One Word to Move Us in 2018: compassion

I think of a preacher from Chicago in the 1950s who saw the ravages of the Korean war. In the war-torn alleys of Seoul, he saw orphans huddled in rags trying to keep warm in the bitter cold through the night. In the morning, soldiers would come, shaking the piles of rags looking to see who did or did not make it through the night. As this man sat on the plane home to Chicago reflecting on the tragedies he’d witnessed, God moved his broken heart with compassion.

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Taking Artists To The Next Level

People often ask me what I REALLY do for my job. It’s a valid question since for some of my friends it doesn’t seem like working with artists is that demanding of a job.

Actually, the time I spend traveling for this job should tell you how demanding it really is. I travel on average about 120 days out of the year.

As I try to master the art of video blogs, I’m going to bring you “A Day On The Road With Spence.” I’m sure you all will be glued to your seats for this Spielberg-like master piece.

So what does this have to do with taking artists to the next level? Not a whole lot other than I needed some sort of intro for this blog. On to the post….

When an artist decides they want to work with Compassion, I know going into this relationship that they have a heart for children living in poverty.

For most of us, that seems like its a “given.” For some artists, though they have a heart for it, they’ve never really seen the kind of poverty we are talking about and dealing with on a daily basis.

So on Compassion’s Artist Relations team, we take these artists overseas to see our work first hand. It’s a great experience for them and one of my favorite parts is watching these artist “get it.”

Meaning, you actually see them being transformed by what they are experiencing as they meet these children and their families and by learning how the local church is involved in these children’s lives on every level.

It’s at this point that an artist’s passion for releasing children from poverty goes to the next level. It becomes a part of their everyday lives. Not just a part of their show.

Last spring, I took country artist Bryan White to Ecuador to meet his sponsored child. It was an awesome trip!

After we got home, Bryan called me and said, “Spence, I wish I could travel with Compassion to visit every child in the program. This has changed me forever.”

You know…he was right. He talks to everyone he knows about children in poverty and how sponsoring a child changes children’s lives forever.

I love Bryan’s attitude. It’s what taking things to the next level is all about.

For Michael W. Smith, he has been talking about Compassion for over 20 years now. He’s been to see our work 11 times — 10 to Ecuador to see his sponsored child and once to Kenya.

I took Michael to Kenya in January of 2007, and we shot this video below. What you see on this video was a small example of watching a man, Michael, who had been talking about Compassion for all these years become even more passionate about the work being done for kids all over the world and the urgency to bring hope to these children in need.

Until next time friends…

Watch Michael W. Smith and subscribe to Compassion YouTube for more stories.

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Priorities

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s getting easier to set priorities in my life. Some of the things I used to deem important just don’t mean that much to me anymore. And some things that I never valued are priceless to me now. I guess that’s part of maturing.

20 years ago I didn’t know much about global poverty…and therefore I didn’t care about being part of the solution. It wasn’t a priority to me. Today, having witnessed firsthand the suffering of children in developing countries…having heard their tummies growl…and having seen the lack of hope in their sullen eyes, I do care. It’s a priority to me now.

So when I read an online article in the Denver Post from a college student trying to explain why he would rather spend $1,000 on his dog than $51 to feed a starving child on the other side of the world, I took it personally. It was an attack on one of my priorities, after all.  But then I’m reminded that I was in the same place when I was his age.

We’ve still got a long way to go, don’t we? There’s plenty of work to be done, teaching the world that caring for the poor is not an option–it’s an obligation. It’s a mandate from God himself.  

And one hurdle is convincing our neighbors, family and friends that they don’t have to choose between caring for their loved ones…and caring for those on the other side of the world. Those two are not mutually exclusive. We are called to do both.

So my message to the college student–and for those of you who are also struggling with where to set your priorities: do both. You can give hope to a child in poverty and take care of your dog–or your family–at the same time. You don’t have to choose between the two.  You can make both a priority.  Indeed, we are called to do just that.

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