They have Jesus. And He is everything.

If you haven’t been following the latest Compassion Bloggers tour, you really should. Molly Piper, Heather Whitaker and Kelly Stamps are sharing their first-hand experiences visiting with Compassion-assisted families and it’s alternately heartbreaking and awe-inspiring.

Molly shares the story of Maricella:

maricella

Maricella. Mother of Blanca (picture #1). This is her in her home. She welcomed us there, even though she was nervous. Jesus came and met us there, though. She told us of her history of gang membership and the tattoo on her forehead because of it. And she now can’t find work because she won’t be trusted. Even though in Christ, she is a new creation…. My heart broke for her.

My first day of interacting with people on the receiving end of Compassion has been nothing short of amazing—their stories, their homes, their openness to our presence, their excitement for Compassion and the effects it’s had on their families. My heart is somehow broken and full at the same time. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. [Read more...]

147 Million

147-million

On Monday night, Russell Moore posted the following on Twitter:

147 million orphans are out there tonight. 147 million.
Where are you?

It’s a provocative challenge, isn’t it? 147 million children without a mom and dad.

I think about my two year old girl sleeping in the other room, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like for her to not have her parents, and it breaks my heart to even try.

Something Emily and I decided to do a few years ago was adopt; after we saw how the foster system affected our extended family, we knew it was something we wanted to do. And after we became Christians, that desire as we read and began to understand passages like James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” For us, it was really encouraging to see throughout Scripture how God shows how much He cares for those who desperately need it. And so we want to do the same.

Now, here’s what I’m not doing: I’m not pointing my finger at anyone and saying “You’re not doing enough!”

I’m also not saying that everyone who is a Christian should adopt. But, maybe some of us should.

Maybe we need to open our homes to children living in the foster system and be a family—even for a few weeks—to a boy or girl who needs one.

Maybe we need to sponsor a child with Compassion, and provide an opportunity to have his or her life transformed by the gospel, as the church proclaims it in word and deed.

Maybe we need to volunteer with an after-school program in our community and be a positive voice in a child’s life.

There are so many things we can do. And there are a lot of who are doing these things, to the glory of God. In an act of obedience, an act of worship, they’re reaching out to care for those who are in need. Regardless of our feelings on social justice, it is a fruit of the gospel. It is a part of living out our faith. A part we’d all be wise not to ignore.

“[B]e doers of the word, and not hearers only,” James tells us.

How will we respond today?

The Difference is Jesus

For those who may not know, I sponsor two children through and work for Compassion International. Compassion connects you and your church to the church in the developing world to bring the eternal solution to poverty to children, families and communities: The gospel of Jesus Christ.

And I am exceedingly pleased to announce the launch of The Difference is Jesus.com.

There are many organizations that do a wonderful job serving as Christ’s hands and feet around the world, doing what they can to make a difference in the lives of children. Education, water projects, mosquito nets, AIDS intervention, food… I praise God for all the organizations that are caring for the poor. And as a sponsor with Compassion, I know that these initiatives are incredibly valuable (because we do them, too).

But our passion goes beyond these.

As important as these things are, I don’t sponsor with Compassion because I’m passionate about water. I don’t work there because I’m passionate about food distribution.

I’m passionate about the gospel.

And that’s what Compassion is passionate about, too.

Children and parents hear the gospel from volunteers from their own communities—their own neighbors. The gospel is proclaimed in word, and it is lived out in deed, as the church ministers to its community. Thousands of children who are served by the Compassion’s church partners find hope for a better future every day. One with opportunities instead of despair. And every year, thousands of children find hope in the salvation offered only in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because the reality is that poverty won’t end because of education or food distribution. It takes more than any human effort can to forever end poverty.

Jesus is the one who will bring an end to poverty.

We created The Difference is Jesus.com because we want you to know about our passion—and, honestly, it’s one I hope you share.

Up the (Willow) Creek: Wess Stafford

Willow-Creek
wess-staffordWess Stafford is the president of Compassion International. For those who don’t know, Compassion works through the local church in developing countries to share the gospel while providing for the needs of children living in poverty. It’s also an organization I’m privileged to work for (out of the Canadian office). For literally the entire time I’ve been at Compassion, I’ve always heard people tell me how much I need to hear Wess speak, and how I really need to read his book. So for me, it was very interesting to see Wess speak at Willow Creek during his session, Leveraging Your Past.

In this session, Wess addressed the question of how do we leverage the pain and hurt in our lives for the ministry?

If anyone’s not heard his story before, it’s heartbreaking. The son of missionaries serving in Africa, Stafford, along with the children of several other missionaries serving on the continent, suffered horrific physical, mental, and spiritual abuse. As he put it, “We were little sinners in the hands of an angry god.” [Read more...]

Telling the Back Story

Last October, I had the privilege of travelling to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to meet AJ Thomas, the pastor of Deep Water Church. AJ is a really great guy who loves Jesus and his city, and I was excited to share his church’s story with Compassion’s sponsors in the January issue of Compassion Today. Today, I also get to share it with you. I hope you are blessed as you read it.

AJ

“Welcome to the dark side.”

This was not the greeting I expected when I first met AJ Thomas, the 30-year-old pastor of Deep Water Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As we drive from neighbouring Dartmouth toward downtown Halifax, where Deep Water meets every Sunday morning, he paints a picture of the city he finds himself in. [Read more...]

Sharing Compassion

Last July, I was priviledged to go with two of my coworkers to Ethiopia to film a movie for our annual Sharing Compassion campaign. Ethiopia is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Having travelled to Honduras two years prior, I thought I’d seen enough to have a really good grasp of the reality of poverty. But there, I never sat in a two-room house that is about the size of my daughter’s bedroom.

Our videographer presented us with a couple of options for who we would be interviewing and filming, and we agreed on Selamawit & Nahu.

Nahu, 15, wants to be an engineer so he can design and build homes. Selamawit is 18 and wants to be a nurse, someday. She leads worship at her church and has a beautiful singing voice. They live in a small two-room house in the slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She and her brother are orphans. Their mother died when Selamawit was eleven, leaving them without any family—without hope.

But Compassion was there – and through the love of their sponsor and the local church’s partnership, Selamawit & Nahu’s lives are being transformed. Selamawit and Nahu tell their story far better than I can, so I’ll let the video speak:

 

Compassion existsto eliminate the root causes of poverty for children around the world. Children receive access to education & vocational training; develop social skills; receive access to proper healthcare and nutrition… but most importantly, Compassion gives hope to children through the church with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If this resonates with you, please—give hope to a child and sponsor today.