Monday, March 9, 2015

Celebrating International Women's Day - Girls of Compassion

Through my involvement with Compassion International I've been a financial and correspondent sponsor to 60 children of all ages, from 26 countries, both boys and girls. The majority of the visits I've done, to South and Central America, have been to the girls. No particular reason; it's just the way it's worked out. 

In many of the countries Compassion works in, females are still treated as inferior and second-class citizens, which I could tell by their demeanor in some of my interactions with them. This is why I consider it incredibly important to speak words of Love, Life and Hope into their lives through regular letters and visits. They need to know that they are worthy and valuable, and God has created them with a purpose.

I'm not particularly "feminist" or political about it, but I thought I'd commemorate International Women's Day with a few photos of the girls and young women I've been privileged to care for as a sponsor, families, as well as Project workers and now-grown-up Compassion graduates I've been able to meet.

To learn more about the stories of these girls, would you consider buying my book "Go Into All The World"? Click on the links to the right for more information.

Sehila (Bolivia)
Ana Alice (Brazil)

Pamella (Brazil)

Larissa (6), Alynne, Monalisa (both graduated) - Brazil

Cristina (Peru)

Laura (Colombia)

Clovencia (Haiti)

Carolina (graduated) (DR)

Ana Cristina (Brazil)
Kelle (Nicaragua)
Mayra (Guatemala)
Alice (Brazil)
Princess Joy (Philippines)
Taina (Brazil)
Jacqueline (Ecuador)
Josefa (Guatemala)
Olga (Mexico)
Allison (Mexico)
Katherine (El Salvador)
Jessica (Brazil)
Alynne (Brazil)
Daila (Colombia)
Larissa (Brazil)
Rosa (El Salvador)
Julissa with her niece (Nicaragua)
Monalisa (Brazil)
Erika (Brazil, visited on behalf of another sponsor)

Monalisa with mother and sister

Yeymi (Guatemala) and four generations of her family
Cashofia (Philippines) with mother, sister and Project worker
Jessica with mother and sister
Allison with her mother and two sisters
Jacqueline with her mother, three sisters and nieces
Alice with her mother and grandmother

At Rosa's (ES) Project with her classmates in the cosmetology course
Brazil teenagers
In Mexico
With Mums and bubs in the Philippines



With Compassion staff Marta, Nathalia and Isabela in Brazil
With Compassion staff in El Salvador
With Compassion graduates Rafonzel and Michelle, and former Project worker Maricel (Philippines)
With Compassion graduate Angie (Philippines)
With Compassion graduate Debora (Brazil)
 
                                         

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Healing Hand of God - Sometimes Yes, Sometimes No {Two Stories}

Growing up in conservative Baptist churches in Australia, instantaneous miraculous healing was not something I ever encountered or witnessed. It's not that we didn't believe in it, it's just that...I don't really know how to finish that sentence. It's been like a 'dormant' part of my Christian worldview: I certainly believe that God can heal people instantly if He chooses to, I've just never seen it.

In September 2014 I visited three children I sponsored with Compassion in the Philippines. On the visits to Cashofia and John Dave I was privileged to pray for healing, with vastly different results. This experience caused me to dig right down to the foundations of what I believe about God and why.


Cashofia

While visiting Cashofia’s house, they asked me to come and meet her grandmother. She is 49, though she looks a lot older, and had been paralyzed for a few weeks after a work accident. She was lying prostrate on her back, helpless, weak and distressed. I was asked to pray for her, which is something I don’t take lightly.

I was not able to put my hands on her spine, since she was on her back and could not move, so I put my hands on her head and we spent the next 15 minutes just praying. It was incredibly profound. The Pastor and the other staff who came along joined in with me as we called on the power of God to bring healing in the name of Jesus. We knew that such a miracle would do wonders for bringing hope to that community.

On this day there was no instant cure, and we knew that no matter how much begging, pleading, beseeching or proclaiming we did, ultimately it’s up to God as to when, how and even ‘if’ He heals her. It’s hard walking away from something like that with no immediate visible results, but it’s a challenging exercise in faith and trust, believing that the One who is mighty to save and heal will do it.
                            


John Dave
Two days later I visited John Dave
in Bacolod. Early on in the day John Dave had been subdued and visibly distressed due to a persistent toothache. I was really worried this was going to affect our day together or even cut it short. When I prayed for the family at their house, I laid my hand on his face and asked God for healing in Jesus' name. I closely studied him for the rest of the day and there was not a single time he put his hand to his mouth or showed signs of discomfort. I am convinced that God answered my prayer and healed John Dave to allow us to enjoy our day together, and to demonstrate His power and might.


On the issue of miraculous healing I know there are extremes. Some believe that if nothing happens when you pray you either have sin in your life and not enough faith. Others believe that miraculous healing stopped when Jesus ascended back to Heaven.


Ultimately I don't have a snappy Twitter-worthy conclusion. Because we look at life differently to God, His ways and decisions can seem arbitrary and random to us. I guess it's unsatisfying, but in life sometimes God says "Yes", other times He says "No" and either way we just have to accept it and have faith that some good will come out of it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Compassion Advocacy Galore! (and it's only March)

"If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. (Isaiah 58:10-11)

I have been a sponsor and advocate (or "Global Poverty Fighter" as I like to call myself) with Compassion International for eight years now. As part of this advocacy I have written countless letters, visited many countries, talked to many people. As I have said before, I am not a Compassion employee or official spokesperson. Just a little guy who has seen how God is working through Compassion and the local church to transform lives and I want people to get involved.

In 2014 I spent ten months working at an orphanage in the Philippines called the Ruel Foundation. I was of the view that my years of Compassion sponsorship and advocacy were God preparing me for this role, which I initially thought would be a long-term thing. I had connected with the children and families through giving, writing and visiting, and now it was time for me to actually GO and literally be the hands and feet of Jesus, teaching and caring for the orphans. God provided sponsors for all of my Compassion kids and away I went.

As noble as this was, the bottom line is I was not prepared for it. While I grew to love the Ruel Foundation and the amazing work they do, personality and culture issues collided and I returned home after ten months, disappointed with the way things finished up.

During the year, one thing was obvious: Compassion still had a major piece of my heart and I could not let it go. I knew that to fully immerse myself in Ruel's ministry I had to try and "separate myself" from Compassion and I just could not do that. I had seen and experienced firsthand the way God was moving through the local church and Compassion in 26 developing countries, transforming lives, and I still longed to be a part of that through sponsorship and advocacy.

It didn't help that during the year I wrote my now-published book about Compassion and my travel experiences, and I also went on another incredibly impacting trip to visit my Filipino Compassion kids who were now sponsored by friends and family.

So I returned to Australia at the end of November 2014, partly disappointed about the way things finished at Ruel and also excited about the way God was going to use me in the lives of others. I returned to find the first print run of my new book "Go Into All The World" and my Compassion advocacy was up and running.

I contacted my friends and family who had sponsored my Compassion kids and let them know that if for any reason they were unable to continue sponsoring, I would be happy to take them back. Immediately I was able to reconnect with six of my previously sponsored kids, which was a blessing.

As soon as I arrived back in Australia I saw God's hand of provision at work. On the day I arrived back I popped into my old school, Heathdale Christian College, where I had both worked and attended as a student, and was offered seven days of work to finish off the school year. Considering I hadn't earned any income for ten months, I jumped at the chance. The funny thing was that it was actually my Mum's 5th grade class I was filling in for, since my Dad was having an operation and mum was taking some Carer's Leave. The kids had been praying for me all year in the Philippines and now I was their teacher for a few days!

The six weeks of holidays in December/January was a hard time of waiting, as I had no idea what God had in store for me in 2015. I couldn't wait for February to come around so I could start working again. In my impatience I started up a small business, DC Fun and Games, which basically involves going to schools, birthdays and community events and playing games (definitely my kind of job). I invested in equipment, registered a business name and built up a contact list.

The week before school started I was sitting at home watching the Australian Open tennis, when I got a call from my old school. I had made a good impression with the work I had done before Christmas and they had a job for a couple of days a week teaching PE. An hour later I was sitting in front of the senior staff in an interview! Now, I had previously worked in the PE department a few years back, so I knew all about it and I got the job. We are now four weeks into the school year and I have ended up working full time, since I have proven myself as a competent "gap-filler", which is just the way I like it. I have so far taught classes in every year level from 5-12.

God's provision didn't stop at employment. I've also had many opportunities to advocate for Compassion, speak at churches and promote my book.

On Sunday February 15th, about 55 people came to my parent's house and helped me celebrate with an official "Go Into All The World" Book Launch. It was a glorious summer day and I was able to share my heart for Compassion with some good friends. I put together a 40-minute video featuring some of the more impacting stories from my Compassion travels. My aim was to highlight what life is like for people in the developing world, as well as the impact God is making through Compassion and the local church.

On Friday February 20th I shared with 200 Grade 5 and 6 students at my school about Compassion during their assembly. I decided to share the stories of two of the kids I sponsored and visited who were the same age as them, so they could relate to it. I think it's important for kids to know a bit about what's going on in the developing world because it can be easy for us to be caught up in our own little bubbles and grow up not caring about the poor. I've been blessed in my role as a teacher to have many opportunities to share these stories with students and plant seeds of generosity and compassion in their hearts.

Through my publisher Ark House Press I was invited to record a TV interview with Wesley Mission in Sydney for their program "Impact TV", in which Rev. Dr. Keith Garner interviews people about their faith journey. They flew me up on Saturday February 21st and it was an enjoyable experience. During the interview I actually had a bit of mind blank and stumbled my way through the first couple of minutes. I had too many stories rattling around in the ol' noggin and wasn't able to have anything written down, so I initially struggled but I think it got better. It also finished sooner than I anticipated and all I could think about was what I didn't say. My interview will air on Impact TV on Sunday May 24th, 5.30am Channel 9 (Australia) and will be on the internet a week later.

The next day I had been invited to speak at my Dad's church, Essendon Church of Christ and share a bit about my Compassion journey. I also sold four books.

On Wednesday February 25th I was excited to have a radio interview with Matt Prater from Vision Radio Network (Australia-wide Christian radio) and History Makers Radio and TV. It was an awesome 15-minute chat for which I was much more prepared and was able to say everything I hoped to. A small part of the interview was aired on Vision Radio that night, and the full thing will be on History Makers Radio at a later date.

I also have some more church visits over the next few months:
* Berwick Salvation Army,                  March 29th
* Bacchus Marsh Life Church,            April 26th
* Wyndham Community Church,        May 3rd
* St Paul's Lutheran Church Box Hill, June 14th

I am just so grateful for the way God is using me to advocate for Compassion. I am hoping to see many children and families released from poverty in Jesus' name, and I can't wait to see what's ahead in 2015 and beyond.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Man On A Mission Writes Book To Encourage Others (transcribed newspaper article)

I spent a few days over the New Year period staying in a little town called Portland in south-west Victoria, where I lived and worked in 2008, 2009 and 2012.

Last Sunday I held a book launch for my Compassion book "Go Into All The World." I did publicize it but it only ended up being a small gathering, with lots of people away and many others choosing instead to enjoy a day in the sunshine (can't compete with that). I also didn't have any actual books with me to sell, due to a communication mix-up with the publisher and the printers.

The positive to come out of it was I had the opportunity to sit down with a friend who is a journalist with the town's local newspaper, the Portland Observer, and tell him a little about my Compassion journey and about the book.

The article was published in today's edition of the newspaper.
    


There were a few small errors, however I am happy with the content and exposure of the article. I have transcribed the text below, error-free.
_______________________________________________________________

Man On A Mission Writes Book To Encourage Others
Portland Observer, Friday January 9th, 2015

Travelling overseas to an unknown location can be daunting at the best of times; however, travelling to some of the more impoverished, crime ridden areas of South America can exacerbate those feelings of trepidation.

For David Chalmers, the poverty or crime rates did nothing to deter him from visiting his sponsored children.

A sponsor with Compassion International, a Christian child sponsorship organization which provides aid to more than 1.4 million children, Mr Chalmers took the plunge.

Six years and 12 countries later he has put together his thoughts and writings into a book - Go Into All The World - One Man's Journey With God and Compassion International.

In 2006 Mr Chalmers began sponsoring a number of children with Compassion and was invited to visit the children and their families so that he could see where his money was being spent. "This all spawned from my worldview that God wants me to help others," said Mr Chalmers. "That's my motivation. My first visit was in 2009...I became hooked."

Mr Chalmers would work as a teacher during the school term, including in Portland at St John's Lutheran Primary School, then visit families during school holidays. In September 2009 he visited Sehila (Bolivia), Daila (Colombia) and Rosa (El Salvador).

"I have visited 12 countries in my time and was encouraged to write a book by a number of friends," added Mr Chalmers. "I wrote about the work of Compassion and their effectiveness. From what I have witnessed, kids from poverty are growing up to become doctors, teachers and even government leaders....I believe people want to help, whether they are Christian or not, they want to help others."

Last Sunday a small but supportive crowd gathered at Portland's South West Community Church to hear the journeyman talk about his work with Compassion as part of his unofficial book launch; the official launch will take place in Werribee in February.

"The book contains stories about my involvement (with Compassion). It's not an easy read, as the stories contain to contrasting moods: home visits versus project visits. The home visits are very confronting because of the poverty, family disintegration and violence, but when I write about the Project visits, there's a sense of hope. I hope that people are challenged, encouraged and inspired from this book."

Copies can be bought direct from Mr Chalmers via his blog (http://supernintendo81.blogspot.com.au) or through Abundant Life bookstore in Portland.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015: Lots to Look Forward To

As you may know, 2014 was an enjoyable and challenging year for me. I spent ten months working at an orphanage called The Ruel Foundation: teaching, taking photos and promoting the work of Ruel online through blogging, Facebook and YouTube. I learned a lot, grew a lot and made a difference to the lives of many people. Ultimately relationship struggles and culture shock proved too much, and I've been back in Australia for a month-and-a-bit, with no regrets.

While I sometimes feel like that by leaving the Philippines I've "hitched up my rich-boy pants and gone home," serving God by using what I've been given to help others is still my primary goal. I'm still planning to live a life of God-honoring sacrificial generosity as I have in the past. I've made peace with the fact that a person can have just as much impact on others from a position of prosperity if we use our resources in the right way, whereas I previously thought that leaving everything behind to go and serve orphans was the only legitimate way to make a difference. Definitely not the case.

2015 is looking very exciting, with lots of opportunities and possibilities.

Family:

I am a doting uncle of five little people and being away from them was one of the hardest parts of 2014. I am blessed that I have a good relationship with my siblings and have such an active role in the lives of my nieces and nephews. 

"Go Into All The World" book:

I recently published a book about Compassion International and stories from my travel experiences. I am excited about what God will do with this book. My ultimate goal is to see people challenged and inspired, and kids to be sponsored.

I will be holding a book launch on February 15th in my town Werribee, Victoria. Anyone in the area is welcome to come and help me celebrate. I am also hoping to speak in schools and churches around Victoria (hint hint) sharing the message God has put on my heart, that He wants to use us to end poverty and give people hope for the future.

Australians can buy the book here:
Word bookstore:
http://www.word.com.au/Go-Into-All-The-World/David-Chalmers/9780992572600

Koorong bookstore:
http://www.koorong.com/search/product/go-into-all-the-world-david-chalmers/9780992572600.jhtml

Ark House Press (my publisher):
http://www.arkhousepress.com/shop/go-into-all-the-world.html
Or contact me directly: dachalmers@gmail.com

International friends can buy the book here: https://www.createspace.com/5215742

Compassion Sponsorship:

Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes knows that Compassion sponsorship is my "main thing." It's the ministry through which God has revealed His purpose for me, the reason I've been created: to use what He's given me to help others.

When I was heading to the Philippines, I got the sense that working at Ruel was the "next step"; that God had used seven years of Compassion sponsorship as a kind of preparation, but now it was time to move to the next level and actually go to be with the kids in person. Sounded good, and God provided sponsors for all the 29 kids I sponsored at the time. However, as the year went on, it became clear that I couldn't let it go. Compassion sponsorship still had my heart in a big way, and I've ended up returning to it.

I have reconnected with six of the kids I previously sponsored and visited, and I look forward to continuing the sponsorship journey well into the future.

DC Fun and Games:

Ten years ago I worked for a small company called YMCA Funworks. It was only a casual job I had while at University, but it was the best job I've ever had. We took a variety of fun recreational activities around to schools, parties and community events and basically got paid for playing games with kids! So I have decided to adapt that business idea, and "DC Fun and Games" is the result.

If I can land a teaching job that will still be my main source of income, but if I can build up enough contacts to make a living out of this business then I will be all set. I have an initial database of 370 schools and 30 local councils ready to go when school goes back in February.

https://www.facebook.com/dcfunandgames
https://dcfunandgames.wordpress.com/

Basketball Coaching:

I have coached basketball since 2002, everything from Under 8s to Rep to Div 4 Men out in the country. It is one of my great passions and I am looking forward to getting back into it. The little team in this photo was the Heathdale Hornets Under 10s of 2004. They were like a little machine, going through the season undefeated and I haven't had another team like them.

Above all else, I am looking forward to seeing the way God uses me in the lives of others, whatever I'm doing. I am very intentional in the way I live life. I am very aware of my strengths and abilities (and weaknesses), and I only commit myself to doing the things that I know will have a positive impact on other people. That is my ultimate goal.