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


  1. Good morning Ken
    I read two of your blogs this morning. One was this one from brazil, and the other one was the one that had your thought of your father in it. I am still wiping tears away. I know that children in Brazil arre felling the arms of God as you pull them up into a fatherly embrace. I know that as they look into Ken’s face they see the non judgemental, peaceful, safe, compassionate eyes of Christ looking back at them. I also know that the words of love from a father are being spoken to them through you. These children will keep a very significant piece of Ken’s heart with them for the reat of their life, just because you came. These children will now have one more weapon in their arsenal. They will have Ken Davis praying for them everytime he replays the slideshow in his heart. That is the way the world gets changed one small life at a time. “As you have done for the least of these ..” Hug them all from Julie a myself also. Let them feel the love of a father. Hug them tight and let them hear “I love you”. God Bless you Ken, thanks for using the gifts that God has given you. We love you Kevin and Julie

  2. Oh Ken, You have shared something so powerful. I am sending this on to teens who work in our after school program. Excellence and Relationships are the keys and this blog gives a terrific long view of commitment. Thanks for sharing. Many blessings.

  3. What a great post!! And here is a little bit more…when Julie came back home after visiting Brazil the first time 14 years ago, she had a video of Taciana’s project. There was a little girl in the video named Alinne and Julie had her child packet with her. After crying through the video – my husband and I “took” Alinne home with us. We have video of her opening presents that Julie and Jeff took for her when they visited again. We counted her as our 5th child for 11 years until she graduated from the program. Her letters and pictures are a treasure and we have every single one! We sent one final letter to her when she graduated out of the project, but we never stopped loving her or missing her. When Julie found that she was going to visit again, she talked to Taciana to see if she knew where our Alinne is and she does!! Taciana agreed to deliver a letter and a present for us to our precious Alinne, who is now 22 years old. Wow!! Ken – keep sharing about Compassion – God is changing the lives of families all over the world (children AND sponsors!!) Blessings to you and your family!!

    1. Author

      I guarantee that Alinne was thrilled with your gift. Most thrilled tho by the constant contact with you. The letters mean more than anything else to these children. Thank you for loving little Alinne.

  4. LOVE this post…hope to be able to make one of these trips in the future. What great work Compassion is doing in Brazil and everywhere. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you, again, Ken for such a beautiful post! And thank you for allowing me to share this amazing experience with you and Diane.

  6. Obrigada Ken pelo amor e dedicação, fomos abençoadas com sua visita, agradeço a Deus por ter colocado vocês no programa da compassion,sei que muitas crianças serão alcançadas. O meu muito obrigada ao Senhor por estar usando vocês,Ken,Diane, Ryan,Brian,Russel e a minha preciosa Julie e familia

    1. Author

      Taciana, ficamos maravilhados com a forma como Deus operou na sua vida. Nós somos tão gratos que ele trouxe para a nossa vida. Nós te amamos. Por favor, cumprimentar sua irmã. Ken e Diane

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