Taking Christ Around the World
There is a spiritual continuum between where you are and where you want to be. There are broad, catalytic things that help propel a person forward in their spiritual journey. One of those steps: knowing that it’s ok to be where you are, as long as you are not content to stay there. Compassion helps bring this message to life for Fielder Church.
We are all about life change through Jesus Christ. It is what inspires us to give ourselves away. It is what compels us to take Christ across the street and around the world. At Fielder Church we are raising up a church community with a vision to look beyond ourselves and to make a similar investment somewhere else in the world.
Since many of the congregants of our multi-ethnic church have existing ties to Latin America, there was a natural draw to come alongside a country in South America. Through the work of Student Life, a strategic partner of Compassion, we connected with the work in Colombia and decided to donate $20,000 to start a Compassion Child Development Center in Sincelejo, Colombia. Being a parent in a city like Sincelejo is simply trying to ensure the survival of your child with almost no thought of breaking out of the circle of poverty. I witnessed tender, little children whose hearts are growing hard from navigating life on the streets.
Because of Fielder’s involvement, we saw the Compassion development center ramp up quickly and now it operates like a well-oiled machine. We know that the children in the program are fed, educated, nurtured, and taught about Jesus. There is a new hope instilled in these kids not just to survive, but to thrive--so that one day they will be leaders who transform their community.
As amazing as knowing that is, I was ill-prepared for the feeling of meeting my sponsored children and how meeting them would change me. I got to play games with them and treat them like my own kids. And I mourned when I left. These kids behind the photographs are real and they matter. I love mine deeply. They feel very much like MY kids, and the fact that they have to struggle with poverty is not ok.
My time in Sincelejo also reminds me of how quickly I forget how much God has given me compared to the rest of the world. I would feel mistreated by God if I had to live in a little bamboo shack like so many people do in impoverished areas of the globe. He’s given me the resources for a reason, and it’s not so that I can hoard them. So how do I get my church to not have an “us/them” mentality? How do I make it their issue, their problem so they recognize that it’s not ok?
I understand that not everyone is physically able to go on a missions trip, but child sponsorship and our work with the development center have given many of our congregants the opportunity to get involved in missions without leaving home. Leading up to our Compassion Sunday, we set a hairy, audacious goal of sponsoring 250 children, and miraculously we over doubled that goal. There were lines of people waiting to sign up! We saw our entire missions budget double on one Sunday! I nearly wept to see the number of children our families were able to sponsor.
Isaiah 58 tells us that what moves the heart of God is when we step in to help the weak and the vulnerable. When we fight for the marginalized, God will fight for us. A regular, ongoing contribution to support a child is so small a sacrifice compared to the difference it makes. It’s something that most everyone can do. And let me tell you, it is worth it.
You actually worship differently when you are connected to a child. It is because of the transforming love of Jesus we have experienced in our own lives that we find it simply impossible to enjoy the blessings of God in the middle of a dying world. The gospel beckons us to give. And when we give, He always gives back more to us. I dare anyone to test God on that!