Contributed by Laura Walls in Stories from the Field
My Facebook feed has been flooded with beautiful photos of children heading back to school. Their faces are bright with promise and their backpacks filled with supplies for the coming year. It's a hopeful time for so many kids!
But for Mao Reasa, the youngest of ten children, the return of the school year was not a time for hope. Reasa lives in northwest Cambodia, near the border of Thailand where the average daily wage is just $1.29 a day. Her parents Vann Mao and Soa Soeurt had told her she couldn't go to school anymore. They could no longer afford the school fees and expenses. Reasa watched as the other children went to school each day while she stayed behind.
When World Vision came into Reasa's community, a children's club was started and Reasa began to attend with her friends. It was there that a hunger to return to school began to grow in Reasa's heart. With the support and encouragement of World Vision staff, Reasa approached her parents to see about returning to school and, in addition to making the request, she had a plan.
World Vision would supply Reasa with chickens and, to pay for her schooling, she would sell the eggs.
Her parents were proud of Reasa's determination and happy to allow her to return to school. They quickly noticed a change in Reasa's spirit and her appearance. "Just look at her." Her father beamed. "She takes such good care of her hair and appearance, now."
And we could see it, too! Reasa had an air of hope and promise - just like the faces of the kids we see scattered across the wall of our Facebook feeds. And it was all because of child sponsors and donors who believed in and gave to help a little girl they had never met, in a place they had never been to, because of the example of a Savior who loved and gave to us all.
So, as child ambassadors, when you see photos of kids heading back to school, remember the many children like Reasa, who need someone to stand alongside them, encourage, and support them. Be faithful to look for sponsors for the kids who need your voice and share the story of Reasa, whose life is changed as a result of World Vision's impact in the lives of children around the world!
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
World Vision in Schools
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Child Ambassadors from Iowa and Nebraska find joy and encouragement in meeting and serving together!
Contributed by Laura Walls in Meet Other CAs
It all sprang from the first National Child Ambassador Day three years ago. Rebecca Losh, a leadership team member from Council Bluffs, Iowa was getting ready to host her first meeting with child ambassadors in her region. That initial meeting proved so fruitful, the women decided to meet again. And again. And again.
Three years later, they are still getting together monthly to encourage one another, learn together, and plan their next events. Lisa Trummer, who has been with the group since that first meeting three years ago describes why she makes room in her schedule for this time of fellowship. "For me, it’s the glue that keeps me going. It keeps me in the mix so I don’t dry up and not do anything. The meeting forces me to get my focus back (on this ministry)."
They all agreed that the chance to be together monthly makes all the difference. "I might have a month where I might not have talked to that many people," child ambassador, Karen Misiewicz, explains. "But coming together, I don’t have to feel bad about it. I can just come and be welcomed and get going again."
Katie Losh, Rebecca's daughter, says that the biggest benefit to getting together frequently is the encouragement. "We get a lot of no’s and (meeting together) forces us to not give up!"
It's also an opportunity for Judy Van Horn, a brand new child ambassador. "The education is a great benefit. I'm learning how to navigate the websites." Feeling more confident about what resources are available and how to use them makes a big difference!
In addition to meeting monthly, the team also enjoys serving together. One of their favorite events was the Women of Faith conference. Karen described it: "We were like a unit within the bigger group. There’s just something really cool about that. We all had little stories we could share with each other about that one child we got sponsored." The very best part? "It multiplies your experience. We share that same excitement when we see how God works through picture folders and birthdates."
Because of their foundation of friendship, the Child Ambassador Conference in Seattle is looked forward to all year. It's a chance to learn, pray, worship, and make new memories together. But they don't have to wait to experience some of that encouragement and fellowship. For this group, every month is a chance to recharge.
Rebecca Losh explains why the group means so much. "It’s like having a piece of the orange army right here all the time."
Do you wish you could meet with other child ambassadors? Reach out to your leadership team member and see if there are other CAs in your area!!!
"Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer."
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!!!
compiled/edited by Paula Hemphill in Meet Other CAs
We're a couple of weeks into Ask August. Maybe you're feeling empowered. Maybe you're feeling weary. No matter what you're feeling right now, I'm sure you'll be encouraged and inspired by these beautiful women of faith.
"What keeps me going is the faces of the sweet children who have seen horrible things and are losing their time to be simply kids. The refugees desperately need hope.... When I see those same little ones in a Child Friendly Space with painted faces smiling, then I must push forward to help all of those refugees have a chance to play and smile. My own father was burned by Nazis in Italy when he was a boy. Only recently can he speak of the way that war affected him. He, like many of these refugee children, lost a brother during the war. I am pushed forward by knowing that it is not a political issue to help refugees, but a Christian obligation. It's not a choice to be a Good Samaritan. Remember that the Samaritan was the enemy of the man who helped him. We must insist that our Christians do the same.
When Ask August is all said and done, I hope to learn that there are some who truly care about this situation. I hope to learn how to get church people on board.
If you're stuck for ideas, here are a few: Ask at work. Ask your children's friend's parents. Ask at your children's games and activities. Ask your PTA. Ask Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Set up a table at a local grocery. Keep the Refugee Responder in your purse at church and everywhere you go and ask. Have them out a your garage sale. Host a lemonade stand for refugees. Ask your pediatrician dentist, doctor, local social worker. Ask at a mosque, a Lebanese restaurant, local falafel joint, and hummus place. Make phone calls to friends. Just don't be afraid. All someone can say is "no" and remember God goes before you. Pray everyday about who and where to ask. Remember that the poor and forgotten are humble enough to beg for their children."
- Vicki Casper
"I have been lead by God and I am following His call to help those in need. And I know that I have to ask to get a 'maybe' or a 'yes'-- because nothing happens when I'm silent. I also know that what World Vision is doing is needed and it works. All of these things motivate me to continue to ask!
At the end of this month I hope that I will have learned to be more bold and to be committed to pray daily about each child-- asking God to take care of and protect each child, and to help me find the 'perfect' sponsor for each child World Vision assigns to me.
If you're struggling this month, I would ask you to think back and remember why you decided to be a CA. Children will never get a sponsor if we are silent. We need to remember to ask God to give us courage. And never discount anyone! Maybe that person that we didn't ask would have been a sponsor for a child. But we never know until we ask! Big deal if they say 'no'. Move on to the next POTENTIAL SPONSOR and keep asking!!!
Remember, we are are not asking someone to join a multi-level marketing company. Nor are we asking for HUGE donations (but , by all means, take the money if that's what they are moved to do!). Instead, we are asking people to take part in one of the most AMAZING and FULFILLING opportunities of a lifetime: to be a part of changing the world, maybe even saving a child’s life, and truly following what we are asked to do by Jesus! This is it, friends! When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors and to take care of the least of these, well, this is it! WOW! What an incredible gift we have been given by being a child ambassador!!!!!!!!!"
- Merrill Swenke
I understand what it is like to paralyzed by fear. The fear of rejection is strong in all of us. When I talk to people I am presenting them with an opportunity to respond to God’s love and the work to which He has called each. People that I felt sure would respond, like my family, have said no. Others who I mentally made a judgment call and in my mind said they would never sponsor a child have sponsored more than one child. Then shamefully I think, “Lord forgive me for judging them. What if I had not presented the opportunity?”
But when I am facing the decision to speak or not, I remember this quote, which speaks to me:
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde
So, how do I get past the fear of rejection and move forward? Here is how I do it: First of all, I don’t want my ask to be a high pressure sales pitch which they will regret tomorrow. I want people to understand the reality of the situation and for them to make a decision they will stick with long term. I realize that I am presenting this person with an opportunity. I usually have an elevator speech, 3 minutes or under, in which I can quickly present to this person. My favorite is to tell a story from the field, one that has impacted me. This could be about your sponsored child and how sponsorship has made a difference, or it could be someone else’s story. Do not feel bad about borrowing stories. Any story that had an impact on you, you will tell it with passion. When I have completed my story, I MUST DO AN ASK. My ask is, “Would you like to make a difference through sponsorship/pledge in the life of a child?”
When the person I have spoken to declines with a “No,” I thank them and let them know that if they would like to be involved in the future, I can help them select a child from anywhere in the world they feel led to help.
Now, back to my own thoughts after this rejection. These are the thoughts I rely on when experiencing a NO.
- Jo Carlson
Photos in post contributed by Laura Walls
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."
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.