I was inspired to extend that connection to our church when we wanted to make a difference in a community in Uganda. It was important to me to see firsthand how our church’s resources would be used on another continent, so before making a final decision, my wife and I traveled to Uganda to see Compassion’s ministry for ourselves. Our observations while visiting our sponsored children’s homes strengthened our conviction that Compassion does what they say they are doing.
While on that visit, I met the pastor of a local church in Mukono that implemented a Compassion child development center. This man had the same kinds of goals – the same pastor’s heart – that I did. Of course, his challenges were much different than mine, but at our core, we were no different.
The natural tendency is for churches and people to think inwardly, and I feel that part of my role is to challenge the people of our church to look outside of themselves.
Shortly after that trip I presented a number of goals for our church. The first two goals were Compassion-centered goals. This was intentional. I felt that as an outwardly-focused church, we needed to start with goals that made a difference in peoples’ lives who were far from our church in Pittsburgh.
I presented our church with the opportunity for individuals to sponsor as many children as possible from Mukono. The congregation rallied around this goal, and we sponsored 300 children. We raised $9,000 to build a piggery where pigs are raised to help the families economically in the same community as our sponsored children. Then we raised $35,000 to build a library and training center for our sponsored children and the other children in their community.
Inspiration in Pittsburgh and Mukono
As it turned out, our Compassion-centered goals inspired tremendous unity and passion in our church and created momentum that helped us to reach our other goals.
During the second year of our church’s relationship with Compassion, we traveled to see the impact our church was making in Uganda. We observed the joy and contentment in the lives of the people; despite the circumstances they face, their faith is genuine and their focus is – get this – OUTWARD. They are dedicated to reaching their own local community for Christ.
I am so pleased that Compassion helped us develop and maintain this outward focus. Now we have children in Uganda who count on us for regular financial support, letters, and prayers. We talk regularly about what we are doing in Uganda. Our sponsored children are always on our hearts and in our minds. Their needs are woven into the fabric of our own identity.
Open Doors to Grow Followers of Christ
It is obvious to me that God opened the door to our relationship with Compassion. That partnership has not just blessed me as a leader; it has affected the very nature of who we are as a church. The spiritual life of our congregation has become richer. It has positively impacted the vitality and health of our church.
I believe that our relationship with Compassion has enabled our church to lead as many people as possible into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ because it has enabled the people of our church to be more like Him.