Ten years after completing its ministry to children in poverty in South Korea, Compassion International is returning to that Asian country. But this time, the role is different. Instead of receiving aid from sponsors in other countries, South Korean citizens will now have the opportunity to provide assistance to children in need around the world.
South Korea was the first country that Compassion sponsors supported, beginning in 1952. Rev. Everett Swanson began the outreach program to provide for 35 children orphaned by the Korean War. The program started by Rev. Swanson eventually became Compassion International, serving more than 500,000 children in poverty in 21 countries.
Now, 51 years later, the country has come full circle; In November, Compassion will relaunch in South Korea, making it a partner country - one of ten countries that have sponsors who provide support for Compassion children around the world.
"As Compassion opens its new office in Seoul, we're entering a country that is very different from what is was 51 years ago when Rev. Swanson began his work," said Ed Anderson, CFO and senior vice president of Compassion. "Now South Korea will repeat this blessing to others around the world."
Compassion worked in South Korea for 40 years through church partners, bringing educational opportunities, better health, skills training and the gospel to children in need. In the early 1990s, it became apparent that this kind of help was no longer required; South Korea had become a world economic engine. Along with its economy, the Church had matured, growing in strength and size. In 1993, Compassion discontinued its ministry in South Korea.
"Korea has sent many missionaries into the world, sharing the gospel with countless people," said Dr. Wesley Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion. "Now South Koreans will be reaching out to poor children beyond their borders through Compassion."
Dr. Justin Suh, executive director of Compassion South Korea, said the organization would work to build relationships across denominational lines, one church at a time.
"Our partnership represents an opportunity to give back to God what He has done for this nation - as we were helped, we will now help many others," Suh said. "With God's blessing, the Compassion worldwide family will keep the ripple effect going, stirring hearts and changing lives in Jesus' name."
Compassion South Korea joins nine other partner countries: Australia, Canada, France, Holland, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Sponsors in these countries provide support for children in 21 developing countries around the world.
Compassion International is one of the nation's largest and fastest growing child development organizations, working with more than 65 denominations and many indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Since 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than a million children. For information about sponsoring a child, contact Compassion via its web site (www.compassion.com) or by calling (800) 336-7676.