Poverty is never glamorous. Yet we often expect its remedy to be.
Isn’t this the root of the socialistic mindset that has failed secular humanitarian work through the ages? Demanding immediate foreseeable results while neglecting the patience necessary to holistic development. Holistic is the key premise there. Man is in essence a spiritual being. It’s more than feeding mouths or quenching thirsts; the heart issue must be addressed. The impoverished need hope in their help. To neglect that reality is to render development and aid ultimately feeble.
Poverty is first and foremost a spiritual issue. Without this acknowledgement, humanitarian aid will simply be another coat of paint over a decaying infrastructure. Relieving children from poverty is not the same as releasing children from poverty; the Gospel is the only thing that can break this awful cycle.
Relationships are what allow souls to minister to souls. And that’s something absolutely essential to Compassion International’s ministry in 26 countries around the world. Allow me to share my vantage point in just one of them.
Starting my Compassion internship in Guatemala was stunningly empowering both spiritually and professionally. It was unlike any past trip abroad because it brought flesh and bone to the faces I would be toiling for in Colorado Springs. Not only did it provide sufficient motivation to sustain the less exotic office work of the summer, but it also casted vision for the future grace I pray my work catapults these children toward.
What I saw in Guatemala was a holistic approach to suffering, especially eternal suffering. It was effective and more importantly, Biblical.
The personalism of child sponsorship and development was a triumphant theme in the streets of Escuintla. These children were thrilled to have their basic needs met through the generosity of their sponsors. But how much greater was their jubilation when they shared the messages they had received from abroad.
Such as that of Kevin, a graduate of Compassion’s child and leadership development programs. Tears swelled in his eyes when asked why, years later, he had kept every one of the dozens of letters he had received from his sponsors—a Canadian couple that had passed away as Kevin began college.
Every letter inked on those tattered green parchments represented a priceless personal investment. The prayers and encouragement that permeated his letters addressed Kevin’s spiritual need; nourishing his needs as a citizen of Escuintla and of his eventual residence in glory.
As he would put it, “I’d rather have a letter than lunch.”
It was tempting to dwell on the negative side of things. “What about the kids on the other side of the fence who are unsponsored?” “Who is caring for the surrounding communities that are void of Compassion programs?” These are vital questions.
But the overwhelming need of millions should not nullify the significance of one.
Poverty is holistically eradicated on a one-to-one basis. Because letters, prayers, and sponsor visits give children something that can’t be found on store shelves: hope, life— Jesus. This endeavor is more about souls than speed.
It may not be glamorous. It may not save the world overnight. But it’s soul-shaping, causing Christ to shine bright.
Your Friend, D.Kim