Two years ago Compassion International took a risk no one else in the non-profit world was willing to take. They brought a group of bloggers to Uganda to see their ministry to children, to post videos and pictures and writes hundreds of words about the experience.
No requirement to say nice things. No marketing team coaching or editing.
Today there are more than 1100 bloggers writing about Compassion International monthly(ish). And we’ve taken 30 bloggers overseas with us. And here’s the best part…
More than 5,000 children are now sponsored because of these bloggers! Because of you!
Saturday we celebrated and I wish all 1130 Compassion bloggers could have been there with us.
Amanda Jones invited the bloggers who’ve traveled with us to attend the Deeper Still women’s conference in Birmingham. Her mother and the kind folks overseeing Lifeway’s women events generously comped us some tickets. Thank you, Mrs. Moore and Lifeway.
It was just me, a lone drop of testosterone, in a sea of 14,000 women singing and learning at Deeper Still. Then, some more men finally showed up and we all headed to dinner at Cafe Dupont downtown – the best chicken I have ever tasted. Like a cross between a donut and a chicken, which, now that I type it, sounds nasty but it was actually worship-inducing. Special thanks, by the way, to Janice at Cafe Dupont for taking great care of us.
So here’s a pic of the bloggers who were able to join us for dinner in Birmingham.
- 1. Ann Voskamp: On why she started blogging, Ann said, “I find God with words.” I often find him in her words too.
- 2. Lindsey Nobles: A woman who knows books and knows how to encourage the insecure writer in me (and the other bloggers) without resorting to empty flattery.
- 3. Lisa-Jo: This woman, who at first intimidated me with her impressive resume and intellect, now inspires me with her leadership, initiative and creativity.
- 4. Dan Woolley: Webguy at Compassion turned celebrity after making headlines during Haiti earthquake. Now a friend, Compassion spokesperson and soon-to-be author.
- 5. Steve Jones: Heads up a division of marketing at Compassion that gave birth to Compassion Bloggers. Without his courage and encouragement none of this would exist.
- 6. Sophie (aka Boo Mama): She picked the restaurant and then filled it with laughter. Only Dave Barnes is funnier and I only know about Dave Barnes from her.
- 7. Dustin Hardage: Oversees internet marketing. Dustin’s my boss and the number one fan of our bloggers. And a Cowboys fan, so keep him in your prayers.
- 8. Amanda “MoJo” Jones: She was the first blogger I ever invited on a trip but she was busy having a baby or something. So glad I kept asking until her tender heart had a clear calendar.
- 9. Spence Smith: Works in artist relations at Compassion but was hugely integral in getting that first Uganda blogging trip off the ground. If not for his enthusiasm and knowledge (and sermons) about the value of social media I don’t know if Compassion would have embraced the web as wholly as it has today.
- 10. Keely Scott: The little sister I never asked for. She humbles and humors me while serving as our trip photographer – preserving both the poverty and dignity of children with her camera.
- 11. Patricia Jones: Mama to the mom bloggers. Patricia is my co-leader on blogging trips, handling money and details and sudden tearful outbursts. Actually, what is it I handle again?
- 12. Kelly Stamps: Speaking of tears…Kelly cried at an office visit. I think it was a stapler that touched her heart so. Seriously, it’s Kelly’s sensitivity I love the most. A close second is her herkie.
- 13. Molly Piper: I’ve read Molly’s blog longer than any other I think. I found her maturity, lack of drama and lack of self-aggrandizement refreshing back then. And still do. Relieved to discover that she’s just as enjoyable in person…if she’s not singing songs from the Sound of Music.
- 14. Heather Whittaker: Went on our first blog trip to Uganda as Carlos‘ wife but traveled with us to El Salvador to use her own voice to speak for children. She’s the kind of sass, strong and honest we musicians need – right, Carlos?
- 15. Shannon Lowe: She volunteered at the Compassion table at a concert of mine, helping people fill out the paperwork to become sponsors. She kicked her boy out of his room so I could crash there while passing through. Generous beyond the internet and Compassion.
- 16. Kristen Welch: There’s too much to say about Kristen and family. This is a good place to start. Be careful about traveling with Compassion: It can mess you up in the most beautiful ways.
- 17. Robin Dance: More questions than a five year-old in the backseat riding cross-country. And every one of them worth asking. Robin exudes enthusiasm and I’m privileged to have her in my cheering section.
- 18. Melanie (aka Big Mama): Texan whose love of Tex-Mex borders on idolatry as often as mine. That should be enough to make you like her right there, but in addition, Melanie makes me laugh hard and feel less self-deprecating and even downright prideful even by comparison.
Happy 5000 to all of Compassion’s bloggers! Hope to meet you all some day. Until then…
Thanks for using your on-line voice to speak for children.