Change the Story: The Compassion Experience Coming to BillingsPotential. The word itself is compelling with possibilities… now apply it to a child’s life. As parents we pour our hearts, hands, time, attention, finances and thousands upon thousands of dreams into the lives of our kids. Not only are children the next generation, the future leaders, the doers, the movers and the shakers in our communities, they are also our own offspring, prospects, and hope for the future. In this country, even if parents are absent or unable to raise their children, we have programs and nonprofits and organizations that will step in to lend a hand and a heart.
But imagine being a parent in Ethiopia, or Rwanda. Think about looking into the face of your child – hungry, dirty, sick… and the prayer on your heart has to be, “Who can help us?” These small children are no different from our children. They eat, sleep, dream, play, laugh and learn the same way our own kids do. Some are orphans, many are not, but they are all impoverished of even that most important of all circumstances: Hope.
Compassion International is an organization that has brought Hope to literally millions of poverty-stricken children throughout the world. With over 1.5 million children in 26 countries currently enrolled in Compassion programs, the nonprofit is “boots on the ground” with the goal of bringing the love of Christ to kids and families in desperate need.
Lacey Maloney is a Billings mom with an intense love for needy children worldwide. She said, “I've never experienced joy quite like I experienced in Ethiopia--getting to be a part and seeing in real life the impact that sponsorship makes was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I wish everyone could get to be a part of making that kind of change for others. It's so easy to do! Such a small sacrifice on our end makes such a huge difference on theirs. I'm excited for my Billings friends and neighbors to get to see that for themselves!”
Lacey isn’t referring to everyone being able to pack up the family and travel the world… she is excited about “Change the Story”, an event coming to Billings July 3-6. (see video above)
About Change the Story: Compassion International Event
From the Compassion website: What if you could see poverty firsthand? What if, despite age, health or finances, others could experience God's heart for the poor? Now you can. Change the Story will bring you as close to another country and culture as you can get without a passport. This interactive, immersive display allows you to step into the life of a child who has suffered under the crippling weight of poverty. But the journey does not end there. In the span of less than 30 minutes, you will travel with that child from hardship to hope. And in the midst of hope, you will see that child's story transformed through the support of Compassion and the child's life-giving relationship with a sponsor. Change the Story is an eye-opening experience that challenges your views of poverty, transforms your understanding of the world, and moves you to be the change for a child who lives in extreme poverty!
Lacey explained how Compassion works. “The cost is $38/month, and it provides the child with food, education, medical care, and loving mentorship through the local church. Compassion's comprehensive program helps prepare the child for life and they get the opportunity to further their education as needed (college for some, vocational training for others, specific skills/training for their area of employment, etc.).”
From a more personal standpoint, she said, “Sponsored children write their sponsor a minimum of 3 times/year, and sponsors are encouraged to write their children as often as they would like. The children love to receive letters. The letters are often their most prized possessions. Sponsors will receive a picture of their child and information about the area where the child lives. Sponsors can also meet their children in person if they wish to travel to the child's country.”
Is this a family activity? Absolutely. “Kids can definitely get involved!” said Lacey. “My own children draw pictures, write letters, and give gifts to the children we sponsor. Our sponsored children are a regular part of our family conversation, and we talk about and pray for our sponsored children often. The Compassion Experience is so powerful, especially for children, to understand the way that many children throughout the world live. In our family, each of our children has a sponsored child near their age. That child is "their" child, and we often talk about what life is like for them.”
Change the Story is a free event that will be at Castle Rock Park (corner of West Wicks Lane and Nutter Blvd) from Friday, July 3 through Monday, July 6. Organizers suggest you plan on being at the event for at least an hour. Bring your kids!
- Fri July 3, 10am-6:40pm
- Sat July 4, 10am-9:40pm
- Sun July 5, 10am-5:40pm
- Mon July 6, 10am-5:40pm
For more information or to reserve your spot: http://changetour.compassion.com/billings/
To read more about Lacey’s experiences: