Minnesota advocate Bryan Bouchard was enjoying a much-anticipated vacation with his family in Arizona the Saturday before Easter when the chest pains started. The rest of that day must have seemed like a blur: the 35-minute ambulance ride, blood draws, EKG, chest x-rays, nitro pills, morphine and IVs in both arms at a local hospital, and then a ride in a Life Flight helicopter to Phoenix Baptist Hospital where Bryan was told by a cardiologist that he had experienced a heart attack and had 100% blockage in an artery. The medical team at the hospital went to work, putting a stent into Bryan’s blocked artery.
The night in ICU dragged for Bryan, but he recalled during a recent Compassion Sunday presentation at Vision of Glory Lutheran Church in Minneapolis how his mind centered on the question: What kind of legacy do I want to leave when I die? As gratitude flooded his mind for the work of the emergency response teams and the medical care he received, he also reflected upon how much being a part of Compassion meant to him. “All that really matters is being tied to Christ and the cross,” Bryan said. “We need to invest in what has eternal value.”
Armed with that sense of purpose and urgency, Bryan stepped forward at Vision of Glory to share for the 19th straight year about God’s heart for the poor and the ministry of Compassion. Senior Pastor Scott McLaughlin used words like “champion” and “ambassador” when describing Bryan taking the lead at the church as a Compassion child advocate. “The kind of heart (Bryan) has for this is contagious,” said the pastor. “We gladly follow his lead on this.”
Bryan joined Compassion’s Volunteer Network March 1, 1994, and by the next year he approached the missions committee at the church, asking about hosting a Compassion Sunday. Bryan found a bit of a roadblock there, but he admits it may have been due to unclear communication and expectations on his part. The senior pastor at the time gave Bryan the green light to have a Compassion Sunday and Vision of Glory has been involved with Compassion this way ever since. “Now it is almost like I do not need to ask permission, even though I do go through that step each year,” said Bryan.
“Compassion is part of who the church is now. We have brought up a generation of Compassion kids (through Vision of Glory’s 19 years of Compassion Sundays and approximately 300 sponsored children).”
Bryan doesn’t always focus just on child sponsorship with his Compassion presentations. The church has responded when Bryan has shared about the Child Survival Program, Leadership Development, Bite Back or Compassion Water of Life. “Every year, the Lord touches the hearts of the members,” said McLaughlin. “This is about real-life needs. We can’t be sideliners on this.”
A church plant in 1960, Vision of Glory’s connection to Compassion dates back to 1989 when the church sponsored a child from Haiti for $21 a month. The Compassion Sunday presentations started with Bryan six years later. While Bryan has often relied on the available resources through the annual Compassion Sunday campaign, this year’s presentation was different.
“I opened up my heart and spoke freely.”
And 11 more children were released from poverty, in Jesus’ name.