USA (MNN) — Compassion International is known worldwide for its focus on Christ-centered child development in impoverished areas. The ministry focuses on the individual child — providing physical, social, economic, and spiritual care.
But what makes the ministry truly distinctive is their unique identity in the communities they serve. Silas Balraj, Vice President, Asia Region, shares, “Compassion’s identity is ‘Christ, church, and child.’
“We go with the book of Matthew, Chapter 18, when Jesus placed the child in the midst. There were adults, and they said, ‘Who is the greatest?’ The Lord Himself could have stood in the middle and said, ‘I am the greatest,” or put Peter in the middle. But he put a child – an unassuming child who was looking at her dolls – and He pulled a child and said, ‘This child is the greatest.’ So centrality of child being found in the vision of the church – the mission and vision of the church.”
Compassion has field offices in the countries it serves, and within each country, areas are identified where poverty is prevalent. “We zero in based on the dollar variation – meaning the poverty index – as in $1.25 a day is abject poverty and $2.00 a day is poverty,” says Balraj.
It is estimated that 400 million people in the world live in abject poverty.
Poverty is a guide, and partnership is a mandate for Compassion. Balraj says the ministry only works in communities where there is an active church.
“We only work with the local church, and when we say that, we mean a church that is recognized as a place of worship by the local community – a church that is willing and a church that has a vision for children, a church that has a vision for the Great Commission, and a church that has a willingness to transform the community which the Lord has called them to.”
Compassion then works with the local church partner to locate children in the area for childhood development. If the infant mortality rate is high in the area, Balraj says, “We ask the church, ‘Do you think mothers would need a child survival program too?’ We want to start early in the womb of the mother.”
Working with families of young children is essential to Compassion. “We want to make sure the children are taken in early,” Balraj shares. “The reason is the developmental milestones of the early childhood are very, very key to the child becoming well-grounded holistically as well as a Christ-centered adult.”
Compassion believes partnership should strengthen the local church to care effectively for its community.
“Compassion just is the foundation and the seed, and then because of our partnership model, we work with the church and we support them, we equip them, we mentor them, and we walk with them in the journey so that they become self-reliant,” Balraj explains. “Ownership has increased, local resource mobilization has increased, and engagement with the family and the community is two-way. It’s just not the church doing it, but it’s everybody doing it together.”
The programs provided through the local church offer parents the security of knowing their children have a better future through nutrition, education, and Gospel-centered care. With that burden lifted, Balraj says hope begins to rise in families and communities.
“A ministry like Compassion just doesn’t transform a child, it transforms a whole generation. If we see the scope of this work, it’s the power of the Church, the power of the Gospel, and the power of transformed lives.”
With 63 years of ministry and a name recognized by most, Balraj desires most that people pray for humility and continued faithfulness for Compassion. “Pray for wisdom, that we would really let the Church be the Church, that Christ would be Lord of all, and that we would be joining Him in His work, then He blessing us and we enjoying the benefits of that blessing.”
When you sponsor a child through Compassion, you are equipping the local church to provide sustainable care that transforms lives. Learn more about sponsorship at Compassion.com.