By Rebecca Flannery
Waco will get the opportunity to experience what life is like for a child in a Third World country starting Oct. 10.
Harris Creek Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Waco are partnering with the nonprofit organization Compassion International to give congregants, students and citizens an interactive tour of what life is like in a developing country.
The simulation will be available Oct. 10-13 in the parking lot of First Baptist Church of Waco, located at 500 Webster Ave. Walk-ins as well as those who schedule a time to tour are welcome to the free event.
Landon Collins, interim missions pastor for Harris Creek, said the simulation is meant to raise awareness of what life looks like outside the U.S.
“More than raising awareness, though, I hope those who attend are moved to action by sponsoring children from Compassion,” Collins said.
The Compassion Experience simulation is set up within two semi-trailers to create an area of 3,000 square feet for visitors to walk through. Set up in the trailers will be a mock-up of homes of previously sponsored children from Uganda, Bolivia and India, according to a press release from the organization.
“Through the use of an iPod, a headset and interactive space, visitors will see the children’s homes, walk through schools and markets and hear life-changing stories of hope — all from the perspective of a child whose life began in poverty,” according to the press release.
Steve Spriggs, media correspondent for Compassion International, said the organization aims to release children from these states of poverty.
“Release and relief are two very separate things,” Spriggs said. “We want to look at the child holistically, be with them through every step of our program and release them from the poverty they’re set in.”
The simulation features tangible scenes from the homes of children who have graduated from Compassion programs. Some materials used in the simulation include items from sites of the child’s upbringing, as well as materials from the U.S. to create a lifelike feature of their journey, Spriggs said.
“The entire re-creation process is communicated closely between Compassion and the sponsor child,” Spriggs said. “At the end of the tour, visitors will actually have the ability to see a quick video of the child whose story they just witnessed.”
Collins said the simulation will coincide with Harris Creek’s Sunday service called Compassion Sunday. At the service, a Compassion representative will speak about the organization and what it aims to do for impoverished children.
“We want to take our strategic partnerships with organizations like Compassion and go deeper with them,” Collins said.
Mark Hanlon, Compassion International senior vice president of global marketing and engagement, said in a press release the purpose of the event is to create hope for children living in poverty.
“When people think of poverty, they often think of the lack of things, the lack of stuff, the lack of money,” Hanlon said. “Those are all symptoms of poverty. The real issue of poverty is the lack of hope.”
According to their website, Compassion serves more than 1.4 million children in 26 developing countries in Latin America, Central America, Asia and Africa. Sponsorship is offered to those who attend the simulation event, as well as those who sign up to do so online, Spriggs said.
The Compassion curriculum offers students in the donor supported programs an education from local schools and evangelical churches. Starting from birth to 22 years of age, they are taught hygienic practices, scriptural practices and are able to go on field trips to do volunteer work.
“We are thrilled God is bringing people closer to his heart for children,” Spriggs said. “Overall, it has been a very positive experience.”
Collins said students and organizations are welcome to volunteer to work the event. Contact and sign up information can be found on Harris Creek’s website, www.harriscreek.org.