By Lauren Mueller, Reporter
Compassion International hosts a different type of traveling exhibit than the people in Clovis are used to seeing. Not only is the exhibit coming directly to Clovis, it is bringing the developing world right into its heart.
The exhibit is called The Compassion Experience. It is an interactive tour of success stories of children who have been sponsored through Compassion International.
The exhibit consists of 2,000 square feet of “interactive space,” according to Compassion International’s information page on the Clovis event. It is a 20 minute self-guided tour utilizing iPods and headsets.
Visitors to the exhibit will see what conditions children in developing countries live in and how the support of Compassion International’s many sponsors can help to impact, and ultimately change, their lives.
Clovis Hills Community Church is hosting the Compassion Experience this year. The event will begin on Jan. 15 and end Jan. 18. It will be open for approximately 10 hours on each of those four days. This is the first time Clovis Hills will host the event.
“If it’s a good experience, I’m sure we’ll do it again,” said Michelle Pellerin. As the church’s Serve Director, she is in charge of the church’s side of planning and preparing for the event.
Clovis Hills has had a strong working relationship with Compassion International for five years. The church’s congregation sponsors children through Compassion International in India and the Philippines. The church also has missionary teams that go to these places and have met the children the church sponsors.
“We had a missionary team once that went to one of Compassion’s schools in India,” Pellerin recalled, “There were 35 kids there that were sponsored by our church. I sent a present along for one of the kids and the team was able to give it to him personally.”
For Clovis Hills, the Compassion Experience is the logical next step. Though the church only learned of the event six months ago, Pellerin is excited about participating.
“It’s neat for kids to come see what other kids go through without having to go to another country,” she said.
Steve Spriggs, the community marketing director with Compassion International, agrees with Pellerin’s enthusiasm.
“The event presents the opportunity to grow conversations inside homes,” Sprigss said. “It can help parents start a conversation with their children about the blessings of living in this country, and about responsibility and compassion for others.”
Spriggs expects upwards of 3,000 people to attend. All costs are covered by Compassion International, making it free to anyone who wishes to participate.
Compassion International and Clovis Hills will have opportunities at the event for people who wish to sponsor a child to both learn more and begin a sponsorship. This is Compassion International’s ultimate goal.
“The need is greater than the supply,” Spriggs said. “There are so many kids who need our help and we can only help so many. We help those who we know will be most benefitted by the program.”
The Compassion Experience is a conversation starter, prompting more families to help where help is so desperately needed. The event brings the developing world into developed communities to expose the struggles and vulnerabilities of children in poverty around the world. Compassion International hopes that by doing so conversations will be sparked and more people will understand what poverty means in countries outside the United States. And if by understanding more people decide to help, Compassion International will have reached their ultimate goal.
“We sponsor children who will benefit from the help,” Spriggs said. “Hopefully, we build that child up enough that he or she will then turn around and help others in need. It doesn’t work perfectly every time, but we believe that when you change a child in the community, you can eventually change the community.”