I’m very pleased to post an interview with a friend of mine from the Advocate’s Network. Perhaps you have heard of “Compassion Dave” — his blog is a popular website–Jesus and Compassion–and very worth reading every day. He’s been a strong and effective Child Advocate for Compassion International for several years, and I just wanted to find out what makes him tick, so to speak. There are three things I really admire about Dave —
- His love for Jesus and absolute reliance upon Him — He doesn’t try to do this ministry in his own strength
- His passion for the children — He is always speaking up for the poor, not just occasionally
- His eagerness to worship and to learn — At conferences, he sits right up front, completely focused on what the Lord has to say to him
Here are Dave’s answers to my questions, which ended up being a baker’s dozen — and by the way, his real name is Dave Wells!
Here’s Dave with one of their sponsored kids: Allison Juan-Dominican Republic
In 1998 my family and I went to our first Creation Festival. Long story short, my two boys (who were 11 years old at the time) answered an altar-call and gave their hearts to Jesus Christ. My wife and I decided to commemorate the event by getting them each their own Compassion child to sponsor. Since then we have been adding sponsorships (on average) once a year or so (but not all with Compassion International). About seven years ago I signed up to become an Advocate because I wanted to do more and I felt the Lord guiding me in this direction.
2. Obviously, you don’t know how many thousands of children have been
sponsored through concerts and festivals you have worked, but about
how many children have been sponsored through your individual
activities as a Child Advocate?
3. What is the most rewarding aspect of Child Advocacy?
When I am serving the Lord (with Compassion) it is the closest I have ever come to true worship. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy traditional church worship, it’s just that I feel closest when I am in God’s service.
4. How many children do you sponsor, and where are they?
Well they are not all sponsored through Compassion, but here is the list:
1. Allison Juan – Dominican Republic – Compassion
2. Panlaojua – Thailand – Compassion
3. Pedro – Columbia – Compassion
4. Luis -Dominican Republic – Compassion
5. Matius – LDP student — Indonesia – Compassion
6. Adin – LDP student — Guatemala – Compassion
7. Asue – Thailand – Compassion
8. Monica – Bolivia – Compassion
9. Ange Lusson – Haiti – Daysprings Ministries
10. Lokesh – India – New Hope Ministries
11. Pastor “J” – India – New Hope Ministries
12. Pastor Sampson – India – Gospel for Asia
13. Pastor Prem – India – no ministry affiliation
5. Have you visited any of your children? If so, what were the most
When I visited the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago with Compassion, I was not Allison Juan’s sponsor, but was able to meet and sponsor him during my visit. I was able to meet his entire family, visit his home, church, and school, and see how the Compassion program works firsthand.
This is Allison Juan’s house. His mom ‘does’ hair beneath the awning in order to support the family.
6. Do you have a favorite scripture regarding the poor?
There are so many, so my favorite is really just my ‘latest’ favorite from Ezekiel 16:49…Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
7. What other types of ministries are you involved in at your church
and in your community?
Well I am sad to say my pastor has not yet allowed me to do a Compassion Sunday at my church. I only bring it up because there might be other advocates who are struggling with the same issue. The good news is that the Lord has opened up other opportunities to share Compassion. I am also an assistant youth leader at my friend’s church.
I am an Area Coordinator with Compassion (as a volunteer) which means I manage a small team of like-minded advocates and I spend a lot of time trying to find opportunities to present the Compassion ministry, whether it be at a church or Christian function like a concert, coffeehouse, or Bible study.
8. In signing up sponsors, is there any moment that stands out above
Several years ago a young foreign exchange student named Krisztina sponsored a child. She visited the Compassion table several times during a week-long Christian music festival, each time with another round of questions. I confess, there was a point I was becoming a little annoyed, because I didn’t think she actually wanted to sponsor, but just see how many questions she could ask.
On the final day of the event she sponsored a child…And then disappeared. About an hour later she returned to tell me she just got off the phone with her mother (in Budapest, Hungary).
Krisztina then told me why she was so hesitant to sponsor a child. She feared her mother, whom she supported with her meager wages of about $125 a month, would be mad if she found out she wanted to take approximately one quarter of those earnings to sponsor a child.
I started to cry. Krisztina and her mother very well could have benefited from being sponsored themselves, but she chose to open her hand to a child in more need than herself.
By the way, her mother was elated by her decision to sponsor a child.
9. What event has most impacted your effectiveness as an Advocate?
There are too many to list, but a recent one was at a Shaun Groves concert at Old Bridge Calvary Chapel, in Old Bridge, NJ. It wasn’t a huge deal-I was just so overwhelmed by Shaun’s plea for the Compassion children. I have witnessed a lot of Compassion presentations and although I don’t want to set a precedent of grading (presentations), his was the best I ever heard. Suffice it to say, “You had to be there.”
“I am done softening the ask.”
And so am I. Oh I haven’t abandoned love, but that love is now well-seasoned with Holy-Ghost boldness.
10. What process to you go through in order to get opportunities to
speak in churches?
First and foremost, I am in prayer and in the Word because I want the Lord to be directing my steps and not my flesh (although of course that still happens from time-to-time)
When I find myself behind a Compassion table, I seek not only sponsors, but pastors (and other such empowered folks), for the sole reason of building a relationship so that I might be allowed to come to their church and present the ministry.
I spend a lot of time on the computer as well and try to make contacts and maintain contacts through emails, MySpace, and blogging about Compassion. Online I can search for Christian events and church addresses, and then send out my requests to attend whatever function they are hosting.
I suppose the bottom line is that I try to keep my eyes and ears open wherever I find myself, and then being prepared to ‘pounce’ when the opportunity presents itself.
11. Is there anything from your past that gave you a particular heart
for the poor? Why are you so passionate about Child Advocacy?
I went to India on a mission trip, not with Compassion International, but with a native missionary who just happened to be a formerly sponsored Compassion child. That story is long, but in the end, the Lord broke my heart in India for the least of these.
12. What do you like most about Compassion International?
13. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I touched on it earlier, but the most critical aspect of being involved with any Christian ministry is how closely you are walking with your Lord and Savior. Our relationship with Jesus Christ must be the most important relationship we have. Then, we must trust Jesus to prioritize the rest of lives.
I like to tell my advocates that Compassion is not the most important thing, Jesus is. I trust my Lord to guide each advocate in the appropriate amount of time they need to be spending in this (or any) ministry. The last thing I want is for someone to put a gazillion hours into the ministry because I (seem) to. Heaven forbid! Unless God builds the house, our labor is in vain!
Listen to the Lord and He will prepare a schedule that suits His needs and in turn blesses you. The only factor that remains is our obedience. We can be as close to Jesus as we want, heck, we can be sitting on His shoulders, but if we are not going to obey what He says, then what’s the point?
This isn’t a picture of me, but my good friend Barry. I just wanted to include it because it is one of my favorite pictures. I took the picture as Barry said goodbye to his sponsored child and his mom (in Ecuador).