Geoff Moore and his son, Josh, pause for a picture with their new friends -- a Compassion-assisted boy and his father who live near a student center in Peru. Geoff has had several opportunities to visit Compassion projects around the world during the last two decades. But his trip to Peru was especially exciting because he was able to share the experience with Josh.
For almost 18 years, Geoff Moore has been partnering with Compassion International, encouraging his listeners and concert audiences to sponsor children in need around the world. He and his family currently sponsor children in Ecuador and Guatemala.
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On his way to a friend's wedding in 2002, Geoff stopped by Compassion's International Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During his visit, he took a few moments to talk about his music and his relationship with Compassion over the past two decades.
Compassion: How did you become involved in music?
Geoff: One time when my college roommate's band was supposed to perform a couple of songs, their lead singer got sick. So my roommate said, "Geoff, I've heard you sing in the shower. Can you give it a try?" I did and I loved it.
I got married and moved to Nashville right after college and got a job selling clothes in a mall. I still remember being in the store feeling really depressed and Michael W. Smith came in. I told him, "Hey, I'm in music too." He was kind and introduced me to some people.
Relationships I still have today I formed in that clothing store. So if you're ever in a place where you think, "I'm so far from where I need to be," you may be exactly where you need to be.
Compassion: How did you first hear about Compassion?
Geoff: An artist named Steve Camp called and said, "An organization called Compassion International helps kids around the world. We're getting a group together to record a song and the proceeds will help Compassion. Will you come?"
I went and met a man from Compassion there. I told him I'd like to know more, so we set up a time to meet. As he told me about Compassion, I thought, "Yes, I want to be involved with this."
I felt sufficiently guilty about poverty and I had never really done anything about it. So I initially responded the way I think most people respond to need - out of guilt. It was later that it became more personal.
Compassion told me, "We're glad you're interested, but we'd never ask you to work with us without seeing what we do. You need to go on a trip." So we planned a trip to Haiti.
Compassion: How were you affected by that trip?
Geoff: I walked out of the airport and was immediately surrounded by people selling things. I'd never been in a developing country and I thought, "What have I done?" But by the time I climbed back on the plane at the end, my life was changed. I started sponsoring a little boy on that first trip. He's about 23 years old now. I think we've sponsored a child as a result of almost every Compassion trip I've been on since.
Before every trip I'm a little hesitant to go. But every time, the Lord meets me - in all those places, in all the children, in all the workers at the projects, all the parents. Traveling with Compassion has become an integral part of my faith journey. God has used it to continually make me aware of my need for Him.
Compassion: Your son Josh joined you for your most recent Compassion trip to Peru. How was that?
Geoff: Well, I made a commitment not to have expectations about what I wanted him to get out of the trip. I just told him, "You know, God brought us here for more than an adventure. Try to be open to anything God might be trying to tell you."
Josh loved Peru. He loved the culture. As we walked through the streets, he kept saying, "Dad, we have so much." It was great because I can say over and over, "Son, you don't appreciate everything you have." But it doesn't really sink in.
Compassion has helped me teach these kinds of lessons to my children - and learn and relearn lessons myself. Watching Josh play soccer with those Peruvian kids, I saw how similar they were. Whether it's poverty or racial issues or anything else, I think we often have barriers that keep us from doing things. Once we face those, whether it's our choice or against our will, we usually come to the realization of how similar we all are.
I encourage parents to take their children out to see what other people are like. It doesn't have to be an international trip, but introduce them to a culture that's different from their own. It will make them better citizens, more compassionate individuals. It will help them realize that God's love has nothing to do with race or financial condition.
Compassion: You recently adopted a little girl, Anna, from China. How has she affected your family?
Geoff: Anna joined our family last summer when she was 9 months old. We are completely smitten by her. She waddled into the bedroom a few days ago and one of my CDs was laying on the floor. I was standing across the hall and my wife, Jan, was in the bathroom getting ready to go somewhere. Anna picked up the CD and said, "Mom! Mom!" Jan poked her head out the bathroom door. Anna pointed at my picture on the CD case and said, "My Daddy," and kissed it. I was undone.
When Jan first talked to me about adoption, I didn't really know how I felt about it. Over the years, Compassion has exposed me to the importance of children growing up in their own culture with a family who loves them. But God also used the years of Compassion trips and the hundreds of kids that I've played with and cried over to soften my heart - to prepare me to say, "There are some kids in the world who need to be rescued."
The daughters of China are some of those children. Many have no family, nobody waiting for them. They're abandoned or orphaned and no one in their country wants them. So they live in institutions. Or worse, in slave labor or prostitution.
In a very deep way, my story of adoption is tied to my story of Compassion. I didn't think I could love or respect Compassion anymore than I already did, but I found that I do now because of Anna.
They say there's a thread that attaches the heart of the child you adopt to your heart and it's symbolic that it runs through different people and places and experiences that eventually allow you to find each other. I believe God uses Compassion in the same way. I think the same kind of thread that attached us to Anna attaches the hearts of Compassion sponsors to their sponsored children.