After almost 10 years as Compassion Australia CEO, Tim Hanna shares about the messiness of the poverty he’s seen—and the powerful way that friends like you are helping to release children from its grip.

One of the most incredible parts of my job as CEO of Compassion Australia is to visit churches, communities and homes in the developing world where your support makes such an impact. Come for a wander through the streets of Quezon City, the Philippines with me, and let me show you some of what it means to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

1. You’re bringing children’s dreams within reach

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You don’t have to be in Angel’s home for long to see why the local church in Quezon City would knock on her door when they’re looking to register the most vulnerable children at the Compassion centre.

Her father is away for months at a time, working in the fields—yet not much income comes home. Sometimes it’s not clear if and when he’s coming home, either.

Her older sisters have given up their dreams of further education and instead help their mother to cook snacks and sell them in the marketplace to make ends meet.

It’s a complicated family situation at the best of times. And the struggle to meet basic needs, like putting food on the table, makes it all the more difficult.

Angel dreams of becoming a teacher, and as I watch her interact with her younger brothers and sisters, I can see her passion and gifts shining through.

Without help, her dream would be as distant as the stars. But with support from a sponsor like you, Angel knows her dream is within reach.

2. What happens when things get messy?

Sometimes you and I might be tempted to think that sponsorship is a simple answer to the problems of poverty. But there is no off-the-shelf solution to such complex questions.

Every child’s situation is different. Every family, every neighbourhood, faces its own unique challenges.

Angel’s struggles at home are compounded by the fact that she lives in a community of squatters. The whole neighbourhood is unstable. There’s no legal right to the land and they could be evicted without notice, driving them from the difficulties of today into outright despair tomorrow.

This complexity is why our mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name can sometimes be messy. In fact, it usually is. To some extent, that’s how we know it’s working! It’s not an easy thing to confront poverty and the hold it has on children. As we partner with local churches to take on the most difficult and deep-seated challenges of the community, we shouldn’t expect it to be easy.

In my almost 10 years as CEO, I’ve spent many hours with children facing problems like those confronting Angel. I’ve been struck, over and over, by their ingenuity and resilience—and the persistence and creativity of the local church in helping them find a way to be released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

3. Numbers can’t fully measure your impact

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You are part of a ministry that reaches more than 2 million children who are living in poverty in all its shapes and forms, sharing a new hope and the powerful opportunity to hear just how much God loves them.

More than 7400 local Christian churches are on the frontline of this ministry in more than 25 developing nations.

But the numbers only tell part of the story.

On the ground, as you talk with pastors and spend time in their communities, you get a new understanding of how difficult—and how rewarding—their work is.

Some of these churches are working in nations and communities where Christians are very much in the minority. That adds even more complexity. They need to build strong relationships with local authorities and governments who have their own agendas and ideas about how development should look. They need to balance different groups within the neighbourhood; different ethnic groups, cultures, religions, even languages.

Even churches in places where Christianity is the norm face a chronic lack of resources and all of the difficulties that go along with that.

It’s not an easy job but they do it with grace and perseverance. And they do it with gratitude for the role you play as you stand with them. Your prayers, your generosity, your encouragement for the children you sponsor—as you write to them and tell them how much they matter to you and to the One who made them—are all vitally important.

You empower the church to be the hands and feet of Jesus to children like Angel, even in the difficulty and messiness of what that might mean.

You truly are sharing a hope more powerful than poverty.

So on behalf of Angel and 2 million precious kids like her who need a little support to break through and live the life that God has set before them—thank you.