Lunar New Year is just a few days away! For many Chinese communities across Canada and around the world, it is the biggest holiday of the year. It is a time to celebrate with family and count God’s blessings in our lives.
We recently interviewed Cudie Au, Regional Relationship Manager for Compassion Canada in the Greater Toronto Area, about her unique role connecting Chinese Canadian Christians to Compassion’s ministry. She shares about the impact she sees each day in her role and invites us into a unique opportunity to be a blessing to students living in poverty as part of our New Year celebrations.
Hi Cudie! Please introduce yourself. Tell us your name, your role with Compassion, how long you’ve been working here and a little bit about your background.
My name is Cudie Au. I am a Regional Relationship Manager for Compassion Canada in the Greater Toronto Area. I specifically serve churches, supporters and partners within the Chinese community. I have been working at Compassion for almost a year now. My previous work was also related to child poverty alleviation, and my heart towards children in poverty has been growing ever since I started that job 15 years ago. I believe children are our future and they are the greatest assets of a nation. Real and lasting change happens when children are developed to become the adults who will create change in their community—I believe this is the best strategy to fight against poverty.
What is your favourite thing about Compassion’s ministry?
My favourite thing about Compassion’s ministry is our unique holistic child development model that incorporates Christ, child and church. Our model seeks to develop children in all the different aspects of their lives—their minds, bodies and relationships—while providing opportunities to discover God’s love for them in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through Compassion’s programs in partnership with local churches, children are ministered to in every aspect of their lives. I love the theology and development principles behind the model. Our mission statement—releasing children from poverty in Jesus’s name—captures our ministry so clearly. I am so thankful to God that I can be a part of it.
Part of your role is specifically engaging with Compassion supporters and partners who are part of the Chinese diaspora in Canada. Can you share a bit of what that looks like and why this is a focus of your role?
I am also part of the Chinese diaspora. I speak both Cantonese and Mandarin languages, and this makes the engagement more direct. At Compassion, we promise to know our supporters and partners, love them, and connect them meaningfully to the mission. Our team is always talking about “KLC” or “Known, Loved and Connected”. In my role, I’ve often found that having this common language and cultural background enables me to live out that promise to our Chinese supporters and partners in unique and authentic ways.
According to the 2021 census in Canada, more than 1.7 million people reported being of Chinese origin, with nearly 680,000 living in the Greater Toronto Area. This huge Chinese population brings me lots of engagement opportunities. Currently, Compassion is serving more than 2.3 million children and their families in 29 countries globally, and our goal is to reach exponentially more children in the years to come. I am always so encouraged to see Chinese churches, supporters and partners being a part of our mission and impact. I am excited about reaching even more of the Chinese diaspora in the GTA to raise more awareness and support for our mission to release children from poverty in His way.
What are some unique opportunities and challenges that Chinese Canadian Christians are facing, particularly when it comes to missions and partnering with organizations like Compassion?
First, we have a fantastic opportunity to bring awareness of Compassion’s ministry to a growing Chinese Canadian Christian population. As of 2022, there are 505,770 people of Chinese descent identified as Christians in Canada, making up approximately 30 per cent of the Chinese Canadian population (Toronto Observer). According to Vancouver Sun, about 24 per cent of the more than 450,000 people of Chinese descent in Metro Vancouver are Christians.
It is very exciting and promising to engage with such a substantial number of Chinese Canadian Christians to walk alongside the mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. This population also includes second-generation Chinese Canadian Christians who are by now more established in their careers and looking for ways to give back and make an impact. Sending blessings to family and friends is a customary practice in the Chinese culture. Nowadays, Chinese Canadian Christians have also gained the missional mindset to reach the world for Christ, and they have the heart to send cross-cultural blessings to those in need. All these are opportunities for significant impact.
However, we do encounter challenges at the same time. Awareness about poverty alleviation is still growing within Chinese churches and we need a greater sense of urgency in joining hands to help break the cycle of global poverty. (This is also true of the church as a whole, not just Chinese churches!) Moreover, we know Compassion is new to many in the Chinese community including churches, and many want to learn more about our financial integrity before choosing to partner with us. This is so important, and we know building trust is a lengthy process and it does take time. I’m thankful to be in this role focused on raising awareness, building trust and connecting people meaningfully to our mission!
This New Year, we have an initiative to raise funds for academic scholarships for youth in El Salvador. Tell us about this initiative and why you want to encourage people to be generous and contribute to releasing children from poverty during our biggest holiday of the year.
This initiative is focused on a select group of 30 young men and women in El Salvador, ages 13 to 18, who have demonstrated academic proficiency. They will be enabled to complete their last two years of high school at a private Christian educational institution, where they will pursue quality education with a focus on science and technology.
In El Salvador, young people growing up in poverty face many barriers to getting an education. However, education opens the opportunities for kids and youth living in poverty to dream. It is a key to breaking free from poverty—without it, young people stand little chance of building a better life for themselves and others.
Government-funded education in El Salvador does not have available resources necessary for a quality educational experience, particularly when it comes to technology. Without the equipment and qualified staff needed in schools to train students in valuable skills like computer science, students are not able to keep up with a changing world.
There is an old saying that says you can give people a fish, but if you teach them how to fish, then they will be better off because they are not going to be dependent upon you. To me, this is a promising strategy. Teach people “how to fish” with education so that they can break out of the cycle of poverty.
As a custom during Chinese Lunar New Year, we bless one another with New Year well wishes. One of the well wishes we say is, “May your dreams come true.” In El Salvador, 30 young people are waiting for educational opportunities to fulfill their dreams. This year, I encourage people to share blessings towards the initiative of Academic Scholarships in El Salvador to allow these students to pursue further education and find jobs that provide for their families and impact their communities.
How can people give and get involved with this New Year campaign?
During Chinese Lunar New Year, people give lucky red envelopes (hongbao/lai see) containing cash gifts for family, loved ones and friends as a custom to share blessings and happiness. This year, people can get involved by contributing a lucky red packet to support this New Year campaign.
Our goal is to raise $5,000 to help provide opportunities for 30 high-potential students to achieve academic success by attending a high school best suited to their needs. Let us make an impact this Chinese New Year by giving a hongbao to bless 30 young Salvadorans!
Happy New Year! 新年快樂!
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38