Right now I am sitting in the Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, Peru at a…drum roll…you guessed it…Starbucks! Don’t judge me so fast. I know I have a problem. We’ve had a ton of local Peruvian coffee and food. These people love chicken, french fries, and hen soup. The rest of the group went on a tour and I decided to stay back near our hotel in order to process some thoughts. We got up this morning at 4:45am to fly from Lima to Cusco. Right now we are at 12,000 ft above sea level and I almost passed out walking up to this coffee shop. Tomorrow we head to Macchu Picchu.
I was blessed with the opportunity to travel with some pastors in order to see first hand the impact of Compassion International. I’m not going to put in this blog a ton of facts about Peru or Compassion, that will come later. However, I want you to know what impresses me most about this ministry.
- The Gospel – Compassion is unapologetic about Jesus. In fact, the most crucial moment in their history was when the leadership wouldn’t compromise the centerpiece of the Gospel even though they would have received a ton more funding. Every child is loved on in a number of different ways, but the ultimate goal is the embracing of Jesus as Savior and Lord.
- The Church – Simply put, Compassion is a middle agent and catalyst for churches helping churches. Of course they have opportunities for individuals to sponsor children without a church, but the drive of the organization is divided up into projects or churches around the world. I loved meeting the pastors who love and disciple every child that is in the program. Every person who benefits from Compassion has to be involved with a church.
- The People – This is two-fold. #1. The staff from the United States are for real. I’ve never seen a group love what they do more than these people. I loved watching them not only connect us with the children but also love the children. #2. Compassion isn’t some sort of organization that tries to save the world from America. Every compassion office in every country is from that country. Most of the staff started out as sponsored children who have now grown up to work for Compassion. The head of the Leadership Program in Lima doesn’t even speak English. I love this! When you get involved with Compassion you are empowering an indigenous movement that has a huge goal of being self sustaining. There are regions all over the world where Compassion is now being completely supported and led by people in that country. Yes!!!
So, why did I name this blog “Our Children”?
I have united with some of my Acts 29 brothers on this trip with a passion to return home to you with vision of loving our children, our city’s children, and the world’s children. We will be sharing some details soon on how we will unite with these churches to start a brand new project in the world. As I have processed this vision and as I have reflected on this trip, Jesus has shifted my paradigm. Instead of thinking about my children and others’ children, Jesus wants the church to think about OUR children. As the church, you and I have been given the blessing of caring for the less fortunate as Salt and Light. This is not an option. Very quickly, this is how Jesus rocked my perspective.
On our second day we visited a church named Jesus te Llama which is in Pachacudec (North of Lima). I wasn’t actually feeling good because of the heat in our bus and the crazy driving. We were greeted by this beautiful church family and then divided up into the little classrooms. As we walked into our classroom, I saw a little boy named Alonso sitting around a bunch of little girls. I felt like I could give him some “brotherhood” so I sat next to him and helped him work on his school project. At first he was really apprehensive. He hardly smiled or talked to me. Then I reached over, grabbed a crayon, and started coloring a butterfly with him. After a few minutes he looked up at me, smiled, and gave me a big hug………………………………………..Dang. My eyes flooded with tears. I thought about coloring with my three boys. I thought about the blessing of my boys having a stable and loving family. I thought about the fact that most likely little Alonso didn’t have the same privilege and that maybe he didn’t have a dad that would color a butterfly with him.
Do you know Jesus speaks through children? He had me hooked. As we finished his project, I began to ask about his story and the reality of his life. Alonso is seven years old. His mom was actually volunteering that day and her name is Aydee. Alonso also has a sister named Tatiana who is twelve. I asked about the father and Aydee began to cry. She told me that her husband left them for another life and woman. I also began to weep. Over the next 45 minutes I played and loved my little man, Alonso, longing to let him know that Jesus and this daddy love him with all their heart.
Jesus came down from Heaven and showed me His beautiful Gospel through Alonso. I am so blessed to have had this experience and the blessing of working with Compassion in order to help Alonso grow up to love Jesus and the world. I am so thankful that my children and wife have a new member of our family in Pachacudec, Peru.
Vintage Church Family, God has blessed us with a great opportunity to love on our children, the children in our city and the children around the world. I am excited to pray with each of you as we shift our paradigm and mobilize Vintage to love OUR children around the world.