Passion for Compassion

I am wrestling with words this morning.

There are so many in my head. They are running around and meeting up in groups of two or three. But before I can grab them and force them into coherent sentences, they break apart and scatter in different directions.

It’s all because of last week, which has potential to be one of the most significant of 2009 for me.

It was missions week at my alma mater, a Christian college about 20 minutes from where I now live. Wess Stafford, the President and CEO of Compassion International, spoke in chapel Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A few months ago, I read his book, “Too Small to Ignore,” which is half biography, half mission statement, and it rocked me to the core. So I spent quite a bit of my free time on campus last week -- attending chapel, trying to keep Teyla occupied with raisins and Cheerios during worship, working the Compassion table on Tuesday, generally feeling the Holy Spirit stir in my soul in a way I can’t fully explain.

Then, on Friday, Shaun Groves came to Minnesota for the grand finale of missions week. Last fall, I contacted Ben, Shaun’s manager, to see if we couldn’t get the two of them to the Upper Midwest in February, when Minnesota is at its best. I like Shaun’s music, but I’m most impressed by his passion for Compassion. I’m intrigued that he changed his whole life for this cause. That’s some crazy love. It resonates with me.

And Shaun did not disappoint. At the end of chapel on Friday, he gave the students a chance to do something about the world’s children imprisoned by poverty.

Before I go on, you have to understand something: I had worked the Compassion table on Tuesday, and I was thrilled when eight children were sponsored during my shift. Plus, I knew a lot of Northwestern students were already Compassion sponsors.

But that morning, as Shaun sang the beautiful song “Kingdom Coming,” and a bunch of us wandered the aisles among the 1400 students sitting in chapel, I watched hand after hand go up in the air to request a child sponsorship packet. A young man with tears in his eyes. A row of young woman, coats hunched over their shoulders. A young couple, sitting with feet entwined.

I fought the sobs that pushed against my lungs. (Or maybe that was just Teyla.) Because that’s the Church. That’s Jesus with flesh on. There is nothing like watching the Holy Spirit work right before your eyes.

When chapel ended a few minutes later, I rushed out to Shaun’s table. It was inundated with students wanting to sponsor kids. I spent the next 45 minutes taking forms, answering questions and praising God. When the whirlwind subsided, 143 Compassion kids had been sponsored.


I was still flying high at Shaun’s concert that evening, when he played one of the most brilliant practical jokes I’ve ever witnessed (and that’s saying something, considering I used to hang out with young ministry majors). And that night, another 20 children were sponsored. Another 20.

I still haven’t gotten over it.

I don’t know exactly what God has for Corey and me in the next phase of our lives. But we both feel like He’s doing something. We are both so burdened for the poor. We are heartsick at the affluence and apathy of America. We are ready to do something drastic. We are tired of the status quo. In fact, we feel quite ruined for normal life. We are ready for an adventure with God.

If it’s anything like this last week, I say bring it.

For another viewpoint on Compassion, check out this excellent post on the blog of my friend Lisa the Preacher's Wife. It tells the story of why she initially objected to sponsoring a child -- and how she got over it.


  1. Wow. Now I get to marvel at the fingerprints of God in you!

  2. (Sorry, I clicked "publish" too early.) This is yet one more reminder that the Holy Spirit is moving in dramatic ways, luring us to be a part of the great adventure God has planned. Too often, I let the world get in the way, but now is no time to sit on the fence.
    Although God will lead you to your next phase of life, where you will do immeasurable good, be confident you are doing good now. It may not seem as dramatic as more than 100 children being supported, but you have and are affecting lives for the Lord right now. I can think of 3 beautiful babies who would agree. And I also know a certain young missionary whose life would not be the same without you in it. Oh, now you made me cry! :)

    By the way, please don't tell Natalie I referred to her as a "baby;" I fear I would never hear the end of it!

  3. I know you would object to my saying it, but you are special.

    Very, very special. :))

    And thanks for linking to my post. Dern if I don't feel guilty now after all the comments from girls sponsoring MORE than one.

  4. That is AWESOME! I am so supportive of Compassion as a ministry. We've been supporting a child for 7 years now, and it really is a joy. We hope to sponsor another child for each child of our own that we have.

    May God guide you and your family as you search for the "what next."

  5. Ok i know God is speaking to me on this topic because it is all around me I can't get away from it. I am going to check it out!

  6. Praying you find the strength and wisdom to follow His calling, however/whenever it is revealed! Oh - and patience for the wait - sometimes that's the hardest!

  7. I know you and Corey share a magnificent burden in this area. Thanks for continuing to share information on this amazing work!

  8. I think that God is most certainly doing amazing things with you! I cannot wait to see where He takes you.

    Compassion is such a wonderful organization. Nothing thrills my heart more than to receive a letter from our Compassion child.

    Praying for you.

  9. Look out! You start getting those feelings and before you know it your kids speak better French than you do and they need new pages in their passports before they're 10...and you do too :)

    See you in Africa soon ;)

  10. Ah, man! I'm randomly in town last week and I miss Shaun Groves?!?!

    My Compassion child's name is David and he lives in Ecuador.

  11. "Quite ruined for normal life"--may it be so for us all!

  12. This post made my heart ache, sweet friend. I know this passion for the poor that stirs your soul, as it stirs in mine, as well. I feel assured that the Browns are right where we're supposed to be right now...ministering to the poor in a different way than I would've imagined...ministering to men and women who have served our country and who are now living in one of the most impoverished portions of our country--Appalachia. But Rick and I both feel that international work will continue to be a part of lives--somehow, someway, someday. I can't wait to see where God leads the Love Well family. Your enthusiasm reminds me of our SEMP days. I can here SCC's "Great Adventure" playing in the back of my mind. "Saddle up your horses..." Love you so....

  13. This post is so awesome! My brother told me the most dangerous prayer he ever prayed is the one where he told God to use him as he will. In a few months he is going to Botswana to translate the Bible. It sounds like you just prayed that dangerous prayer - but one that will be life changing. I hope I have the courage to do the same some day. God bless you!