My association with Compassion began 10 years ago this month as my family attended our very first Creation Festival at Agape Farm, Shirleysburg, Pennsylvania.
On a sizzling summer evening, our twins, Danny and Justin, age 11, responded to an altar call and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. To commemorate the awesomeness of the occasion, the next day, and led by the Holy Spirit, my wife and I allowed them to select a Compassion child to sponsor.
Prior to June 1999, neither of us had ever heard of Compassion. Perhaps we should have scrutinized the Compassion program a wee bit before diving in, but because we felt compelled by God to sponsor, we willingly took that leap of faith.
In hindsight, it really wasn’t that much of a leap — the cost of sponsorship, about a $1 a day, was not going to be missed when we paid the monthly bills. I didn’t actually examine Compassion’s ministry until about two years later when I decided to become a volunteer in the Advocates Network.
My investigation revealed that Compassion is the real deal — the program was and still is steeped in integrity, the fragrance of Jesus Christ wafting throughout.
As far as Christian, child development, ministries are concerned, I was sold on the fact that Compassion is numero uno in three critical areas:
- partnering with the local church
- bringing children into saving relationships with Jesus Christ
- discipling these kids in their newfound faith
Grateful to God
I also liked the fact that Compassion just didn’t take volunteers off the street. There was a process involved with becoming an Advocate for children living in poverty.
First and foremost, volunteer Advocates are required to be active, Christ-proclaiming Christians. In addition, references were needed as were background checks.
Despite all that, they still allowed me into their fold — I thank God quite regularly for using me in this capacity.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.” — 1 Corinthians 2:1 (NKJV)
After being received into the Advocates Network, I worried that perhaps I was in over my head. The things Compassion was asking me to do were way beyond my comfort zone.
God calmed me then and He still comforts me now, reminding me that in my frailty, in my need and even in my distress, when it is for His sake, I am made strong. Just recently I heard an account regarding D. L. Moody, which offered some more assurance.
Although Moody was one of America’s most effective evangelists, he was not linguistically polished — a trait I can readily identify with.
After one of his sermons, he was approached by a congregant who was quick to point out 18 grammatical errors in his teaching. His response nailed his position while simultaneously convicting the woman in hers, “Ma’am, I am using all the grammar I got for the Lord. What are you doing with yours?” Amen, Dwight!
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” — 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NKJV)
Bridled But Not Broken
I credit God with using Compassion as an instrument in His hand to grow me up in the faith. Honestly, I cannot imagine where I would be spiritually if not for my involvement with Compassion and child advocacy. I suspect I would be wallowing away somewhere in pew wondering what God’s plan was and how He intended to use me for His good pleasure.
But I don’t have to wonder. God wound up bringing me to India where He would impart to me a small portion of the throbbing ache contained within His heart .
Ravi was an astonishing guy. I heard him speak at a local New Jersey church about how the Lord was using him to share the Good News, save lost souls, and plant churches in and around his native Bangalore, India.
When he had finished his talk, almost nonchalantly he asked if anyone would like to go with him to India to spread the Gospel and plant some churches. My hand sprung up before I even realized what it was I was doing — before I had even discussed the matter with my wife.
Six months later I found myself walking among the children of an Indian slum. It took only but a few moments for my heart to break. From the heavens I think I heard a faint, “Mission accomplished.”
Did I mention that Ravi was a formerly sponsored Compassion child?
It’s true! This was not an official Compassion tour, but God still brought Compassion into the equation.
On the trip we estimated that perhaps 500 people gave their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, and five churches were planted.
One day, while we were all muttering around, Ravi stopped a Hindu priest as he walked home for lunch. Ravi shared the Gospel with him and he ended up receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!
I learned after we had gotten home to the states that this former Hindu priest had in fact enrolled in Bible school! God is so good!
Anyway, that’s how I found Compassion (or how Compassion found me) and how the Lord has used His ministry to bless me, refine me and raise me in the faith.
I will never cease to be amazed how God can bless both the giver and the receiver, and anyone else who just happens to be passing by.
What’s your Compassion story?