Day 2 in El Salvador with Compassion International

police escort

Police and motorcycle escort to project.

Getting a head start on the day two report, I haven’t done the Day 2 “devotional”, but it does ask the question again, “What ONE WORD best summarizes this day for you?” The answer so far would be, “wow.”

Today we went to a Compassion “project.” All of Compassion’s projects are connected with a local church. This is really a strength of Compassion, and also a strengthening tool for the local church. Since the churches help find the children and facilitate the projects, it helps to build the churches credibility in the community by providing such a powerful service. Compassion offers the churches an opportunity to serve the communities with not just the good news about Jesus, but also the ability to build a bridge into people’s lives by meeting real needs.

After the police escort, we arrived at the project to the cheers of about 300 people, Rock Star Welcomemostly whom were children. The church sponsoring the project also has a Christian school, and most of the kids in the school are a part of the project (sponsored children). We were welcomed like rock stars and ushered to the sanctuary where Pastor Daniel gave a short message and kids performed numerous dances, and songs, and more. You might note in the picture that all the kids look really normal – well dressed, clean, happy. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.)

We toured the school, and learned about how the Compassion funds were being used to support these children. We were even welcomed to look at various files of different sponsored children to see all the records of what support the children were receiving.

After lunch, we went to a home of one of the sponsored children. 1383826_10153316183295338_1992054975_nThis was really the big “wow” moment. Like I said before, at the school, all the children, workers, teachers, etc., looked just like you and me. But going into the home is where you really see the poverty. In this case, I’d have to say the condition of the home was worse than what I typically saw when I lived in Mtwara, Tanzania. The home was clean, but there was very little furnishing. The home was of a little boy named Allen. Allen, 7, with red hair like my son’s, lived there with his mom, sixteen year old sister, thirteen year old brother, mother, and grandfather.

The ceiling of the home was corrugated (sp?) metal/tin. Much of which they told us was provided by the church and Compassion project. There was some electricity – they had a refrigerator and stove, and a light or two. But electrical wires ran exposed along the walls. The floors of course were concrete, and the roof leaked when it rained.

All of the family were well dressed. They looked so sweet and happy. The mom grew up in this same home, and I asked her about her favorite childhood memory. She shared about going up the hill to an open field to play baseball. Unfortunately, she said that her children were unable to do this as the crime and violence were too great now and her children couldn’t roam free as she did.

I’m certain that I cannot adequately describe the heartbreak of their living conditions. I have so much. They have so very little. And what they lack the most is hope. There is little to no hope that they will see much change in their lifetimes. But Compassion is making a difference.

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Day One of Compassion International Trip to El Salvador

So I have the privilege of being on a trip to El Salvador with a team of Compassion Officepastors to see the work of Compassion International. In our trip book, provided by Compassion, it has a daily devotional and place to journal your experience. It asks the question, “What ONE WORD best sums up this day for you?”

For me, the answer is “Impressed.” Day one was spent touring the Compassion office in San Salvador and learning the inner workings of Compassion. I was impressed by several things.

I was impressed by the dedication and passion of the staff. They have a huge staff of people. They have to because this operation is massive. For one, they translate about 3000 Translator Sarahletters A DAY from sponsors writing to the children in El Salvador. But beyond the people overseeing the translation, all of the staff (and we met most of them who shared anywhere from 5-20 minutes about their role with Compassion) were so passionate about the program and the impact it is having on children and families. Color me impressed.

I was also impressed by the organization and apparent and potential impact Compassion has. It was really powerful to me to hear and see how Compassion is using my sponsorship dollars to change lives.

This is Compassion’s mission: In response to the Great Commission, Compassion International exists as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.”

They have three programs that serve children and families – from birth to about 25 years of age.

Child Survival Program – Work begins with pregnant mothers to help with the health of their unborn child, and then walks with the mothers through the early years of childhood to educate about health. They also connect the mothers with the good news of Jesus through Christian teaching, and attempt to connect the mothers in the community to one one another for support and community building.

Child Sponsorship Program – This is where our sponsorship money goes – to developing children lives in four areas: spiritual, physical, social/emotional and cognitive/educational. My families $38 a month is used to help with one specific child – giving them opportunity in an impoverished environment to succeed.

Leadership Development Program – This program provides scholarship money and training for graduates of the Child Sponsorship Program who show exceptional leadership skills. They receive both university training and Christian leadership training.

I could say so much more – but time is short.


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Rick and Kay Warren Talk About Their Son’s Suicide

I have so much respect for this man and his wife. I’m so glad they share their lives so we can learn/be inspired by them. Go here and read the article.

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Not too long ago, I did a sermon series I called “COEXIST.” You have probably seen the bumperstickers. The idea, in my mind, is that there are a lot of different faith and belief systems or you might call them “world views.” And even though we differ in our views, we can and should learn how to co-exist. We can inhabit the same space without hatred, anger, deceit, mistrust, etc. 

But, more and more, so many people I talk to are saying something similar to this: “There are all these different religions, but we all believe and worship the same God. They are just different ways to God.” Not much shocks me anymore, but I am completely shocked at the number of people who keep telling me this.

Anyway…one of my favorite pastors/leaders, Rick Warren, was accused of saying something similar to this.  Click here to read his response. I totally agree with him. Here is the first question and answer in the interview:

QUESTION: Do people of other religions worship the same God as Christians?

WARREN: Of course not. Christians have a view of God that is unique. We believe Jesus is God! We believe God is a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not 3 separate gods but one God. No other faith believes Jesus is God. My God is Jesus. The belief in God as a Trinity is the foundational difference between Christians and everyone else. There are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christians… whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Pentecostal, or Evangelical…and they all have the doctrine of the Trinity in common.


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The Gospel in Two Chairs

I am certainly a visual learner – so I love this illustration. As with a lot of things, I can’t agree 100% with all the conclusions here, but the illustration is powerful. And, as with a lot of things, I think the truth is found somewhere in the “holy middle ground.”

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Why, why, why, why, why – A Leadership Question

Read this blog post on the power of asking “Why?” five times.


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Song on Repeat in My Head Right Now

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