If compassion is about anything, it is about choosing solidarity with those in need. In a literal sense it means “to suffer with.”

Jesus took this concept to the extreme when He came to earth as a helpless child, not for a visit, but for life. He chose to come to us, to be with us, to share joy with us, to share life with us and to suffer with us. He came to earth with no exit strategy save the one we all must face which is to walk through death itself.

And He chose a particularly brutal death at that.

Jesus came because He chose compassion, because eternal solidarity with us in heaven meant temporal solidarity with us in life and for us in death. There is obviously much more to the story than these brief paragraphs have to offer, but the point is simply that Jesus Christ took the concept of compassion and embodied it.

I am extremely privileged to work for this organization called Compassion. It is wonderfully gratifying to know that our work helps over 5,000 local churches in poor communities all over the world share God’s love in very real ways that change both the lives and eternities of the more than one million precious little ones who they serve.

But it is also a really sobering job as well.

I have the honor of meeting people who are facing great personal challenges and hardships in the midst of bringing such hope and joy to the children we exist to serve. These are people who work in our field offices and in the churches that we partner with.

Wess Stafford with group of men

Ministry Staff In the Dominican Republic

Meeting them makes their challenges and hardship very real to me.

And this is important, because it suddenly becomes personal when I see reports of natural disasters, civil unrest and family tragedies that affect the countries I’ve been to and the people I’ve met.

When I read about violence in Central America, I think about meeting a volunteer at a church in Guatemala several years ago.

She was with her son, a little boy who didn’t say a single word the whole time I was visiting the child development center, but who received a hug from my friend and coworker as if it was the single most important gift he had ever received. And maybe it was.

As we talked with his mom, we learned that her husband was a police officer who had gone missing three months before and had not been heard from since.

Through her brokenness she continued to come to the child development center to share the love of God with the children of her community. To this day when I think of her and her son, I feel a rush of gratitude and respect and…sorrow.

When I hear about flooding in the Philippines, I think about a young man I met last year who had just graduated from our child sponsorship program and was about to start his first job in IT.

I think about how I visited his home, underneath the city along a drainage canal. I was told by our staff there that when the typhoons come, these canals flood, and the families who live there lose everything they have.

flooding in Philippines

Flooding in the Philippines

And when I read in a letter from my sponsored child in Thailand last year that her grandmother died, it’s personal because I met this woman and she welcomed me to her home with a gracious spirit and showed me her vegetable garden in the back of the house where she grew food to help sustain the family. And now she is gone.

I think about all of these things and I try to pray.

I try to pray with passion and hope that it makes a difference. I hope that my prayers might have some measure of true compassion because unlike Jesus, I go to the field for a little while and then I get on an airplane and come back home again.

When I am home I sometimes feel so very far away. And sometimes prayer seems like such a small, distant and feeble thing.

But not today.

Not today when the hills above my city are covered in smoke and flame. Not today when people I work with face evacuations and threats to their homes as an uncontained fire rages close by.

smoke from wildfires

I recently asked for prayer through a social network and the first responses I received were from a friend and colleague in Asia and a friend and colleague in Africa.

At that moment, the solidarity of faraway friends through prayer helped to ease my fears and comfort my soul.

Because I know they care about me and the people of Colorado Springs, but more importantly I know they love Jesus and that He loves them. And no matter what else happens He has listened to them and heard their prayers.

So today, today prayer doesn’t seem small or distant or feeble at all.

Today prayer feels like life and hope and it all feels so desperately real.

Today prayer feels like…solidarity.

*Waldo Canyon fire photo courtesy of Trusty Photography.

12 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Mink July 29, 2012

    beautifully written, christopher! i agree with you that sometimes prayer seems so faraway and feeble when we are miles away from those affected. prayer can sometimes be repetitive and boring as we say “God, please protect our children” over and over again every day and week. but it’s true…we need to uphold each other in prayer because that is when we can draw hope and strength from the Lord and from one another.

    thank you so much for this post.

    1. Christopher Delvaille August 2, 2012

      Thank you Mink. As you wrote, I love how the power of prayer connects us not just to God (which is amazing in itself) but also to the whole Kingdom of believers.) And, as Gail noted above, one day we will all see God and each other face to face!

  2. Rev. Eldrick lal July 3, 2012

    Prayer is a powerful tool when we face opposition and persecution. As Christians when we prayerfully face these kinds of hardships in our lives, He responds by giving us courage and boldness to go through them. It is undoubtedly due to the prayers and fasting of believers that the church is still growing despite its shackles.

    1. Christopher Delvaille August 2, 2012

      Thank you Rev. Eldrick, so true!

  3. Evan July 2, 2012

    Well written. Thank you for sharing so eloquently the real significance and reality of prayer. Prayer is not a last resort but is our sure hope and foundation.

    1. Christopher Delvaille July 2, 2012

      Exactly! Well said!

  4. Vicki Small July 1, 2012

    A year ago, many, many of my friends were praying for my recovery from really major back surgery. Many of those friends are Compassion-ate people–staff and other advocates, mostly. Those prayers carried me through a rough and incomplete recovery. In these past few weeks–it seems like months–we have all joined in prayer for Colorado, for Colorado Springs and so many friends there, for Compassion Int’l. and the other Christian ministries in the area.

    We pray for others, and we receive the mercy and the care of others who pray for us. Solidarity.

    I felt that as I looked at the first photo, as I could name all but one person in it. I have friends in the Dominican Republic, some of them on the Compassion DR staff. I was overjoyed to see Kleber in the Springs, last October!

    1. Christopher Delvaille July 2, 2012

      Thank you Vicki, I pray that your recovery would be entirely complete. I was also glad that they chose a DR photo to run with this blog. That office was nothing short of heroic after the horrible earthquate in Haiti! Thank you so much for your prayers!

  5. Gail July 1, 2012

    I love how prayer works, even from a distance. We serve an amazing God!

    I’m looking forward to meeting all the Compassion family in heaven who were “just” names on prayer lists that I prayed for and see how God answered.

    And the Aussie branch of the Compassion family is praying for the Colorado branch and the fires too!

    1. Christopher Delvaille July 2, 2012

      Thank you Gail, your prayers and partnership mean the world to us.

  6. martha zapata July 1, 2012

    DIOS todopoderoso este con ustedes en este momento de fuego se que El nunca va desampararlo tenga fe DIOS LES AMA.

    1. Christopher Delvaille July 2, 2012

      Thank you Martha, we appreciate your prayers and faith!

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