Recently, Compassion’s Ministry Relations Regional Manager for the Greater Toronto Area, Aimee Esparaz, wrote this article about the global church’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for Vancouver Chinese Christian Short-Term Mission Training Centre‘s Truth Monthly magazine. The article was published in both English and Chinese in the November 2020 issue of Truth Monthly (find Aimee’s article in English on page 69 and in Chinese on page 80).
Last November, I was in Peru leading a trip for Canadian Pastors and Ministry Leaders to see Compassion’s ministry first-hand. Turns out, it was going to be my last trip before COVID-19 locked everything down.
These days, as we all continue to live through this pandemic, my heart is back in Peru.
We were at one of Compassion’s frontline church partners in Piura, Peru and I just so happened to look out the door where I saw a woman standing with her two kids. She waved and smiled at me.
I asked the Pastor’s wife if this woman and her kids were part of the Compassion program at the church and she sadly said no. Because the program is full.
And this is always how my heart breaks: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37)
Compassion is one of the world’s leading child development organizations. Partnering with local churches in 25 countries, Compassion’s mission is to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Today, two million children are discovering lives full of promise and purpose as they develop in all aspects of their lives and have the opportunity to hear the Gospel through the local church.
Yet, there are so many more children yet to be reached, especially for such a time as this. Experts are predicting that the global recession resulting from COVID-19 could push an additional 42 to 66 million children into extreme poverty this year. This is heart-breaking news.
“What could Compassion have done better?”
On that same trip, I met another woman. Her 17-year-old son is alive because of Compassion. He suffers from seizures and being part of the Compassion program at the local church in their community has helped him access proper medical care.
One of the Canadian pastors who was with me at this home visit asked, “What could Compassion have done better to support your family?”
This woman thought for a while and said this: “The only thing Compassion could have done better is to see many more children connected with sponsors.”
She didn’t want better for her own family, but better for her neighbours—those yet to be reached, that plentiful harvest referred to in Matthew 9:37!
Her words have been my motivation these days, as challenges in ministry work arise due to this pandemic. I am inspired, challenged and determined anew to do my best to see every child released from poverty in Jesus’ name, to inspire every Jesus-follower to do their part, and to see every life—on both sides—changed as a result!
Because this is what the Gospel looks like! Just as Jesus said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18)
The Church is rising
As we continue to live through this pandemic, we are now seeing that COVID-19 is disproportionately adversely affecting people who live in poverty, not only here in Canada, but even more so in developing countries.
In the midst of all this, Compassion is responding.
Across our 25 fields countries and in partnership with local churches, we are providing food, hygiene supplies and rent support—the three most critical needs at this time.
Our 8,000+ local church partners have always been the hero of Compassion’s ministry, but even more so now, as they faithfully serve before, during and after COVID-19. Their work is as critical as ever—and they need our support now more than ever. In the face of need unlike anything we’ve ever seen, it’s time for us to respond like we never have before.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”
– Matthew 9:37
Throughout this pandemic, my family and I have intentionally been looking for opportunities to extend God’s love in tangible ways to those who are marginalized and vulnerable—to help with the plentiful harvest and to proclaim good news to the poor.
Most of us have experienced huge changes to our lifestyle in this season. I know for my family, it’s been months since we’ve had a meal at a restaurant. That’s money we’ve been able to set aside to give away during this season of COVID-19. Perhaps for you, it’s what you’ve saved by not buying your daily coffee, not taking transit, not buying gas or not going on vacation this past summer.
Will you join us?
This Christmas, Compassion is inviting church communities to take action through the five-week Gifts of Compassion Church Resource Kit. These digital resources will equip and inspire your church to make a difference in the lives of children living in poverty. It takes less than five minutes of your weekly gathering to rally your community around this cause.
I believe God has equipped His Church for such a time as this. When we take action and embrace God’s heart for the poor, He will honour that and our impact on missions will be greater than we could ever imagine. As I think about this, my mind goes to the woman standing in the doorway of the church in Piura, Peru. I believe our efforts in this season are making room for women, children and families like hers.
When we rise as one to meet the needs of the poor as the Body of Christ, we are demonstrating God’s grace, speaking truth and bringing life to a dying world. We are the Church, and we will rise as one.
Does your church community want to make a difference in the lives of children and families living in poverty this Christmas? We’ve created a Church Resource Kit designed to equip you to do just that.
Aimee Esparaz 郭恩慈 serves in the role of Ministry Relations Regional Manager (Greater Toronto Area) for Compassion Canada. You can find her on social media @mama2greatkids.