From Auckland to Kupang

At the end of last month, I had the privilege of travelling with one of the Pastors and an Elder from EastGate Church in East Auckland. We went to visit their Compassion sponsor children and to see the projects connected to the local churches in Kupang, Indonesia.

Kupang is the main city in West Timor and has a Christian population of about 82%, so you are never far away from a church or a bumper-sticker for Jesus.

What do Child Sponsorship Programmes actually look like?

Victoria Hanna from Tearfund NZ poses for a photo with a Compassion staff and a sponsored child in Indonesia


The first church and Compassion project we visited has been active for eight years but it had never had any sponsor visitors before we came. The children were so excited to see us, hold our hand, and take photos with us. The Project Coordinator was moved to tears with our arrival.

The Project Coordinator for this project had the most amazing vision and really took the Compassion sponsorship programme to its fullest capacity. Compassion partners with the local church to reach communities. This project has set up Life-skills classes for the children so that they can learn skills to help them in the future and enable them to ‘give back’ to the community.

For instance, they have set up a laundry, an organic coconut oil-production facility and a welding shop. One generous supporter from the USA funded a water filtration system for the project. The children learn the skills necessary to run these various business enterprises and can provide these services such as clean drinking water to the whole community. They also have a market garden growing vegetables. They have a dream to open a restaurant in the local community using some of their fresh produce.

A Compassion Programme Marketing Garden that grows vegetables for communities in need in Indonesia

Sharing life together

Indonesian children are so joyous and they love to dance and sing and play games. But for us learning the songs and the moves became very confusing when an interpreter is added to the mix! There seems to be four main songs that are universal in Kupang—we even heard them being played at our hotel. But by the end of our time we had the dance moves down pat!

Sponsored children teaching New Zealand Sponsors how to dance and sing Indonesia songs

We were privileged enough to visit four children’s home and we were warmly welcomed in by their families each time. Each home was beautifully presented and made me wonder how much time they had spent in preparation for our visit. Our visit seemed to mean a lot to them. We were able to share stories with them about our families in New Zealand and show them photos of their sponsors. We also had the privilege of praying with them about their hopes and dreams and brought gifts from New Zealand. We were even able to fit in a little playtime with the children.

A New Zealand woman prays for a sponsored child and his family in Indonesia

How one Indonesian church is putting its faith in action

At one of the Compassion Projects, they had set up an income generation programme with pigs. The Church bought a pregnant sow and gave a piglet to a number of sponsored families in need. When their sow has its first littler, the family give one piglet back to the church so that another family can benefit. The rest can then be sold to generate an income.

A pig on a farm, made for income generation for local families in need in Indonesia, through child sponsorship

A hope more powerful than poverty

As a Tearfund employee, and a child sponsor, it was really encouraging to see the work first hand. Compassion does a tremendous job and they really help set these kids up to have better opportunities in life. We were able to talk with the Kupang office staff, one of whom was a former sponsored child. I asked him what the main difference sponsorship had made in his life, before and afterwards. He said, “hope”. “Having a personal mentor meet with me once a week and help me set goals, being able to share my dreams with my family and sponsor family, and know that they were all praying for me and believing in me, changed my whole life. Without Jesus and Compassion sponsorship, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I just wouldn’t have believed I could change my situation.”

Sponsored children and the local church wave goodbye from Indonesia!


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