Compassion for Bali
The joy and benefits of sponsoring a child bring a sense of empowerment and fulfilment, knowing that your contribution is making a world of difference to someone and their family and community.
This is what happens when you sponsor a child, then have the amazing privilege to go to visit your sponsored child and see first -hand the work that your investment is yielding. This is what Nathan Redfern experienced recently when he visited his Compassion-sponsored child in Bali. Nathan, 29, is a Laboratory Technician and is about to complete his degree in medical science.
Compassion is an international Christian child development and child advocacy ministry committed to working in partnership with local churches around the world to foster the spiritual, economic, social, physical and emotional development of children living in extreme poverty in over 26 developing countries. Their mission statement: to partner with, equip, and inspire the Church to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Andrew Murray from Compassion Australia came to Nathan’s church a few years ago and gave a presentation about Compassion projects happening in Bali and around the world. “I was moved and inspired that I could contribute and be a part of the solution. I understand that being a missionary is not for everyone, but I could partner alongside those who are there and assist them in the work that they are doing.” Nathan had just recently been given a substantial tax refund and felt prompted to help out. “For years I had seen the World Vision ads and thought when I was working full time, I would sponsor a child. From that video presentation, I ended up sponsoring a little boy named Eki. The thing that I love about Compassion is that it is not just about giving money each month; they encourage you to write to and share your life with them.”
When Nathan received his very first letter from Eki, he realised its impact: “I became very excited that my sponsorship really had meaning; these children end up becoming a part of your family. You get to watch them grow up, while you are actually investing money into that whole family.” This empowers them to have a future that is not defined by poverty and ultimately their life becomes meaningful and with purpose.
About two and a half years after sponsoring Eki, he found out that his church was sending a team to Bali to meet the sponsored children and to see the projects that Compassion is doing in this region. Nathan reflected that he was pretty excited to be a part of the team. About a week after hearing the announcement, Nathan signed up to be on the team. “I believe that God had put this on my heart to go.” It wasn’t until a few weeks before the trip that the nerves kicked in. It was Nathan’s first overseas trip. These feelings were on top of realising where he was going, and the significance of this trip to his sponsored child: all seemed to hit him at once. Through team meetings prior to the trip, Nathan became aware of the gravity of the situation he would be experiencing. “Apart from the language/cultural barriers, I don’t think I truly understood how bad it would be.” Reading about the situation is one thing; seeing it is something quite different.
Eki had no prior sponsor – yet his father was one of the few lucky people to have a job. He would go around delivering bottles of water – working seven days a week, until nine or ten each night. Because of this, this family is one of the fortunate ones. They live in a semi-permanent structure – although there is a hole in the corner of the roof; however, they do not have any money to send the children to school or even to afford medical care. Without access to education, children like Eki cannot learn and are therefore caught in a never-ending, bitter poverty cycle. Education brings empowerment and a chance to improve and break this cycle.
Nathan reflected on his initial thoughts and feelings of seeing the poverty first hand. “The thing you feel the most is that you want to do more, but the problem is so widespread and complex. Because the poverty is so extensive (not to mention the massive amount of corruption), it is going to take more than just money. Without skilling and empowering people, it is just maintaining the situation they are currently in.”
Eki and the other Compassion-sponsored children live in a place called Garbage Town. This ‘town’ is built from the local garbage tip. It was the smell that was worst – apart from seeing it first hand. “One of the sponsored children’s homes has a pig pen right in front of the house; which is surrounded by piles of garbage. The smell is unbearable – but to live with this smell day in and day out is unimaginable. Nathan went on to explain: “This same child’s mother has had a broken shoulder for the last few years, but the family is too poor for any medical treatment. They patch it up as best they can, but the whole shoulder is swollen and the arm is now pretty much useless.” Compassion has untertaken to raise funds so the mother can go and have the much-needed operation to fix this. That evening Nathan found it difficult to process his thoughts and feelings: “It is something that always stays with you.”
Nathan and children who attend the local church program — every Compassion sponsor child attends a Compassion Project which is run through the local church
Nathan said that even in this seemingly helpless situation, the kids were running around full of excitement and joy. It was the elderly who looked as if they had just given up. He shared about the first time he met his sponsored child: “When I met Eki for the first time, he brought out the letters I had written and he even showed me the photos I had sent him that were up on his wall.” That single moment is etched on Nathan’s heart and reinforces the importance of why he chose to sponsor a child. On the last Friday of the trip, Compassion organised to take the sponsored children to a water park and the team had a fun-filled day with them. “Hearing them laugh is something I will never forget. For one moment, they forgot their current situation and just enjoyed life. It was a couple of weeks after that, I decided to sponsor a second child.”
Nathan says that this trip taught him something: “It stopped being about money and became more about developing a deep relationship with these kids. They become your second family and this means something.” By investing time, not just money, you begin to understand what is really important in life.
Find out more about Compassion and how you can be involved.
Photos: © Nathan Redfern