My Hope For A 1 Hour Compassion International Presentation @ NQC 2012
Even if it’s 40 minutes, and more than 70% the people stay in their seats, I’d consider it a success.
Last November, I put up this article. I suppose it created some excellent discussion regarding the pros and cons of artists pitching the Compassion International plug at concerts, and particularly at the NQC. It probably would have been a non-issue if I hadn’t heard folks so vehemently dreading the pitch to help. In fact, not only dreading…but complaining. Complaining that they have to listen to 15 minutes of artists urging them to help kids in 3rd world countries with food, water, shelter, Bibles, and children’s ministry programs. My main argument was (and still is), how could you take Christianity seriously if you feel more “Spirit-filled” listening to some quartet singing to tracks versus whining about feeling guilty that you have to sit through the Compassion pitch. Let’s say you DON’T give anything! Fine. Don’t help. But complain about it??? Isn’t this Gospel music? Emphasis on Gospel. And if it’s Southern Gospel, let’s send our money South. To Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua. Brazil. Ok, I know I just took the south part of context and may have lost you. But I’ll stick to my convictions about this one.
To clarify myself from that post in November, if you DON’T give, I would never judge your surrender and faith in the Gospel. Because maybe you DO give frequently to other organizations in addition to your tithes and offerings at your local church. I’m well aware that there are other organizations worth supporting. It’s not just Compassion or World Vision.
But to complain about it is something else entirely. I’m not generalizing fans when I make that statement. Some fans do take seriously missions and poverty and sincerely want to take their part in helping the cause. But not all fans. A little backstory to this tangent may help you see my perspective rather than thinking of me as bitter. In the fall of 2009, I began sending out support letters and even saving some of my own money to take my first trip to Haiti. Compared to other missions trips, Haiti was a relatively inexpensive trip. But I was in college, working part time at the YMCA, and doing an internship with Liberty University’s football team. So I really didn’t have that extra money lying around. I had some great people that help tremendously in my quest to raise the money. I was just a couple hundred dollars short with a month before going and on Jan 11, we had our last meeting before the trip.
And on January 12, the day after the meeting…the earthquake struck. The most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere just got more impoverished. Original plans were scrapped. We had a new mission. Our team of 14 dropped to 5. Beyond still being short some money, I had never been so ready to go anywhere in my life. I was still able to go, although I was short. There was a crisis and they needed help and everything worked out. And soon, I’ll share of my experiences there. But what happened when I came back scarred me a bit. I got home on a Saturday. And on Sunday our church was hosting a big-time southern gospel group who was “passing through” and they happened to come for just a love offering. This group is excellent and the people in the group and class-act, ministry minded individuals. But what shook me and took me so long to get past, is the fact that so many close friends and even FAMILY members could not get out their checkbooks and wallets out fast enough to drop their “love offering” into the plate as it passed. I had grown up with many of these people, built what I thought to be solid relationships with some. And yet I didn’t belt out some powerful ballad that gave half the congregation glory bumps, thus warranting so many who had not given me a dime to give to this group traveling on an air-conditioned bus about to depart for a gospel music cruise.
No. I went to Haiti without air-conditioning and slept on the floor of a building, with a t-shirt as my pillow because NBC kicked us out of our hotel room to provide worldwide news coverage. To say I was bitter about this for a period of time would be quite the understatement. I was hurt. I was saddened by their neglect to help me. The death that I experienced. The smell of thousands of dead bodies trapped under a warehouse and neighborhoods. Meeting kids without parents. Parents without kids. Wives without husbands. And the friends and family who wrote $50 checks to this group told me they couldn’t help me out because money was tight? If only I could raise the arm hair of an old lady with a blanket by singing a high C into a microphone. I wasn’t upset at the musicl. I was upset with my “church family”.
Now all of this has passed, and I’m no longer bitter. And no need to sugarcoat the reality that I had my own problems and bitterness to get rid of and deal with. I should not have felt so much anger during the aftermath. But I did. And I can’t change my former attitude about it. It’s done. But I wanted to be honest about it. And I wanted the reader to catch a glimpse into the reality that I have experienced myself. So yeah, it’s unsettling to me that southern gospel fans (or anyone) complain about the Compassion or World Vision pitch. I could absolutely throw them into the stereotype that I had given them a couple of years ago and stay bitter. But I’m free of the bitterness. Those dark layers have peeled away. However, I will endorse the campaigning, and advocate to do so more effectively.
One of the first things I told our small group involved in this church planting endeavor was that we would be a missionary minded church. Local missions and foreign missions. I’m not just talking about giving some annual percentage to a convention. Money is great. But we must send also. Whether it’s our backyard or Brazil. At this point in time, the vast majority of our “tithes and offerings” are going elsewhere. A little in savings, but certainly none in my pocket.
So at least, listen to the pitches. Some may question the fact that some artists get paid to make the pitch. Ok, so… some artists also get paid to sing. Is not business involved with any type of ministry? Those arguments are ultimately lacking. I’m not suggesting that any Christian’s compassion is lacking. Nor am I telling anyone where to spend their money and how much. Last November’s post was burning in my heart and some clarification was in order. The question about “how much to give” to be a genuine follower of Christ will always remain to be, “will you sell everything you have to give to the poor?” If you are not already, I urge you to be HIS disciple. Not only in your giving. But in a humble, compassionate attitude.