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So that others may simply live

I went to Kim and Moises’ house today. These two teenage brothers live in a neighborhood on top of a marsh — as in, there’s a concrete sidewalk leading to their house, with putrid water under floating rafts of trash on either side.

Their mother works as a seamstress in a factory, and their father is in Saudi Arabia. They also have a younger sister, who was napping in a neighbor’s home upstairs earlier this afternoon.

These two young men are a great example of how the organization does so much more than give their family money each month.

Stephanie, Shaun, and I went to their home to say hello and hear how Compassion has affected their lives.

See, Compassion is an organization that focuses specifically on developing the whole child. Poverty affects so much more than the ability to get rice on the table. It affects your ability to think well, to find your place in the community, and to have hope.

And Compassion cares about those things, too.

1. Cognitive Needs

Kim and Moises live in squalor, but they go to college. It’s not quite like “college” like you and I know, but it’s a good education, one that provides the chance at a future.

The elder brother is studying education to become a teacher.

The younger is studying civic engineering.

As a seamstress, their mother brings home about $100 per month, yet these boys’ tuition is much more than that. Compassion helps pay for their tuition and books.

I mentally fast-forwarded to the future when Moises said he wanted to design houses. He told us this as he stood mere inches from the warped and mildewed cardboard ceiling in his own. Maybe in a few years, he could design and build a more stable home for his family. Maybe for his neighbors, too.

2. Social and Emotional Needs

When a child is sponsored through Compassion, they’re part of a local Child Development Center. Here, they go to a weekly “meeting” of sorts where they have classes, sing music, learn life skills, and eat lunch. Sometimes, they learn how to play guitar or to paint as a means of expression.

Today, the kids had classes about what it means to be a genuine friend. They talked about what it meant to be trustworthy and honest. They also drew pictures as an object lesson on how we’re all created equally unique.

Other times, they may hold classes on how to share their feelings appropriately, or who they can trust as a “safe person” in their life. And because this is all taught from local Compassion staff and volunteers, it’s automatically culturally-appropriate.

3. Physical Needs

Food, clothing, and shelter. These are things that come relatively easy for most of us. Moises and Kim have stepped out of their large box of a home and into a swamp for the past 10 years. They get their water from a faucet shared by multiple neighbors. They sleep on the floor on pieces of cardboard.

These boys both have sponsors from Australia, and their $38 support provides them with these basic physical needs, along with the tuition and books mentioned above. They also receive occasional Christmas gifts of around $20 from their sponsors, and their mother uses this extra money to buy their clothes for the year.

4. Spiritual Needs

All these things happen through the local church. Compassion unabashedly works through indigenous churches, and Kim, Moises, and 300 other children all find care through a neighborhood church. There is a remarkable difference between the kids with Compassion sponsors and the myriad children we passed today, equally stuck in poverty.

That difference is hope.

Today, Kim and Moises prayed for Stephanie and her family. They prayed for the Langfords.

And why not, after all? We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We share the same hope.

No child is ever required to be a Christian in order to be sponsored. In fact, many sponsored children around the world aren’t. Jesus healed, fed and loved without discrimination, and so does Compassion.

A reader asked a good question on Twitter yesterday:

Compassion has made a commitment to always give, at minimum, 80% of all sponsor funds directly for the child’s needs. The four things mentioned above are provided to Kim and Moises because their two sponsors in Australia give $38 monthly.

Head here to see how Compassion breaks it all down. I’ve been around a lot of non-profits and ministries, and I’m honestly blown away by the financial integrity I’ve seen this week from Compassion.

If you care about holistic child development, and want to provide these four types of needs for a child like Moises or Kim, or Emily, or Mary Rose, or John Mark, or Denise, or Stacey, or Precious, head here to find the ones waiting for you.

It’s cliché, yes, but $38 per month is like nine lattes for us. Totally doable.

“Live simply, so that others may simply live.” -Mother Teresa

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Bridget McGovern Llewellyn

    Enjoyed your article. Thank you. I’m currently researching for a children’s book about simplifying life, and we (Americans) fail to realize the sacrifices that others make so that we can buy our goods at low, low prices. Sad, but hope to see a happy enlightenment in the future.

  2. oh amanda {impress your kids}

    Oh. So good.

    Emily’s post (and your warning to her) messed me up. But this post and the picture of the 2 boys praying brought me back. Somehow we’ve been given the opportunity to live simply to help others simply live WITH HOPE. The hope that comes from Jesus Christ.

    I love Compassion’s heart to minister to the WHOLE child.

    Thank you again for sharing your story & theirs.

    • Tsh

      Oh good. That was my exact hope… bringing you back in from Emily’s (and everyone else’s).

      Thanks for your support, Amanda.

  3. Anthony from CharismaticKid

    Another excellent story. So great I found this blog. And btw, those kids should get into modeling!

  4. Amy

    My daily coffee was what I gave up to sponsor my first child. Buying books was what I gave up to sponsor my 2nd child. My pride is what I gave up to sponsor our 3rd child. There are so many ways to come up with the money to sponsor.

    I love to see the posts about Compassion’s integrity. God totally led me to this wonderful organization and He has made it possible for me to sponsor them.

    • Jill Foley

      Amy, I love your testimony of what you gave up – coffee, books and pride. I can only imagine what God has replaced those things with!!

  5. Laura

    Compassion International is a wonderful organization. Our family has sponsored a young lady from Honduras for several years. It is fascinating and inspiring to see what God has done.

  6. Jill Foley

    Tsh, I think one of the most impactful experiences I have had with Compassion is knowing that there are children and families, living in dire circumstances, who pray for me. This blows me away. And I’m sure they are much more consistent in their prayers for me than I am for them.

    God has blessed me beyond measure through this ministry.

  7. Monica @ In the Whisper

    Tsh, I am honestly being so humbled this week as I follow y’all’s trip. I really feel (almost) as if I’m there. Thanks for doing an amazing job bringing names and stories to these beautiful faces.

  8. Heart and Haven

    I am in tears and my heart is breaking, which is probably a good thing.

    My husband hates watching those commercials about animals and won’t go to the animal shelter, because he wants to take each of them home. You are there, with these beautiful children, in conditions I can’t even imagine. How will you be able to leave and not just want to take each of them with you?

    I’m praying for you & the rest of your team to continue doing a great work. Thank you for sharing your experiences to allow God to soften my heart. I need it.

  9. charis

    i love that mother teresa quote you shared at the end. thanks for sharing these specific case studies. so very touching and great to see the behind the scenes.

  10. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies

    I echo your statement. It is totally doable. Our family thought we would be squeezing our budget to sponsor, yet God will not allow us to outgive Him.

    I know an older lady living on a small disability check. She sponsors two children.

    I know another man who has a modest income. He sponsors 44. That was no typo. 44. He is my hero.

    • Tsh

      Thank you for sharing this.

      • Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies

        No, thank *you*, Tsh. You’re doing a great thing! If I can add a little extra inspiration to your incredible posts, I am happy to do so. 🙂

  11. Sharon

    I am loving this series of posts while you are in the Phillippnes. I sponsored two children through Compassion (one in the Philippnes) for years. Until I quit working to be a stay at home Mom. I am so sad that I never got to meet either child in person. I had to smile at the question on Twitter. It made me think of my husband. He does not seem to understand that every business (profit or non-profit) has to have administrative costs. We’ve been over and over it time and again (including yesterday), but his mind just won’t accept that a % of donations is going somewhere other than to the kids directly. We have missionary friends that were sent out by an organization and he doesn’t get the need for that organization to be involved either. It drives me crazy, but I guess there’s no point in continuing to argue with him!

    • Tsh

      And in an indirect (but still direct…) way, when those costs go to administrative funds, they’re still going to the kids. The hands and feet that bring the needs to the kids need to eat, too, in order to give well.

    • Tsh

      Another good illustration is Stephanie’s most recent post. She highlights a Compasssion worker who, even as she serves, lives in poverty herself.

  12. Sarah Lei Spagnolo

    I grew up in the Philippines and my friend shared this post with me. Thank you for helping people in our country.

  13. steph

    Love this- thanks for bringing us with you! Love the photo of the family praying.

  14. Sarah

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    You. have. no. idea. How. much.

    Me and my husband are so jaded in donating where these organizations/ministeries are concerned and we have always struggled in the ‘Giving’ part of our budget.

    Now we have a cause.

    A great one at that.

    The kicker? Including Shaun’s random audit of a Compassion Centre. Now THAT is transparency.

  15. JD

    One of the things I learned in Honduras with Compassion last year was my response to the “What’s the money used for, and how much goes to really help the kids?” My answer has become, honestly, “There is only one way to describe how much Compassion does on the little bit I give them each month… loaves & fish and a whole lot of God.” It’s hard to understand how they can provide SO much, beyond measure, for so little… and what an impact it has! Not only on kids, but on families and communities!

    We sponsor 12 kids through Compassion, yet we are just your simple folks living paycheck to paycheck. Sure, we’ve had to do without the trappings of “the Jones’ “, but I would rather have my Compassion kids than a cell phone, and I can’t imagine which of my children I would trade for more frequent meals in restaurants or the latest clothes, gadgets, new car, bigger house, etc, etc. I have zero regrets. In fact, God keeps providing more ways for us to add “just one more” to our Compassion family. It’s really true, you can’t outgive God.

    It’s more than just the monthly sponsorship costs, it’s the relationship building that’s also priceless. Those letters are priceless.

  16. Angie

    Thank you so much for every word you type on this trip. This is the first time I’ve followed the bloggers, from Compassion, on one of their trips. My mind just keeps taking all of this in. I sponsored a child in the Philippines 2 days ago because I wanted to be a part of this too. I imagine my new young lady, and what her life must be like, because of your wonderful words. God is surely in this organization. We are all so blessed to be part of it. Thank you again.

  17. Jessica

    Thank you for sharing your work! I have thought so much about this organization after seeing a Compassion presentation at an Extraordinary Women’s conference last fall. It was nice to see the money in action with your posts. I love seeing the faces of those benefitting from this organization.

  18. darci

    You convinced me after a little investigating to sponsor a child myself. I now am the proud sponsor of a girl in the Philippines. Thanks for opening my eyes to the fact we do have much more than we think we do.

  19. Sarah

    Thank you. I just sponsored my first child!!!

  20. Nicole @ Burning Bushes

    Love the simplicity of this post and the beauty of all those faces. Thanks for taking us with you.

  21. Donna Flavier

    I have been following your blog for quite some time now. I love the authenticity of your writing.

    I live in the Philippines and appreciate all the help for the Filipino children. Thank you very much. I do hope that in my own little way I also get to do the same.

  22. Robin ~ PENSIEVE


    I LOVE your ability to summarize and communicate essentials; here, you’ve done this very thing (and you make it look EASY!).

    Ending on HOPE, that which Compassion brings in the name of Christ, now THAT is a high note to end on.

    And begin on.

    Praying for you this morning, friend.

  23. Leslie

    Sooo enjoying these posts of your trip. So very inspiring. I’ve used some of them to supplement my girls’ history and geography in homeschool this week. We have a Compassion girlie in Ethiopia, so I’m loving that they are putting some real faces and stories to what our money and prayers accomplish.

  24. Amanda

    I have been very moved by the stories and pictures and admire the work of this organization. One individual helping another can be a profound gift to both, thank you for reminding us of that. At the same time, I can’t help but think about the global market forces that make it permissable for the parents you’ve written about to be paid $100 a month, clearly not a “living wage” even in their country. I’m making some assumptions here– that the seamstress is working for a factory that is producing goods for resale in other countries– which may not be true in this situation; however, it is true in many, so that makes me wonder, what responsibility do corporations that purchase cheap goods from these countries have toward this mother and these boys? What responsibility do we have as the end users of these products? What choices can we make that will address the underlying causes of poverty for families such as this without allowing the responsibility for, and true cost of, unsustainable practices to be continually shifted onto the sholders of generous individuals?

  25. Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience

    That is why simplicity…
    A simple focus — just like that.

    Thank you, Tsh…

  26. Marilyn Holeman

    I watched a “House Hunters” episode on HGTV last night about a family that was “downsizing from 7500 square feet to 2400 or so square feet” due to the husband’s lost job. I watched as they kept saying “It’s so small.” and “This will need updating.” and kept thinking about the living conditions you’re encountering in the Philippines. We Americans are so spoiled! Thanks for making this trip and blogging about it. Compassion is a wonderful organization.


  27. Roberta

    Such beautiful boys! I just love reading how so many of the sponsored children (in all of the countries that Compassion) want to grow up and give back to their communities. Either through sponsoring their own compassion kids, or volunteering in the centers or like Moises here who wants to make bigger changes to his community by learning how to build better homes for all. Amazing and inspiring…thank you once again 😉

  28. L.


    I don’t know you, and I don’t know Compassion. I am not a Christian, and I don’t home school. I just read your blog, and I enjoy it.

    I feel very respectful of the work you’re doing, but I hope you’ll give a second thought to the complex nature of giving charity under the auspices of a Christian organization. While one is not obligated to be or to become Christian while receiving these handouts, it changes the nature of the relationship with Jesus and Christianity. Rather than accepting Jesus of one’s free will, one would logically draw a relationship between “look! I get to eat now!” and your Christian message. I’m not saying you should stop or that it’s wrong. I’m just saying it’s more complex than you seem to think it is.

    Best wishes to you.

    • Amy

      What kind of organization do you think would be better to work with? Serious question here. I love how Compassion works with the whole child and the whole family. I love their integrity in everything they do. Many Christian organizations work with people and help people. Our own church puts together food boxes for schools and I have yet to hear someone said “oh, if I believe it Christ, I will get to eat”.

      I am just trying to get a feel of how you think helping those in poverty could be improved.

      • L.

        There is no reason a Christian cannot volunteer with secular outreach organizations that feed and clothe the needy. There are thousands of these organizations. The accepting of help is an extremely weighty and sensitive manner, and it should never appear to be conflated with religion or any other weighty and sensitive matter. In my opinion (and I admit it’s only my opinion), religion and help should never, ever mix.

        • L.

          matter, not matter. sorry.

          • L.

            matter, not MANNER. argh.

  29. Amy

    I don’t agree with you, but I admit that I don’t really know what to say. 🙂 I do respect your opinion though.

    • Amy

      Oh, and if I think of something, which usually happens in the shower, or in the middle of the night, or doing dishes (you get the picture!) I may come back and say something! LOL.

  30. Finley @ Mommy Chic

    Wow, this is a great post that reminds me to be thankful of all that we have here.

    I have family in the Philippines and the disparity between those that have and those that do not is so huge, you will only believe it when you see it. I had no idea until I went to visit years ago. People built their “houses” (3 sheets of corrugated metal w/ a bedsheet as the 4th ‘wall’/door) on the sewer! This large river that runs through the city smells so awful because of all the trash and waste and families live on it.

    We have sponsored a child in the Philippines in lieu of Christmas gifts to our families here and they are so appreciative. It seems we just give each other gifts every year because that’s tradition, but since we all have everything we need, it’s hard to buy something the other will really love. When we gave the gifts to Compassion as their Christmas gifts, it made more of an impact to everyone that received it. Esp since we have extended family that live there.

    Thanks for the reminder of Mother’s Teresa’s quote “Live simply so that others may simply live.”

    {mommy chic} design. style. kids. life.

  31. Kathryn Howard

    May the Lord richly bless you for going where I never can and telling us about it. We just sponsored our 14th children through Compassion! His name is Carl and there are 7 children in his family. Who says Christmas comes in December only? It came for us today as we added to our family!! Oh, the unbounding joy of sponsorship through Compassion!

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