At Compassion, we are privileged to connect with some awesome Canadian kids and teenagers. Their creativity, passion and heart for others is inspiring to say the least. Today, we’d love to introduce you to Joshua from Ontario and Cayna from New Brunswick who are both sponsors and volunteers with Compassion. Their stories might just spark the same creativity and passion in you!
Do you remember the first time you were given money for doing chores around the house? It was an instant motivator to quickly get the job done, wasn’t it? The sweet jingle of change in your pocket that led to the instant reward of buying candy or a small toy. Pocket change. Every kid wants it and Joshua was no exception.
Eight-year-old Joshua saw the perfect opportunity to begin negotiating with his parents for some pocket money. They were his captive audience on a long drive to Soulfest, a Christian Music Festival in New Hampshire. As he shrewdly presented his case, he was shocked to swiftly close the “easiest business deal ever,” scoring a whopping $10 allowance each week. The calculations were whirring in his brain, “Exactly how many iTunes cards could I buy for forty bucks a month?”
The beginning of a friendship
A bright blue banner caught the attention of Joshua as he moseyed around the fairgrounds. His eyes locked onto the gaze of six-year-old Sebastien, and the desire for iTunes cards quickly faded. Standing in front of a Compassion table at the festival, Joshua’s little hands firmly grasped the child pack that shared Sebastien’s story. His soft heart immediately bonded with this little boy from Togo whose nickname was “Seba.” As a young child, Joshua was given the nickname “Sheba,” and he instantly felt like this was not a chance meeting.
Quickly doing the math, Joshua realized that a $10-per-week allowance meant an income of $40 per month—just the right amount to sponsor Sebastien. Joshua’s desire to buy iTunes cards was replaced by joy in knowing he could help provide shelter, education, food and medicine for Sebastien. He knew he could make a difference in the life of a boy who battled the injustice of poverty every single day. That day was not only the beginning of a sponsorship by an eight-year-old boy, but also a friendship between two French-speaking kids who are growing up together, connecting through letters, and discovering just how much they have in common.
Loving the least of these
Just two years later, at age 10, Joshua became a Compassion volunteer as a prayer partner. Since then, he has delivered Compassion presentations at school, hosted fundraisers and served at events. Joshua is 15 now, and almost half of his life has been dedicated to changing the world by using the gifts and income God has given him.
Joshua says both sponsoring and volunteering with Compassion have been rewarding experiences that have helped him become financially responsible early in life, and keenly aware of the difference between temporal and eternal benefits. Quoting Matthew 25:40 by heart, this aspiring pastor-to-be lives by this truth: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
What came first, the chicken or the egg? That mysterious question may baffle some, but 14-year-old Cayna can tell you that her egg-laying chickens have the power to make an eternal impact. At just 10 years old, Cayna began earning her first bit of pocket change. With 15 chickens relying on her for food and care, her dad, Josh, encouraged her to choose something worthwhile to do with her hard-earned cash. The decision was easy for Cayna.
At the wee age of three, she recalled sitting on the couch next to her mom as they picked out a Compassion child for their family to sponsor together. This moment with her mother marked her life more than either of them would know at the time. Now that she had an income of her own, the memory of her mother’s compassionate action steered her heart towards the first of her very own sponsor children: Maria, a little girl in Ecuador who shared the exact same birthday as Cayna!
I want them to know Jesus
A year after starting to sponsor Maria, Cayna served alongside her dad behind a table at a Compassion event. She loved to meet people and travel with her dad as he presented Compassion at churches and events on Canada’s east coast. Cayna was amused by the name of a little boy from Ghana who remained unsponsored at the end of the evening. “Godbless Nana”—an unusual name for sure, but his nickname was even more amusing: “Papa.” Cayna was intrigued by this young boy and couldn’t get him off of her mind.
On the drive to her Nana’s house following the event, Cayna decided that giving 100 per cent of the income from her chickens would allow her to sponsor both Maria and Godbless Nana. “I want them to know Jesus,” she thought. Her earnest desire touched the hearts of two special ladies in her life who offered to contribute to the new sponsorship. Deeply moved by her love and determination, her dad lowered the feed bill for her chickens by $10. With the additional help, the entire cost of the sponsorship was covered for this young girl who stepped out in faith and was willing to sacrifice every penny she had.
Sure footing for compassionate living
Chicken egg production can be unpredictable, and Cayna realized that her income was dwindling in tandem with a diminishing number of eggs to sell. Brainstorming with her dad, the two quickly came up with a creative plan to generate more money. Into the woods they trekked, where they found the perfect cedar tree to begin their father-daughter project: carving one-of-a kind cowboy stump end tables. Their creations were such a hit with locals that she couldn’t keep up with the demand. Encouraged by their accomplishment, Josh shared this impactful truth with his teen daughter: “When we walk with God, we have sure footing.”
Pocket change changing lives
A little pocket change can create big change in the lives of enthusiastic children who adopt their parents’ biblical values of hard work, generosity and faithfulness. Whether it’s given to learn money management or as payment for daily chores, instilling an eternal perspective can change the lives of not only children here in Canada, but also vulnerable children living in poverty around the world.
“Compassion has been a great discipleship tool to help focus talents, resources, time, finances and priorities,” says Cayna’s dad, Josh. “When you focus on something the Lord puts on your heart, it keeps you from falling into superficial living.” Joshua and Cayna encourage Canadian teens to have an eternal perspective and use their gifts and resources to point others to Jesus. “Every little bit helps; the important thing is to start now.” A little pocket change really can make a big difference, both now and for eternity.
Just like Joshua and Cayna, you can make a huge impact for a child in poverty today.
What’s your Compassion story? Sponsor a child today.
Anita Lee is a Volunteer Support Facilitator at Compassion Canada. She loves to equip and encourage volunteers to passionately use their time and talents to impact lives of the most vulnerable. She is especially inspired by children and youth who creatively use the gifts God has placed in their hands to change the world.