I’d like to write a few blog posts about my recent trip to Ecuador. Doing such will accomplish two things: first, solidify in my own mind-for future reference-some of the things I learned while I was there; second, share my experiences with you.
My trip was at the invitation of Compassion Canada and it included an invitation for my wife to join me. The trip was officially a Pastor Exposure Trip and the destination was Ecuador. The idea behind the trip was to provide pastors, and their wives, an opportunity to see Compassion projects on the ground and in the flesh. The trips are not only investigative, but also practical; the travelers visit projects and serve and minister in the projects.
Lesson 1 – The Local Church
If I had only one question I really wanted an answer for in regards to Compassion, and that I hoped I this trip would answer, it would be about the local church.
Compassion states that they work “exclusively with local churches because they can best understand and respond to the challenges in their communities.” They also claim to exist “to enable the Church to fulfill her mission of making disciples of all nations and caring for those in great need.”
Was this true? Does Compassion really and truly value and partner with the local church? I heard first hand from Compassion employees that they did. I wanted to see for myself.
Having returned from visits to projects in Ecuador, including the cities of Quito, Santa Elena, and Guayaquil, I can attest to the fact that Compassion does indeed value the local church and partner with the local church.
In visiting a Child Survival Program in Santa Elena, in actuality what we visited was a church doing a wonderful work by giving “pregnant women and new mothers knowledge and resources to ensure their children not only survive but thrive in these most critical years of life.” When we visited a Child Sponsorship Program in the high-altitude outskirts of Quito, what we visited was a church releasing children from poverty-spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional-in the name of Jesus. These were real pastors and real volunteers from real churches that were doing the work. To me, this was a beautiful thing.
In fact, it was brought to my attention that a Compassion logo was almost nowhere to be seen. From my experience, it is indeed true that Compassion empowers and enables the church to do the very thing the Bible commands and commissions the church to do. As I commented to one of the other travelers, tongue in cheek, “It’s almost like they read their Bibles at Compassion!” I, for one, am glad they DO read their Bibles and then endeavour to work in such a way as to remain faithful to God’s Word. In doing so, they are strengthening the church and saving children. What a wonderful thing to see firsthand.