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Returning Grace

Story by Barb Liggett, Global Strategy Office Intern

When those with nothing are given enough [3], they will give back to those who have nothing. This is a foundational belief of Compassion as an organization, and nowhere does it resonate deeper than in South Korea, which is unique as a partner country because of its former status as Compassion’s original field country.

Compassion South Korea CEO Justin Suh articulates that, “As Koreans who got help from the outside world in the past, it is time for us to give to the other side of the world.”

Not only do they give back to the world, but they have a few lessons to teach about engaging communities in the fight against poverty.

This June marked Compassion South Korea’s third annual photo exhibition. The purpose of this year’s exhibit was to thank sponsors and donors for their commitment to the ministry. An array of pictures was displayed highlighting the impact a one-on-one relationship with a sponsor has on a child living in poverty.

Compassion South Korea staff explained that their photographer, Hur-ho, from South Korea’s advocacy network Friends of Compassion, “captured the ordinary lives of the sponsors in a positive light,” demonstrating that sponsorship is for anyone that believes in the importance of children, not just for the elite and religious few.

The photo exhibition was not only a creative and original way to promote Compassion but also succeeded incredibly in gaining public support, resulting in 1,400 new sponsorships! It occurred at an opportune time, just days after Compassion South Korea was featured in a documentary by the National Broadcasting Channel that raised 4,000 additional sponsorships.

Given these numbers, it is no surprise that Compassion South Korea grew in sponsorship by 74.7 percent in the last fiscal year.


Events like this add to the astronomical growth that South Korea has been experiencing. Justin Suh expressed about the photo exhibition that “We would like to thank the Lord for the blessings,” he said. “The staff of Compassion South Korea was busy, yet we were grateful for being able to experience the miracle that God has made possible.”

The Korean office continually demonstrates a driven attitude and strong work ethic which allows them to impact more children around the world each day. Another explanation for Compassion South Korea’s tremendous growth brings us back to its history.

The apostle Paul speaks of their attitude in 1 Corinthians 1.28-29, “He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (NIV)

South Korea received God’s grace and love through Compassion years ago, and the last thing they are doing now is boasting. The effort Compassion South Korea put into the photo exhibition and the extent to which God blessed it reiterate Paul’s words and Compassion’s belief that when grace is extended and received, it is returned in kind.