Caring for our World: Compassion

Valley Church

Valley Church

There is a story about the thousands of starfish that get stranded on the beach when the tide goes back out who are unable to reach the sea again.

A young boy came across them and started to pick them up one by one, throwing them back into the ocean. An old man saw him doing this, and with stunned surprise said to him, “Young boy, there is no point in what you are doing. There are thousands of starfish stranded across this beach, you will never be able to help them all.”

“You’re right,” said the young boy. “I may not be able to help all of them.” He picked up the next starfish, “But I can help this one.”

When I think of Compassion, this is what I think of – helping the one.

I was 17 when I had the chance to sponsor my first Compassion child. Her profile was handed to me just after our service had ended. I was new to church, in fact, I don’t even think I had become a Christian yet, but something inside of me told me I had to do everything I could to sponsor this child, Thais Evelyn. 

That afternoon when I took her profile home, I read about Brazil, about the crime rates, and the issues with drugs. I was dumbfounded by the amounts of children my age that hadn’t got an education. I was shocked when I saw the number of children that lived amidst the favelas of Brazil, specifically in Fortaleza. I couldn’t help all of them, but I could help this one.

For a teenager that had just dropped out of college cash flow wasn’t the easiest, so I walked to the local newsagents that afternoon where I had a mid-week paper round at the time and asked if they had any more. One Sunday morning paper round was available. Being a Sunday morning round, the pay was £5.25 each week, to sponsor Evelyn was £21 per month – now, I’m not great at maths but that seemed a little too miraculous to be true! I couldn’t help all of them, but I could now help this one.

Proudly I returned my completed profile form and left church feeling overjoyed to be a part of this little girl’s life.

Over time letters were exchanged between us. As I wrote my words became more faith filled, and so did hers. She became more mature in her language, telling me of the activities she enjoyed doing and how her Grandma was. She asked about what I enjoyed doing and what life was like for me here in the UK. One of her letters will always stick in my memory – her project supporter had clearly helped her write it, but the letter read of her accepting Jesus into her heart. She knew she was a daughter of the King.

A few years down the line I had the opportunity to visit Fortaleza, Brazil as part of Valley Church on a trip to meet our children. The first day of our trip was emotional. We arrived at our first project BR110. Huge, harsh blue gates greeted us, but as they swung open there was PURE JOY. The children stood, smiling, waving, and laughing, so delighted to see our faces. And amidst their faces there she was – Thais Evelyn, with her thick brown hair, gorgeous big eyes and her beaming smile. Instantly there was a connection: she knew me and I knew her. It was then when I realized what my £21 a month from my paper round had been able to do; what my letters had meant and my love had done. She stood tall, proud and so delighted. I couldn’t help all of them, but I could help this one.

The trip allowed me the opportunity to meet the girl I had spent three years investing in, telling her about God’s love. I was able to say to her face that she was “known by God and no matter what circumstances she found herself in, she was in His hands.” I was able to give a gift to her and meet and thank her Grandmother for enrolling her into the project. I was able to join a dance class with her and, most importantly, pray with them both.

Tears still fill my eyes when I think of the impact I got to have in Thais Evelyn’s life through the work of Compassion. Without this wonderful organization there wouldn’t have been a child to sponsor and my journey of faith, almost maturing in faith alongside Thais Evelyn, certainly wouldn’t have been the same.

The children of Fortaleza in Brazil face a very different kind of relative poverty. There are gang wars locally, and they live in fear and constant danger. If they aren’t attending some form of education or activity during the day, the children will end up as part of a gang, as they have to find a way to stay safe throughout the day time and even more so at night. Ultimately, they are robbed of their childhoods.

Compassion not only fulfill the immediate need of food, clothing and medical help for children like Thais Evelyn, but they also endeavour to educate, support and nurture children and young people in the name of Jesus.

You may not be able to help them all, but I wonder if through Compassion you can help just one?

Tabitha Halliwell


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