1952

Compassion International founded

Compassion International is founded by evangelist Rev. Everett Swanson, who was moved by the plight of orphans in South Korea.

Evangelist Everett Swanson travels from Chicago to South Korea to preach the gospel to soldiers fighting in the Korean War. During his visit he encounters children orphaned by the war. Rev. Swanson is challenged by a missionary friend: “You have seen the tremendous needs and unparalleled opportunities of this land. What do you intend to do about it?”

Two cheques are presented to Rev. Swanson ($50 and $1,000) upon his return to the United States, to help the orphans of Korea. “This was conclusive proof to me that God was in it,” Rev. Swanson says.

Everett’s wife Miriam Swanson and family friends Dr. Gus and Helen Hemwall encourage, support and work with Rev. Swanson in his efforts to help Korean orphans. Dr. Hemwall provides medical supplies and significant financial resources as Everett launches his ministry.

1963

Rev. Swanson changes the name of the ministry to Compassion and Compassion Canada is established

Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:32, “I have compassion on the multitude. I will not send them away hungry,” as well as a growing uneasiness with seeing his own name represent a growing ministry, Rev. Swanson changes the name of Everett Swanson Evangelical Association to Compassion International.

Compassion of Canada, Ltd. (now known as “Compassion Canada”) is formed. Bob and Janet Forsyth open their home to house the first Canadian office. This committed couple is key in expanding Compassion’s ministry from the United States to Canada, and allow caring Canadians to respond to the needs of children around the world.

1965

Rev. Everett Swanson dies

On November 15, 1965, Rev. Everett Swanson dies, 13 years after pioneering Compassion’s ministry. In 1966, after several months of prayer, the board selects Rev. Henry L. Harvey as president of Compassion and appoints Miriam Swanson, Everett’s widow, to serve as vice-president.

1968

Compassion begins its international growth

Compassion begins its international growth outside of Korea and establishes programming in India, Indonesia and Haiti.

1970

Compassion begins work in Thailand and the Dominican Republic

1972

Rev. Jim Somerville becomes first Canadian president

Rev. Jim Somerville becomes the first president of Compassion Canada. Compassion Canada’s office moves to London, Ontario.

Compassion begins work in the Philippines.

1974

Compassion begins work in Colombia, Ecuador and Honduras

1975

Wally Erickson becomes Compassion’s third president

In June of 1975, Rev. Wally Erickson becomes Compassion International’s third president. He had served the organization for eight years prior to his appointment.

Tearfund, a Christian relief agency in the United Kingdom, becomes affiliated with Compassion for child sponsorship.

Compassion establishes programming in Bolivia and Brazil.

1977

Compassion begins work in El Salvador

1978

Compassion Australia is established

Australian sponsors help create Compassion Limited of Australia, headquartered in Newcastle.

1979

Compassion begins work in Mexico and Rwanda

1980

Compassion’s work expands to four more countries

Compassion establishes programming in four countries: Kenya, Uganda, Guatemala and Peru.

1983

Dave MacLeod is named president of Compassion Canada

Dave MacLeod is named president of Compassion Canada following Rev. Somerville’s retirement.

1984

The Compassion Fund and Unsponsored Children’s Fund are introduced

Two funds beyond child sponsorship are introduced to help meet additional needs of children living in poverty.

The Compassion Fund is introduced to provide extraordinary medical and education assistance to Compassion-sponsored children.

The Unsponsored Children’s Fund is introduced to help provide support to newly registered children waiting for a sponsor.

Today, these initiatives are funded by our Complementary Interventions and Urgent Needs Fund.

1986

Tearfund New Zealand partners with Compassion

Tearfund New Zealand partners with Compassion in funding the child sponsorship program.

1990

SEL France partners with Compassion

SEL France partners with Compassion in funding the child sponsorship program.

1991

10,000 children now sponsored by Canadians

Compassion Canada hits the milestone of 10,000 children sponsored.

1993

More than 180,000 children are sponsored globally

As of 1993, more than 180,000 children are sponsored by Compassion in more than 2,000 project sites in 21 countries.

Compassion leaves Korea after 40 successful years of ministry. Compassion begins work in Ethiopia.

Rev. Wally Erickson retires from Compassion International after serving as president for 18 years. Dr. Wess Stafford assumes the presidency.

Rev. Barry Slauenwhite is named Compassion Canada’s third president after 10 years of serving with the organization as Vice-President of Marketing and Church Ministry.

1996

The Netherlands joins Compassion’s Global Partner Alliance

The Netherlands becomes the sixth Compassion partner country.

Over 200,000 children are now sponsored through Compassion’s ministry worldwide. Compassion Canada reaches 15,000 sponsored children.

1999

Compassion begins work in Tanzania

2001

More expansion in the Global Partner Alliance

Compassion Italy and Compassion UK are established.

Over 400,000 children are now sponsored in 21 countries around the world.

2002

Compassion International celebrates 50 years of ministry

Compassion International celebrates 50 years of ministry.

The child sponsorship program expands into Nicaragua.

2003

Compassion Suisse opens in Switzerland

Compassion Canada celebrates two milestones: its 40th anniversary and 25,000 children sponsored by Canadians. Over 500,000 children are supported through all of Compassion’s partners worldwide.

Compassion Suisse opens in Switzerland.

In December, Compassion begins its child development program in Bangladesh.

2004

South Korea comes full circle in its relationship with Compassion

South Korea comes full circle in its relationship with Compassion, becoming a partner country and establishing Compassion Korea.

Compassion expands to West Africa, beginning work in Burkina Faso, and then in Ghana one year later.

2007

More expansion in both partner and program countries

Compassion Deutschland opens in Germany and Compassion establishes programming in Togo.

Compassion Canada celebrates 50,000 children sponsored.

2009

The one millionth Compassion child is sponsored

After reaching 1,000,000 registered children in 2008, Compassion celebrates 1,000,000 children sponsored in 2009.

Compassion establishes programming in Sri Lanka.

2013

Compassion Canada celebrates 50 years of ministry

Compassion Canada celebrates 50 years of ministry.

Compassion Nordic joins the Global Partner Alliance.

Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado is welcomed as Compassion International’s fifth president, after Dr. Wess Stafford’s retirement.

2017

Compassion exits India

After 48 years of serving children in India, Compassion makes the difficult decision to stop our work in the country. Nearly 147,000 babies, children and young adults registered in our programs are affected.

2018

Allison Alley named next President and CEO

After 35 years of ministry service with Compassion Canada, Rev. Barry Slauenwhite announces his intention to retire in 2019. In his time as President and CEO, the number of children sponsored by Canadians grew from approximately 10,000 to over 100,000.

The board of directors names Allison Alley as Compassion Canada’s next President and CEO.

Compassion International celebrates 2,000,000 children registered in child development centres around the world.

2019

Allison Alley becomes Compassion Canada’s fourth President and CEO

After a year of co-leadership with Rev. Slauenwhite, Allison Alley assumes the role of Compassion Canada’s fourth President and CEO in October 2019.

2020

The COVID-19 pandemic changes Compassion’s operations worldwide

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most Compassion centres are forced to suspend regular programming and focus their efforts on relief, food security and housing stability.

In response to the unprecedented need caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Compassion’s Global Partner Alliance launches the global We Rise As One campaign. This is the first global campaign of its kind amongst Compassion partner countries.

Compassion staff around the world transition to work from home.