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Make a difference: Be a giver!

Two years ago, Shannon went to Africa with Compassion International. I followed along with her journey and was forever changed. (Please stop right now and go read her posts if you haven’t already.)

My husband was unemployed at the time and we were really struggling. But after reading her posts, we realized how much we truly had. We had plenty to eat, clean clothes to wear,  a roof over our heads… while it seemed like money was tight for us, we didn’t really know the first thing about true poverty.

Even though we had little wiggle room in our budget, we committed to sponsor two children. Until our income increased, we gave up our small Eating Out budget for a few months in order to sponsor these children. Compared to the circumstances they were living in, it was the least we could do.

You know what? We’ve been so blessed in stepping out and giving, even when it meant some small sacrifices on our part. And we’ve learned that the more you freely and generously give, the more you receive — not necessarily always in the form of financial blessings, but in many other ways. Truly, it is “more blessed to give than to receive”.

One of the most exciting things about the growth of this blog is that it’s given us more resources to be able to give. Since the beginning of this year, we committed to give all of the proceeds from private ad sales on this blog to Compassion International. So when you visit here, you’re actually impacting lives of little children in other countries who are living in extreme poverty. It gives me goosebumps to think that God is using this blog to feed and clothe the needy!

As we see it, all our money and resources are God’s anyway; He’s just entrusted it to us to manage. We always want to keep an open hand. There’s so much more fulfillment and blessing in that than in a clenched fist.

I don’t share this to gloat, but to encourage you to step out and be a giver. I know some of you are in very difficult financial circumstances right now and you’re barely squeaking by. If that’s you, maybe you can’t afford to sponsor a child through Compassion or World Vision, but you can do something: give a smile, do an act of service for someone in need, share some of your free groceries or consider splitting sponsorship of a child with another family.

We all can do something. And our combined generosity can make a powerful difference — in the lives of those in our own community and in far away countries!

My friends, Briana and Andrea are in the Dominican Republic right now on a blogging trip with World Vision. Their posts and emails inspired this post. Go read QuatroMama’s post for some of the highlights of the trip. And don’t miss Andrea’s touching story here.

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  • Oh Crystal…thank you sooo much for this post! It blessed my heart! Thank you for being faithful to the Lord in every area! He is so good to us, and we are honored to bless him in return! I pray that the Lord continues to bless your blog as you serve Him! Thank you for all you do!!! You are an inspiration and a blessing!

  • Amanda C. says:

    My heart has been stirring this direction, but I’m still so paralyzed and selfish. Thanks for your post–it inspires me to ‘love and good deeds.’ God bless.

  • Tracy Y says:

    SO relate to your post. I am a single mom on a very tight budget (I have not gotten any child support in almost 4 years). Despite it sometimes being tough, I have sponsored three kids (2 through COmpassion and one through World vision). I have been so blessed – I love corresponding with the girls and sending them goodies. We truly do have SOOO much in comparison. I am have just recently started couponing and its allowing me to give much more than before. Thank you so much for your post – it inspres me to do more!!

  • Noah says:

    Wonderful post. I think the other important component is teaching our children to give. Sadly, it seems that compassion for others is rarely taught in our culture.

  • Sher says:

    We just started sponsoring a child with Compassion International a few months ago when Mercy Me came to Seattle. It’s amazing!!! Blessed to be a blessing 🙂

  • Compassion is such an amazing organization. So excited to see how God is using your site to bless lives in so many ways – online, in homes, in finances, and in lives of children around the world.

    Thank you.

  • sarah says:

    thank you for this post we are raising suppoet to take our family of 5 to africa and we are very encouraged by blogs that have gone before us. This is a very good reminder of why it is important to be debt free so when we are called to go or give we are fininicialy ready!!!

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. We really are a blessed country and when you look at the big picture, we are actually all very wealthy people. The Bible says that if God looks after the sparrow, how much more will He feed and cloth his own people and it is so awesome to be used as His tool to feed and cloth a child.

  • Debbie says:

    Crystal, Thanks for being obedient to God and giving sacrificially. Because you are helping so many save so much money, think about all the other children that may be able to be sponsored!

  • Helene says:

    Thanks for this post. I have Rich Stearns book The Hole In Our Gospel. Its an awesome book on how God leads when you are open to seeing it. I have a WV child and I just finished fully funding a microloan for a couple who are raising a grandchild after the death of their daughter. I am so blessed every morning when I see my grandson sleeping here and having full custody after his horrendous beginnings. I have a single salary and debts but still manage to do it. In fact, since I began God has blessed my finances among other areas of my life. Your blog, along with others, helped me two years ago begin to save money shopping. I never worry about having enough food now. So many around the world aren’t as blessed as we are. Tomorrow for mother’s day our pastor just happens to be in Lusaka Zambia-where my sponsored child is from.

    I heard a saying “You can’t outgive God.” That is so true.

  • Laura says:

    Thanks for the post and your experience Crystal! We have been sponsoring children from Compassion International for years. One tip: we prefer to sponsor children from Africa or Indonesia due to their great need (incredible poverty) and in these countries, Christianity is rare. We’ve sponsored two girls from countries in South America and found they were already Catholic families and when we sent extra money throughout the year, the girls purchased hair dye, dresses, etc. When we sent additional money for children in Indonesia, for example, they purchased necessities like blankets. HTH

  • Marlene says:

    Thanks so much for this post. It is so important to give . . . because even though God could undoubtedly provide through another source because He is capable of all things, it is our hearts that need to be stretched!
    Ever since I started couponing I have been thrilled at the savings, and we picked up another sponsored child. Never did I think I’d be able to live on the budget we do and have two additional sponsored children to provide for! God is so good!

  • Donna says:

    Great post. I appreciate the fact that your priorities are in order. When I was first learning to “coupon” a couple years ago it concerned me with the amount of hoarding and the competition to have more than others. I have prayed and tried to make sure that I don’t fall into this trap, that would be so easy to do.
    I often say that God did not give me the gift to sing in the choir, but He did give me the gift to shop and I do it very well. I love to pass along my deals to others and make baskets for those in need or just because.

    I agree that our blessings in giving are just amazing.I would love to be able to take all my free toothpaste and other items to help out those in Nashville or any other disaster each time one occurs. I still have to master this.
    Love your blog and God is amazing on how He can use us for His Kingdom.

  • Mercedes says:

    I think it is just a big blessing to be able to give!! To me that is just HUGE. and I agree with you, God gives back in so many ways when we give forth.


  • Also, today is Stamp Out Hunger Day–the annual U.S.P.S. food drive. All you have to do is leave a bag of non-perishable food by your mailbox before pick up today, and it will be taken to your local food pantry. Evn though our income hasn’t been enough to buy food for a while, I still have plenty in my pantry. So, even if you’re unemployed or underemployed right now, you can still help others who have less than you do right now.

  • Becky Trimble says:

    Thanks for posting this Crystal!! We spent a year in Africa in 2008 – our third baby was actually born there! It was a life changing experience, and I’m excited that visiting your blog is helping God’s love reach some of those little ones!!!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I think a lot of people don’t give because they think that small amounts don’t make a difference. Many leading poverty experts say that if most people in the US gave just 2% of their incomes to well-run charity and micro-investment opportunities (like, world-wide poverty could be eliminated. Also thinking about where you spend your consumable dollars is important– trade is the best way to eliminate poverty, after all. Thanks for reminding us, Chrystal, that we can all find a little money somewhere.

  • Crystal, THANK YOU for sharing!!! The entire World Vision team appreciates it!!

    My son and I are still processing all that we saw – poverty and sickness. Lives lived so much differently than our own but they still have hope. And, they praised God before they even started speaking to us. Praised God for their life and only sought His will. True inspiration!

  • Heather says:

    Thanks for posting that! Its nice to see that this website is contributing to Compassion, an organization that I absolutely LOVE!!!! God bless! 🙂

  • Shelli W says:

    I used to sponsor a child through Compassion about 10-12 years ago, but I could never keep up on the communication and ended up dropping it. Not cool, I know. I would enjoy sponsoring a child, but at the same time do not have the resource of TIME to give to sending the child extras (letters, birthday gifts, etc). That sounds selfish, and it is I get that, but with a hubs, three small children AND a full-time job (not to mention the full-time job of housework…) I just don’t have the time to devote to this.

    Does anyone know if there are people that are willing to step in and take care of the “personal” stuff while I take care of the financial side? I might be willing to try that. I do give to other organizations on top of our local church, but have felt that I shouldn’t do Compassion again until I can truly dedicate the time too.

    • Beeb says:

      @Shelli W, Save The Children has a sponsorship option called Lifeline, where your contributions go to the community as a whole, represented by an “Ambassador Child” who stands for the progress of the community as a whole. As such, you don’t directly correspond with the child, and just get a yearly progress report showing how your contributions have helped -check out SaveTheChildren.orgr more info.

    • Heather says:

      @Shelli W, maybe consider going to – you can give money for microloans instead of sponsering a child… that might be more what you’re looking for!

  • November Grey says:

    Your post today made me cry! I realize how truly blessed we are, and now I’m even happier that your blog is my homepage! Every time I open a window, it clicks to you and helps those in need. What a beautiful thing… thanks for inspiring.

  • Sara says:

    Thank you for this post Crystal! You’re right that God has truly blessed us, and it’s all His anyway. My spiritual gift is giving, but we are not in a place financially to give as much as I’d like. We have a “giving budget” but it’s pretty small. We are almost done debt snowballing and about to build up an emergency fund. My husband has to remind me that when we are done with that, we can give, give, give because we’ll actually have plenty to give! I can’t wait for that day!

  • Sara Childs says:

    We have sponsored a child from India through Compassion for several years now. It is so exciting to see him growing, both physically and spiritually. He is another “son” for us, and considers our son to be his brother (they also have their birthdays in the same month). I am very happy with how Compassion operates, and hope someday to visit our “son” in India.

  • Olathe Mom says:

    I stand convicted.

    On a morning when I was feeling a bit glum and not at all content, you have reminded me of my tremendous blessing.

    Thank you for your dear heart and sweet service to the Lord.

  • cwaltz says:

    I guess this is great if you have no need in your immediate area. One in five people experience poverty where I live. I literally have neighbors who have cut their pill doses down to pay their bills. Choosing between food and electric for someone living in one of the richest countries in the world is heartbreaking to see and even worse to experience. For this reason I choose to give locally and when I can I choose to reach out to those who are nearby. I feel God doesn’t just wish me to give he wants me to connect and recognize that I am part of the intricate pattern he has woven.

    • Crystal says:

      @cwaltz, I definitely agree that giving locally is extremely important. As I’ve mentioned here many times in the past, I encourage all Christians to tithe 10% to your local church — no matter your financial situation. We’ve been so blessed in doing this and amazed at how far God allows the rest of the 90% to go when we set aside the first 10% to Him.

      But if you’re able to, I think it is incredible to be able to give even more than just a tithe. And give as the Lord leads you — whether that’s to those in your community or those around the world!

  • brookeb says:

    I would highly recommend looking into micro-loans as well, as a way to give to others. Your loan can help people all over the world (including the US, and often women with families) to start their own business, which can support that family for a lifetime. Although it isn’t guaranteed, if you receive repayment on that loan, you could then in turn loan that money out to someone else to do more good with it. 🙂

  • Emily says:

    I have sponsored a child through World Vision for over 12 years (different children). I would strongly encourage whoever feels led to consider this. It is a true blessing. If you can’t sponsor a child, consider buying a goat, contributing toward a well, or other things (see their website) that can make a transformational difference in a child’s life.

  • Jennifer F says:

    Thank you for the inspiration! Because of your post, I just signed up to sponson a child through Conpassion from Ghana, Africa. I had been thinking about such a thing for a while, and your post came at the right time. Thank you!

  • Jess says:

    I have been a faithful blog reader for almost as long as you’ve been blogging. I’ve always loved it and now I LOVE IT EVEN MORE! Thanks for continuing to point us all towards Christ. You guys are awesome!

  • Yay! I love compassion! They are such a fabulous ministry! So glad you are such a supporter!

  • Thank you so much for highlighting our trip. I cannot recommend what World Vision is doing enough. I was BLOWN AWAY by the impact they are having on communities. I got to meet a child my family has been sponsoring for 10 years and it was an experience I will never forget.

    Again, thank you for telling people about what we experienced. God Bless.

  • Meghan says:

    Another great non-profit that allows you to sponsor a child is Children International ( No offense to you, Crystal, or other readers whose faith is an important part of their lives, but I prefer to give to non-religious charities. I want to help people without trying to influence their decision of what faith to follow (or their decision to not follow one at all).

    Finally, everyone that’s considering donating to a charity should check out They are an independent organization that audits non-profits and provides financial information, so you can make sure that your donation is being spent the way you want it (you can see how much goes to programs and how much goes to organizational overhead, for example).

    • Cristina says:

      I agree with you in being cautious. Too often what appears to be a charity is more of a scam.
      A friend was sponsoring a child, and occasionally there was pressure from the charity to give more because of Christmas or some other reason.
      One day she got another envelope but with 2 letters accidentally stuck together. Apparently the charity was sending all the same letters to another donor at the same time.
      Money is not always the answer to peoples problems. They might need help with farming and environmental problems, for example. Sustainability is an important issue.
      As people with Christian values, we tend to be caring and giving. But it is important to be careful when giving. It is important use good judgement and not be taken advantage of.

  • Kris says:

    I just wanted to share our testimony. I had been following Kristen at We Are That Family dot com for a while and then closely followed her while she was blogging from Africa for Compassion. We had been praying about sponsoring a child before but felt like we couldn’t because my husband had been laid off. Through her blog we were able to see what these children go through on daily basis just to have drinking water let alone food and clothes. We were sure at that point that we had to sponsor a child. God was asking us to provide for a child and reassured us that He would provide for our needs. Long story short, we stepped out in faith to sponsor our first child. Within the same month my husband was given a job opportunity that was by far the best paying job we have ever had with amazing benefits. We serve a mighty God!! Now we are considering sponsoring our next child. Amazing!! If you are considering it, step out in faith. You won’t be sorry.

  • Andrea’s recent posts are what inspired me to sponsor a child through World Vision. Earlier this evening I made my first sponsorship donation. Your post has just helped to confirm that I made the right choice in doing this.

  • That is so neat you can do that! I know I have learned that no matter how poor you are, there is someone who is poorer than you and something you can do to share with them.
    I do think that it is easy to say that we live in such a rich country here and we do not have poor like in Africa. There was a time about 5 years back, where I would go to the grocery store to decide what to spend my $5 on that week for food for me and three children and I wondered if people around me knew what it was like to be really hungry. My money had to go to rent and electricity and there was not much left for food. So, look around you too. I still don’t have any extra to sponsor a child as our income is still very low, so i have found other ways to give to others. I look for ways to minister with my time, or helping bring meals or a loaf of quick bread to a new mom, or if you can’t afford to buy diapers for the local pregnancy center, maybe a pack of wipes. i know, when I was so bad off a church shared some diapers with me and I was so grateful. Little things really help!

  • Mary says:

    Thanks for being faithful, Crystal!

  • Tammy L says:

    Just wanted to say I loved this post, and also everyone’s comments! 🙂

  • Hello!

    Thank you for sharing. My husband and I recently sponsored a child in Ethiopia, and it is such a blessing to share in his life. We are only able to send he and his family gifts that are completely flat and can fit into an envelope….but it’s been fun thinking of things (like stickers, airhead candies, bookmarks, etc.). What a blessing it is to help others, and you are right, even when money is tight most people do not understand true poverty.

  • sharon says:

    Thanks so much for for this post about giving, Crystal. I read ALL the comments because I LOVE to hear about giving. We sponser a child through Compassion International and have supported World Vision, also. Missions in general is a high priority in our lives. We can’t always GO, but we can SEND and we do whenever we get the chance. (We are always blessed because of it) I’m trying to get started making some money with my blog (until now, it has just been for fun) Your’re post has helped me decide that it is worth the time because I could have more to give!!! May the Lord Bless your efforts, above what you could ask or even think!! Thanks again!!

  • QuatroMama says:

    I don’t think I ever said “Thank you” for the link love. You are the sweetest.

    Love supporting our blog friends in missions like these!

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