I am in northern Iraq with a peacemakers’ delegation, doing work among the Kurdish population. This is a land with a history – a violent history.
Villages destroyed by chemical weapons. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the thousands who still migrate from their homes every spring and autumn in order to protect their families from the seasonal bombs that are dropped on their villages and farmlands.
A hike into the mountains can bring you in touch with lush vegetation and flora species such as you have never seen, and it can also thrust you into fields of land mines. The people here are ever so hospitable and welcoming, but they are slow to trust too deeply.
The Kurdish Province of Iraq is not alone in having a desperate history. Many other countries sing the song of their homeland in the painstaking melody of a minor key.
Think of places where Compassion works – places like Rwanda and Colombia. The people of those nations recount stories with tears and heartache. Many resort to a cycle of violence that binds their communities like a chokehold – tribal warfare, gangs, drug lords, etc.
Yet some are able, ever so carefully, to move past their devastating and violent histories and rebuild community.
Which people do this? The few who are willing to embrace forgiveness, reconciliation and grace. Where do we find these characteristics that surpass human wisdom in their scope and power? We find them in the person of Jesus Christ.
Compassion’s very strategic approach of working exclusively in partnership with the local church assures that its holistic child development programs — designed to release children and ultimately families, communities and nations from poverty — always bring with them the hope of the gospel of Jesus.
As the gospel exemplifies the power of redemptive grace, people are given the power to break not only the cycle of poverty, but also the cycle of violence.
Being in this area and contrasting what I see here with what I have seen throughout my travels to Compassion countries, I am increasingly thankful for Compassion’s clarity of vision and acute understanding of the importance of the local church in truly changing the lives of our sponsored children around the world.
The hope of Christ in tandem with the education, health care, nutrition and social development provided by the child development centers in Compassion countries is a powerful force against the hopelessness and lies that violence and poverty tell their victims.
It is why I am proud to be part of this ministry that releases children from poverty: because we unabashedly do this work “in Jesus’ name.”