Saturday, June 28, 2008

Compassion, or...Whatever

Ever feel you've been had?

As frequent visitors may remember, earlier this year Fellow Traveler and I attended a Lost and Found concert at our church which featured an informational table for Compassion International, an organization that promotes sponsorship of needy children overseas. Despite some real reservations about this organization -- its fundamentalist agenda, homophobic content in its literature -- we made a decision that helping a kid is more important than contending with whatever institutional bull doody is trying to keep us from doing so, and that if a couple of musicians we respected supported the organization we'd give it the benefit of the doubt.

So we signed up. We signed up for an automatic payment plan right out of the bank account.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Compassion International has never followed up. When I e-mailed them, a couple of months after the concert, to inquire why no money was taken out of the designated account to help our kid, there was initially no response; then I got an e-mail saying that there was some sort of bureaucratic issue with the automatic payment. I responded.

And then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Well, we've had it with these people -- not only for their hateful attitude toward gay people but for their seemingly lackadaisical followup on behalf of a kid they claim they want to help. Could have fooled us.

A photo of Vijoy, the child we wished to sponsor, is still on the refrigerator. He's still in our prayers. I pray that someday the quality of his life will improve because of people who actually care about his wellbeing as a fellow human created in imago Dei and deserving of nurture and respect, more than they care about promoting their own religious agenda.


ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

That kind of stuff in incredibly irritating. Makes you wonder if the people doing the concerts, etc. leaving home, being on the road, etc. know how they are, in part, wasting their efforts.

Jan said...

Prayers for this child are good. Sorry this organization failed so miserably.

zorra said...

This concerns me, LC. We have been Compassion sponsors for nearly 25 years and have never had any trouble with our payments being properly credited or any sense that they were not being good stewards of the funds with which they were entrusted--quite the contrary, in fact. As for homophobic content, all I can say is I have to look more closely, because apparently I have not had eyes to see it. I believe they truly do care about the children and projects. I will be very interested in hearing more about how this situation is resolved.

Jonathan Rundman said...

I just posted a blog about my own Lutheran struggles with Compassion International and I know how you feel. I think I'm gonna back out of it and give to Lutheran World Relief or ELCA World Hunger appeal instead.

Shaun Groves said...

Thank you for talking about your issues with Compassion International. To be completely transparent, I work part-time for Compassion. I support bloggers who want to use their on-line voice to speak for children in poverty around the world. Also, I do some speaking and singing on behalf of Compassion International - about 100 dates a year resulting in about 1400 sponsorships annually. Compassion has dozens of such speakers. And Compassion currently ministers to 1,000,000 children in 25 countries.

I throw these numbers out only to give you an idea of the scope of what Compassion does. And with that scope is bound to come a mistake or two - though expecting that doesn't make those mistakes any less regrettable when they occur. I'm grateful, as I'm betting Compassion is, when those mistakes are made public. This gives us a chance to apologize, learn, improve and prevent them in the future.

I'm very sorry your experience was so terrible. I promise you, however, that Compassion does care very much about the children it ministers to - we minister to together. I've fed them lunch, pushed them in a swing, been hugged my grateful parents until my head nearly popped off. I've walked the churches where mothers are taught to breast feed and care for their children, where children learn to read and hear how much God loves them daily. I've seen the kingdom come to the third world, I've seen the care and the integrity of Compassion at every level in bringing it there and so I am confident Compassion loves the children of the world.

That said, you weren't treated well. All I'd ask is that you stay in touch with Compassion - whether you are sponsoring or not - so that we can learn more about your problem and make sure no one else experiences it.

You can reach me at Shaun AT CompassionBloggers DOT com. Tell me in more detail what the issue was, what was tried and failed, and I promise you I'll get this addressed immediately.

Again, thank you for posting so Compassion can do an even better job serving it's sponsors.

-Shaun Groves

Anonymous said...

The simple and sad thing is that you care more about promoting your own religious cause than taking care of a child through any means possible. They aren't promoting hatred, they are seeking to protect the child from ungodly influence ie. sex outside of marriage.

God bless you.