In Defense Of Jesus

A few years ago a consultant advised Compassion International brass to change their organization’s tagline: “Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”

Why?

Because Jesus may be God to some, but to others he’s fictional or offensive.

Because removing Jesus’ name would make Compassion appealing to a broader audience.

Because more people would sponsor children.

And isn’t more better?

But Compassion International didn’t remove Jesus from its tagline. Today, that tagline is in their logo.

Compassion-Logo

Why is Jesus so important at Compassion International?

Motivation: Jesus is why we love children…

We love because he first loved us. -1 John 4:19

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. -1 John 3:16-18

Method: Jesus is how we love children…

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” -John 15:5

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. -Galatians 2:20

Mission: Giving Jesus is loving children…

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:16-18

Jesus is not a word in a slogan. He is our motivation, method and 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. – Compassion International’s mission statement.

Today, I asked a mother if having a son in Compassion’s program was of any benefit to her personally. She smiled wide and often. Joy. So much otherworldly joy.

“Yes,” she beamed. “Before I was hopeless. But I saw how God was good to my son and I went to the church and saw the people were good there too and now I believe in Jesus. Now I am filled with the Holy Spirit,” she said, “and I am thirsty to pray.”

At her son’s child development center, which is a church like all development centers worldwide, there are children who worship Allah and others who worship nature and ancestors. They are all fed, educated, given medicine when they’re sick… No child must believe in Jesus in order to be loved well.

But this woman’s son, Sunari, was so well cared for by Christians at his child development center that he believed only their God could be behind it all. He became a Christian. Then his mother. Then his sisters.

“Please pray for my husband,” Sunari’s mother asked at the end of our visit together. “He struggles because he has no hope. But if he has Jesus we can live together in peace.”

There is value in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, educating the illiterate, healing the sick…but the deepest poverty a child can know is hopelessness.

Poverty whispers to every child living under its thumb…

“You are worthless.” And we say “You were worth the life of God’s one and only Son.”

“Things will never change for you.” And we say “God is making all things new.”

“You are nothing.” And we say “God loves you and has a plan for your life…”

And Sunari says, “I want to be a doctor.” And he hears the whisper and averts his eyes and laughs at his dream. I put my hand on his shoulder and say his name. He looks into my face and I tell him to listen to me.

“You can do it. God hears your prayers. He has given you education and food hasn’t he? He can make you a doctor someday. Nothing is too hard for our God. Do you believe me?”

He smiles. “Yes.”

We pray. We thank God for Jesus, for Compassion, for Sunari’s sponsor, for a family who is trusting Christ together. Sunari’s mother lifts her hands to heaven and we ask God to change her husband’s heart. “In Jesus’ name we pray…” And the circle says, “Amen.”

On average, 500 children come to faith in Jesus everyday through the ministry of Compassion International. Not because they must in order to be loved well. But because they have been loved well. Because they have tasted the goodness of God and want more.

Give a child Jesus today. Sponsor a child.

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