Compassion: Beyond Labels of Conservative and Liberal

Youth Specialties
March 1st, 2010

A little girl worships with her daddy -  2/14/2010 - photo by Adam McLaneA root problem is a liberal snobbishness toward faith-based organizations. Those doing the sneering typically give away far less money than evangelicals. They’re also less likely to spend vacations volunteering at, say, a school or a clinic in Rwanda.


If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality. Nicholas Kristof – New York Times

This Op-Ed piece in this week's New York Times has shocked a lot of people. And for good reason.

Christians have long been maligned for corporate hypocrisy. But not anymore. Just like in ancient times, Christians are once again gaining reknown for taking in orphans, caring for lepers, and feeding the poor.

It's amazing to see this first hand. When I traveled to Haiti a few weeks ago I went with the assumption that “professional aid workers” would have everything organized and that we would feel out of place. Everything in the news media had made it clear that this would be the case. And even our first stop, a field hospital in Jimini, Dominican Republic fed that thought.

But when we actually got to Port-au-Prince we saw just the opposite. It was Christians, mostly the Haitian church itself, who were busy meeting the needs of the public. While NGOs focused their attention on massive tent camps they had erected around the city, local churches did what they could to help people right in their neighborhoods.

On the ground is a clash in two styles of relief. Large secular NGOs tend to focus their attention on camps they can run. Whereas, large Christian NGOs like World Vision, Compassion International — and small Christian NGOs like missions agencies or even American churches, prefer to work through and empower the local church leadership. Both styles are good and effective. But, in the end, it's ironic that secular liberals and conservative Christians agree that the latter is more desirable than the former when considering the long-term effects of these newer Christian organizations.

What I witnessed on the streets of Port-au-Prince can only be described as spontaneous revival. As the church serves the poor, the poor recognized that the church is the most attractive option. Over and over again we heard testimonies from people to that effect. As the Gospel took action, the Holy Spirit moved in people's hearts. Tens of thousands ran to the cross seeking food and in the process found Christ.

It's my prayer for the American church that we look at the greater good these large Christian aid organizations are doing in Haiti and begin to change the way we serve our communities back home. What would happen if we focused less on building programs, buildings, and our ministry and focused more on bringing Good News to the public by caring for the poor and taking care of orphans? 

Youth Specialties

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