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God is Compassion

A reflection on the Free Churches Group’s trip to the Dominican Republic.

In February, Yvonne Campbell (C.F. General Secretary) and I were privileged to be part of a Free Churches Group from the UK that visited the Dominican Republic. Our group included members from six of the twenty-four different denominations within the Free Churches Group.The purpose of this trip was to see first-hand the amazing work that the charity Compassion UK was doing in Santo Domingo.

All through our time together on the trip, it felt like we were members of one congregation. I am passionate about working ecumenically and this was one of my finest experiences of doing just that. The feeling was captured by what group members said about our time together: “family; oneness; one body; unity; love; one-heart; Jesus; brothers & sisters and learning together”. This was truly a moment when the scripture came alive for me! “… so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Rom 12:5 RSV)

Our trip had the worst possible start. You may recall the snow and terrible weather we had in the UK in February. Shortly after boarding at Manchester airport, Yvonne and I were told that the aircraft was frozen and a delay was expected. This delay meant that we had missed our connecting flight, which the others in the group had caught.

With the help of the American Airlines staff and our determination, we were offered the earliest available flight and the quickest available route. We got there alright in the end. (But as for the rest of the story, I may have to tell that some other time.)

Dominican Republic FlagUpon arrival at Santo Domingo airport, we were picked up and taken straight to the mission fields, where we met the rest of the group. Prior to our trip, all I knew about Compassion UK was that it organised a child sponsorship programme. But I have learnt so much more about the amazing work they do in communities.

I learnt four things about their work that I would like to share:

  1. They involve local churches in their work: we visited a couple of the churches and we found that local churches play a crucial role in the work and vision of Compassion. At one church the pastor told me that their church was the centre of their community. “It is the place where everybody wants to be, a school, a place for all to call home, a hospital for those who can’t afford mainstream medical care and a worshipping community that welcomes all,” he said with joy and pride.
  2. Their holistic approach to poverty: Compassion UK’s approach to poverty is aimed at looking at all ‘four areas of poverty’: physical/material, social, spiritual and cognitive. I confess that very often my understanding of poverty was focused mainly on material poverty. That view has now changed. Compassion’s view of holistic poverty provides a better reflection on the meaning of poverty.
  3. Pressure on all to do more as demand soars: even as these churches and Compassion are doing great work, the need for more help is clearly evident in the communities we visited. So friends, whether it’s through prayers or financial support, we can all play our part to ease such pressure.
  4. The name of God is Compassion: “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” (Mark 1:41 NLT).

As we give thanks to God for the work of Compassion UK and its partner churches in the Dominican Republic (and the other nations where they work) we also offer our thanksgiving that as Christians, we continue to discover God’s finger prints on our community, and we work alongside others as partners to make a difference. To God be the glory! Amen.

If you would like to hear more about the work of Compassion UK please contact myself or Yvonne, and we can arrange for Compassion to visit your church.
Foday Kamara
Chinley CC

(Image by Lars Christopher Nøttaasen from Stavanger, Norway - FlagUploaded by Smooth_O, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8884975)

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