I visited three churches in Honduras last week.
The first church had a building with a second floor for kids that had been brought in off the street. We went into a room and saw a very young child sleeping in a crib. The pastor was out for a walk one day and saw a box moving in the rain. He went over and found a baby in the box. The church is now raising this child, along with other kids in the transition center and in the orphanage about an hour away.
The second church had a beautiful building relatively speaking. They had just bought a building across the road to accommodate even more children in the project. The church has 297 children attending the project and is going to expand to have another 30. The project director has had his life threatened by thugs in the community. As we walked through the community he stopped to talk to every person he met. He even peeked in a few windows to smile and to say hi.
The third church’s building was literally a shack, but it was a much more beautiful shack than existed there a year ago. That church has plans to continue to expand its building to provide better facilities for the children who attend the program. It was started when the pastor began preaching under a tree in that area. This area is the most run down to look at it, but it seemed safer, and the people much friendlier.
This is one of the beauties of Compassion: it works through churches within a community. Their website says:
Every child development project is connected to a local church staffed by members of that community. Compassion’s child ministry strengthens local churches through partnerships that provide resources to reach out to children and families. The church is the God-given institution meant to be salt and light in a hurting world. Enabling the church to minister holistically to children and their families is at the heart of Compassion’s strategy.
After seeing hundreds of kids in churches that have almost nothing, I can’t help but think, “What is my church doing?” Not picking on my own church in particular, but it did strike me that we have some pretty severe needs within our local community. It is humbling to see churches do so much with so little, when we have so much and do relatively little in comparison. It certainly raised the bar for me.
Besides becoming a big fan of Compassion, I’ve also been challenged to practice the power of investing in a child’s life even here in Canada. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how a church in Canada can move toward serving the local community a fraction as much as what I saw last week.