Effective Compassion Means Spending Yourself

Surrounded by a sea of human needs and buffeted by endless waves of challenging situations that arise in an urban context, I often find myself returning to the question, “what makes compassion effective?” It is easy to see how some have arrived at institutional compassion as a means of efficiently addressing the multitudes. However, while efficient systems are clearly important for any organization, Mission Adelante believes that ministry is primarily a relational endeavor, and that genuine compassion requires relationship. Marvin Olasky, chief editor of World Magazine and author of the book Renewing American Compassion writes, “Effective compassion recognizes that one size does not fit all—only a personalized, face-to-face approach tailored to the individual (or sometimes the family) offers any hope for turning lives around.” This kind of compassion is not clean and easy. It requires long-term involvement. It is harder to measure than simply asking “how many people were served?” Relational compassion requires people who will get their hands dirty in the messy lives of broken people. However, despite its personal costs, relational compassion is the best way to transmit the message of the gospel; the message of God who lived among us as a man and died for our sins.

As Mission Adelante serves immigrants in our community we have taken Olasky’s words to heart. Volunteers in our ESL program work with one or two adult students. Several of our ESL classes meet in homes in the community, providing an environment of hospitality and friendship. Birthdays are celebrated. Kids are taken out for ice cream. Volunteers and students take field trips together doing things like bowling or going to the Nelson Art Gallery. And when financial help is provided it always happens through a relational process.

I realize that the swelling waves of human needs will not subside until Christ returns. So, while it is tempting to abandon effectiveness for efficiency, Mission Adelante will always remember that “relationship” is one of the most important ingredients in the kind of compassion that changes lives for eternity. Please pray with us for volunteers and staff who are willing to spend themselves on behalf of the broken and vulnerable.

In other news:
  • We're grateful for Valerie Kalny, who has served as Mission Adelante's volunteer bookkeeper from the very beginning! The Mission has benefited greatly by her dedication to this role and her accuracy in her work, which have been especially evident during the last few weeks as she has worked on year-end tasks. Thank you, Valerie!
  • We had a strong launch for our spring trimester last Thursday! Five levels of adult English classes got up and running in the neighborhood and 63 excited, energetic kids ages 5 through 12 filled the building for Kids Adelante!
  • Seven pairs/groups of three began the discipleship study together last Sunday evening. The study includes 13 lessons on the basics of following Christ.

Prayer needs:

  • Join us in praying that the initial enthusiasm for the discipleship study will be maintained during the next few months while the pairs work to complete it, and that those people who missed the first week will be able to get started this Sunday.
  • Pray for Molly Merrick and Megan McDermott's continued fundraising. Molly joined the Mission Adelante staff at 10 hours/week at the beginning of January and Megan is planning to join full-time in June.
  • Pray for God's provision for the families in our community that are suffering financially because of lack of work in the winter season and in this economic climate.

Current needs:

  • A volunteer to fill in as Administrative Assistant at least one afternoon a week during March and April while Morgan is on maternity leave. If you're available and interested, please contact Jarrett at jarrettm@missionadelante.org or 913-909-0627.
  • Individuals to organize food drives at their churches to stock our Resource Center. If this is something you could do, please contact Jason at jasons@missionadelante.org or 913-281-6274.
  • Diapers to stock the Resource Center: all sizes; any quantity