Meet Cari Conklin!
Her favorite non-World Vision hobbies include working with her Syrian-former-refugee-family. It started out as something she was inspired to do because of her refugee advocacy work with World Vision, but now, since they are more like family, it's inspired a new hobby: learning Arabic from their youngest daughter! Seeing this little girl thrive in her new country and community is what Cari likes to refer to as her "happy place". When Cari isn't learning Arabic or hanging out with her family, she can be found shakin' it on the dance floor to 70's Rock. Her favorites include Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but, she's not picky. She loves any dance jam! She says she often dances around the house to Pharrell Williams for a workout! Running and biking are also some of her favorite pastimes.
Cari is single as of a few years ago-- after 23 years of a difficult marriage. God pulled her out of the depths of that heartbreak and showed her that it was time for her to find His path as His beloved daughter. Since giving Him the reigns of her life she says that life has been an amazing and beautiful journey!
Cari, can you tell us how you came to be a CA:
Funny story! A guy I had been dating showed me the photos of his sponsored child on his fridge and shared how World Vision works. It was a no-brainer and I sponsored my first child right away. He then recommended I read The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, which another friend had already been encouraging me to read. After that, I sponsored my second child. Then I started sharing sponsorship with my family. A few months later he gave me a Child Ambassador flier and said, "you're pretty much already doing this, maybe you'd be interested in doing this with a team of people." The crazy thing about all of this is that when I was a teenager, a leader from the church denomination I grew up in shared with me what he felt was a word from God. He said, "someday you will have many children, but not necessarily your own". At the time I was perplexed. Don't tell a 16 year old girl whose dream is to have 4 kids, a dog, and a paneled station wagon that! Well, fast forward to 2015 and here I was, childless and hurting because of it. I had forgotten all about that conversation until one day on the bus ride home from work when this forgotten "word of knowledge" came flooding back along with many tears. I knew I had found my path and my tribe among the CAs.
Cari, could you tell us a little bit about your favorite event/favorite sponsorship story as a CA?
Facebook has just never been a very productive sponsorship forum for me beyond sowing seeds. But, a Muslim friend I made through local refugee efforts saw a Facebook appeal for sponsors for two Palestinian kids in Gaza, and she stepped forward and sponsored one. I just never thought that would ever happen because World Vision is a Christian organization. But, God can and will call ALL people into our work of compassion. He will give us the opportunity to share the amazing grace of Christ's love through the witness of our beautiful work. Come to think of it, a staunchly agnostic childhood friend also sponsored a kiddo in November! God must giggle when He surprises us like that!
Is there a bit of encouragement you could give to other CA's?
Hold on! God is going to take you on a wild adventure in this ministry and it's not always easy, or glamorous, or comfortable. But if you hold on to Jesus and keep your focus on His promises, He is faithful to finish the work He started in you and your CA ministry. Don't discount the importance of one conversation, or one share, or one prayer. Always start with prayer! That is the most important thing you can do. It will allow God to keep your vision centered on Him, bring perspective, and keep your heart beautifully broken.
Which scripture/quote gives you encouragement in this ministry?
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. - 1 John 3:16
You can reach Cari via email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Greater Together is a collaborative blog written by volunteer child ambassadors for World Vision.