Of Rashes and Burns and Little Ones

This past spring, CompassioNow collected supplies, 5 bags of medical supplies to be exact, to be carried over to Malawi. In their most recent report, Passion Center for Children and their Community Health Network shared how those supplies have made a positive impact on the lives of several children in the area.


Vanessa and Chisomo are brother and sister. They were taken to the local hospital due to severely itchy rashes on their bodies. The rashes were becoming very painful from constant scratching. At the hospital, the children were given calamine lotion for their rashes. However, the calamine lotion only made the situation worse. Community Health Network volunteers from the Passion Center for Children in Malawi learned of the itchy and painful rashes and brought antifungal meds to their home. This medicine solved the problem and cleared up the rashes quickly.

6 year old Kelvin is the youngest of three children and has suffered seizures from infancy. About 2 years ago, Kelvin had a seizure and he fell on a cooking fire. No one was around to pull him out and he suffered extensive burns. He was taken to the local hospital but they did not have the necessary wound supplies to help. Kelvin’s wound became infected and he was in danger of losing his life. That’s when the Community Health Network at Passion Center for Children learned of Kelvin’s plight. They committed themselves to helping Kelvin and over the next year and a half, they tended Kelvin’s wounds and nursed him back to health.

2 month old Maliam had a normal, issue-free birth. But almost immediately her mother noticed that she couldn’t move her left arm, hand, or fingers. Maliam was taken to the local hospital where she was assessed and given help. However, Maliam made very little progress. Volunteers from the Community Health Network also began to work with Maliam and her mother. They began doing exercises such as stroke movements, positioning, and stimulation. Since Maliam’s mother has begun these exercises, Maliam has improved greatly. The Community Health Network volunteers are keeping a very close eye on the health of Maliam and are poised to act quickly if anything arises.


Agnes, pictured below with Community Health Network Coordinator Edwin, is 2 1/2 years old. She was born with a very low birthweight and has struggled with disease and malnourishment since. Catherine, Agnes’ mother, took her to the local hospital and she was put on a feeding program. After 2 months of regular feeding, Agnes had made no improvement and the hospital dismissed her from the program. With a new baby added to the family, Catherine is very concerned about how to care for Agnes. Edwin and the Community Health Network have prayed with Catherine and Agnes and will stand by them as they strive to heal and grow. Please join us in praying for Agnes and her family, that nourishment and peace will rain down on them.


Waddington — A Success Story

It’s nearing the end of summer and most people can point to someone in their sphere of influence who has suffered a broken bone this summer. As inconvenient as it is, the bone is x-rayed, set, and tended. In no time, the bone is healed and life continues. But, in rural Africa, bones aren’t always cared for.

In 2009, 8 year old Waddington broke his leg in an accident in rural Zambia. For three months, he lived with the broken bones and without any proper care or medical intervention. A severe infection set into the bone and Waddington was becoming a very ill young man. His village became concerned and transported him to Chalabessa Medical Clinic, a rural clinic supported by Mission Medic Air and CompassioNow. Sister Marta and the Mission Medic Air team knew that if they didn’t act quickly, Waddington would be permanently and severely crippled, if he survived at all. They transported him to Lusaka where he was treated for his infection and where his leg was surgically reset. Ed and Wendy, co-founders of CompassioNow, met Waddington back at Chalabessa a few months later while he was still on crutches. At that time, Waddington vowed that he would study hard to be prepared for whatever God had in store for him after saving his life.

Two years later, Ed and Wendy flew to Zambia again and met Waddington. But this trip, Waddington had no crutches; instead, he helped unload the medical supplies from the plane and stood guard over the plane while Ed and Wendy traveled on to Chalabessa. In Ed’s words, Waddington was “a happy, active and healthy 10 year old with a bright future.”

Fast forward to 2017. Ed and Wendy were in Zambia and reconnected with Waddington yet again. At that time, 17 year old Waddington was attending the Grace Academy, founded by the Canadian charity Seeds of Hope Children’s Ministry. Wendy wrote, “His favorite subject in school is chemistry. He wants to take as many science classes as he can to get ready for medical school. He was baptized last month!! He sings in the praise choir at Grace as well as plays the piano. Last week he started a Bible kids club at Grace to teach age 9 and up kids about the Bible. His favorite Bible verse is I Thes 3: 9-10.”

Waddington’s mother died when he was very young and he has two younger brothers. 16 year old Shepherd was born with club feet as well as a spinal development problem (kyphosis). He used to drag himself across the dirt to get around. Mission Medic Air took him for the surgery to repair his club feet, to get him the corrective spinal surgery that he needed. Both Shepherd and Innocent, the third brother, attend Grace Academy as well.

This past spring, Waddington graduated from Grace Academy and in July he began his undergraduate studies in Zambia. From orphaned youth, to severely injured and ill, to happy and healthy, to graduate… Waddington’s life is truly explempary of the grace and goodness of God. Saved and sanctified, Waddington will do amazing things for God.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a season and a time for everything. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,… a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Now, before you break out your Bic lighters and fire up the LP of The Byrds singing Turn, Turn, Turn, let’s pause to consider the time for each tea!

Morning is a brilliant time to start off strong, with a bold black tea! The caffeine in tea is less than in coffee, and yet the bold flavors of an English Breakfast, Earl Grey, or Black Chai awaken the senses. And did you know that holding a hot cuppa in your palms, as you would with a handleless mug or a to-go cup, heats up your heart-line, that vein that runs through the center of your palm straight to your heart? So, drinking a hot cuppa first thing in the morning is a heartwarming way to start the day!


Midday, post lunch, the doldrums of the day require something a little more grounding, a little more refreshing. Wake up your mouth and stimulate your senses with an earthy green Sencha like our Japanese Sencha, our Jasmine green, or our Pacific Holiday Sencha green tea, which is paired with chunks of dried mango, kiwi, and passionfruit. The sweet fruity flavors of Pacific Holiday and the gentle sweetness of jasmine prove to be the ideal mid-afternoon treat. Because green teas are processed less than black teas, they still contain many minerals and antioxidants — making them a natural way to boost your afternoon. And it is widely believed that green teas have less caffeine than black teas.

Pai Mu Tan, a white tea, makes a lovely substitute for the morning’s cuppa black tea. More gentle in flavor than a black tea, it still packs the punch when it comes to caffeine. And with it’s jammy sweetness, it pairs well with your flaky croissant. TI Kuan Yin Iron Goddess Oolong can also fire up the senses come morning or afternoon. Oolong, with its slight fermentation, has a headier flavor and can be an acquired taste. Nevertheless, it warms the belly and the mouth and rejuvenates the spirit. Add raspberry flavors to an Oolong and you get the fresh fruitiness that wakes up any humdrum afternoon.

By the end of the day, most of us have shut down caffeine consumption. Weariness may leave us with digestive issues, headaches, and general anxiety and exhaustion. It’s time to call in the herbals! Peppermint tea, which is strictly peppermint plant leaves, is a natural remedy for indigestion, for respiratory issues, and for foggy brain. Bourbon Street Vanilla, a rooibos infused with almond flavoring, curbs the desire for late night snacking, heavy desserts, and other bad bedtime habits. But for those who just can’t unwind after a hectic day, Serene Herbal, with its sunny camomile flowers, lavender flowers, lemon myrtle and spearmint leaves, calms the nerves, slows the racing heart, and quiets the anxious mind. But be careful serving this one to go! We don’t want anyone falling asleep behind the wheel!

Destructive Flooding Impacts Malawi

In California, where we are based, rain is a really big deal. Our summer security is dependent on the winter rains and we celebrate when the rains are robust. But of course, the rains can become too much, causing mudslides, flooding, and heavy, damaging snowfalls in the mountains. Imagine how much more destructive a heavy rain could be if your home was built of mud….

During the early part of March, torrential rains pummeled regions of Malawi, including the Zomba district where our friends at Passion Center for Children live and work. 99 homes were either partially or completely destroyed by the recent storms. 12 of those homes belonged to Child Headed Households. Child Headed Households are what they sound like, family units led by children with no adult supervision.

The Passion Center for Children works closely with 5 area churches. Of those 5, 2 were wiped out, including the recently planted Namikango church, which was built from grass and thatch. While this structure was adequate for launching the new church, it did not withstand the storms. Please join with us in praying that this doesn’t become a metaphor for the church body as well.

Bricks are essential to building a stable shelter that withstands the winter storms. But in the meantime, before the expensive bricks can get built, many houses need thatch roofing to at least provide shelter from the rains. Passion Center staff members are hoping to provide much needed thatching.

The Passion Center staff is working tirelessly to meet the needs of the people. Hundreds of people are coming to them for food and the staff members are going to visit homes in the area this week to see where the greatest needs are for shelter as the rainy season continues. At the same time, the Passion Center staff is using this period of increased ministry to preach the love of God. As people are receiving the literal bread of sustenance, they are also hearing about a loving God who knows them personally and intimately and loves them desperately.

To Donate Directly to Passion Center for Children/Greatest Need

To Help Us Help Them

How Many Lives This Year?

Drum roll please! We’re ready to announce the numbers of patients in 2018 who received medical care in the clinics we support. We are staggering under the excitement, the joy, and the sheer magnitude of God’s goodness in taking our meager offerings and multiplying them. We truly feel like the little boy with the five loaves and 2 fish! Are you ready for this!!!!

At 1000 Hills Community Helpers in South Africa, Dawn and her medical staff saw 88,870 patients either in their on-site clinic or through their community health network whose volunteers travel into the local villages to provide first aid, medicine checks, and basic healthcare. Above, Dr. Karen Harte visits with a young patient at the clinic.

Tanzania Christian Clinic is a beautiful, well-established medical clinic that has grown to also support a school and many churches. In 2018, this long-standing support for the nearby Masai peoples treated 4,066 patients. Each year, we provide funding for staff and medical supplies for their shelves!

At the Passion Center for Children in Malawi, the Community Health Network volunteers saw over 2400 patients! Here they are in their lovely new scrubs, which we provided to give them a “uniform”! We have also provided several hundred pounds of medical supplies, bicycles for traveling to visit patients, and Bibles to share God’s word with their patients.

Village of Hope, Uganda, has 2 separate villages and therefore 2 separate clinics. Together, each clinic treated 6,678 children who live in the villages as well as adults and children who live in the surrounding areas. This year, we helped provide the funds for the clinics to be expanded physically and we provided ample medical supplies to stock these thriving clinics.

Mission Medic Air, Zambia operates differently than our other clinics. MMA arranges for doctors, nurses, and specialists to travel to remote villages and clinics to provide medical care on a regular basis. In short, the doctors travel to the patients rather the patients traveling to the clinic. In 2018, MMA brought medical care to roughly 1225 people in the hardest to reach places of Zambia. Our funding helped MMA purchase and maintain their Zambulance for transportation and we have provided medical supplies as well.

The Hunter Hanner Community of Hope Clinic on the campus of Rwanda Children treated 5,134 adults and children in 2018. Compassion Tea and CompassioNow also provide funding for the feeding programs run by Rwanda Children to help families in jeopardy of severe malnutrition. Stay tuned to learn more about these programs!
That comes to a grand total of 108,373 lives improved through medical care and through the amazing gift of healing in Christ! Praise God for His provision!

A letter to my daughter while she is away…


First and foremost, you are God’s beloved. He formed you; He knows and numbers the hairs on your head. Each of your tears is precious to Him. He adores you in the way that an artist adores his best creation. He saw your beginning and He knows your end and He has ordained each step along the way. And most importantly, He is Jehovah Jirah (the LORD, the provider) and Jehovah Tsaba (the LORD, the warrior), and Jehovah Shalom (the LORD, peace). If you can come to know God in this way, as the perfect Father and Friend, as your protector and provider, as your comfort and peace, you will live a life of beauty and joy. I’m still learning!


Second, you are my beloved. Part me and part Daddy, you are nevertheless uniquely you and uniquely beautiful. I love discovering with you your talents and passions, your peeves and joys, the areas in which you excel easily and the areas where you have to struggle. I treasure our past together; even if I sometimes comment about “difficulties” in our past, I wouldn’t trade a single day. During our trip to Alaska, you often rested your head on my shoulder and fell asleep or at least dozed a bit. You’re a bit bigger than you were, but it still reminded me of our first years together when we dozed together a lot, when I was able to rest watching you sleep, when I might fall asleep telling you a story or when I watched you fall asleep while I read or sang or walked or rocked. Precious times! My precious daughter. If you believe that you are my beloved also, you will know that you can always come to me and that I will love you no matter what.


But I might disappoint, too. I am human. I will do my best to meet your needs, to be faithful and loving, to speak truth and not frustration, to react with love not anxiety. But I will fail. My failure won’t diminish my love for you, even though it may feel like it. My failure will speak more to my own shortcomings and not to any lack of love for you. I pray you grant me grace in those moments.


I pray you grant all people grace in their individual moments. All humans fail. Friends, as you know, can betray and hurt and make you question your worth. A) You are beloved by God. B) You are my beloved daughter. These two truths are more important than anything else you will hear from those around you. These two truths do not fail.


This morning, I went for a walk with the dogs and saw 4 deer — 2 doe and 2 bucks. Because God has sent deer to me as a reminder of His love and faithfulness, I view all deer as love letters from God. He loves lavishly! I pray that you are experiencing His lavish love at camp this week, that you feel His love letters to you daily, that you see His love letters often.


His biggest “love letter,” of course, came in the form of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, making us right with God, taking our sins on himself, loving us enough to save us from ourselves. There is no greater love letter, no larger love.


Here’s the rub. God is bigger than we are. He loves all people. While you are His beloved, so are the difficult people, the frustrating people, the people who don’t even recognize or know Him. He yearns for each one of His creations. He delights in His children who follow Him and seek His face, people like you. (Remember those sled-dog pups and how we went completely gaga over their sweet cuteness? You are God’s puppy, and He is just tickled with you!) He mourns those who turn their back on Him. But He walks alongside both alike. There is NOTHING that you can do to make Him love you less, to make Him take back Jesus from your life. Does that make sense?


This lavish love, this crazy good love, this faithful presence and love is yours and is your truth. And if this is your truth, can there be anything that overshadows this? We believe a lot of lies. We grow things out of proportion. We stew about outcomes and the future, about decisions we should or shouldn’t make, about gathering goods and storing up things. We listen to the words of the world that speak of discontent and worry and anxiety. Those words seem like truth; somehow they seem easier to believe. It comes from our need to control. If I work harder, I can change these words, we think. If I lose this amount of weight or wear this outfit, I can change these words, we think. If I have a well-paying job and secure a large house, I can change these words, we think. What a sham.


To quote my favorite preschool director, “The great big GOD of the universe loves little itty bitty me.” And if the great big GOD of the universe loves little itty bitty me, than the words and actions of the other itty bitty folks out there really have no control, no power, no weight over me. Only God.


And because the great big GOD of the universe loves little itty bitty me and you and you and you (as said preschool director likes to point out), than we are also called to love. Love looks like forgiveness, grace, and speaking out of love (not pettiness, not greed, not jealousy, not anger, not manipulation, not fear, not exhaustion, not hunger). We can train ourselves to respond to each other in loving ways. It takes a lot of practice and patience and self-forgiveness when we get it wrong, which we will.  


We’re back to the beginning. God loves us even when we fail, maybe especially because we fail. But He doesn’t fail. Ever. He does not abandon. He does not turn away. He waits for us, cheers for us, delights in us, disciplines us sometimes in a loving way, and matches us step for step. He even goes on ahead, preparing our way.


It took me 40 some years to figure this out. I pray you are a quicker study! Because the sooner and more fully you learn these truths, both in your head and in your heart, the sooner you can begin living freely and the sooner the daily trials of this life will become background static and not the overpowering noise of life for you.


Always and forever your mom….


There is a phenomenon that follows most major wildfires. After the initial burn, after the surface burn takes place, there is still ground fuel. Under the ash of the destroyed, embers continue to smolder, and if they get to the roots underground, the roots can catch fire. As the roots of the tree slowly burn, the tree on the surface remains healthy, vibrant and beautiful. But eventually, the flames reach the fleshy, inner part of the tree and the tree will literally burn from the inside out.

Today, at church, our pastor talked about how pride and self-centeredness act like these secondary fires. They are below the surface, they leave the outward visibly untouched… for a span of time. But they are deadly and will burn a person up from the inside out. The more we curve inward on ourselves, the more we lose sight of those around us and our God-given need for relationship with Him and others as well as our God-given mandate to care for those around us. But there are those who show us how to live, not like a tree burning from the inside out, but from the outside, lighting up with passion and fire for Christ and His people.

As I listened to the sermon, these words clawed their way up to the forefront of my brain:
“Seeing first hand, looking into the eyes of people and realizing how much I have, how much even the poor of this country have, by comparison, changed me. Bill Hybels (Founder and Senior Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago) once stated that when he went to Africa and saw it, something changed and relocated in his gut and it never returned to where it had been. I understand that. Scriptures often talk about how Jesus looked at individuals, the leper, the prostitute, the down and out, and saw them, not their titles, illnesses, occupations. There is something about really looking into the eyes and seeing that changes you. I went through life looking at pictures and news and not really seeing. Once I saw, I had to do something.”

Lee and wife Anne celebrating the 10th anniversary of CompassioNow in October, 2016.

These are the words of Lee Kennedy, one of the founders of Compassion Tea Company and our beloved President and CEO. And do something, he did!

Lee took his hard-earned business skills, the wisdom and experience of decades of leading and working in the technology field, and married them to his passion and desire “to do something” for Christ.

Lee and Mitch, his friend and pastor, hauling the CompassioNow luggage that carries much needed medical supplies for Tanzania Christian Clinic.

Lee enjoying the local custom of killing the fatted goat for the visiting guests in Tanzania.

Since our founding in 2011, Lee has shepherded our organization through the rigors of set-up, transition, trial and error, and frustration. He led us in a weekly prayer call with joy and praise ever on his lips. And our one single purpose as an organization? To give God the glory for all. He celebrated every new customer and every new clinic and traveled back to Africa several times to see the work of God being done there. Lee challenged us to ask the question of all new business ventures, “Does it give all glory to God?” “Pray and wait on the Lord,” he encouraged us. And God has blessed our tea company.

Lee and Zach from Kuppa Joy in Fresno and Clovis, CA, show what a great relationship Lee helped us create with our customers.

Back in late July, Lee announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While we began earnestly praying for a miracle of healing, Lee began reciting Acts 20: 24, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Lee and Anne (on the right) visited Dr. Danny Smelser and his wife Nancy at the Tanzania Christian Clinic.

Lee finished his work for the Lord on October 29 and went home to the loving arms of Jesus. While we are saddened not to have his amazing wisdom, strong leadership, and loving laugh calling us to prayer and directing our business decisions, we know that he is giving God the glory right at His feet. And we know that Lee helped create a legacy that will live on in the customers who are touched and nourished by Compassion Tea, in the patients who receive medical relief and life-saving medical care through our clinics, and in the people he touched who came to know God’s love in a new and special way because of the way Lee lived.

In memory of Lee, and as a tribute to his life, CompassioNow doubled its quarterly payments for the fourth quarter to its clinics in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, and Rwanda. We hope you will join with us in praying that these payments will multiply the work of God in the dark places of the world.

Lee was a tree on fire, burning outwardly for the Lord, not consumed inwardly by pride and self-centeredness. May we all live accordingly, for the glory of the Lord!

If you would like to make a donation to CompassioNow in memory of Lee, click here.


It was pink when I started out. The sky.


Thick clouds hung over the central valley, over the Altamont Pass, so the blaze of the sun was muted pink.  Hushed, nature waited.


There is a pause, you know. A moment of suspense, waiting for the sun to break through. The moment may last momentarily or seemingly forever. The moment is stability – assurance that the new day is coming because we’ve seen the light, but pause and collective intake of breath before the sun grows intense, the light blinding.


Stability is good. We like stability. It is comfortable. It feels homey. All the ducks are in a row, the finances are static, intake and output are balanced, the seas are calm and the boat isn’t rocking. Yes, this is a good place to be.


But what if there’s more?


That sky this morning turned metaphor before my eyes. Should the sun never pass beyond the height of the clouds, should it never break over the horizon, should it remain in the stable comfort of the clouds, then what? And I prayed, “Lord, take me out of the stable. Take me into the growth.” And I prayed for the ministries in which I’m involved, “Lord, take us out of the stable. Take us into the growth.” Because growth is kingdom glory. Growth is where people are shaken and come to their knees and submit to Jesus. I know this myself. When God takes us out of our comfort and hands us something new, He equips, He guides, He says, “Depend on me.” And knowing nothing better, we do what is ultimately best. We hand it over to Him. “Build your kingdom here, Lord, despite me and my feeble efforts.”


In the last five years, I’ve helped build a tea company; in the last three years, I have overseen a ministry to women; in the last five years, I’ve written about ministries in Africa; and in the last couple of years, I have watched an idea take shape for a coffee shop. And the thought that strikes me over and over again is that these “buildings” – whether a ministry or a company or a business or a not-for-profit— whatever we are building, if we build without God’s guidance, all our strivings are in vain. It is so beautifully expressed in this song: All Glory Be to Christ.


What we put our hands to, what we create, is nothing without God. We don’t know what legacy will survive from our work. But if it is kingdom work, it is not in vain and it will not go unreturned.


We have so many partners – missionaries, doctors and nurses, coffee shop owners, baristas and managers, church leaders – and we are seeking to do God’s will, to build God’s kingdom on earth. All glory be to Christ.


It was pink when I started out on my walk this morning. The sky. But by the time I returned home, the sky was technicolor blue and the sun was high above the clouds. The day was growing. The kingdom is growing.

On Monday mornings, we pray for you, our partners. Tomorrow, we pray for your growth. We pray that God moves you beyond stable to kingdom legacies beyond your wildest imaginations.

Avni and Her Gold Award

“I wish I had 10 of her I could hire right now!” said Ed Bjurstrom, co-founder of CompassioNow and Compassion Tea Company. He was speaking of a remarkable partner in providing life-saving medical care for people in rural Africa – Avni Patel.


Avni is an exceptional teenager in her sixth year of Girl Scouting. After completing her Bronze and Silver Awards in Scouting, she decided to attempt her Gold Award. The award process is complicated and requires commitment and perseverance as well as creativity and a passion for helping others. So, when Avni, whose mother drinks Compassion Tea, approached us and asked if we could help her earn her Gold Award, we were thrilled!


Avni raised money to purchase surgical instruments to send to Mambalima Hospital in Zambia. Mambalima is both a small hospital and a school for children with disabilities in the rural town of Manba, Zambia. In significant portions of Africa, having a child with a disability is considered a curse on the family. Because subsistence is so difficult in the rural parts of the country, those who can’t add to the farming or other procurement of food are a burden to a family. They are often sent off to school or abandoned. Mambilima strives to provide schooling, love, and medical care for these “cast aways.” During a recent trip to the school through Mission Medic Air for an orthopedic clinic, Dr. Shadrick Lungu and Dr. Martha Lungu treated 31 patients. Drs. Lungu shared that 9 children from the school will need “various forms of surgery” and 4 children will need artificial limbs to be replaced as they have outgrown theirs. The orthopedic instruments Avni acquired will allow the doctors to carry out more of the necessary surgeries there at Mambalima, rather than send the children to a government hospital.


Initially, Avni anticipated being able to find local hospitals that would write-off or donate surgical instruments. “Since a lot of my relatives are doctors that have ties to Zambia, I figured getting donations would be the easiest part of this project, but it actually proved to be the hardest…,” explained Avni in a recent interview. “[Getting] used instruments donated… was my focus for at least a couple of months. With no success, I had to shift to fundraising money to buy the instruments.” Avni learned to negotiate and to be persistent as she sought to find a supplier for the instruments. “I received quotes from companies for as much as $8,000, but luckily TJ Surgical Instruments was able to give me a large discount for the same instruments,” said Avni.


Using her own earnings from a paid summer internship and from her work with Youth Commission and with matching funds from CompassioNow, Avni was able to purchase the required instruments and will be sending them to Zambia soon.


Helping others, especially in Zambia, has been a lifelong pursuit for Avni. “My grandfather grew up in Zambia, and many of my other family members also lived and have ties there. When I was little, I used to do chores around the house to help fund kids in Africa so they could attend school with my grandfather, so this was always a place I had a passion to help…. Wendy [Bjurstrom] had sent me pictures of the kids with handicaps in Zambia. It’s heartbreaking to look at those pictures and think there is no way for them to be helped. I didn’t really realize how fortunate I am to have access to great health care, and hospitals and doctors that are educated and able to perform just about any surgery.”


Said Wendy Bjurstrom, “Avni’s compassion for the handicapped children of Zambia is very tangible. She has been an absolute pleasure to work with on this project!”


“My hope is that at least a handful of these kids are able to get the surgeries they desperately need so they can live their lives as normally and healthily as possible,” concluded Avni.


Avni, our hope is that you continue to find ways to positively impact those around you and we hope to partner with you again soon! May God watch over and bless you!





When there is a new baby in the house, you mark milestones. Whether is it the first time he rolls over or mutters a discernible word, mommies and daddies mark it down. And in today’s world, we post it online, on some form of social media, for the whole world to enjoy with us.


We have a new baby. She’s 15 weeks old and already potty trained. Ornery and feisty in the morning, she is the perfect lap dog in the evening when we’re all on the sofa ready to read and relax. Yes, she’s a fur baby, another goldendoodle, and she is the perfect compliment to our 4 ½ year doodle Winston. Maggie is her name and we are smitten. We are marking her milestones, her shot schedule, waiting impatiently for the day we can safely take her for a walk around the neighborhood, tracking her weight gain, and teaching her manners. It’s fun marking those milestones!


As I mentioned, Maggie has a big brother, Winston. While Maggie is very much her own dog, she looks up to her older and wiser doodle. While they play together something fierce and while I love watching them romp, I most enjoy watching Winston guide Maggie, showing her the ropes, minding his manners so that she learns hers. I caught this photo of them together the other day. You get the idea.12510461_10208182632501642_3559157654668221333_n


I wanted to share this photo with you for two other reasons.


  1. When Compassion Tea started on February 26, 2011, (Do you note the date? Do you see the milestone?) we began much like this photo, looking up to our God for guidance and direction. We founded our company on these 5 Bible verses:
    1. Proverbs 19:21 “You can make plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.”
    2. Psalm 37:5 “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.”
    3. Psalm 16: 1-3 “Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.’ The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!”
    4. Psalm 90:17 “And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!”
    5. Isaiah 46:9-11 “Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. I will call a swift bird of prey from the east – a leader from a distant land to come and do my bidding. I have said what I would do and I will do it.”

Over the past 5 years, we’ve held approximately 250 prayer calls to pray over our tea, over our business, over our customers, over the people we are serving in Africa, over the people in Africa who are providing medical and spiritual care at our partner clinics, over each other. We have consistently held up the company before the Lord and asked him to heal, redeem, direct, guide, provide wisdom, to multiply efforts and monies and supplies, to give us strength to keep walking forward, faith to take the next step, and hope for an even bolder, broader, and beautiful future wherein we are able to serve more and more people. 250 calls. Yes, we’re like puppies looking up to the big dog to see what’s next!


2012-10-13_14-10-53_91tea rounds ready to goTea pouches for Christmas Tea bazaarAnd he has rewarded that faithfulness on our part, offering the next steps when the time was right, bringing new customers and directions, and multiplying the funding we are able to provide to CompassioNow. And the number of prayers He has answered in those 5 years is astonishing. With God as our CEO, we have built a thriving business, we have changed lives here in the US and in Africa, and we have brought Him continual glory. That’s not to mention the new connections and the healing and the stronger relationships and the safe travel and the beneficial exchange rates and shipping costs. The list of success and answered prayer goes on and on!




Reason 2:

On February 4, 2006, CompassioNow was awarded its non-profit tax status, making it a legal and legit organization. Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom recently tabulated what they have been able to provide monetarily to the clinics in Africa over the last 10 years. They discovered that it was over $1 million! Another milestone… $1 million and a 10 year anniversary! Woo hoo! But that hardly shows the full impact of those 10 years. It doesn’t tell the stories of the lives changed, the clinics that have been built, the new buildings and medical wings, the staff and supplies, the men, women, and children who have turned to one of our partner clinics as a last resort, after the witch doctor didn’t work, after the government hospital sent them away without proper treatment, after they’ve come to the end of their ropes, desperate for relief and healing.

It doesn’t tell the stories of the people tested early for AIDS and who began early medical intervention, the lives saved from parasites, which could have been lost had it not been for a basic antibiotic; the children who have been given life through urgent medical care and/or pre and perinatal care of their mothers; the home-bound who have community health care providers making regular visits; and the children who have been granted eyesight from a donated pair of eyeglasses.

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This doesn’t tell the story of medical training and supplies, of medicine shelves stocked, and birthing beds delivered, of bicycle ambulances, and fixed airplanes to transport medical staff and those who need more urgent medical care.

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We can put a number on the money raised for Africa but we can’t put a number to the people who have been touched by CompassioNow and its mission to bring “life-saving medical care to the world’s least served.”


Oh the milestones! Biblically, when people wanted to celebrate and remember what the Lord had done for them, they built an altar or raised a rock on end. They made a physical mark on the landscape to say, “Here, God answered us.” That is no longer tradition. But here, we raise our Ebenezer, we make our mark on cyberspace, we count the successes and mark the milestones. And we look forward to the future, knowing that with God as our CEO there is more goodness to come. “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him and he will help you.”