Poverty Changed My Life

Heather and I had been sponsoring in a relatively disconnected way since around 2000. I use the word ‘disconnected’ because although we understood the work of Compassion and believed in its concepts, we had never actually connected with the children in any meaningful way. A trip to see the work of Compassion in 2007 changed all this.

Prior to this trip, I was in a highly pressurised work environment, which was engulfing every hour of my day and much of my nights. Early mornings were sometimes spent trying not to throw up whilst shaving. Many of you guys will have been there; big income, big demands, no room to back off, always up to take on the next contract – if I got in an hour earlier each day I thought I could cope.

As we returned home from our trip to Kenya, to the trivial nonsense of daily life, we asked ourselves what on earth we were doing. Why where we working so hard, and what for? 

We were fortunate to visit Kenya on an Advocate’s trip for ten days – ten days that changed our lives.  We were simply not prepared for the overwhelming love and friendliness shown by the children in the various projects we visited. They were an absolute delight to be with and simply broke our hearts as we saw how and what they live with.  Their gratitude for the simplest act or gift was amazing and seemed entirely the wrong way around. 

The local Compassion staff were just so full of love and integrity and their passion for their work was very evident – their morning prayer times in the office would put some of our church meetings to shame.  Wherever we went we were offered detailed evidence of how monies were used, along with clearly documented records of each child and their progress.  The children are loved without a doubt; the projects are like an oasis of peace and love, filled with hope and care. 

Our visits to Masai homes, hillside huts and slum shacks left a huge impression on our hearts and bewilderment as to why we are so fortunate to live where we do. When we were faced with such amazing, stoic faith and gratitude from people who have so little, it made us question the nature of ‘riches’.

To sit holding Bramwell, a three-week-old boy in the Kibera slum, whose mother was trapped in hospital until she could pay her bill, and his home being six feet from a huge open sewage slick that passes his front door, was unreal. He is still prayed for today.

To sit in a Masai hut with around thirty other people, the only light coming from a four inch square window, and be introduced to a blind wife so beautifully dressed by the younger wives was truly humbling.  

Wonderful little lad called Kelvin, he lives in a Kenyan slum in a disused quarry. The teddy we gave him was probably his first soft toy.

To meet a project lad who was introduced to us as one being the worst kid, but has now become the best kid and find that I had nothing left to give him nearly broke my heart. But I did have an old leather wrist band that had been all over the world with me. It had become a touch stone to me, wearing it on holidays – the idle fiddling with it would remind me I wasn’t at work and should relax! It’s strange how precious these worthless items can become when they’re in different hands. It dawned on me that although worthless in monetry value I could give it to Joseph and explain it’s worth to me. You would think I had given him gold. He thanked me profusely.

These experiences were making a significant impression on us.

As we returned home from our trip to Kenya, to the trivial nonsense of daily life, we asked ourselves what on earth we were doing. Why where we working so hard, and what for? 

We made the decision to start working four-day weeks, earning considerably less and we have never been happier! We have time now for things we consider more important on an eternal scale and spend less on trivia. Most of our decisions are now made in the light of what we saw and experienced in 2007.

We have subsequently made visits to the Dominican Republic and Uganda with Compassion and have seen the diligence and love replicated there as well. Meeting three of our children has been the highlight of these trips and however short the meeting is, it is worth it just to see and hold these kids. We are proud to work with Compassion and have no doubt that it is a God-breathed instrument of His love to these children. 

Being an Advocate has really brought fulfilment to my life. To help inspire other sponsors and Advocates and see them prosper and the work grow has become our life’s work and is so rewarding.  These are the people that bless us with their enthusiasm and vision for the future of Compassion. With guys like this around God’s work is in good hands!  Keep doing what you do and inspiring your sponsored kids; they will live better, Godly lives because of your work.  Imagine a new Compassion CEO rising from the ranks of the sponsored children one day!  

Hey… lets do it!

By Martyn Legg – Compassion UK Advocate


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4 Responses to Poverty Changed My Life

  1. Gail 22/12/2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your story Martyn. It’s amazing how much more we receive from the children when we truely engage in their lives. Our God is amazing in how both the sponsor and the child receive huge blessings through Compassion.

  2. Juli Jarvis 24/12/2011 at 5:45 am #

    Good to hear your story again — well written! Thanks so much — and what great photos!

  3. Barbara Anne Fillion 27/12/2011 at 4:44 am #

    As an artist advocate this letter was such an encouragement. I would love to visit our sponsored children. I am sure it would be a life changing experience. God bless you and may others be called to sponsor a child in need.

  4. Barbara Anne Fillion 27/12/2011 at 4:50 am #

    I understand it is hard to connect sometimes with our sponsored children, but I have come to know how much they love letters and pictures. And when I hear stories of those who visit their sponsored child it is an encouragement.

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