Volunteering with Compassion International is something I have always wanted to experience since I began sponsoring Lucky. I am not sure if this desire is due to my love for Compassion, God speaking to me, being from the Volunteer State or what, but a variety of these events with dates and times never compatible with my schedule have entered and sadly left my inbox throughout the past two years. That is until this past weekend.
I was finally able to volunteer at my first Compassion event, and let me tell you…if you haven’t done so, DO!
My first Compassion volunteer experience was as a “table volunteer” for a Rend Collective concert. If you are not familiar with Rend Collective, they are a Northern Ireland Christian band. They do not seem to fit into any genre or stereotype within the Christian music world. They are truly their own sound and style which I so much appreciate.
The only somewhat comparison I can come up with is when Rusted Root appeared on the music scene in the mid-nineties with their hit “Send Me on My Way”. While this song was played on every radio station millions of times over, the song and band do not fit into a pop or rock or any type of mold other than themselves.
This is the same with Rend Collective. The way I would describe their music is organic, fun, joyful, worship, praise, revival, genuine, whimsical, eclectic, foot-stomping, and vintage-yet-current. My favorite song they sing is “Build Your Kingdom Here”. Just try not to watch this video without tapping your foot, bouncing your knee, clapping, or feeling complete and utter joy.
The Volunteer Experience
A few days before the event, I was sent links to volunteer training videos. I love how everything Compassion is involved with is so well planned, thought out, detailed, generous, and nothing short of awesome. The online training was great so I did not feel like I was completely walking into the unknown.
Once I arrived at the venue, Compassion had already set up the table, display, materials and packets. Our Compassion representative gave us a training session once all of the volunteers arrived. We were all given a Compassion smock to wear that has pockets the exact size to hold child packets. I’m telling you the folks at Compassion think of everything!
Before the doors opened, all of us volunteers (primarily strangers) instantly clicked due to our shared love of releasing children from poverty. We all shared about our Compassion experiences and children. Our table was loaded with so many adorable child packets. We each scoured all of the packets, admiring the sweet expressions, poses, and unique names.
My favorite name from one of the packets was an African child named “Godbless”. As we anxiously awaited to find these angels sponsors, this little cutie’s name was a big topic of discussion wondering whether his name would help or hinder his future.
As the doors opened, people lingered to our table. Parents were showing packets to their young children educating them on the importance of helping the impoverished. Current sponsors stopped by to discuss the new letter writing process. One man stopped by the table and was drawn to a specific child. He asked us to set the packet aside so he could pray about this decision. (On a side note, the man returned at intermission and became a new sponsor.)
The concert-goers gradually took their seats, music erupted, and we volunteers began loading our smocks with child packets. After about thirty minutes into the concert, we all took our places in the back of the auditorium. Patrick Thompson from Rend Collective spoke to the audience from humor to humility to his sponsorship experience to serving God and following scripture to help those in need. His speech was very moving, sincere, and straight from his heart.
He asked the audience to raise their hands if they would like to receive a child packet to learn more and see if sponsorship was something they felt called to do. I roamed the aisles along with my volunteer sidekicks looking for raised hands. Many hands were spontaneously flying up into the air, and my heart grew happier with each packet I placed into a raised hand.
I really wanted to kiss each beautiful picture on the packet before I handed it out, but I was afraid that would look totally weird and might actually discourage sponsorship so I decided to silently pray for the child in each packet I delivered instead.
As I returned to the Compassion table, my smock was down to ten of the fifty packets I originally set out with!
Concert-goers flooded our table at intermission. Some wanted to submit their sponsorship forms, exchange their packet for another child, return their packet, or ask questions about the sponsorship program. It was so exciting to see the excitement of new sponsors, to hear stories of how God was speaking to people, to hear sponsor stories, and to help people by answering any questions they had. I also loved tracking down specific children for future sponsors wanting a child with a certain birth date or from a desired country. Ecuador was very popular due to the recent destruction.
After intermission, we took turns watching the concert until the last song was played. As the concert came to a close, more people surrounded our table becoming sponsors and changing the lives of impoverished children.
I have not heard a final number yet as to how many children were released from poverty that night, but the experience itself was very moving and refreshing. This volunteer opportunity renewed my calling.
I must give a big THANK YOU to my husband for holding down the fort so I could serve God and help children be released from poverty.
If you are interested in volunteering for Compassion, click HERE to learn more.
“Change the atmosphere”