Covenanters Assisting Child Sponsorship Initiative

Post a Comment » Written on November 28th, 2007     
Filed under: News

CHICAGO, IL (November 28, 2007) – Amanda Carlson met individually with each of the students at the school in Ndola, Zambia, listening to their stories as their teacher translated her questions and their answers. Carlson took what she learned and has put the children’s stories in writing so that people around the world might respond to their needs through sponsorship.

Carlson, a member of Dassel (Minnesota) Covenant Church and a North Park University (NPU) student, was one of the people who have worked in anonymity to make public the faces of needy children so that others around the world might offer them hope.

“It was hard, though, because many of the students didn’t know when their birthday was, which is one of the first things children in America learn,” Carlson says. “On the other hand, it was encouraging to hear that most of the students want to be doctors and teachers when they grow up, which is exactly what their community needs.”

Carlson and other North Park students who traveled to Zambia earlier this year are continuing to work with Spark Ventures, which hopes to connect sponsors with children in ways that other similar organizations do not.

One of the founders of Spark Ventures is Rich Johnson, director of University Ministries at North Park. Johnson and two friends formed the nonprofit organization after traveling to Zambia in May 2006 and working at an orphanage. Johnson says Spark is different from other organizations that offer child sponsorships because it offers a multilevel sponsorship program. That ranges from $25 to $250 a month, depending on the program and the care and support the child is receiving. Spark Ventures also provides opportunities for sponsors to travel to the partner location.

Global Partnerships, a University Ministries program, is working Hope Ministries, which operates the orphanage. Roxanna Alleman, another NPU student and a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Princeton, Illinois, helped take the children’s pictures for the sponsorship brochures.

“I’m involved with Spark Ventures because it is a tangible way to continue work in Zambia even after coming back from a mission trip,” Alleman says. “A lot of times good things are done on mission trips, but the participants come back not knowing how to continue that work or how it will leave a lasting impact. This is a great outlet for that.”

Matt Enquist, a member of Libertyville (Illinois) Covenant Church, traveled to Zambia with his fellow students and now is helping sponsor a child. “There was such an ‘otherness’ about that part of the world in my mind. It was this place of deep suffering and hurt, but I felt like I needed to know names and to see the faces of children and families in order to really start to care about Africa’s pain,” Enquist says.

Carlson says her experience in Zambia has led her to become more involved in working with an early childhood program in Chicago. “I get to hang out with refugee kids for four hours every week, and I feel like that is a way I can stay involved with international issues.”

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