Last Saturday at 6am, after far too many hours crammed into a flying metal tube, I returned home from a 3-week ‘Compassion Insight Trip’ to the USA and Haiti. Compassion, as you I’m sure you know, is an organisation working to “release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” And so, the goal of the Insight Trip was for pastors and leaders to see first-hand the plight of children living in desperate poverty, but also to see the way in which Compassion partners with local churches to meet the needs of these children and release them from poverty.
As I reflect on the experience, and the myriad people I met and the myriad things I saw, it is exceedingly difficult to distill the trip into just a few lessons. I have a sneaking suspicion that the full impact of the trip will continue to be felt in my life and ministry many years down the track. Nevertheless, I have done my best to draw out perhaps 3 of the main lessons I learned during my time in Haiti.
1. Our response to poverty must be holistic
I was struck by the undeniable fact that poverty affects every single area of life. A lack of food, and resources, and opportunity, does not just starve someone physically, but it starves them emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, as well. This means we cannot just throw food at the problem of poverty; our solutions must go deeper. This is why, I think, the Compassion model is so effective. It works to relieve poverty in a child’s life by helping them not just physically, but intellectually, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually, as well.
2. Partnership is what makes it all work
I believe the Compassion model works so well because it is built upon partnership. It is not about Compassion coming into a country and establishing their programs, in their buildings, with their people. But it is, first and foremost, about partnership with the local church in that country, who build the buildings, find the staff (working closely with Compassion), and then receive the support and resources from Compassion to run the Project. The result? Thousands of vulnerable children are given food, education, hope, and are, most importantly, introduced to Jesus. Everyone wins. Compassion has local, loyal, hard-working people on the ground running the Project, while the local church is seen to be the one making an active difference in their community. Partnership is the lifeblood that holds it all together. Then, of course, there is the partnership between sponsors and Compassion, who faithfully give the money every month to make it all a reality. The whole model is built upon partnership, and everyone at every level has a role to play. No role is better or more important, just different and complementary. It is truly the body of Christ at work. And it is glorious.
3. I am a person of influence, and so are you
You have no idea the difference that you could make. You have no idea how influential you could be in the life of a vulnerable child on the other side of the world. I didn’t. Sure, I had a Compassion sponsor child. But I didn’t truly know the difference that $44 a month makes. I do now. Because I’ve seen it. I met innumerable children who freely testified that their life was changed by Compassion. Their life was changed because someone on the other side of the world decided to give $44 a month to feed, educate, and encourage them. What’s more, these children testified to the power of not only the Projects, but the letters they received from sponsors. It blew them away that there was someone out there in the world who would care about them and believe in them. Most said they wouldn’t be where they were today if it wasn’t for that sponsorship and those letters.
You have no idea the difference you could make if you would just open yourself up to be used by God. I didn’t. But I do now.
Grace and peace,