A Christian author says his views about poverty and true joy were radically altered after a recent visit to Guatemala to witness the work of a child development ministry.  Many Christian musicians also testify to the effectiveness of the ministry of which author John Eldredge speaks.

John Eldredge is the author of the best seller, "Wild at Heart," and operator of Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado Springs.  Late last year, John, his wife Stasi, and their children visited the Central American country of Guatemala as guests of Compassion International, a ministry that enlists sponsors to commit to send $32 a month to support Christian training, educational opportunities, and other basic needs for a child and his or her family.  Through that support, Compassion changes the lives of children in almost two dozen countries around the world -- from Bangladesh to the Philippines, from Haiti to Rwanda, from India to Guatemala.

It was in Guatemala that the Eldredge family saw the ministry's work in several projects which are operated in conjunction with local churches.  Although he has sponsored a child for several years, John Eldredge says he did not realize how much of an impact his monthly gift made.

"I think what I was so struck by was that it works – it works," the author exclaims.  "It's so simple. I mean, frankly, we're making a very modest gift each month, and then I went and saw what that gift did ... and it works."

Pressed to further explain what he means, Eldredge shares what he saw in Guatemala.

"They are bringing kids to Christ; they are making an enormous difference in their lives physically, nutritionally, medically, and also emotionally and spiritually. They're inviting them into a setting of believers and the family of God.  Sponsorship is such a simple act that I underestimated its impact – but it works."

Over its more than 50 years of operation, Compassion has touched the lives of more than a million children as it has worked with more than 65 denominations and many indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Compassion Gets GMA Award

Evidently Eldredge is not the only one who has noticed the influence of the ministry.  In Nashville, The Gospel Music Association (GMA) has recognized Compassion International with its Impact Award for its long-standing partnership with Christian artists, raising awareness of children living in poverty throughout the world.

Compassion began partnerships with Christian musicians in 1979 and currently partners with 129 artists and speakers – an alliance that has permitted the ministry to reach more than a million people over the last six months.  According to Compassion, more than 130,000 sponsorships have resulted from among the concert-goers and music lovers who have heard the artists' testimonials.

"Our artist partners are absolutely committed to fighting poverty for children around the world in Jesus' name," says Compassion's Mark Hanlon.  "Most have seen firsthand the work that Compassion is doing and sponsor at least one child [themselves].  This allows them to share their hearts and passion with their audiences."

Among the Christian artists sharing on behalf of Compassion International are Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James, the group Glad, Geoff Moore, Nicole C. Mullen, the group MercyMe, and Rachel Lampa.

GMA presented an Impact Award to another Christian relief agency, World Vision, which also is actively supported by many Christian musicians – including the groups Casting Crowns, FFH, and Third Day, and individual performers David Phelps, Joy Williams, and Steven Curtis Chapman.


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