Compassion - Inspire September 2011 - church transformation
Entire churches as well as individuals can be transformed by child sponsorship, says Compassion’s JEMIMA LEWIS
First and foremost, Compassion exists for the benefit of children who live in extreme poverty. But what about the benefit to sponsors?
It feels like we shouldn’t shout about this sort of thing – we feel our giving should be purely sacrificial. But the Bible says that Jesus teaches us to expect “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Luke 6:37).
Compassion enables individuals to sponsor children from 26 countries or, alternatively, a congregation can form a ‘Church Partnership’ link with a specific area. For example, a parish in Bradford might commit to children in a slum in Brazil, working all the time through the local church.
The result is transformative for both churches. Firstly, everyone in the UK community is given the chance to have ministry to the poor. As David Belfield, Pastor of Today's Community Church, explains: “Not all that long ago, mission was done by just a few people in my church, but now most families are involved.”
Secondly, the resulting sense of unity can be radical; a community can experience what the Bible says is like “precious oil poured on the head” (Psalm 133:2). And for leaders concerned that their congregation would put less in the offering basket as a result, Compassion can tell many stories of how tithing actually goes up!
Finally, there’s the benefit of what UK churches stand to learn. Through mutually beneficial relationships, UK churches are receiving at the same time as giving. Not only are churches learning many lessons, such as contentment, gratitude and generosity in adversity, but they’re also receiving a masterclass in evangelism.
As one church pastor remarked after a visit to his partner church in El Salvador: "They know way more than we do about reaching their community with limited resources and in tough circumstances.
“They're already grappling with the same questions that we'll have to address in the near future: How do you reach the community when you're not at the centre of your culture?”
To find out how your church can get involved with Compassion, visit http://www.compassionuk.org