Compassionately Caring: Preaching vs. Seeing the Gospel

Welcome to Asked and Answered, the podcast series that answers all your missions-related questions. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce. Welcome back, guys.

Ron, Charis — Hi, Joy.

Joy — So, today I have a question about one of the things Empower does with the national church. Now, I know our number one thing is we provide Bibles and Scriptures.

Ron — That is 50% of what we do.

Joy — But we also do compassionate care, and I’m just wondering, can you tell us a little bit about what that looks like in the various countries?

Ron — Charis, what does it look like? You start.

Charis — Each country is so different. Compassionate assistance for us is not just a case of handing out food to give somebody food. It’s a way to reach people with the Gospel through love. We do this in so many different countries and in so many different ways. It gives the church planters the opportunity to love the people and share the Gospel with them.

Joy — It’s like ammunition. They come in with the care, assistance?

Ron — Well, backing it up one step further, it’s one thing to preach the Gospel, but it’s another thing to see the Gospel. Over the years, we have not had the balance on this that we should. Many organizations and missions organizations start with this balance but then veer over to just humanitarian work, compassion, and forget the essential message of eternal life through Jesus Christ alone. So, the idea is to keep the balance. They hear the message of Jesus’ salvation, eternal life, hope, and then they see it in action. They look at the life of the preacher and the people who claim to be born again, and they receive love. Love is not just a hug in church on a Sunday morning; it goes beyond that. It’s about showing compassion in a loving way, sharing food, clothing, and other necessities. This is what Charis is referring to.

Joy — I know all of our countries are incredibly different when it comes to how they express the love of Christ. One country might focus more on miracles, healing, prayer warriors, or persevering through persecution. When it comes to compassionate assistance, I imagine it looks different in every country in terms of their response. For example, in India, we have helped orphanages in the past. What do you guys think about how they would respond?

Ron — Well, let me start, and Charis can jump in anytime. We have to consider what sparks the need for compassionate assistance. Is it due to an earthquake, a tsunami, or some other natural disaster? Is it because of war, persecution, or just the widespread poverty in certain regions like Serbia with the Romani people? The fact is that people are in need, and they require help. So, we show them love, but this is also a way of life. There are various events and situations that call for compassion, and that’s why each situation is different. When we operate through the distribution network of the national church planting movements, we are not just parachuting in supplies. We are working through the body of Christ, their own local churches, giving them the tools to love. They know how to operate within their communities and can identify the real needs. They are wise in discerning what to do and how to do it. That is why we operate through them.

We have to consider what sparks the need for compassionate assistance.

Charis- One good example of this is the hot meals we provide in Israel. Our goal is not just to offer a hot meal, but to build relationships with the messianic believers who deliver the meals. Over time, these relationships lead to opportunities to share the Gospel.

Ron- Absolutely. Let’s talk about the Romani people, commonly known as gypsies, in Serbia. During winter, widows often run out of money for firewood and food. The church steps in to assist them by purchasing firewood and providing other help. We also encounter children walking barefoot in sub-zero temperatures, and it becomes essential to show them love and provide for their needs. The key is to extend love to everyone, not just Christians, without segregating them.

Joy- Compassionate assistance in Serbia has a significant impact on the Romani people, who have faced hatred in the past. By showing them love and care, we leave a lasting impression.

Ron- Exactly. As Christians, it’s our natural calling to find ways to love people, just as Jesus did. He healed the sick, fed thousands, and demonstrated love without compromising the message of the Gospel.

Charis- It’s not just about the immediate recipients of our assistance. Others who witness these acts of love are also impacted. When people see Christians going out of their way to help and provide for others, it leaves a lasting impression.

Ron- Absolutely. During the COVID-19 lockdown in India, it was the Christians who were sharing their food with unbelievers, prioritizing others over themselves. This sacrificial love caught the attention of the Hindu population, who wanted to know why Christians were acting this way. It provided an opportunity to explain the Gospel and share the hope that lies within us.

In summary, demonstrating love through compassionate assistance is an integral part of spreading the Gospel. It not only meets practical needs but also leaves a lasting impact on both the recipients and those who witness these acts of love. Whether it’s providing meals in Israel, helping the Romani people in Serbia, or sharing food during a pandemic in India, love expressed through practical actions opens doors for sharing the message of hope and salvation.

This sacrificial love caught the attention of the Hindu population, who wanted to know why Christians were acting this way.

Joy — We had a Bundle of Love for the Serbian people, for the youth, it was boots and coats. Do you guys remember, there was a story that our partner came back with about a little boy, do you remember that?

Ron — Yeah, I know which one. Ok, so what happened was this. They were out witnessing actually, and they ran into this little 12-year-old boy, I think it was, who was walking around with no shoes on, no coat, nothing and he was poor. So, what happened was, they said we are going to give you shoes and a coat and he said no please, rather than that could you just help my brothers and sisters with food. He took them to where they were living, it was in a twenty-foot container. I think if I remember the details the father was a drunk and he ran off and left the kids, mom was not around. So here is this little guy twelve or so years of age caring for his brothers and sisters and they went into the container, I saw a picture of it, and there was newspaper on the floor to sleep on, it was cold, they had nothing to eat so they were scrounging, therefore we have taken them on actually. I think it’s $100 a month or something like that to take care of all of them. So we just absorb them and we actually take care of them in a special way because they are the most destitute of the destitute. So, that is something that Empower can do. And Joy we better put some numbers to this. This isn’t a huge part of what Empower does. Probably In any given year we might be talking 5% of our income that we give out is something like that. Maybe sometimes less. But it is enough to send a message. It is requested by the national church operation, many times we write it right into the budget to help those who are coming out of prison, we are going to say in China, that are coming out and they’ve got broken arms, broken legs, they’ve been beaten, they need medical care, their wives and children don’t have food while the dad is in prison. So we come alongside and our people can’t tell you how, but our people will take care of them and provide them with help until dad gets back on his feet, back in ministry doing whatever he does. So, therefore, we have to divide this up and say is this worth 5%? Absolutely it’s worth 5%! Is it worth 95%? No, we can’t go that far because we have got to talk about eternal life and the Gospel message and we’ve got to provide spiritual food in the form of God’s Word and also this other help and pastoral care. It’s a balancing act. I have watched Charis sit there looking at the numbers thinking ok, what are we going to do with this? Where are we going to get this? And there is always the one that stands out, well what about these kids? What about this situation? What about the orphans in India? What about…? Ok, yeah, it’s balance and that is why over the years hopefully we have attained some and we have to maintain some balance.

Joy — Well, and it’s always with the Scriptures, it’s always with the message of Jesus, so the balance is always there.

Charis — It’s a tool.

So we come alongside and our people can’t tell you how, but our people will take care of them and provide them with help until dad gets back on his feet, back in ministry doing whatever he does.

Ron: It is, it’s another tool to help the national church and to provide for what they cannot provide. They just run short and we have got a surplus, therefore that is part of it. Anything else, Charis, to wrap up on this one? Is there anything else you can think of? I was thinking when I said that, I was thinking of this one time that she and I were going back and forth at budget time, and we sat there looking at our year budget, how are we going to divide this up, and then I think it was one country, I think it was Myanmar, or Burma. I still remember, I think there are a couple or three orphanages there and a bunch of kids, etcetera, a bad situation, and she threw up her hands and said, we forgot about the orphans!” And I thought yeah, we did, so we had to rejig everything. But I still remember sort of that, ah, we’ve got to provide for those kids. We’ve got to! So, there is something of compassion, that is why we call it compassionate assistance rather than humanitarian aid.

Charis: And our priority will always stay Scripture, Pastoral training, Pastoral support, all of those things, but we will always keep compassionate assistance.

Joy: We will always remember the orphans.

Charis: We will remember the orphans.

Joy: Alright, well thank you so much, guys, and as always, all of our donations are on our website, and you can see everything that we do there.

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