In the last few weeks since the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, we’ve all been asking ourselves what we can do to help. We’ve felt helpless as we’ve watched the video of people suffering. Every time we pick up the paper or watch the news, more examples of human suffering come to our awareness. As Christians, what does God want us to do?
Author Dave Donaldson answers that question in his book The Compassion Revolution: How God Can Use You to Meet the World’s Greatest Needs. Inside, he shows us that God has provided us with enough resources and given us the ability to solve the problems of hunger, poverty, sickness and homelessness.
Dave Donaldson and his brothers began the ministry, Convoy of Hope, partly in response to the love and care they were shown after their father died in a car accident and their mother was in the hospital for an extensive period. After being shuffled from house to house, Dave and his brothers were finally taken in by a family who, by our standards, had no room or resources to take in extra people. But the family made room for them, loved them and treated them like family. Because of the care that was shown to him, Dave then had a heart to care for others in the world who were homeless and suffering.
He outlines the various problems of poverty in the world, from lack of food and clean drinking water to an absence of adequate medical care and shelter. And there’s most definitely a lack of hope. Most spend their days just simply trying to survive. When we really look at the extent of their suffering, and then look at how blessed we are, we must know that God is calling us to do something.
I know that I’ve held some misconceptions about the poor in our own country. And while some people may fit into the stereotypes that we carry, the majority of the homeless and poor don’t. The author addresses who the poor really are and who they aren’t. He suggests that we tend to practice selective compassion. We decide who is worthy of our compassion and who isn’t, perhaps those who have brought their problems on themselves. But he shares how God doesn’t do that with us.
Around the world, the problem of the poor is different than it is inside the U.S. In Africa, there are tens of thousands of orphans, whose parents have died from disease, disaster or simply been unable to care for them. Many may have only one set of clothing. Many don’t even own a pair of shoes. In many countries, people spend their days just trying to find sustenance for their family and often don’t know when they’ll have their next meal. Often, their access to potable water is very limited.
After explaining the problem, Donaldson explains what we can do for the different types of
people, like foster kids and orphans, the elderly, homeless families, people in other countries without adequate food or water and the poor in our own communities. He shares the joy of helping others, sharing about Jesus’ love for them, and bringing them hope.
I think a lot of us want to help but we don’t know how. In each chapter is a little section called, “What can I do? Some practical ways to make a difference…” The suggestions range from taking the time to talk to a homeless person to going on a mission trip to help orphans to working at a local Habitat for Humanity project. The point the author is trying to make is that we can all do something.
Dave Donaldson presents a picture of the poor, not to make us feel guilty, but to open our eyes to the problems of suffering in our world. He presents scripture to share what God says about our responsibility. And he provides practical ways to show us what we can do about it. I know that this amazing book has changed my whole outlook on what I can do to help people. I know I can’t go on with my happy, comfortable life anymore and ignore those who have very little and are just barely surviving. I have to do something.