Something better than excellence!

Taciana - age 7

I am on a bus headed for a Compassion project in Fortaleza, Brazil. Marco, a handsome, tanned man with wispy white hair has just boarded the bus.  Marco has labored on the behalf of poor children in Brazil for 27 years. He talks so fast the interpreter can barely keep up.

In broken English and with a face creased with lines from a thousand smiles he asks, “What could be better than excellence?” Before anyone can answer he answers his own question.  “Better than excellence,” he proclaims, “is relationship.”  He explains how the first Compassion project in Fortaleza started with a handful of children sitting on a dirt floor in run down shack, not exactly what we would call excellent surroundings.  But these children were being instructed, fed and loved by adults who used with excellence the few resources they had to build relationships with those children.  Excellence was important, but especially because it was a means to relationship.  Those men and women were the face of God to children without hope.

Proof of the fact that Marcos was telling the truth is the presence of Taciana, a radiant 30 year old Brazilian woman who was sponsored at age seven. Taciana is holding hands with Julie Patterson the woman who sponsored her. They are riding this bus and talk excitedly as an interpreter tries to keep up.

Taciana today, with Julie Patterson and me

13 years of love and sponsorship have transformed both of these people. Taciana is no longer the sad, frightened  little girl she was at seven years old.  Today she works in a hospital and is studying to do medical research.  Julie Patterson and her family consider Taciana as one of there own.  As a result of this relationship and the relationships built while in the compassion program, Taciana has experience the greatest relationship of all.  Her love for Christ is rock solid and is evidenced in the love she still has for the children of Brazil.

The sweet sound of children laughing

As we entered the first Compassion project and the sound of singing filled the air, Taciana wept openly. All the memories of these supportive and life sustaining relationships came flooding back.  The hope and joy that illuminates her face today is a direct result of people committed to excellence but not as an end in itself…..  Rather as a means to a better end…..  relationship.

I watched all this though my own tears and my own thoughts went to my friends in Franklin who have cared enough to build relationship with me and Diane.  My thoughts went to Bob Thompson, a professor at Oak Hills Bible College, who became a friend as well as a teacher and changed my life for ever.  I was reminded of Christ who paid a supreme price to enable me to have relationship with Him…….  As the day ends I am humbled by the work of Compassion and by the smiles of hope that have brightened this day.  The songs of joy that ring in my ears and I thank God for the relationships in my life.

Who has taken you beyond excellence and changed your life because of relationship?

If you would consider building a life changing relationship with a child like Taciana check out Compassion