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A City Slicker Comes to Compassion

How and why “So you moved from New York City … to Colorado Springs? Wow.” Full stop. “That must be a big adjustment …”

“Yes indeed,” I reply.

And that is the most common reaction I (right) get. What makes me chuckle though is the momentary look of utter confusion that passes over a person’s face as the “How” and “Why” questions begin to percolate, fighting their way to the mind’s surface.

It is as if my co-worker could, for the very briefest of moments, still get a whiff of the cab that took me to NYC’s LaGuardia Airport three months ago. The taxi driver was a cologne-toting, disco-listening, ’70s throw-back who threw even me for a loop, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a strange co-mingling of cab and cologne left on me.

But in all honesty, I chuckle at myself more than anything. Because I fully realize I do it, too, right back at my co-worker telling me he is from a distant town in eastern Texas or a one-stoplight town in Nebraska.

And I go shuffling frantically through the file folders in my mind to come up with something, anything, only to arrive at the “N” section out of breath. I find that my Nebraska file is empty — save for the dusty “Lincoln” filed in 1987 during the lesson on state capitals that I never mastered.

Slightly embarrassed, I refocus on my conversation partner, knowing that my sheepish smile is perhaps conveying an equally disconcerting non-meeting of the minds.

I chuckle, thanking God for humor and grace. And that’s what makes the world go round — God. I suppose that is how I landed here in the Wild West after all.

And by “suppose” I mean it was all Him, and by “here” I mean Compassion International’s Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

One of the best parts, right off the bat, has been realizing that these momentary non-meetings of the mind are so unbelievably insignificant in the face of a mission so clear and near to God’s heart — releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Over the last three months I’ve been learning about my co-workers. Nebraska, for example, is a brother and a friend who dispenses grace like orange slices at a kid’s soccer game.

The once shamefully empty file folder in my head is bulking up very slowly with remnants from his life and how God is continuing to make him a man after His own heart. I can now locate Nebraska on the map, and even the town where he’s from.

And this has been my experience thus far of Compassion-ites. Truly amazing. Amazingly talented. People of creativity, ambition, grace and, oddly enough, compassion.

Another amazing part about work at Compassion so far is knowing that in some teeny tiny way I’m able to do something for kids growing up in poverty — the ones struggling to fight the lies that tell them they don’t matter and will amount to nothing.

I played soccer with them in Brazil and lost miserably; I was blessed to visit them in Panama at their schools and was humbled at the loving reception; I was toured around cities in Tanzania by kids living and working on the streets. Kids on glue to quell hunger pains, but kids eager to hold my hand and show me their world.

I’ve seen their resiliency and determination in the face of impossible circumstances and I know that God is in their midst. That His presence is there.

So maybe the fax machine near my office intimated me on day three, and maybe I can’t find pizza with decent crust in this town, and maybe I’m still fumbling around in my new role here at Compassion, but the list of things that just don’t matter in light of God’s glory, continues to grow.

And hopefully I’m growing too.

So, in response to the “How” and “Why” questions on my cross-country move … I suppose airplane, moving truck and God don’t really suffice. But what I see in my mind’s eye is liquid grace trickling through God’s labyrinth, running together and overflowing. Joining New York, Nebraska and Compassion International.

And now, a 12-year-old girl in Colombia, Elizeth, I’m blessed to sponsor. Humbled for perhaps the billionth time in the last three months, I thank God. Daily.