The DNA is Changing at Ten Mile Christian Church
In 2010 I found myself on a plane to Ecuador with a group of fellow pastors on vision trip with Compassion International and STADIA, with the book Too Small to Ignore by Wess Stafford in my hands. We were to have read the book prior to the trip as preparation, but the busyness of church life prevented me from making that happen.
To make up for it, any free moment between visits to the local churches, tours of the country office in Quito and time spent with the children and graduates of the program, I had my nose buried in that book. Wess’ words about children and “the least of these” began to move me. I was seeing firsthand how loving intentions could turn into strategic actions that would change the life of a child. I remember thinking, “This actually works! Child sponsorship changes children and their families!” I couldn’t help but dream, “What if every household at Ten Mile Church could read this book? What if it became a part of the DNA of who we are?”
Fast forward a year, and with Compassion’s help we were able to provide a copy of Wess’ book to every household in our congregation. I challenged the church to read the book in preparation for Ten Mile’s first Compassion Sunday knowing that seeds were going to be sewn and lives were going to be changed.
That Sunday, 284 children were sponsored. But not only were their lives changed, but lives within Ten Mile Church were changed as well. I had childless couples come up to me with tears in their eyes to tell me about the letters they had received from their Compassion children. Our fourth and fifth graders collaboratively decided to sponsor a child named Fabian. I’m still ecstatic at the thought that they will grow up writing him letters, and their lives will forever be intertwined and impacted because of it. One member of our congregation was so moved by his Compassion experience that he is now a Compassion Advocate, and the leader of all missions at Ten Mile Church. He and his wife have paid off their house, and have plans to move to Ecuador to work alongside Compassion with no compensation.
I love to watch the congregation when I mention Compassion on a Sunday morning. Their body language changes, they sit a little taller because they are actually doing something. They are living in the context of what Jesus taught, and living out the mission of the local church. Partnering with Compassion has impacted my church in ways I can’t even describe. Their resources have become our resources and that profound message from Too Small to Ignore has truly been embedded in the DNA of Ten Mile Christian Church. I know it will be for many years to come, so much so that every new member who participates in our Welcome to Ten Mile Church class receives a copy of their own.
Compassion has come right alongside the mission and vision of our church and provided resources and tools for our congregation to have a lasting global impact for Christ. I’m expectant of many more life changing tomorrows with Compassion and Ten Mile Christian Church.