learned more in depth about the programs World Vision is helping create in the ADPs.
I've learned how hard the Bangladeshi people work, how fierce some of the young ladies and women in the communities are, and how they are developing leadership skills.
Being immersed into the Bengali culture, I have been changed. My eyes see differently, my ears hear differently, and my heart is full of love.
Bangladesh changed me in so many ways. I thought that I knew all that there was to know about sponsorship. I learned so very much about the far reaching effects of sponsoring one child. Because of that, my heart is bursting to tell my friends who have sponsored children, to let them know what their sponsorship really does, and also to make it my life's passion and ministry to find sponsors so more children in Bangladesh will have the hope that we saw in the faces of the children we met.
But, I think the thing that I learned the most, was very personal. Before this trip, I would have aversions to certain things. I would often turn away from what was unlovely or hard to look at. Knowing this, prior to the trip I made it an earnest prayer give me Heaven's eyes; to see the world as Jesus does. It hit me just this morning, as I was reading the day 3, post Vision Trip scripture, where Jesus healed the Leper. The Bible tells us that this man had advanced stages of leprosy. I would imagine that he was pretty difficult to look at, let alone touch, and I am sure that many turned away from him. But, then comes Jesus and the first thing He does is reach out His hand to touch the man.
Reading and contemplating that passage, brought me right back to our visit to the Tongi ADP. Courtney was visiting with her sponsored child, Lamia. I sat and enjoyed their interaction, but after a while, noticed that there was a group of inquiring children and adults outside the door. I went out and flashed a smile, and they responded likewise. I noticed them staring at me, and realized that they do not see curly blonde hair very often. After a bit, for whatever reason, I reached out my hand to one child. I never gave a thought to where their hand had been, what it had last touched, if it had picked their nose.... I simply reached out my hand. The first giggled and pulled back out of shyness. I smiled and went to the next child. After perhaps 5 or 6 more, one young boy came forward to take my hand. I put my other hand around his and we warmly shook hands and locked eyes.
I didn't think too much of it, until later in the day when we were leaving. I had, actually, forgotten about the incident, but they had not. As we were walking, I heard some laughter behind me, and when I turned, I noticed that a group of children were gathering behind me and around me. When I turned, they all shot out their little hands. Apparently, they all found their courage. We walked hand in hand....3 or 4 at a time, holding on to both of my hands, to the point that it was not very easy to move. When we were called to the van, I could not and did not want to break free, so I called on the help of one of our WV workers to tell the children that I had to leave.
When I see this picture, I am reminded of the power of touch. Jesus demonstrated it while on earth, George and the World Vision staff often demonstrated it, and now I have learned that valuable lesson.
I pray that moving forward, God will allow me to be the hands of Jesus, reaching out to the unlovely, just as He reached out to me.
Amen and Amen.
-- Celeste Valenti Sherman
First of all, visiting Bangladesh has made it easier to share sponsorship. I find if I tell people I’ve been to Bangladesh, they almost always ask, “Why would you go there?” It opens the door wide to share about World Vision and sponsorship. Couple that with the fact that after seeing the poverty and need in Bangladesh I can’t help but be bolder about wanting to ask on behalf of the unsponsored children we saw when we were over there.
Who am I to be shy about asking when they are hanging on by a thread? I hope that by sharing our stories with other CA’s, they will feel free to take our stories and use them as ways to open the conversations with their friends.
Finally, I am now compelled to be a better letter writer. I have always written letters, but I have not been consistent. After seeing how the children anticipate and cherish the letters we write, I will be more intentional about keeping a steady flow of letters going to my sponsored children. In fact, I wrote to each of my sponsored children on the plane ride home! I am putting a reminder on my calendar at the beginning of each month to send an email or letter to my sponsored kids.
-- James Naugle
I didn't know what to expect or feel when I was preparing for our vision trip. I knew I would see things that would be hard to see. But because this is World Vision I knew I would also see HOPE. It's kind of our thing, right?
I didn't know poverty, in a physical sense, existed like it does in Bangladesh. I didn't know it could be worse than what you see on TV. But it is. Yet in the very same breath, I didn't know the human spirit could be so resilient or fierce. It is beautiful.
Our trip planner, Chris, tried to prepare us. He said he'd never been to a place where humanity was so diminished. But he also said Jesus is there with them. And he's not wrong. Jesus is there with these amazing, beautiful, resilient, strong people. I saw His eyes in theirs. And you don't come back from that the same.
-- Paula Hemphill
I am still slowly processing everything after an amazing trip in Bangladesh, but I think the thing that I was very conscious of during the trip was making sure that I saw every person. This was hard and for some reason God laid it on my heart to make sure I wasn't just drawn to the children but that I was drawn to the mothers and the grandmothers as well. I had to break out of my comfort zone a few times as God nudged me to look away from the smiling kids grabbing my hands and look into the eyes of the moms standing back in the crowd.
There were times when we were stuck in traffic (oh the traffic!) and beggars of all ages would come to the car window and press their head against the glass. Those faces have stuck with me. We all want to be seen in some way, and while I could have looked away and the beggars would have probably stepped away from the van sooner, I wanted to make sure that those people "even the least of these" that God made in his image, knew that I saw them.
As soon as we made it into the field I noticed the spark in the young children's eyes. They were beautiful, but circumstances dulled that spark as kids got older and I searched for that spark in their eyes. Like any spark with the proper environment, it can reignite into a flame that shines bright or it can flicker out and extinguish. Hope can reignite that spark and World Vision brings that hope to the communities it works in. I will forever be changed by the people of Bangladesh and am forever sold out to the good work that World Vision does in the communities it's in.
Walking around the grocery store on Monday, it was like nothing had changed, and yet like everything had changed. It seemed almost surreal that two days before, I was in a place where I never imagined I’d be: Bangladesh.
It was the trip of a lifetime! One of the highlights for me happened at the Sponsorship Party where a hundred sponsored children, from 4 different ADP’s, were gathered. Towards the end of the program, the children were given an opportunity to ask questions of the Child Ambassadors. A beautiful young girl named Sumaiya, noticed a lot of “water” in my eyes and asked me what it meant to me to be a Child Ambassador. I got to stand in front of those 100 sponsored children, including my own sponsored child (Arrada), and tell them I loved being a Child Ambassador because I believed every child was created in the image of God, that God loved each and every one of them, and that they were precious in His sight.
If I truly believe that, and I do, how can I do anything but my best to help these children? How can I be anything less than BOLD in speaking up for these children who can’t speak up for themselves? And so I will continue to advocate for children and work to find sponsors for them, but with a new determination and a renewed purpose, because of Bangladesh, and because the children deserve nothing less.
Bangladesh not only changed my views, but amplified my desires.
It has always been my desire to serve God but I had my service in a box of sorts with judgments that would keep me from truly trying to reach the least of these. I feel we have truly witnessed "the least of these" and they are beautiful and wonderful, even if they are not Christian. God made them and loves them.
I am overwhelmed at what God is doing in their communities through World Vision. The work there, more than I have ever seen, is truly the hands and feet of God working. I will strive that much harder to get kids sponsored knowing the true impact that sponsorship has. The trip was eye opening, heart breaking but most of all, hopeful!
I don’t think I yet know the extent of how my heart has changed since returning from Bangladesh. I think I am stronger and more brave for traveling clear across the world and stepping foot into a culture so foreign to me. In my younger years, I wanted to travel the world and be a missionary but God taught me that I don’t need to travel to do that and I became a Child Ambassador instead. I still had an urge to travel and experience other cultures, but over the years, I became content and the yearning for that type of adventure dissipated. (I’ll never understand His timing!)
I think my mind has expanded. I have a greater understanding of many things. Even though I have advocated for children through World Vision for many years, there is a difference between the text-book knowledge and the hands-on experience. I will be able to convey the details of community transformation from a ‘first person’ perspective which I think will carry more meaning. Many people have asked me if I have ever gone to one of the ADP’s and seen it for myself and now I can offer that validity. I also have a better understanding of developing countries and how governments struggle to take care of their people as well as how that situation can change if the people are equipped to advocate for themselves and each other. I better understand how valuable it is to take fractured, chaotic, broken lives and bind them together in ‘community’ to make everyone stronger.
I know my heart has expanded. I don’t think I have ever felt so much love for so many people in such a short time! I felt like I could see each person through the eyes of Jesus and not just see their situation but see the real person, the one God loves and cares about. The one that He cheers for as His heart swells with pride when they continue to take one step after another through devastating struggles.
My eyes are wider open. It was such a joy for me to see the beauty of the people through a lens; to zoom up and capture a moment in time. The contrast was amazing: the people, with their smiles and wild colorful clothing were like flowers dotting the monochromatic landscape filled with pollution and trash. Amidst disheveled buildings, roads, and sidewalks, the people remained lively, robust and purposeful! Strength and resilience resonates in picture after picture!
My faith has grown. I was worried how seeing such hopelessness in the slums might affect me, but I left Bangladesh with a confidence that the situation isn’t hopeless but the beginning of something amazing!
I also gained a better understanding of Jesus. From the beginning of the trip, Celeste, I think, gave us the nickname of the Bangladesh 12, or BNG12. Being with George, our guide, for a week kind of made us feel like The Twelve Apostles at times! He is an amazing man and the love of Jesus just overflows in all he does and says. I think we all felt like we got to experience ‘love in action’ through George and developed a desire to replicate that in our own lives.
It was an amazing trip and I feel like this is just the ’tip of the iceberg' as I have so much more processing to do at this point and I think I will continue to experience more ways that I have been changed through this Vision Trip to Bangladesh!
Written/edited by Paula Hemphill
Last year our team rallied around Team World Vision and we saw one of the biggest fund-raising and sponsorship campaigns ever to take place on a single day! The buzz around the Global 6k for Water was hard to ignore and it was so great to watch so many friends have such amazing events in their communities! I got the chance to chat with a few of our friends after their events and I'm sharing their stories with you today!
Javy Diaz had a pretty amazing response to his event. When I asked him what his favorite moment was he said, "Favorite moment would be probably have to be when we crushed our $1,000 goal in under 24 hours and then with one week to go, raised it to $2,000 and hit it a couple of days before race ended day."
Mel Miller hosted an event in Washington state! "My favorite moment was seeing everyone show up who signed up! It was incredible to have such a great group of people gather together for one cause. The energy and excitement of the day ran through everyone! Then of course cheering everyone on as they returned was super sweet too!" She saw God's hand at work throughout the event. She says, "...my favorite God-story of the day was with a mom named Tracey. Her teenage son had wanted to do the 6k and so she signed up with him. When they showed up in the morning she brought me the two kids picture folders that correlated with their race bibs saying they weren’t going to sponsor. She seemed rather firm about it. However, when she returned, she walked straight up to me and said she saw the story boards of the little girl who was sponsored while on their walk and she knew God was telling her she needed to sponsor. So she not only sponsored one child, but both of the children her and her son walked for!"
Dana Hadigian and her daughter, Emily, hosted an event at Emily's school. They had many great moments, but Dana shares a favorite below:
"Officer Doug Oates, my daughter's School Resource Officer (a police officer assigned to protect the students) emerging from the woods and coming onto the track RUNNING with a 5-gallon bucket of water in his arms. He ran 6K (the last half w/ 44 pounds of water) in less than 35 minutes. It made me proud of our law enforcement, my daughter's school, and World Vision (in helping bring awareness of the clean water crisis/effort). I was thankful he had paid $50 to run so that a little girl in African or Haiti would no longer have that burden."
I have attached one of my favorite pics- Emily, David (my husband), and Rob Hovermale (the 57 year old principal of Emily's school who ran the event in 22 minutes, beating all his students!). :-) He is one of the kindest people I have ever met, and he really helped make this event happen for us.
Celeste and Stu didn't hesitate when I asked them their favorite moment of the event: "Gathering for prayer. Before we began our walk/run, every person circled up and prayed for the child on their bib... Also, some on our team really learned what it was like to walk in their shoes. One of our littler ones, who virtually walked with her family in North Carolina, got physically sick on her walk, but yet she pursued. Her parents are former youth leaders who participated with us in the 30 Hour Famines, and used it as a great teaching moment to identify with her child that she wore on her bib. What a great life lesson for this 3rd grader!"
Courtney Crowder in New Hampshire says, "Not gonna lie, the best moment was when it was all over. I had not anticipated ever leading a type of event like a 6K with that potential of scale and so much on the line to raise money and awareness and get kids sponsored. So I did what anyone does who feels stressed and out of their league: I procrastinated and hoped folks wouldn't come. There was a lot going on that spring and hosting something I've never done was overwhelming. And of course the big fear: Running.
But I was persuaded by the huge opportunity to share sponsorship to a new group of people and fulfill my commitment to CA Day. And of course the biggest cheerleader. Megan. Team World Vision was encouraging and full of support! So it was great in hindsight to be able to step out of my comfort zone, reach people I don't normally reach, and complete something for which I really didn't have time or energy.
I was able to do this with two of my daughters who have been pivotal in my starting as a CA. Molly was able to complete her confirmation service project by raising $400 herself and providing clean water for 8 kids! Seeing her struggle with that water-- jogging up and down hills-- was a powerful experience for all of us.
It was amazing watching mothers and daughters walk together and help each other carry the heavy water jugs. I was energized meeting new people and sharing my love for World Vision and educating about clean water. I wish I could say every pair sponsored a child on their bib, but the truth is not one child was sponsored. So my God moment is having faith in the seeds that were planted that day! I learned a ton on the practical things and can't wait for next year! I will cherish all the memories of the moments leading up to and during this event!
Karen Trumbo shares, "my favorite moment was actually about a week and a half after the event. My friend and co-worker informed me that her husband had sponsored the child on his bib. Although I had over 70 people at the 6K event, I only had one person sponsor the day of the race and she works for World Vision. So, finding out this child was sponsored later on brought me to tears. You see, my history as a Child Ambassador has not been so fruitful. When I signed on to be a CA, I wanted it to be easy and I thought it would be. I mean who wouldn't want to help children? But, as you all know, being a CA is not easy. It is hard. And following Jesus in this world is hard. There were times that after rejection after rejection, I was just frozen with fear of doing anything as a CA. Then time would pass, I would gain some courage and try again. Preparing for the 6K, I came across a quote from Michael Chitwood, from Team World Vision: "I wanted God to make it easy. Instead, He gave me the ability to endure." And that so perfectly sums up my experience as a CA. I wanted it to be easy. But it's not and I'm still here. He has taught me to endure, to not give up, to shake off the rejection (still hard for me) and never stop speaking for these kids. And that sponsorship showed me that.
The 2 weeks leading up to the 6K was when Ephesians 3:20 really came alive for me: Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us. I started recruiting back in February and set an initial goal of raising $1000, honestly not truly believing it was possible. Then I felt compelled to raise the goal to $2500, now really a number I thought was so far out of my reach. My church declined to partner with me in the 6K so I just didn't see how it would be possible. Who would I recruit? Two weeks before, my team reached that "impossible" goal of $2500 and I felt God nudging me again. Double your goal, Karen. So, I doubled it to $5000 and watched our fundraising climb towards this number that was truly more than I could imagine. The morning of the race, as I was setting up, I went to check my phone to see if anyone was trying to reach me. I had a notification that I had gotten a donation. That donation put me right at $5000 which translates to 120 kids between our donations and registrations. God showed me that He will be faithful. He will provide and I just need to keep being obedient when He calls me to something.
And it's important for people planning a 6k to know that sponsorships may not be immediate (at the 6k event itself) but it was an incredible way for me to introduce lots of people to what World Vision does. I actually felt disappointment the day after the 6k because of lack of sponsorships, but friends have reached out to sponsor afterwards. Again, I'm learning it's about taking a step of obedience and God takes care of the rest."
Linda Stombaugh hosted an event in her neighborhood in Wisconsin. "My favorite moment was the 5 minutes before the race started where I was able to share about child sponsorship and thank everyone for coming and celebrating with them that 114 children would now have lasting clean water because of this 6k due to the Clean Water Warriors!!!!
We had an official countdown from 10 to 1 and everyone was chanting along with cowbells clanging and the huge official raceclock started. It was EXCITING!!!!!!
I started out with a goal of having 20 people participating in the 6k but as time went on I kept increasing my goals. I prayed for 50 people to sign up to participate in the 6k. On May 5th, the 50th person signed up. I stopped and smiled and said "thank you Jesus"!!
This was a wonderful event!!!! I can't wait for next year!"
Interested in signing up to host your own Global 6K for Water?
Don't miss out this year! Sign up to host a Global 6K and change lives through clean water while enjoying time with family and friends in your community!
Click the following link for more information on how to host: Global 6K for Water website
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Are you ready to sign up? Click HERE! All host site leaders can register for free this year! Use the promocode "hostsiteleader" at checkout!
I’ve been a child ambassador for about 6 years now. This trip means so much to me. I’ve always wanted to see World Vision’s work in the field and this is going to be a great opportunity. I feel this is an extension of grace. Just as we receive the gift of salvation by grace, this trip represents a grace-filled gift. It’s an opportunity to commune with the poorest of the poor and open our hearts to the trials of their daily life.
My wife Jean and I sponsored a little girl in Bangladesh a little over a year ago after hearing at conference how vulnerable these girls are to trafficking and early marriage. By going to Bangladesh and seeing the situation first hand, I think we all will be better advocates to get sponsorship for all countries, but especially Bangladesh. In addition, Jean and I just started sponsoring a little boy in the Tongi region of Bangladesh and I will get an opportunity to meet him. I can’t imagine the emotions that will accompany that visit!
How can we pray for you, Jim? Well, we can always use prayers for safety. I’m also worried about some of the foods we may come in contact with and pray that we all can escape the illnesses that can accompany a trip like this. More than anything, I would ask for prayers that we will see what the Lord wants to show us. To be present and open to take it ALL in so we can share it with others and make it all real when we return and share it with potential sponsors and other child ambassadors.
I really am an old, washed-up CA. I have been a child ambassador for 7 years, I think. And I'll be so honest right now: I have never felt very good at this. I used to compare myself to other CAs and beat myself up. I would look at my friends who were pulling in big numbers and devalue the work I had done. Then God gave me a gift: a girl named Randi Jo Rooks dropped into my life and she taught me about the stewardship of hearts. And I realized when I devalued my work, I was devaluing God's work in hearts of people I treasure. By all spreadsheets and mathematical measurements I have had seven very slow years. But in those seven years I have been seen, known, and loved by this team. I have been seen, known, and loved by my King Jesus. And I have had the greatest honor of all: I have been allowed to see, know, and love the people standing right in front of me.
Because of the work God has done in my heart, I'm most excited about going to Bangladesh to listen. I want to bring back the stories of the people I see to the 69 people who have been a part of my seven years as a CA. And I also want to bring these stories back to our team. I firmly believe that this trip is for every single one of us who call ourselves child ambassadors... I just happen to be one of the ones who gets to walk it out in real time. I want to honor each of the people I meet and I want to honor your stories as well. We really are #GreaterTogether
Also, the fact that I get to do this with these people who are CA hero friends, blows my mind. I love them all so very much. And I think we all know this is Celeste's trip. The story of how God brought her to this place at this time... I stand in awe and I feel so honored to stand beside her as this BIG DREAM comes true for her.
How can we pray for you, Paula? Bangladesh was one of our focus countries when we did the #ChildhoodLost campaign. Because of that campaign, I found sponsors for children in Bangladesh. The human trafficking that happens there is devastating. I'm actually really nervous about this trip. Because I feel like God is preparing my heart to show me things I don't want to see (like slums, and kids at risk, and maybe even trafficked children). I'm afraid He's going to ask me to love people I don't want to love (traffickers, corrupt government officials, and people who turn away in apathy). Really the only thing I feel He's whispered into my heart as I've prepared and had friends pray over me is: they are all made in HIS image and HE is quite fond of each of them-- no matter what they've done. I think this is going to be a journey of grace for me. And I don't think it will be easy. But I am ready to lean into it. Pray for me to have the courage to not turn away from the hard things.
I became a CA just before my first trip into the field with my church. We went to visit our sponsored children in Uganda and I knew there was something more I could be doing. Seeing the work firsthand on that vision trip had me drinking the kool-aid that is World Vision. I saw how far the money could go to serve others, I saw the changes in people's health and the increase in education and I saw lives changed because of the work World Vision was doing in the community. I grew up in a family that sponsored children but suddenly the picture on the fridge turned into a real person with a real story living a life I would never fully understand. I became a teller of their stories and desired nothing more than to be able to connect people like me with children like those that I met. This trip is another glimpse into the story of the work World Vision does.
I've been fortunate to get to see the work of World Vision in several ADP's in Africa. I feel like I have a good grasp of the work that World Vision does in sub Saharan Africa, but Bangladesh comes with different work. The people there face different hardships and different circumstances and I'm so excited to see how WV is responding in those areas. I'm also excited to get to know people and hear their stories of hope even in the most difficult of circumstances.
How can we pray for you, Rachel? I was in a major car accident a few years ago and I struggle with my short term memory. I want to soak in every detail and not miss a thing, so prayers that my mind would be clear and my heart would be open to remembering and being touched by the people and situations that we encounter would be appreciated.
I became a child ambassador in December 2005, so I just started my 13th year. This trip is an unexpected gift from God. I’m honored to be part of this amazing team of lifetime child ambassadors who are going and very grateful to World Vision for this opportunity.
I’m excited to meet the Bangladeshi children - especially one special little girl, and learn about World Vision’s work with child protection and their efforts in addressing child marriage.
How can pray for you, Barb? Pray for stamina, good rest, and good health. Pray my eyes, ears, and heart would be open and ready to receive what God wants to show me, do in me, and through me. Pray that He would break my heart for the people I meet and fill it to overflowing with love and compassion so that it stirs me to action.
I've been a Child Ambassador since spring of 2013, sponsoring children since 2010. As a Child Ambassador for almost 5 years now, (where has the time gone??!!) I thought that this would never happen. I'd become a Child Ambassador because I'd had some health issues and never thought I'd ever be able to go on any kind of mission trip. So, I became a CA to do my "mission" here in the US - bringing the children of third world countries to my friends, neighbors, church, and community to sponsor. This trip has been in my heart for many years, and it's only a "marathon" of persistence and faith these past five years that has enabled me to be chosen to go on this trip!
What excites me the most about the trip is meeting my sponsored child Sanifa, and hopefully her grandmother as well. Beyond that, the fact that we will get to experience a budding ADP, as well as one that has fully blossomed, I'm sure will be quite memorable. The entire week will be filled with new sights, sounds, tastes, and smells in the slums (where we've been told to wear hard soled waterproof boots), to the area of our hotel in the capital of Dhaka, to the call to prayer 5 times a day, to the rural areas, and to World Vision's headquarters. I'm sure we will shed many tears of joy as well as many tears of sadness as to what we will witness first hand and the stories we will hear.
How can we pray for you, Cynthia? Please pray that no matter where we are, we spread love and hope. Pray that all remain healthy and strong. Pray that we have an overabundance of memory capacity so that we can carry what we've seen and experienced back with us to share with fellow CAs and while speaking to others about sponsorship. Let our faith in the Lord grow and blossom through this extraordinary trip with the awesome team I'm going with.
I've been a CA since 2010 and being able to go on this trip is totally a God thing. I earned a trip years ago to India with the CA team but due to a high risk pregnancy at the time, I opted to sit it out. My CA journey, like many others, has had its ups and downs - it's dry seasons and fruitful seasons. I have recently come out of a somewhat dry season with many transitions happening the past year or two in my own family's lives. Honestly, at conference, I went to see if I still had it in me to be a CA or if God was calling me to "retire" from this season of ministry and transition into something else. So many things about conference affirmed that this is where God still would have me serve and helped renew that passion for the work of World Vision. The cherry on top was being invited on this trip! I was always bummed I missed out on seeing the field when I missed out on the India trip. But, I'm getting a second chance!!
I'm so excited to spend time with this team and to grow and learn together! I have been so passionate about the work of World Vision since I was in High School doing 30 hour famines. Now, I find myself with the opportunity to meet the faces I've always seen in pictures and hear their stories first hand.
How can we pray for you, Holly? Please pray that God would prepare our hearts to experience what we will there. I'm feeling very much like nothing can prepare me for what I'm about to encounter. But, I'm praying the Holy Spirit would move in a way to allow us to connect with the people there and be able to process what we experience and bring back life changing stories and a renewed passion in order to bring awareness and help to the people of Bangladesh.
I have been a Child Ambassador for five years and a team leader for three years. This trip means that I am actually going to see World Vision’s work with my own eyes! I have been asked many, many times if I have ever been to one of the countries where we work. Now I will be able to affirm those questions with first hand experience.
I'm excited about meeting my child and learning more about her as well as her family and community. I want to learn their stories so that I can bring them back and share them in a way that will touch the hearts of those who hear and give people a desire to reach across the world to be a part of what God is doing for the people of Bangladesh.
How can we pray for you, Rebecca? Please pray for safety for our group and for good health and enough rest so that we have the energy to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Also, for clear minds to record and remember all the we experience.
I've been serving as a child ambassador for 4-5 years. This trip is a opportunity to truly obey God! I have no doubt that God has orchestrated this and even though it is terrifying in a lot of ways, I know I have to go! It is also a opportunity to surrender that much more to God and his will. I have to let go of my control over my little kingdom, children, business, parents, husband..., and know that they will be perfectly fine without me because they have a perfect Lord watching over them. Can't wait to see what God has in store for us and how we can serve the children best!
I'm excited to learn! I think I understand the plight but I know I don't actually have a clue. I'm excited to see the work of WV in the field & be able to come back with the 1st hand knowledge of their work.
How can we pray for you, Jennifer? Please pray for peace for my family, especially Annalyse (my 11 year old) and parents. Pray that my new assistants will be able to run the business and not have too much stress. Pray for safe travels and my fear of flying to be diminished.
I became a Child Ambassador in 2011. The first conference I attended in 2014 had the theme of "Defend Childhood" and focused on the work of World Vision in Bangladesh and Child Protection. Up until then, my WV work had been focused on getting children sponsored from Democratic Republic of Congo and highlighted the WASH program (WAter Sanitation and Hygiene) and access to education. The ideas presented at conference expanded my knowledge of how deep and wide the scope of WV's transformational work really is. The impact of their work in Bangladesh and around the world in the areas of prevention of early childhood marriage, trafficking, and child labor shook me to my core at that conference. Child Protection is defined as "All measures to respond and to prevent abuse, neglect, exploitation and other forms of violence affecting children." To be able to meet the people who engage in this endeavor and witness this work in the field is a privilege and responsibility I take very seriously. It gives me chills to look back in my notes from 2014 on Child Friendly Spaces in Bangladesh and child protection and restoration measures seeing God's preparation on my heart and soul.
How can pray for you, Courtney? We will be giving a devotion at the WV country office to about 75 staffers on our first full day in country! Please pray as we prepare these remarks and share our hearts and faith. I ask for prayers for my family while I am far away and the challenges that adds to a family. It is a long journey and will be physically and emotionally draining. Please pray for our team's physical and emotional health. I have waited so long to be able to see the field and I pray I am open to where God is leading and what He is teaching me. Thank you!!!
Stuart and I are just starting our 12th year as Child Ambassadors. Every year our love grows for World Vision as an organization, for the people that are on staff, and for our fellow volunteers. Each year, we would have loved to have earned a VT. We have tried every year, but most years we hit a ceiling half-way there. Our first year we had over 50 sponsorships. That year you needed 100 to go on a VT. But, we still tried!!! Something was always prohibiting us from going.
Almost 5 years ago, Stu was diagnosed with ALS. It was devastating, and pretty much crushed our dream of seeing the work in the field. Surprisingly, we were able to organize and go on a mission trip with our church family to see the work of World Vision in Grafton, West Virginia, and were happy to have some idea of what the work in the field looked like. After about a year, when we saw that Stu's symptoms were not progressing in a normal ALS time line, we read a book called 'one month to live,' the premise of which was, 'What would you do and how would you live your life, if you had only one month to live?' Since we already faced the prospect that life on this earth could be short, we worked through the questions, and the one that I wrote was: 'I would love to go and visit one of our sponsored children.' This had been out of my mind, since I always said that Stu and I, as ministry partners, would do a VT together, and now this meant that I would be going alone, due to his travel limitations, but, he completely jumped on it and said, we can do this!!! He has a HUGE faith, so, we sought out again to make it to 40.
At that time, the Refugee Responder program came out, and our focus as CA's was on the refugee crisis. This was before the official 'Refugee Sunday,' so, we made our own 'Refugee Sunday' and hit our local churches. Churches were responding and many Refugee Responders were found. This would be our year, we thought. However, something strange was happening to me. I was developing a cough that prohibited me from speaking 2 sentences without a violent coughing spell. Every time we had a church presentation it was covered in prayer for our prayer team, and every time, we were able to get through the Sunday, with God's help. I went to see a doctor, and after an X-ray, a CT scan, PET scan, and a biopsy it was determined that I had stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I went through 6 months, every other week, of chemo treatments, developed a toxicity to one of my cancer drugs, which landing me in the hospital for 5 days, pumped with steroids, and the rest. Following that I went through daily radiation, and was finally done and by August, I was cancer free, and aside from routine scans, it is all behind me.
We went to conference that year, and I was again renewed in my passion for the refugee crisis and couldn't wait to go home and get started again. Nothing... not one church, not one person, small group, nothing! When the Global 6K happened, I was SO excited. This is IT. This is what is going to get us to our 40. Well, that was kind of a bust. Not one sponsorship. Not one church. That year we had our lowest number. I cried out to the Lord. What was wrong? What was going on here? OH, and I cried to Megan, too!!! I confess, every year at conference, when the trip was called up, I was jealous for those going, and, a bit bitter. I had worked hard, too. Come on, Lord, really??? After praying before going to conference, the Lord showed me that a VT was not something I needed. I knew and loved the work of World Vision. I did not need to see it on the field. I gave it up to Him. In fact, I said, even if I earn a trip, I'm not going to go, I am going to give it to Courtney, our LT partner in our area. I told this to Courtney and Megan at conference.
When the Uganda trip was called up, I cheered and clapped and was proud that I was genuinely happy for this group. The Lord had blessed them, but He also blessed me. Then Megan started talking about the Life-time achievement award. She called my name, and I was ready to receive a plaque that I could put on my WV bookshelf. I turned to go and sit, but Laura Li told me to go back. When the next person and the next person was called, I thought that this could be a trip and in my mind I thought: I'll be able to give this to Courtney. And then, she called Courtney. Yikes. It took a while to wrap my head around the fact that I AM GOING TO BANGLADESH.
Bangladesh has a huge place in my heart! At conference four or five years ago, we talked about child protection. My heart was burdened for girls, particularly in Bangladesh. We had already been sponsoring Lupa, our little girl in Bangladesh, for about 12 years, and after learning at conference about early marriage, child trafficking, etc., we would be so happy to get Lupa's yearly updates. We knew now, that because of WV's work in her community, she was going to college to be a teacher. When Lupa's community graduated, we still wanted to sponsor from Bangladesh and we found Mim, whom we've had for about 2 years. She wants to be a doctor. The thought of going to see Mim was more than I could fathom.
On the plane on the way home from conference this year, the Lord laid on my heart to find sponsors for 12 girls from Kotalipara, the ADP where Mim is. (12 is a big number this year: 12 years of service, 12 years sponsoring Mim, 12 CA's honored to go on this trip...that is where I came up with #bangladesh12. LOL!) We did a MT 25 Sunday at a church the week after conference. I told them about my trip. I did not have my picture folders of the 12 Bangladeshi girls, but the pastor challenged the congregation to sponsor these girls, and 9 were sponsored that day, sight unseen. It was a gift to be able to pray over the girls when they arrived and prayerfully match them to the sponsors on the MT 25 cards that I had. I asked the Lord to show me who I should ask for the remaining 3. He did. I asked. They said yes. 11 girls are sponsored. The 12th said yes, but her husband said no. Oddly enough, she has not returned the pic folder, tho she keeps saying that she will. I am praying, believing that God will work on her husband's heart and one day she will come to me and say: he said, yes!
How can we pray for you, Celeste? I believe with all my heart, that satan does not want this group of CA's on a trip. I believe satan has blocked us from going and caused us to hit a ceiling year after year. This group has not given up and year after year we pursue. I believe that this group will make a difference in the lives of the children, families, and communities in Bangladesh. God is a BIG God. Just look what happened with the original 12!!! I am preparing by consecrating my mind and focusing on Him this month, to be prepared to see God move in a mighty way. Prayers for Him to move us and open up the opportunities so that His work will expand and He will be made KNOWN in Bangladesh. This trip is a blessing and it is also a HUGE responsibility. As I feel the weight of that, I ask prayer for opportunities so that His work can expanded by Him
"The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Contributed by Laura Walls with Cathy Kaufman
"'Yes, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” - Mt 14:29
When we follow Christ in obedience, we are sometimes called like Peter, to step out of the boat and walk where Jesus leads. For Cathy Kaufman of Gering, NE, the Lord’s call to serve as a Child Ambassador has taken her into uncharted waters that have filled her and her church with new life and purpose. “It’s amazing how God can make things happen,” Cathy explains, “It’s far more than we can ask or imagine!”
Her first step of faith as a Child Ambassador was hosting a Global 6K with the support of her church which Cathy describes as “just a little church on the corner.” She dove into the planning process enthusiastically and was thrilled when 50 participants, mostly from her church, came together to help 50 children have clean water for life. Cathy especially loved seeing the enthusiasm of the children. “They were so excited to run the race well for the child on their bib.” Some of the children went on to sponsor the child for whom they ran, which made for an even deeper, lasting connection.
At the close of the race, Cathy and her pastor, Tim Hebbert of Gering Zion Church, were introduced to one of the participants, a member of the local Rotary Club. He mentioned his dream of digging a well to provide clean water to a community in Africa. “If you guys ever think of digging a well, I would like to be part of it!” Those words sparked something deep within Pastor Tim and Cathy and in a moment, the seed of a dream was planted.
God continued to move in the hearts of people at Gering Zion Church and when Cathy told the church about the Matthew 25 Challenge in October, they were quick to sign up. “We really saw how inspiring and awesome it is to reach out. We’ve always reached out in our community but this opened our eyes that God wants us to help in other parts of the world as well! The whole Matthew 25 Challenge really gets kids and families involved - as well as the Global 6K with the child on your bib and giving that child clean water. All of that set this up for us to believe that we CAN make a difference in the world!”
Following the Matthew 25 Challenge, the children of the church led further involvement in global ministry with World Vision, with a little help from Cathy. “In AWANA, we have a birthday party for Jesus and encourage the kids to bring in a card and a gift. In the past, they have raised around $150 to $175 for local missions but this year, when the kids brought in their donations and gifts to Jesus, they brought in over $500! It was definitely God moving!” The AWANA kids are now sponsoring two children for a year and they also gave a special gift of $150 for each child. In addition, they are now Refugee Responders. Cathy exclaimed. “It was more than I could ever ask!”
But the Lord wasn’t finished moving in Gering Zion Church. From that seed planted in the spring following the Global 6K, a vision of a well springing up to provide a community with life-changing clean water had taken root. Pastor Tim asked Cathy to look into what it would take for the church to fund a well. Cathy reached out to her child ambassador leadership team member and World Vision staff and together, they forged a God-sized plan. In the coming year, Gering Zion, that “small, 80 year old church on the corner,” will fundraise $15,000 to dig a well in a community in Africa. Once the funds are sent in, World Vision will research and announce the location of the well and Gering Zion will host a “Celebration Sunday” and offer child sponsorship in support of and love for that country.
It’s a big goal. A God-sized goal. But Gering Zion will reach beyond themselves. “The well is a way to bring our community together to empower someone else through access to clean water.” Cathy explains. The clean water provided by the well is also one of Cathy’s personal passions. While studying environmental science at the University of NE in Lincoln, Cathy worked at the Nebraska State Water Lab where she daily studied water samples to test for bacteria and ensure the water was safe. Now years later, the Lord is leading her to once again work to provide safe, clean water, this time for a community half a world away!
As Cathy looks back at what God has done through her Child Ambassador ministry and what is ahead in the coming year, she states, “I can get overwhelmed sometimes and think ‘how am I going to do this!’ But it’s not me. HE is going to do this. He is our Sovereign Lord and the King of the Universe. I thank Him that He’s in control and able to do more than I can ask or imagine!”
Meet Sarah Kennedy! Sarah is a new CA from East Tennessee.
From the moment I was introduced her as her area leader I was so impressed with her heart for this ministry and with her heart for the people right in front of her. As a leader, it blew my mind to see the way she dove right in-- making this ministry totally her own! She asked so many thoughtful questions and focused on learning as much as she could about World Vision from the very start. I would get text messages that would lead off with, "I don't mean to bother you..." to which I would emphatically reply, "I LOVE hearing from you. You are NEVER a bother. Always ask questions!" I hope Sarah's story of how she found her way as a CA will encourage you to find yours as well. And as an aside, never be afraid to ask your leadership team member lots of questions. We love answering them!
As a new ambassador and first time conference goer, it was amazing experience. I learned a lot about the refugee crisis. All the key note speakers did an amazing job. I cried a few times and laughed a lot. Hearing from a former sponsor-child gave me more excitement about my sponsor kids. And the stories shared by the refugees made me cry and opened my heart. All the people that I met and heard their testimonies made me more excited about being an ambassador. My husband went with me as my guest and he was also excited and changed by the experience. Thank you, World Vision, for the hard work!
- Leah Blomberg
Coming to conference for the first time this past year was such a memorable experience! My journey with World Vision has been so special these past 4 years. From the beginning, my heart has felt so intimately connected to the organization and other CAs, so for my physical body to catch up to what my heart had experienced all along was so fun-- and surreal!
Getting to hug and shake hands with brothers & sisters that share the same calling was so refreshing. I was surprised and inspired by how diverse each of our CA ministries are! It's great to see the freedom we have in this ministry to follow the Lord's leading and see how HE desires our CA ministry to look. You will be inspired by many different ideas that you can then take back home and discuss quietly with the Lord. Then together with Him you can figure out which ideas He desires YOU to implement. Although every ministry and every CA is different we are unified in Spirit and mission and it's so refreshing to be around people who God has given the same vision.
Meet Karen Trumbo!
Karen's favorite non-World Vision hobbies include being at the beach, kickboxing classes, coffee dates with girlfriends, and time with her daughters, Julia and Marielle.
Karen has been married to Henry since 2003. They met in college and are both pharmacists. Karen became a Christian about 6 years ago and is continually in awe of where God leads her and how He transforms her.
Today's guest post comes to us from blogger and CA Rachel Teodoro. Rachel has such a beautiful gift with words and wrote one of World Vision's most viral blogs ever. She is kind and compassionate and uses her platform for great kingdom work. She lives in Seattle with her family and we are honored to feature her on the blog today!
My walk as a Child Ambassador has been a beautiful walk with the Lord. As I try to even start to put into words all He has done the past 4 years of this journey as a CA, I have tears streaming down my face. This is what happens when a person encounters the Lord Jesus' heart!
My journey is evidence that this is true kingdom work that we have been called to! When it's the Lord's hands shaping an organization & ministry every person and heart involved is impacted.
In August 2013, when I was called to be a CA, I thought that I was being called to finally put some skills and talents into action for His service so that children and communities would be blessed. I really didn't understand that He had something SO MUCH BIGGER in mind. So much deeper.
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned about the heart of God is how much he identifies with the poor. When he entered this world as the incarnate Son, he did so, as the lowly son of an earthly carpenter, viewed as an illegitimate, and then to boot a refugee, from the less than esteemed village of Nazareth. He had multiple strikes against him, socially, economically, and morally. Yet, this is who our King, the promised Messiah of Israel came as. He came as what some of us would call nothing. The Son of God, the Creator of the universe, the God that the Psalmist says breaths out stars, came as a poor baby.
Our purpose is to become more like Jesus. The CA ministry is a way to show love like Jesus did. I have experienced a life changing level of joy and contentment in taking part in doing work for the Kingdom of God. The heart of God is love and compassion and loving the least of these and that is what this ministry is all about!!
- Linda Stombaugh
When World Vision entered my life, I realized that I needed to take myself out of the equation and concentrate on better and higher things; to concentrate less on self-help verses and move on to others-centered verses. Now I am not saying that I used to sit around and do nothing. I have always been in church and involved in multiple church programs, BUT when World Vision entered my life, my heart was moved and I went from only local service to WORLD service.
5/10/2017 0 Comments
Contributed by Salina Dayton / edited by Paula Hemphill
Today's post comes to us from our very own Salina Dayton. I have had the pleasure of calling Salina friend for many years now. I first met her when she signed on as a CA and was assigned to my team. I have been known to say, "Salina came to me great!" She hit the ground running full speed and has never looked back. Her passion for the children we serve paired with her intelligence and thoughtfulness make for a really beautiful sponsorship presentation-- which has led to many children sponsored! She shares the work we do with care, love, compassion, and brilliant clarity. She is humble and kind, and she's been generous enough to share one of her pieces with us today. This piece was originally published here.
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.