After 35 years of ministry, Compassion Canada’s current President and CEO, Barry Slauenwhite, will be retiring in 2019. After a diligent search, Compassion Canada’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce Barry’s successor when he retires: Allison Alley.
Allison will become the fourth president of Compassion Canada. She has led our Advocacy team for five years and is a passionate advocate for children in poverty. I got the chance to talk with Allison about her journey to Compassion’s ministry and her passion for the future.
How did you first sense God was calling you into full-time ministry?
A significant marker in my life was completing a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission. It was there that I developed a passion for missions and evangelism. My eyes were opened to the needs around the world, and I had a strong sense that God was calling me to ministry. During my DTS outreach to Thailand, I worked with children at risk. God used that time to ignite a passion in me to become an advocate for children and the poor.
This would end up sitting on the backburner of my life for over a decade. Instead, I ended up in the marketplace, having the opportunity to learn under seasoned business leaders and entrepreneurs, and enjoying a career as a financial advisor.
It wasn’t until my daughters were born that everything began to change. I realized that my children were afforded certain opportunities merely because of the privileged circumstance they were born into. It was almost as if the blinders were removed, and God had given me eyes to see my life—and those on the perimeter of it—more clearly.
I came to realize that I had been narrowly focused on my own little world—working hard to provide my children with everything they would ever need and want—while completely ignoring the needs of other children around the world. We took one small step and sponsored our first child with Compassion—Jimmy. It was as if by sponsoring, the lens through which we viewed the world was no longer that of a middle-class Canadian family—but one of a little boy in Ecuador.
We became Compassion volunteers shortly after, with a desire to foster deep and meaningful relationships between sponsors and sponsored children. I never would have imagined where this all would lead, but I can see now how God had been preparing me for such a time as this.
What drew you to Compassion’s ministry in particular?
I was immediately drawn to Compassion’s unique holistic child development model. When I first gained interest in getting involved with child poverty alleviation, I began researching who was out there. Through this process, I was continually drawn to Compassion’s sound theology and development principles.
It was the fact that Compassion kept the gospel central in their mission, helping children discover God’s love for them while developing healthy minds, bodies and relationships. It was the way Compassion recognized how the church had the capacity, the credibility and the calling to meet the needs in their own back yard. And it was their commitment to partner exclusively with the church while employing nationals of each country.
What won’t change with you as a leader?
Something that will not change is our commitment to be Christ-centred, child-focused and church-based. These are convictions I have to my core. Christ will always stay at the centre of our ministry. We will continue to recognize that God uses the church as his ‘Plan A’ for bringing about justice in this world. And we will hold tight to our commitment of keeping children as the focal point of our ministry.
What is your passion as you lead Compassion Canada into the future?
My passion is to join God in creating an unstoppable force of advocates who are personally transformed as they participate in the transformation of children living in poverty. My desire is to see every Christian living on mission and being used by God to bring hope and healing across this country and around the world. I want to see the global church—both the resourced and the under-resourced—working together to reach the world’s most vulnerable. And I long to see every child afforded the opportunity to not only live a life free from poverty, but to flourish in Christ.
My family’s verse as we work this out in our lives is Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” We recognize that we have been entrusted with a lot—with freedom, influence, gifts, talents and resources. My husband, Tommy, and I feel a sense of responsibility to faithfully steward all that we are and all that we have to advance God’s kingdom and further His mission of justice and compassion.
6 things you didn’t know about Allison Alley
Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in St. Catharines, ON.
Favourite food? Sushi—but my guilty pleasure is poutine.
Favourite family vacation spot? We love to go camping and explore new places. Our girls really like Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Craziest thing you’ve ever eaten? In Thailand, I ate a handful of dried maggots—at the request of my travelling companions.
Best book you’ve ever read? Hope Lives by Amber Van Schooneveld—God used this to launch me into ministry with Compassion. The Mission of God by Christopher Wright—it helped me gain a more comprehensive and holistic view of mission.
Favourite quote? “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”—Frederick Buechner
And now, a video of Allison trying the aforementioned dried maggots.
Photos by Ella Dickinson