As we reflect back on 2017, we have a lot to be thankful for here at Compassion. We get to work with amazing children all around the world. And we also have the best partners in that work!

In no particular order, here are the top five people we couldn’t do ministry without!

5. The tutors and child workers

Top 5 People We're Grateful For

At only 17, Meryl tutors the younger children in math at her child development centre.Did you know that many Compassion tutors are volunteers? They spend hours with the kids you sponsor, helping with homework and letter writing; teaching them skills, sports and music. They take their jobs seriously – some even walk kids home through dangerous neighborhoods! Their ministry is vital to the children we serve together.

4. The pastors

Top 5 People We're Grateful For

21-year-old Oscar Torres went from being sponsored in our program to being the pastor of one of our church partners in Nicaragua. He gets to help more children just like him. You know that we work through local churches. And that means we need pastors to believe in the ministry of Compassion. Because when a pastor gets on board, the entire congregation does! Many of the pastors at our church partners are very hands-on, leading Bible studies and even handing over the pulpit some Sundays to let Compassion students preach.

3. The cooks

Top 5 People We're Grateful For

Known as cucu (grandmother) to the students, Monica Mwihaki has been cooking meals for 25 years at her Compassion centre in Kenya. Yes, the cooks definitely get their own slot on our gratitude list! Like the tutors, many are volunteers. And they LOVE those kids! They spend hours preparing hot, nutritious meals and snacks, and find incredible joy in meeting this basic, life-giving need of each child they serve!

2. The parents and caregivers

Top 5 People We're Grateful For

In Indonesia, Silfia and her parents Yonike and Ismael pose with the pictures from Silfia’s sponsors in Australia. When a parent gets on board with releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, that’s when things really take off. Through sponsorship, you are getting to partner with these parents, relieving some of the stress of being a parent in poverty, and restoring a sense of joy in their homes. We love it when parents take literacy and parenting classes, because then we know that a happy home helps produce a happy child.

1. YOU!

You knew that you were going to be on our list! We’re grateful for your partnership in Compassion’s ministry. Your support means everyone else in this list gets to love on, serve and pour into children in poverty around the world—helping to release them from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Words by Brandy Campbell

This blog originally appeared on the Compassion International blog.