Posted Online: April 19, 2013, 2:40 am

Enjoying a compassionate trip down memory lane

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By Claudia Loucks, cjloucks@qconline.com

Photo: Claudia Loucks | correspondent
Molly Reel, left, and her sister, Emily Reel Baum, with son, Max Baum, 4, help promote Compassion International, a program to help children living in poverty around the world.
GENESEO -- A trip down a compassionate memory lane awaits a Geneseo Spanish teacher Sunday.

Molly Reel will share her memories and hope to draw more support for Compassion International, a Christian child-advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Sunday, April 21, is designated as Compassion Sunday, she said. It's designed to give people the opportunity to learn more about how they can make a difference in a child's life, a chance for people to be a part of God's work and a chance for people to learn about Compassion International's ministry.

Forinformation about the ministry, visit compassion.com.

"Six years ago, I was sitting in church in Colorado on Compassion Sunday," Miss Reel said. "A former sponsor child from Africa spoke about what Compassion meant to her and how it changed her life.
"I was so impressed with her and all the challenges she had overcome in her life. Her love for the Lord and her sponsor family really touched me."

It inspired her learn more about Compassion, she said.

"I got on the Internet that night, looked up Compassion, and, within 30 minutes, found my little girl, Yennifer from Guatemala. Yennifer's picture caught my eye and I just knew she was the little girl I wanted to sponsor."

Miss Reel met Yennifer last year through a Compassion International trip.

"I have watched her grow up through her pictures and letters, and I wanted to see this young woman in person," Miss Reel said. "The day we spent together is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I couldn't stop smiling and she couldn't stop smiling. Her personality and mine matched perfectly."

While in Guatemala, Miss Reel met Jorge, 6, who she also decided to sponsor.

When she saw all the Guatemalan children waiting for sponsors, she knew she "had to do something.

"These children deserve sponsors, too," she said. "I specifically chose three little boys from picture packets for my brother, sister and college best friend."

In September, Miss Reel also will support the ministry as a "Team Compassion" member at the Quad Cities Marathon.

"Through Team Compassion, I can raise money for their water projects or other needs, but I have chosen to try to find more families to sponsor children," she said. "I hope to find at least one sponsor for each mile I run."

The 26.2-mile marathon will be held Sept. 22.

"I was so excited to find three more kids' sponsors after my trip last summer that the thought of finding 26 sponsors for 26 kids makes me so excited," Miss Reel said.

Compassion International, headquartered in Colorado Springs, was founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, when it began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

It now helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries.

It reminded Miss Reel ofMatthew 18:5, which states, 'And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.'"

MOLLY REEL
Birth date: June 15, 1980
Hometown: Congerville, Illinois
Education: Bachelor's degree from Iowa State University, Ames; master's from University of Denver, Denver.
Experience: High school Spanish teacher for 10 years.
Favorite Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." "I am a planner and try to 'plan' everything, so I need this verse to remind me that I am not in charge and to give me a peace that God has my plans under control."
Favorite Biblical character I'd like to meet: "Ruth."
Hobbies and activities: "Traveling, reading, running, watching sports, water skiing, snow skiing, visiting friends and family."
Note: A Compassion Child Sponsorship costs $38 a month for children to be educated, be healthy, learn about Christ and learn self-confidence and social skills. Money for Christmas and birthday gifts also may be given through a sponsorship, but is optional.