How sponsors and donors enabled the Church in India to transform lives over nearly half a century.
After 48 years of serving India, Compassion had to make one of the hardest decisions in its history—to leave India.
Compassion reluctantly ended operations in India on March 15, 2017, after serving children in the country for nearly half a century. This meant an end to benefits for more than 147,000 children, young adults, and babies and their caregivers in our programs.
Our fight to continue serving India’s children began in February 2016, when India’s government added Compassion to a list of organizations needing prior approval to send money into the country. Since 2014, more than 11,000 nongovernmental organizations working in India have lost permission to accept foreign money, part of a push to stop funding of activities India’s government sees as “detrimental to the national interest.” To avoid becoming one of the 11,000 organizations, Compassion appealed to Indian lawmakers, worked with lawyers and accountants, leveraged diplomatic relationships, and dedicated countless hours of prayer to the situation. But although Compassion had broken no laws in India, its government would not grant the necessary approval.
The immense loss has devastated sponsors of Indian children—the supporters who helped transform so many lives in the country. But though we are deeply saddened, we do not despair. We serve a God who is bigger than any obstacle. We know that God’s work will continue through His Church in India. Our prayer—and we are already seeing it happen—is that the Church in India will become even more dedicated to and passionate about reaching out to bring the love and hope of Christ to their communities.
Patrick Dommati, a pastor and director of a former Compassion centre in India, says, “Compassion leaving India was a very big shock to all of the [centres]. But there’s something that is sustaining us: our burden for these children and our commitment to the Lord.”
His church is already stepping up to meet the needs of these children.
“We believe that God brought those children into our lives and to our ministry,” Dommati says. “We did not close the [centre], and we are not going to close the [it]. This is the ministry of God. And if God has given us the ministry, it is His responsibility to provide us with the resources.”
His church has already found 70 sponsors among church and community members, and the church is able to continue the core of their holistic ministry to the 241 children the centre serves!
To all those who previously sponsored children in India, Dommati has an encouragement:
“To all the sponsors, you have been a blessing to us. Do not get discouraged. God is still working in our nation. The Church is still working in our nation,” he says. “It’s just the beginning of what we’re going to see in the future… The future generations are going to be blessed because of what started through Compassion.”
Compassion’s work in India
We are thankful that we were able to be a part of helping the Church minister in India, and we pray that one day we will be able to again, in God’s timing. Here’s a look back at Compassion’s lifesaving work in India, which was possible only with the support of sponsors, donors and partner churches.
Hundreds of churches were empowered to respond to the greatest needs in their communities.
More than 1.2 billion people live in India, the second-most populous country after China. And while India’s economy has been growing and poverty falling since the early 1990s, 22.1 per cent of its children and 14.3 per cent of its adults live in extreme poverty (less than $1.90 USD a day). Only 2.3 per cent of Indians are Christian, but they are bringing a bright light to their communities.
Prayer: Pray that God will use Christians in India to continue to serve the most poor living there.
Children received regular health checkups.
Compassion partnered with churches across India to provide for sponsored children’s practical needs, including access to medical attention when needed and regular checkups to monitor their growth and health. These checkups were crucial in India, where nearly half of children under 5 exhibit stunted growth, a symptom of malnutrition.
Prayer: Pray that a meaningful ministry and support will continue in some manner for the children Compassion was serving in India.
Church staff and volunteers cooked and served regular nutritious meals to sponsored children.
Many children’s parents couldn’t afford to feed them adequately. So the meals served at Compassion centres helped fight undernutrition, which puts kids at a greater risk of dying from common infections.
Prayer: Ask God to provide necessary food for malnourished children.
Children and youth were able to receive an education.
Sponsored children received tutoring and vocational training that helped them excel in school and prepared them for steady jobs as adults. Sponsorship covered many expenses related to school, including enrollment fees and the costs of uniforms and school supplies. These expenses keep many children in poverty from attending school.
Prayer: Pray that youth will be able to use the skills they learned to find stable jobs as adults.
Children received encouragement and love from their sponsors.
Through their letters, sponsors provided desperately needed encouragement to children in India whose lives often lacked hope. Many children will keep the letters forever, and the messages of hope will stay planted in their hearts.
Prayer: Ask God to bless sponsors for advocating for vulnerable children around the world.
By Willow Welter and Amber Van Schooneveld