Friday, January 4, 2013

The Ripple Effect

This is a topic I've been meaning to talk about for some time now. Coincidentally, it was one of the reasons I wanted to become an advocate for Compassion in the first place.

The ripple effect. Meaning that one person's actions causes a ripple, effecting countless other people in countless different ways. This can be a positive ripple, or a negative one (which is yet another reason why we should always strive to do good to others and be kind to one another. You never know how your words or actions will affect someone else).

One reason why I wanted to become an advocate for Compassion was so I could increase my ripple. I am twenty years old and in college. There is only so much money I can give even though I wish I could give it all. My time is valuable, but I knew that I could find more time to give. Even though I can't change as many lives as I may want by giving money, I can change lives by giving time. And the ripple is still there.

Even sponsoring one child causes an incredible ripple. You are not only changing that child's live, but the life of their friends, family, neighbors, anyone that child comes in contact with. Think of all of the people you interact with on a daily basis. Your child is probably interacting with just as many people and all of those people are different because they know your child. That's really cool to me.

I want to share an article from summer 2008 Compassion magazine entitled: Champions of Faith, written by Brandy Campbell.

"Puffs of steam rise from the arms of a dozen young men practicing karate in a cramped classroom. The humid Brazilian air has cooled, but drops of sweat bead on their earnest faces before dropping to the cracked mats beneath their bare feet.

"Frrancisco de Melo weaves among his students in the stifling room. He lifts a boy's drooping elbow. Encourages a teen to kick higher.

"As Francisco makes his rounds, he notices one of his students, Jorge Barroso. Not long ago Francisco had the privilege of knotting a black belt around Jorge's waist. Such an accomplishment is a far cry from the gangs, drugs, and crime that victimize many boys in Fortaleza. For 10 years, Francisco has worked hard to teach everything he knows to Jorge and the 75 other boys who have attended the karate class at the Compassion-assisted Projeto Social de Igreja de Cristo child development center.

"Francisco volunteers his time, but not to gain more awards and accolades. He does it because he sees a little of himself in boys like Jorge. And he knows the boys see hope in him.

"Francisco's hope starkly contrasts his childhood. Francisco and his siblings grew up in a home where there was never enough - never enough work for his father, never enough food for his family.

"When Francisco was 9, he began working alongside his father. The boy spent his days hauling heavy loads of bricks until his arms burned and his back ached. Every few months, he and his brothers would save up enough pennies to go to a karate movie in town. Francisco would entertain his father's friends by mimicking the moves he saw on the faded movie screen. One of those friends generously paid for Francisco to take karate lessons.

"At 14, Francisco left his small hometown and moved to Fortaleza, one of Brazil's largest cities. During the day  he worked odd jobs. At night he took karate lessons. On the weekends he traveled to nearby cities, entering, then winning competitions. But something was missing - something Francisco found in Parquelandia Baptist Church, a small, dusty church where he began studying the Bible with friends. At 16, Francisco received Christ.

"Francisco became active in his church, even as he traveled across the country competing in karate tournaments and accumulating titles: six-time Brazilian Champion; International Champion Brazil Cup; third place in the Karate World Competition.

"Although he became a local legend, Francisco didn't forget where he came from. So when Francisco's church became a Compassion church partner, he met with the center staff, asking if he could teach karate lessons to the boys enrolled in the program. Soon his one class grew to four, as he traveled to several Compassion child development centers throughout the city. "I have an old dream - to teach children about Jesus and see them released from poverty. That is the reason I wanted to teach at Compassion's project," says Francisco.

"Ten-year-old Jorge was one of Francisco's first students. Francisco knew the boys' father had abandoned the family. Francisco poured hours into Jorge's life. He taught Jorge about the love of the Father and prayed for him constantly. And as a teenager Jorge accepted Christ - just as his mentor had done more than 20 years earlier.

"In the five years Jorge has been taking karate lessons from Francisco, he has risen to the highest level, black belt. At just 15, he has won 22 competitions and is ranked third in Brazil.

""Francisco has taught me many things," says Jorge. "He gives me encouragement and support. He is very good to me. His classes are like a second home for me."

"Little does Jorge know, Francisco is equally impressed with him - and he takes almost no credit for the boy's successes. "Jorge is a very good person and is very determined," says Francisco. "Jesus has changed and is changing his life. He is like a priceless stone, being polished by the Lord. Everything he has done is for the glory of God.""

There's a ripple effect. Francisco was born into poverty and was able to come out of poverty and change countless other young men's lives because of a few single actions. His parents allowed him and his brother to see karate movies instead of saving those little bits of change for their family. The family friend paid for him to start taking karate lessons - and the rest was history.

What you are doing - or can do - for a child (or really any person) is extraordinary and should never be taken lightly. I hope we can all choose to make a constant effort to always be a positive role-model and a positive person in another's life.

There are currently no children available at the center where Francisco worked. However, there are some cute little Brazilian boys named Francisco (maybe one of them is the next karate star of Brazil!). Or help a child that has been waiting for a long time in Brazil.

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