Monday, October 6, 2014

Compassion in the Bathroom....and Other Places

I had just turned the lock and set my purse on the door hook when I heard the lady in the stall next to me speak. Not to her cell phone, but to me. And not to ask for toilet paper, either.

Well, that's something that's never happened to me at JC Penny's before! 

I couldn't see her, and given that I'm not really used to listening through bathroom stall walls, hadn't really been paying attention the first time she spoke. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

She cleared her throat. "I said that I have a little girl in Ecuador! And we just love her!"

I glanced down at my shirt, a walking billboard for Compassion International. Now her comment made sense, though her timing was a bit strange. But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

"Our girl is in the Philippines!" I replied. "We love her too!"

Yes, women are capable of connecting anywhere. Moving on.

Maybe you're just catching the Compassion bug (trust me, sponsoring children becomes addictive) but don't have the guts or access to a large crowd of people. Maybe you want to do just more than work a table at a concert. Or maybe you're just not the pushy type who likes to "bug" people about this sort of thing.

Trust me, I get it. Yet there is so much more to spreading the awesomeness of Compassion than presentations or pitches. Try these easy ways and see what happens:

Wear Your Heart
Compassion has a pretty awesome store. I have several cute fitted tops (because I do NOT wear T-shirts) from there as well as some racing gear and I love them all. But more than fashion, they have allowed me to share Compassion with the world without saying a word.

Last month, at my most recent half-marathon, I was lining up at the start when a woman approached me. "I'm a sponsor, too," she said, "and actually we just got back from visiting our girl in Uganda." (Insert British accent). Instantly, I felt a connection, and as we chatted she said she'd pray for me (although no amount of prayer could get me to PR on that day!).

When people read your shirt (or whatever else you choose to wear), it's a natural conversation-starter. Give it a shot -- you never know when the nearest bathroom stall may talk to you.

Birthday Buddy Billboards
 Many sponsors choose their kids based on their or their children's birthdays, AKA "birthday buddies."  I've written before how this is a fantastic way to involve your biological kids in ministry; it's an awesome practice I highly recommend. But didja know you can use birthday parties to let others in on the fun? See Exhibit A:

This is a sign we posted in the entryway of our oldest son's first birthday. It reads, "Hello, my name is Barbie Gicale Albatera, and I am Jack's Compassion sister from the Philippines. Today is my birthday, too! I am turning 7. Please consider supporting a Compassion child like me!" And of course, I had to place a (borrowed) Barbie doll in her stead.

This is a low-pressure, creative way to get people to ask questions, not to mention reinforce to your own children that this person they see taped to the refrigerator (well, their picture, I suppose, but doesn't that make you giggle a little?) is realand matters.

Be That Annoying Bragging Parent
You know when you meet new people and they ask you how many kids you have? And you eagerly bust open your wallet to show them Junior in all his Mini-Me cuteness? Guess what: you can do that with your Compassion babies, too. Compassion sends you handy-dandy wallet-sized photos of all your kids. Stick them in your purse. Include their names and locations in your conversations with strangers. Like,

"Do you have children?"

"Yep, I've got three at home, then two in Africa, two in Asia and two in South America. Wanna see some pictures?"

Usually, that line is so unusual that the person you're talking to is bound to ask for an explanation. And there's your opening! "Yeah, have you ever heard of Compassion International? It's one of the largest child-sponsorship organizations in the world and my family absolutely loves being a part of it."

For example, while on a trip recently, we found out that our room stewards were from Nicaragua and Bolivia. Which just so happens to be where two of our sons' birthday buddies are from! So out come the little cardboard photos, and just like that, we're having a conversation, making a connection with someone we may have been tempted to just ignore beforehand and spreading awareness.

Which, when you think about it, is a lot better than what usually gets spread from a bathroom.

About Crystal Kupper....Crystal is a passionate sponsor and advocate for Compassion. She is a military wife, mom to three kids and is a freelance writer, currently living in the UK. You can find her blogging at Crystal Kupper

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