What Exactly Is Compassion International?

It woke me up this morning. Do people following this trip know what Compassion International is? Well, here’s the entire ministry explained in as few words as possible for those of you who are hearing about Compassion for the very first time.

Compassion International is a ministry that began in the 1950s in Korea to meet the physical and spiritual needs of children. We now serve more than a million children in twenty-six of the world’s poorest countries.

We’re sometimes called a “child sponsorship organization” but that’s a broad and ambiguous term. It’s true that Compassion’s founder invented child sponsorship all those years ago – but many different types of organizations allow individuals to sponsor children and yet operate very differently from Compassion. “Child sponsorship” isn’t what we do, it’s integral to how we do it.

Holistic Child Development

What we do is child development. Other sponsorship organizations – doing wonderful work around the world – build roads, dig wells, lobby governments, run hospitals etc. But Compassion International is narrowly focussed on what we call holistic child development. Poverty affects the whole person and so much our our ministry to impoverished children.

By “holistic” we mean that we aim to meet the cognitive, physical, social/emotional, and spiritual needs of the children we serve. We do this from in-the-womb to adulthood through three programs: Child Survival Program (or CSP), Child Development through Sponsorship Program (or CDSP), and Leadership Development Program (or LDP). For more about the specifics of each program you can check out compassionmodel.com.

But, in short, CSP aims to meet the needs I’ve listed here for the mother and child beginning in the womb, through delivery, up to school age. At school age (here in the Philippines that’s age 3) the child may enter CDSP, or what’s commonly called the child sponsorship program – that’s the program funded by sponsors who, in the U.S., generously give $38 each month to underwrite their sponsored child’s care. After graduation a select few distinguished students may enter LDP, Compassion’s program for university students.

All three of these programs serve children through the local church. Compassion works exclusively through local indigenous church partners – more than 300 in the Philippines alone! Working through the church’s staff and volunteers and facilities, Compassion is able to effectively and efficiently meet both the physical and spiritual needs of children in that church’s neighborhood. This is one of three things that makes Compassion’s ministry very unique.

The Three C’s

These distinctiveness are known as the three Cs and they are non-negotiables of Compassion’s ministry. Our service to children is child focussed, church based, and Christ centered. I think I’ve explained those first two C’s already but how about the third? It causes more than a few people to pause, so let me explain that a bit more. Compassion staff and volunteers are all Christians. And they share their faith with children and their families freely. Every child served by Compassion has heard about Jesus. The work we do is carried out because of our faith in Him, and in the hopes that children and their families will believe in Him. But…

No child is forced to convert to Christianity. In fact, many thousands of children in Compassion’s programs are not Christians. There is absolutely never a difference in the kind or quality of care children receive, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. Jesus healed, fed and loved without discrimination and we do likewise.

Complimentary Interventions

We’re almost done! There’s only one thing, one acronym left to explain. Sponsor dollars are spent to meet the basic physical and spiritual needs of a child, but sometimes the need is greater. What if a child needs major surgery? What if a child’s community does not have clean water and a well must be dug? What if a church we partner with has no electricity or plumbing? What if a mother had HIV and is pregnant? What if a child has been exploited sexually and needs rehabilitation? What if an earthquake destroys a child’s church and home? These needs cannot be covered by a sponsors monthly $38 sponsorship.

Compassion has set up many complimentary intervention funds (CIV) like the Haiti disaster relief fund or the fund to provide major medical care. Money from these funds are spent to meet needs which cannot be met by monthly sponsorship. Using these funds Compassion may partner with other organizations to run power lines, dig wells, perform surgery, rebuild structures, rehabilitate victims of exploitation, and much much more.

That’s Compassion’s ministry to children in a nutshell. Any questions?

Click here to sponsor a child today.

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