From Karma To Compassion

I believed in karma. Or what my favorite conservative radio show host at the time called “personal responsibility.”

If you work hard, make good choices, do your best – I thought – you’ll succeed. This is the inevitable consequence of a job well done. And if you’re not successful – if you don’t have enough food, your roof leaks, you’re unemployed – well, you haven’t worked hard, made good choices and done your best. We get what we deserve.

Though I wouldn’t have called it that, I believed in karma.

Then a radio station took a group of listeners to Ecuador on a mission trip in 2002 and brought me along as the “celebrity” guest. My dad got to come too.


We grew beards, skipped showers, carried rocks, mixed cement and stacked bricks.

We played with kids and I even got to open for a local band putting on a concert at a nearby church.


And along the way I began to doubt karma.

A pastor in Otavalo told me that one morning everyone in Ecuador woke up to discover they were much poorer. The government, he said, moved the decimal point overnight. Two places to the left. A person who had worked hard and saved $20,000 woke up that day with $200.

Karma is hard to believe in outside of America’s suburbs. Karma is blindly optimistic. It tells us life is fair, there is no evil, justice always prevails, the principalities and powers are always benevolent and trustworthy, the playing field is even.


Ecuador was the first step of my long journey from karma to compassion. And I’m going back. This time leading a group of Compassion Bloggers alums on a trip to see Compassion International’s ministry to children there.

I’m bringing my friends Ann, Kelly, Amanda, Melanie, Sophie, Patricia and Keely with me. We’ll spend a couple days visiting Compassion child development centers in the mountainous region in and around Quito before making the trek to the secluded villages of the Amazon rainforest where we’ll visit the piranas, poisonous spiders and man-eating snakes.

We’ll get started on November 8th and post from Ecuador for the last time on November 12th. You can follow the whole trip at or use the shortcut

Once again our hope is that hundreds of children in the developing world will be sponsored through this trip. And that tens of thousands of readers will be moved from karma to compassion.

Pray for us? For us all?

Thank you.