WJTL’s Stacey Gagne gives us a tour of Faith Bible Church in Ethiopia, a new project partnering with Compassion International.
STACEY GAGNE – While we were visiting one of the Compassion sites I was hanging around outside while students were coming back to the church/Compassion project from their schools. I tried to “start conversation” though there wasn’t an interpreter nearby. I started goofing around with them and then one of them noticed that I had a journal similar to their notebooks from school. While we were communicating (and they were laughing at me) they started to peek into my open purse and noticed the camera and other “goodies” in their. The bright orange Post-it notes caught someones eye, so I pulled them out. It turned into a frenzy of excitement as I began to hand out a post it note to each child. Not a packet, just one little sticky tabbed square each. Word got out and children told their friends and suddenly I was like a type of Santa Claus with my cool orange post it notes.
Wow. The little things are treasures to these kids. For those of you who are current sponsors of children through Compassion International, your letters and little goodies like stickers and coloring pages are treasures … not to mention the many gifts and supplies these children receive because of your sponsorship. For those of you who are not yet sponsors, please pray about it and consider sponsoring a child during our 26 Hours of Compassion October 19 and 20. There are so many children out there who God wants to use us to touch!
After spending a few hours with the child she sponsors in Ethiopia through Compassion International, it comes time for Stacey to say goodbye.
STACEY GAGNE -
It’s a testimony to the Body of Christ that a group of media people go on a trip together and then share their resources. Before we packed our things to head to the airport; our team passed around a zip drive and downloaded pictures, videos and sound bites to share. All of us share the common goal to inspire others to get involved with the ministry of Compassion International and see beautiful children get sponsored… and families exposed to the Gospel.
I will miss my new friends.
STACEY GAGNE - I had the opportunity to live the dream of Compassion child sponsors everywhere by meeting the little girl that I am sponsoring. Nothing could have prepared me for it. We were all sitting in the office hearing from the site director when she was brought in. As soon as they pointed out that I was “the one’… she came right over beside me and leaned up on me. All day we held hands. We toured the site together, played bubbles, jump rope, talked about ourselves through an interpreter (though she started out very shy… just like her mom). She’s very kind… there were 3 lollipops in her goodie bag that I gave her and she gave 2 away immediately. That is the way it is here, though… when you have, you share…
Senait’s mother is only 22 and she is 7, so she was a very young mom. Her father is not in the picture. I know that this support is going to be crucial for her as she grows up and am so excited and honored to be able to be a part of the life of this beautiful beautiful family.
Saying goodbye was very difficult. VERY difficult. You’ll see evidence of that in the video that was taken once that is posted… but I am happy to know that she is being taken care of despite the circumstances she lives in. I am anxious to see/read updates as she receives more assistance, clothing, food, education, and love from the people there. I look forward to the day that she can write to me and tell me what she is learning and I hope to find out that she and her mom decide to follow Jesus.
I’m sure I’ll have more to share as I continue to process this life changing day and week.
Yesterday my new friends John Owens, Steve Sunshine and Joe Paulo from North and South Carolina treated their listeners to live broadcasts from Ethiopia including the opportunity for some sponsors to meet their sponsored children via Skype. In fact, Steve Sunshine and his family were included in that group… Steve is here with us and got to meet 2 of his sponsored children yesterday. I had the opportunity to help hang out with the children and hand out gifts while they were doing their broadcast. What an emotional and special time. The children came carrying the letters/photos and trinkets they had received over the years to show their sponsors that they still had them. They came with either a relative or representative from their Compassion project and everyone who was there expressed such intense gratitude. Thank you Compassion International and it’s sponsors for making moments like these possible for these families!
STACEY GAGNE – Today has been a very full day… and I have a full heart as a result! This morning we visited the Yeka Meker Church Child Development Center ET-280. It’s held at a Church of God church. One thing I’ve learned about Compassion (that I probably should have known prior to this as a current sponsor) is how much they partner with the church. The church is actually crucial because it houses the centers and for the most part staffs it with volunteers. We spent a lot of time with Ketsela Seyachew, the Project Director who we called PK. His heart for the children was so evident. He is not only the Project Director for Compassion but the youth pastor for the church as well.
One thing that stood out about this church before we even pulled in through the gate was that it was a fence away from a huge Muslim mosque. Rather than it being something of concern or frustration, they see it as a blessing because many Muslims choose to send their children to Compassion because of the needs that can be met… but the children then receive the Word of God! Awesome! When we did our home visits for this site, one of the groups had the opportunity to visit a Muslim home. This home for 6 people was a 4×8 foot space… MAYBE a sheet of plywood could fit in there. The folks who visited there got to hear about how their child is doing with Compassion, present the family with some gifts of oil, popcorn, sugar, soap and other items and most importantly… pray. Wow. What an opportunity.
At the home my group visited it was a child named Messai with his mother and grandmother. There home was larger than some I have seen on this trip so far… but the tin roof leaks and it’s still a very small space. There was a rooster living in the bedroom that was making some background music for us, too. :)
I have so many memories from today of time spent with the children playing, singing, blowing bubbles and just loving. This only brings us half way through the day. I will update you soon about our amazing evening with the students from the Leadership Development Program. INSPIRING for sure.
Stacey M. Gagne
Experiencing Compassion in Ethiopia
Being here in Ethiopia with Compassion is truly opening up my eyes to so much. Even with having participated in so many child sponsorship events and sponsoring a child myself, you’d think I’d be able to say that I understood what they are doing all over the world, but this trip is bringing it all into reality for me.
Some elements of Compassion’s approach to child development include being Christ Centered, Child focused, church based, and commited to integrity. I honestly saw each of these things walked out today.
Christ Centered: the children are learning about Jesus. Families are learning about Jesus. At the schools the children were singing songs about the Lord that they have learned along with valuable scripture and Bible lessons. At the home visits, I witnessed one mother share her faith that revolves around Jesus dying for her on the cross…and that his sacrifice gives her hope. She was once a prostitute selling alcohol on the streets. In another home where the family did not have true faith in Jesus, the Compassion International staff person with us took every opportunity to share Jesus with this woman that was possible. We also had the chance to pray with her and her children.
Child Focused: We saw children receiving so much care and attention from the staff and volunteers. The ministry at each center was to the children spiritually, physically, socially, and economically. Children are cared for at these sites! The care for their health needs, basic needs, skill sets, and need for love are all evident.
Church based: We visited sites at both a Lutheran and a Pentecostal church. The volunteers from the church give so much of themselves to these children.
Committed to Integrity: Records are kept meticulously. We were able to look at specific childrens files and see the details of their involvement in the program from the beginning.
In our daily journeys I have seen so many children on the streets that would benefit from the ministry of Compassion. There is an obvious difference in the light of hope and joy on the faces of the kids within the program vs the children begging on the street… even though they are all coming from the same neighborhoods and, for the most part, levels of poverty. The love that comes from Jesus is being made manifest and that is what makes the difference.
I pray that my experiences here that I’m relaying back to you will lead to your deeper understanding of what is being done for these children. There is such opportunity for many more children and in turn entire families coming to the knowledge of Jesus and receiving the loving care available to them through this ministry. May we each listen to hear where God is telling us to lend a hand and get involved. This ministry is a great place to start.
Experiencing Compassion in Ethiopia
but I’ll share some words with you soon, too. :)