What is evangelism Have you ever wondered how Compassion, an openly evangelical organization, is able to work in Muslim or Hindu countries where evangelism is illegal? I have.

The other day I had an opportunity to spend an hour with a couple of our field staff, Mathew from India and Kevin from Bangladesh, and I asked them this question: How can Compassion work in India or Bangladesh or Indonesia?

Here is what they said …

We redefine the meaning of “evangelism.” The true way to evangelize someone is simply to act in a way that causes them to ask, “Why do you care?” This is what we do. We don’t “evangelize” the children in the sense most Westerners do. We simply care for them and then the parents ask why.

I’ve been processing that conversation ever since it occurred. Perhaps many of us have our focus in the wrong place. If Christians would make relationships our top priority, we wouldn’t have to put so much time or effort into evangelism. It would be the natural result.

What do you think?

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  1. Sarah C
    Mar 2, 2009
    at 8:36 am

    I think that is what makes the difference. If you build relationships with people and they see how you live and how you love them they will ask why.
    Peter tells us “always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have.”—this implies we are sparking questions in people! :)

  2. Mar 2, 2009
    at 8:38 am

    “We redefine the meaning of “evangelism.” The true way to evangelize someone is simply to act in a way that causes them to ask, “Why do you care?” ” If this is how you approach spreading the gospel, what makes you different from World Vision, who says almost the exact same thing? I only see that you encourage (require?) attendance at Sunday school, and you have fewer programs and in fewer countries. I am not passing judgement or trying to stir unpleasant sentiment, but I am sincerely concerned about which is the better program for my sponsorship money. I recently became a CI sponsor, but if I want to sponsor another child in the future, why should I choose your program over WV? Why should I recommend your program to friends over WV? I am sincerely interested. Thank you for your time.

    • Mar 3, 2009
      at 5:10 pm

      Hi Lori (and everyone else) –

      Lori, I think your question is a valid one, and I’m glad that you asked it. Hopefully some of following comments were helpful. I want to weigh in with my two cents, as this is something I think is very important to understand.

      Like most people here, I can only comment from personal experience (both as a sponsor and an employee) on Compassion. However, if you dig a little bit on World Vision’s web site, I believe you can find the information you are looking for. At the bottom of the site, they have a whole list of FAQs. Under the Sponsorship FAQs, one of the questions is “How is my sponsored child benefiting from my monthly contribution?” Here is the answer:

      A: The sponsorship money you send is added to that of other people who sponsor children in the same community as your child. Your support enables World Vision to provide benefits such as education, health care, and supplemental food for the children. The costs of keeping records, translating and forwarding letters, providing case workers, and meeting emergencies are also covered. Where appropriate, World Vision works with local churches to give your child the chance to learn about Jesus and his love.

      In most areas, sponsorship funds are used to make improvements that will help the entire community. Often World Vision helps dig wells for clean water and provides agricultural assistance to improve health and food security. Adults and teens may receive vocational training and classes in nutrition and hygiene. We offer help with these things and more — according to the needs of the community — because, in the long run, we have not really helped a child unless we have also strengthened the family and community to provide for his or her continuing care.

      This answer shows a few major differences between World Vision and Compassion.

      One is the words “where appropriate” at the end of the first paragraph. The words “where appropriate” lead me to believe that in some places, World Vision is not working with local churches. Compassion works solely through the local church. That means every child development center (including the ones in Muslim or Hindu countries) is operated by an evangelical church. So this is one way that we fulfill our commitment to introduce every child in our program to Jesus Christ – evangelical churches, whose main purpose is evangelism, are running our programs.

      Another major difference is that we will never use your sponsorship funds to make community improvements. Where we are serving the community by providing wells or agricultural assistance, we are doing that through funds raised separately, apart from the child support. (You can read more about those separate funds through this post about Complementary Interventions or on our fund page.)

      Lastly, according to the last sentence, World Vision works to change a community in hopes that it will change the individual children within that community. Compassion, on the other hand, works to change individual children in hope that they will change their community. (If you would like Compassion’s rationale for why we choose to work this way, this post is a good explanation.)

      Neither approach is wrong, they are just different.

      Does this help?

  3. Chuck Guth
    Mar 2, 2009
    at 8:47 am

    Relationships are the key. We can say we are Christians but it is how we act that will bring those to Christ. If we say one thing but act another way it does no good. Actions will always speak louder than words. As an advocate I tell sponsors that it is more that just the $32- the letters we write mean so much more.

  4. Mar 2, 2009
    at 9:23 am

    Oh my goodness! I was JUST wondering this!

    I find myself biting my tongue when I just want to blurt out everything I can about Christ…but remember that some are just not ready to hear it. Thank you for the reminder that relationships are the key…God will work in that!!!

  5. Mar 2, 2009
    at 2:15 pm

    Personally, I wish we would stop using the term. It’s so formal sounding. I say we just live as radical Christ followers and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

  6. Ceri
    Mar 2, 2009
    at 2:26 pm

    Interesting response from the field staff in India and Bangladesh. But surely the children are hearing the gospel too at the projetcs? Don’t the ‘authorities’ see this as ‘evangelism’?
    I choose to sponsor children through Compassion International because the children and their families have the opportunity to hear (and respond to) the gospel, as well as see it acted out in daily life. The two go together – that’s how I became a Christian. When I started to sponsor a child in Bangladesh, she told me that her family were not Christians. In her letters she wrote about her favourite Bible stories and included Bible verses. Recently she wrote and told me that now her whole family are Christians and have been baptised! God is working through Compassion.
    Ceri.

  7. Mar 2, 2009
    at 2:58 pm

    “Preach the gospel: if necessary, use words.”

    -Francis of Assisi

    Sounds like he was right!

  8. Mar 2, 2009
    at 3:18 pm

    I love that definition! Reminds me of the song “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love -”

    I’m looking forward to the answer to Lori’s post. I know it’s the letter writing relationship that makes Compassion my charity of choice.

  9. Danielle
    Mar 2, 2009
    at 6:10 pm

    Lori, while Im sure someone can answer this much better than I can, I want to offer my answer. First this post is mainly talking about the specific countries where evangelism is illegal, so the spreading of the gospel is different in those countries. Also, Compassion partners with local churches which I dont believe WV does. Without knowing more about WV, its hard for me to compare them. I can say, however, I believe wholeheartedly in what Compassion does and I couldnt recommend it enough, especially after seeing their program at work when I visited my sponsored child!

  10. Mike
    Mar 2, 2009
    at 6:30 pm

    “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

  11. Anita
    Mar 2, 2009
    at 6:59 pm

    Lori, I can only speak out of my experience having sponsered a child previously with WV and currently with CI. This was a number of yrs ago & things may be different now but with WV, after the initial letter from the child, I received no further comunication until several years later I was told the child moved out of the area. It was disappointing. I’ve sponsored a child from Honduras for a year now with CI and have received at least 5 letters already!

  12. Mar 2, 2009
    at 8:49 pm

    To Lori –
    I can’t speak for WV but I can for Compassion’s work. I just recently returned from a sponsor trip to Ethiopia and can not say enough good about Compassion’s mission and purpose. God HAS HIS HAND ON THIS ORGANIZATION. I’m blogging about my trip and am still at wonder daily at how he will be using these children for His glory. As another sponsor said, “It was not a dark land, all we saw was the light of Christ from every corner of the projects.”

  13. Mar 2, 2009
    at 9:45 pm

    That IS the definition of evangelism for me. I’m not going to tell someone they shouldn’t go door-to-door or spend their weekends doing street evangelism. But these days, I think we need to SHOW people what it means to be a God follower before we TELL them. Words mean very little.

  14. Mar 3, 2009
    at 1:06 am

    It’s an interesting question.

    The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16,17).

    The Gospel is also defined as the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ. (I Cor. 15:3,4)

    And Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10 somewhere in the middle :-))

    God entrusted us with the Gospel and so we speak, not as pleasing men, but as pleasing God, who tries our heart (I Thess 2:4)

    Then finally: “Let your conversation (That’s your entire lifestyle) be as it becomes the Gospel of Christ” Phil. 1:27

    Thus words have a very important part of the Gospel. The question becomes how can we help people to hear the Gospel. Just speaking the Gospel, when no one hears won’t do much good, outside of maybe encouraging the one, who speaks.

    In I Cor. 9, Paul talks about become a slave to men to win them over. I see that’s what Compassion is doing. They are serving the children, helping the children to hear the Gospel. In some countries, you have to be much more careful than in other countries. Compassion obviously is very fruitful in that tens of thousands (an understatement) of children came to know Christ as Saviour last year. So, the Gospel was spoken to all of those children.

    On the question of difference between Compassion International and World Vision, it’s difficult for me to talk much about World Vision, because I’m not involved with them. I’m very thankful for them though. They are definitely helping many children.

    Some things that set Compassion apart from many child sponsorship programs is that they are church based. They only work through local churches. This allows them to be able to have a reputable entity to get the people fed in the community. Compassion also concentrates its efforts on child development verses community development. The philosophy is that a changed person will change their community, but a changed community will not necessarily change the person living in that community.

    That’s all I have to say about that. (I know I sound like Forest Gump!)

    Kees :-)

  15. Amy
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 7:38 am

    Lori,

    I don’t work for Compassion, but I am a sponsor to 4 beautiful children. Compassion has never disappointed me in the work that they do.

    I can’t really give you an honest opinion about World Vision sponsorship because I don’t sponsor through them.

    Yes, Compassion does work in less countries, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing as much work as World Vision. I believe the last statistic I heard was that Compassion has over one million children in the program now (anyone can correct me if I’m wrong). They also have many programs that meet the needs of children when they’re still in the womb up until the age they can be sponsored, and they have programs for adults after they graduate from high school.

    I’m sure World Vision is a very good organization, I’m sure, and in the end, I don’t think it matters which organization you sponsor through – as long as you are giving a child hope for a new future, that’s all that matters.

  16. Bob
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 8:14 am

    Stephen Neill, in his History of Christian Missions wrote:

    “Christians under the Roman Empire had no legal right of existence, and were liable to the utmost stringency of the law”. Every Christian knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life. Could we do that today? Despite that threat, the church membership continued to grow.

    Around 350 AD, Roman Emperor Julius wanted to breathe new life into Rome’s ancient pagan religion as he witnessed more and more people drawn to Christianity. He wrote in frustration against these “atheists” (who did not believe in the Roman gods, but in Christ):
    Atheism [Christian faith] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and the godless Galileans care not only for their poor, but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help we should render them.

    It seems as though our field staff recognizes the principles of the early church—and what an example they set for us today.

  17. Brianne Mullins
    Mar 3, 2009
    at 9:28 am

    Hello everyone – these are such great comments! Just thought I’d let you know, I read this post from Shaun Groves awhile ago; he did a great job distinguishing the differences between WV and Compassion. Check it out.

  18. Mar 3, 2009
    at 10:24 am

    The post that Brianne is referring to is a great post. I would suggest to also read the follow ups on the post. One thing that I really liked about it is that even an employee of World Vision got involved in the “discussion” and shared their side of the story. I really like the way he defined World Vision as: “World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization with child-focused community development at the core of its ministry.”

    Kees

  19. Mar 3, 2009
    at 1:33 pm

    Dear fellow sponsors, thank you for all your helpful input! I have eagerly read each response so far.

    About the child/community factor (re: Kees), yes I read that CI focuses more on the individual than the community,
    it’s on the website. But what does that mean? That they sponsor more children than WV? That a greater
    percentage of their focus goes to the sponsored children? That does not say anything about WV, which may simply be so large that they can afford in money and manpower to be more diverse, with the
    individual and the community both. If I went with WV, are they deducting part of my monthly payment to go to other, community based, programs? I certainly doubt it, as that would be false advertizing at best, and possibly fraudulent, and they have a great reputation. Of course, maybe they weren’t comparing themselves
    to WV at all…

    Ceri and Kees, I agree the two go together. The reason that I chose CI was because of the religious education that I expected the child would get. Obviously I care about the practical love too, or I wouldn’t be looking at child sponsorship to begin with.

    Amy, I meant no disrespect to CI regarding limit of countries. I don’t think that has bearing on their worth.
    I only meant is a being a difference, that’s all. And the only difference it made for me was that I’d had a specific country in mind that’s not with CI.

    What is helping me the most are the comments about letter writing and visiting. It’s hard to ignore personal testimony. And what a testamony that one child told his/her sponsor (Ceri) in a personal letter
    that he/she and whole family became Christian!

    Brianne – thank you for the helpful link. I thought his #1 was especially helpful to me (I heartily agree), though
    his #2 was incorrect, but some commenters corrected him, and all was well.

    If CI is helping to spread the gospel in more biblical ways (I’m for individual experiece with God, not vague “social gospel”), then I am glad I chose CI over WV (since I currently have limited funds, nothing against WV).

    I most appreciate those personal testamonies. Perhaps in the future you folks with blogs would be willing
    to post links to your February CI blog posting, at the end of your comment? If that’s allowed… In the meantime, I regularly follow this blog.

    Thank you again.

  20. Mar 3, 2009
    at 4:45 pm

    Lori – I think when you see a person’s post with their name in blue as a link, it takes you straight to their blog if they have one. I have many testimonies from Compassion teenagers/college students on mine from my trip.

    In regards to focus on individual vs. community, CI still does both. It is just that the focus is on the child vs. air-dropping food or money into a poverty area, for example. BUT they do help as a Complimentary Intervention with the community needs in cases of disaster, AIDS, housing, etc. You can find more about comp. int. on their website. Their website is really the best place for overall facts. Hope that helps some!

  21. Mar 3, 2009
    at 10:58 pm

    My wife just informed me that Christians are being murdered in India. I’m glad that Compassion is safe and doing such a great job in these countries. I also hope that the child I sponsor in India will also change the nation.

  22. Mar 4, 2009
    at 6:19 am

    Tracy, thank you. I read almost each page and watched each video before signing up. I thought I had the answers until this blog posting brought up evangelism.

    Thank you so much for your help, Becky. Another thing that didn’t come up here, that I found useful to me, was posted in a comment on the blog that Brianne linked to. A WV (well, she said she was) employee commented, and talked about money, churches, and where funds come from. I had no idea that some of WV’s funds for certain types of projects are from government grants. My husband and I would rather go with an organization that does not take gov’t money. You see, gov’t can’t “grant” money that it hasn’t first confiscated. To me the ends don’t justify the means, even for such a worthy cause. So while I can’t withold taxes, I can go with a totally private organization. Does CI take any government money? Right now I’m assuming not.

    • Mar 13, 2012
      at 11:22 pm

      I was just wishing that I could “Like” this comment, and then I saw a new question, and one that I can answer!

      Compassion has never taken a penny from government. When, under President G.W. Bush’s first administration, faith-based grants were being given, Compassion’s leaders held back, not just jumping on the bandwagon. Sure enough, the ACLU filed suit against…either the Boy Scouts of America, or the Boys and Girls Clubs; I don’t remember. The basis of the suit was that, as the Defendant organization was receiving government (read “our”) money, it must change its hiring practices. (I think it was the Boy Scouts.)

      That is the story as I remember hearing Wess Stafford tell it; my memory is not quite what it was, in past years, but the basic idea remains the same: Accepting government grants would subject Compassion to lawsuits by the ACLU, or anyone else, for any of several reasons–as World Vision has experienced.

      So–I believe that answer is still correct, but I’m open to hearing differently from anyone who knows, for sure.

  23. Mar 4, 2009
    at 10:44 am

    You’re correct, Lori. We don’t take any government money.

  24. frank
    Mar 4, 2009
    at 3:49 pm

    Hi everyone. My concern is kind of the opposite as some of the others. I was raised Catholic but I am not really a religious person. I just started sponsoring a child this month. While I have no ill feelings against Christianity (which is probably pretty obvious due to the fact I picked a CI) it mildly bothers me that maybe my sponsorship is going towards “changing” a kid’s traditional religion. I still think its worth it (which again,is probably obvious) but I have to admit that deep down I have some reservations. For instance, does CI try to convert those who are already Catholic to Protestantism? I like the fact that CI waits until people ask. Is it really like that?

  25. Mar 5, 2009
    at 1:35 pm

    Frank, thanks for your comment. I understand your concern.

    We don’t hide the fact that we are an evangelical organization. We share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with every child, regardless of their background or traditional religion.

    But let me assure you that while Jesus Christ is the central part of our program, and the motivation behind everything we do, we don’t ever coerce or pressure a child into making any type of religious decision. We do not use our program to manipulate someone into becoming a Christian.

    Here is how it is explained on our web site FAQ page.

  26. Mar 14, 2009
    at 10:04 pm

    I praise the Lord that Compassion remains Christ Centered, Church Based and Child Focused even in Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist countries where it is not easy to do this. Compassion only works thru the local church so every project is a local church. To think that children of every faith are going to a local church (some up to 6 days a week) is truly amazing in some of the countries we work.

  27. Bob
    Mar 17, 2009
    at 11:05 am

    Romans 10:14 (New American Standard Bible)

    How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

    I hope and pray that people here don’t use “relationship evangelism” as a cop out for not overcoming their fear regarding sharing the gospel. Faith comes by HEARING and hearing by the word of God.

  28. Mar 17, 2009
    at 1:44 pm

    Hi, Bob,

    I’m so with you on this, because I’ve seen people use what they call friendship evangelism as a cop-out for not sharing the Gospel.

    Having said that, the key to “Relationship Evangelism” is indeed that it takes both, not just relationships. It’s like the ingredients of a pie. You take one away and you don’t have a good tasting pie.

    In some countries, you have to be strategic in how you go about getting the message to the people, because of a combination of laws and culture. Of course we obey God first.

    One thing that I really like about Compassion is that as much as possible, they use the locals to reach the country. That’s a very wise thing to do and it is also a very Biblical thing to do.

    One thing you can be sure of is that the children all hear the Gospel. It’s not just a quick mention, but a huge emphasis. I was in 5 projects in Columbia last week and I saw this very clearly.

    Kees

  29. Trina
    Mar 31, 2009
    at 9:49 am

    What if a community has no local church in the area? Do those children get no help. And wasnt it just said tho share Jesus by our actions? Then I am confused on the opinions towards WV.I went to a concert the other day and asked a worker the difference between the 2. I was told WV mostly digs well’s. There response was quite upsetting. I more expected they are great programs yet different. Aren’t they both helping Children and the “least of these” in the name of Jesus.Dont wells save lives of Children. Because water filled with bacteris kills them. Dont these children know WV does this because they are christians? Just like compassion. I still signed up to sponsor a child that night. I think both organizations are great and I will continue to sponsor a child from WV andfrom CI.

  30. Mar 31, 2009
    at 10:48 am

    Hi, Trina,

    I got a good friend named Trina from Palm Springs.

    Both organizations are good. Compassion focusses on child development with the thinking that changed lives will change the environment.

    Also, concerning all of the other children that aren’t part of Compassion. Compassion does something called advocacy (not to be confused with the advocate network, who find sponsors for Compassion children) to assist other organizations to help them reach children too.

    Blessings,

    Kees

  31. Mar 31, 2009
    at 10:59 am

    Trina-

    First of all, I think it’s wonderful that you are sponsoring a child! I hope that it is a truly life-changing experience for you and your sponsored child.

    You should know that when we talk about the differences between Compassion and World Vision, we do NOT in any way want to imply that one organization is better or worse than the other. Both Compassion and World Vision are doing excellent work on behalf of children in poverty. They simply approach the problem of poverty differently.

    The Body of Christ is made up of many parts and Compassion and World Vision perform different functions within the Body of Christ. Just because they operate differently doesn’t make either one wrong.

  32. Trina
    Mar 31, 2009
    at 1:27 pm

    Thanks I feel the same. I think they are both awesome orginizations.I have a sponsored girl with WV for 5 years in Malawi Africa.And a sponsored boy from Indonesia with CI. Jesus is so awesoms and I am truly blessed to be able to help them both.I am always blown away when I think of being used to further Gods kingdom.

  33. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Mar 31, 2009
    at 1:31 pm

    Before I started working at Compassion, I had the opportunity to interview the President, Wess Stafford. The first thing he told me in the interview was that Compassion is not the only organization doing good. That Compassion is just one part of the body of Christ, doing one aspect of the work, and that all the parts of the body were important–one wasn’t better than the other.

    It was so refreshing to hear his healthy and humble perspective that I applied for a job. :)

  34. Dionne
    Apr 15, 2009
    at 8:53 am

    @Lori
    One difference is that ALL of Compassion’s projects are through local churches. The Muslims and Hindus know that these are people who follow Jesus Christ. The goal of all of the people reaching out to these children is long-term child discipleship. The child is the focus–not just relief aid. However, as scripture teaches us over and over, you cannot share Jesus without meeting basic needs. Jesus wants to meet their needs, and we can be Jesus by our deeds. As James says, “I will show you my faith by my works. Faith without works is dead.” I think that is Becky’s point. These Christians show their faith by their works.

    I encourage you to use your letters as an evangelism tool. You are the sponsor. They are listening to your words carefully. Let your words be those that explain what they feel and hear and experience at the church of Jesus. Your letters are a powerful evangelism tool–especially when paired with the good works of a loving church body.

  35. Apr 15, 2009
    at 11:05 am

    Yes, I was told, that sometimes the children will “listen” more to their letters that even the staff at the projects. Because the sponsor is the “expert from out of town” whereas the staff are the ones that they see all the time.

    Kees

  36. Nicole
    Jun 5, 2009
    at 11:07 pm

    I sponsor two children through WV- one from Bangladesh from two years, and one from South Africa for one year. I receieve letters whenever I write to them and plan to visit one of them next year. I like WV but would love even a closer relationship (if possible). I am considering sponsoring one more child through CI. Can anyone who sponsors through WV and CI tell me if they personally notice a difference please? Thank You! The posts here are really helpful!

  37. Sandy
    Jun 6, 2009
    at 7:27 pm

    @Nicole

    In addition to my two CI sponsored children (one from Bangladesh and one from Ecuador), I also sponsor 2 other children through WV (one in Swaziland and one Zimbabwe). Although I would never consider dropping my sponsorship of my WV kids (I love them way too much to do that!), I plan to sponsor two more children through CI when my WV kids graduate from their programs.

    I’ve found that sponsoring with CI is a much more “personal” experience. I love the way CI encourages a sponsors to become a meaningful presence in their sponsored child’s life. With CI, the relationship between the sponsor and child is viewed as critical to the all-around welfare and development of the child. Although WV encourages sponsor/child correspondence, it doesn’t seem to be viewed as a necessary ingredient for the success of the child. I guess I would sum it up by saying: With WV I feel like a benefactor for my kids. With CI, I feel like a vital mentor for my kids.

    Since partnering with CI, I’ve learned what sponsoring children with “compassion” should be all about! Pun intended! :-)

  38. Nicole
    Jun 7, 2009
    at 12:48 pm

    Thank you Sandy! That was extremely helpful. Do you notice cultural differences between your sponsored children from Bangladesh and Ecuador?? im deciding now on what country..
    Thanks!

  39. Stephanie G
    Jun 7, 2009
    at 2:33 pm

    Hi.

    Thanks to all for the information.I sponsor two children through Compassion and I am considering becoming a Compassion Advocate.As I’m sure others may ask these same questions, I’m finding it helpful to learn the similarities and differences of these two great organizations who are impacting children for Christ.

  40. Sandy
    Jun 13, 2009
    at 7:51 pm

    @Nicole – Hi Nicole,

    I’m glad to have helped.

    Bangladesh and Ecuador are very culturally different in every way, especially religiously.

    While Ecuador is about 95% Catholic, Bangladesh is about 83% Muslim/16% Hindu/1% Christian.

    I love ministering to my child in Ecuador, he is a special young man.

    But Bangladesh…I admit, I consider it an extra special privilege to be one of the few voices bringing the Gospel into a region so untouched by the knowledge of God’s love. It’s an awesome and humbling experience to watch God work in the hearts of the Bangladeshi people.

  41. Jun 17, 2009
    at 8:11 am

    The meaning definition of evangelism above is so powerful. Nice job! This is the human nature of Christ.

  42. Jun 17, 2009
    at 8:59 am

    I don’t know how I missed this post, back in March, but I apparently did.

    I understand fully the absolute necessity of building loving, caring relationships as a means of expressing the love of Christ. I’m glad that CI is working in places like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, etc.

    What bothers me about the responses of the two field workers Becky talked with is that I have heard Wess say that “Compassion won’t go into any country where we are not free to talk about Jesus.” I have heard him tell about one or more countries that invited Compassion to come in and help their people, with the caveat that “You must not speak of your Jesus. You must not preach your gospel.” Wess has said that is a conversation-ender.

    So how do we reconcile that with tippy-toeing around the truth of Jesus Christ?

  43. Josh Valley
    Jun 17, 2009
    at 10:40 am

    I feel the same way about this. We must stand for truth through words but make it about God being right…not us being righteous.

  44. Jun 17, 2009
    at 3:00 pm

    Hi Vicki and Josh (and others who might have similar questions)-

    I’m sorry I caused confusion with this post. I did not intend in any way to communicate that we tiptoe around the truth of Jesus Christ. We would never
    do this. Ever.

    I spoke with Rick Carter (one of our regional staff members living in Asia) to get his perspective on your question. Here’s what he shared …

    “As you know, Compassion always works through local, evangelical churches. Within the walls of our church-run child development centers, the spiritual aspect of our program is always included. The message of the Gospel is never compromised or watered down in any way. All children are told how much God loves them and given the chance to know Jesus Christ personally.

    When parents choose to send their children to a Compassion center, they know that their children will be attending a Christian program. They choose
    this, sometimes in spite of the danger or persecution they know their child or family could face. (In fact, in our Muslim countries, we do not send
    sponsors letters home with the children so as not to put the family in danger. Instead, the letters are kept at the center.)

    Christians are a minority in these countries and the more public attention we bring to our churches and our work, the more we jeopardize the work being
    done. We are not on the radio. We do not hold public crusades. We do not publicize our statistics about church growth or professions of faith. (You
    may have noticed that we do not even share this information with U.S. audiences.)

    Our church partners do evangelism. They always present the Gospel. And they do it in a way that is sensitive to the context in which they live.

    I hope this helps.
    Becky

  45. Jun 17, 2009
    at 5:08 pm

    @Becky – An excellent and satisfying clarification, Becky; thank you, and thanks to Rick Carter!

  46. Sandy
    Jun 17, 2009
    at 5:16 pm

    I love the fact that CI doesn’t “hide” the Gospel.

    This is the main reason that I will be picking up more sponsored-children with CI instead of WV, when my two WV children graduate from their WV programs. WV does a great job alleviating the conditions of economic poverty for a huge number of children around the world, but alleviating spiritually poverty is sometimes a “SHOW (only), don’t TELL” deal.

    CI partners with local indigenous churches, only in countries that allow a measure of religious freedom. Within these churches, not only can God’s love be SHOWN, it can be SPOKEN!

    With WV, that is not always the case. WV works in many countries were the Gospel is forbidden. In fact, WV’s Sponsorship Handbook states three separate times (see below) that evangelism is to be avoided in these certain countries. WV’s Sponsorship Handbook doesn’t list the countries that this rule applies to, it simply says: “If you have any questions about these guidelines or a specific item you’d like to send, please feel free to call and ask us.”

    ————–

    From p.6 WV Sponsorship Handbook:

    “CAUTION: The residents of some of the communities where World Vision works are followers of other faiths. In these places, we consider it a privilege to be a consistent demonstration of God’s love for all people. While we are always identified as a Christian organization, care must be taken in how that is communicated. For example, references to Jesus in your letters could complicate World Vision’s work in your child’s community or even endanger the child or our staff.”

    From p.14 WV Sponsorship Handbook:

    Some sponsored children live in areas that may not welcome Christian teachings or Western influences. For their protection and the protection of our staff, please exercise sensitivity and DO NOT send Christian tracts, Scripture verses, or references to Jesus if your child lives in one of these communities.

    If you have any questions about these guidelines or a specific item you’d like to send, please feel free to call and ask us.

    From p. 20-21 WV Sponsorship Handbook:

    Your sponsorship gifts support transformation for your sponsored child! You reflect the unconditional love of God to him or her through your tangible help and the care of our staff. Through sponsorship, we offer life-saving help and hope and enable children to reach their God-given potential.

    World Vision is privileged to offer sponsorship in many communities where the majority of the families we serve are not Christian. When working in these areas, we not only abide by local laws and customs but also strive, as Christians, to show respect and honor to those of different faiths.

    World Vision does not proselytize or place religious conditions on the help we offer.

    It is our deep desire that every child experience wholeness. WHEREVER POSSIBLE, World Vision works in partnership with local churches.

    ———–

    I was lucky. My WV sponsored-kids are in “Gospel-friendly” countries. I would have a very hard (if not, impossible)time NOT ministering to a child I write to. And it appalls me to think that a simple “slip-up” on my part…a Scripture quote or a mention of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…could endanger a child or the project workers. SHOWING God’s love to these children rings very hollow, if it comes with persecution of the very same people we are trying to help.

    I believe that the Holy Spirit is leading CI in the right direction. As Vicki said:

    Originally Posted By Vicki Small I have heard Wess say that “Compassion won’t go into any country where we are not free to talk about Jesus.” I have heard him tell about one or more countries that invited Compassion to come in and help their people, with the caveat that “You must not speak of your Jesus. You must not preach your gospel.” Wess has said that is a conversation-ender.

    Sandy

  47. kathleen isacson
    Jul 2, 2009
    at 12:08 pm

    I love this approach. Thank you for doing it. Compassion is more eloquent than any sermon.

  48. Firedude Dave
    Jul 7, 2009
    at 6:20 am

    @Lori – Hi Lori. My views I’m about to say here are my own, not CI’s or WV’s. Some readers might not be able to stomach all of it. After being a CI sponsor for almost 10 years, I started shopping around as the support prices went up while my salary did not. There was one fact that solidified my stubbornness in favor of CI over other ministries, more than even their favorite boast of having the most pennies out of every dollar actually reach the child and not go to someone’s pocket. That one fact stems from the Tsunami disaster of 2004. Of CI and WV, CI lost the least children & families when all was said and done. That said to me that someone was caring for the children better than the other. WV had more projects than CI, in this case closer to the water, hence more chances for their kids to be in danger simply by numbers. The fact that CI sponsors with the local church means that they build where the church is already built, and that is where the people can afford it. It is my (ignorant) assumption that inland property is cheaper than tsunami zone property, so CI’s projects would naturally be built in safer locations, whether or not someone actually planned them that way.

    Let’s put this in a strictly inhumane way of looking at it. All the sponsored children are like homes we’ve had built overseas with our riches (trust me), and CI/WV are the companies we’ve hired to manage the placement and upkeep of those homes so we can enjoy them on our holiday. One management firm simply did a better job with its product than the other. My God-entrusted funds are therefore going to stay with that firm. Cold? Callus? you bet! CI the better investment? Absolutely! CI opens projects slowly while WV seems to rush. Both methods have their benefits and shortfalls. I’ll stick with the more conservative and safer CI.

  49. Mike Hailey
    Aug 25, 2009
    at 10:14 pm

    “Why do you care?” Amazing that so many churches miss that. We get so caught up with the idea of ‘telling’ people about Jesus that we completely ignore the idea of ‘showing’ people who He is with our actions and our love. It’s as if we are so busy trying to ‘sell it’ that we fail to ‘live it’.

  50. Jan 16, 2010
    at 8:46 am

    My name is daniel G. I am post graduate student at Haramaya University, Ethipia. May God bless your Mission and Vision. I always surprised at the actions and impacts of “COMPASSION”. I am also Very much intersted in supporting your vision. Please, keep me in touch with you and your vision to give my life, time, money and knowledge to Jesus Christ, specitialy in Evangelizing the Muslems. Be blessed in the name of our lord Jesus Christ.

  51. Feb 12, 2010
    at 8:46 am

    I believe that relationships can be a powerful entry way into a community, but it is just a tool of evangelism and not evangelism itself.
    When our church father shared their faith it was illegal for them. There were peopel in the world that were hungry, sick, oppressed. Much like today. They did not allow the law to stop them from making new believers.

    The purpose of evangelism is not to get governments to like us, or to get people to use our services. It is to help get people into God’s Kingdom, that and that alone. Helps are also a great tool, but it is a tool, not the end.

    So in order to evangelize, you need an entry to their life. So some sort of relationship is needed. You need also to confront them with God’s Law so they see a need for a Savior. You then need to show them the Savior. You meet their needs so they know we are not just words, but that Jesus cares about them in the now, not just for when they die.

  52. Maria
    Mar 7, 2011
    at 10:50 pm

    AMEN! Love this statement! It is the relationship with Christ that will create more followers in Him!

  53. David
    Mar 13, 2012
    at 9:14 pm

    No one can make someone else love Jesus. Jesus doesn’t even try to do that. By loving and caring about someone (building a relationship) in His name they are drawn to the light that He puts in us.

  54. Mar 13, 2012
    at 9:41 pm

    Absolutely agree. I asked a friend who works with Muslims how they evangelized in countries where such activity was a capital offense. “Just love them”. Build relations, and genuinely care; do that first, and then your heart is ready to share the Good News when the opportunity comes. There can be no law against love, and God’s love speaks for itself.

  55. Sep 30, 2012
    at 11:01 am

    Effective evangelism requires fervency and passion. One would have to be stirred from the heart and be motivated or influenced by the Holy Spirit. In the book “Anagkazo”, Dag Heward-Mills explains why Christians must ‘compel’ unbelievers to come to Christ. Without an ardor for the Lord very few people will respond to a topic of salvation. He’s also authored another book titled “Tell Them”, which entails dozens of reasons why we must preach the gospel. It’s a must have for anyone who’s enthused about evangelism, as should be the case for every Christian. Be blessed!

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