In Kids Club we were studying the beatitudes and the focus of the day was “Compassion.” Laura Chesser and I (Ms.D) had a small group of children and we discussed the meaning of the word. We followed with a story about Cory Ten Boom who took her faith and commitment to Christ so seriously that she had compassion on the Jewish people in Holland during the Nazi Holocaust. We talked about how she let people stay at her house, even when it was dangerous for her and her family. We explained to the children that she was taken to a concentration camp with her father and her sister. Cory was the only one who survived. Years after the war, she was speaking to a room full of people and was approached by a former Nazi officer who worked at the same concentration camp where she was detained and he asked her to forgive him for what he had done. Through the love of Jesus, she forgave him for the past. We talked about how powerful the love of God is that it can drive you to be radically compassionate and forgiving, even when it doesn’t make sense. Cory must have had a deep understanding of God’s love for her and others.
As we processed the story, we asked questions of the children in the group. I wasn’t sure if they were really catching the essence of compassion. One young lady perked up and said, “It’s kind of like the time my mom opened the door for my friend’s mom late at night when she was scared because she thought immigration was at her door and she escaped through the back window. We were all really scared because I didn’t want my best friend to lose her mom. But I think that means my family had compassion on her by protecting her when she was scared.” Then Victoria sheepishly commented, “It’s like the time when David was bleeding out of his face and my mom took care of him. She brought him into the house and was soaking up the blood. Then she took him to the hospital and would visit him to make sure that he got better. ” Another child chimed in, “Yeah, he used to scare me a lot. He was always drunk all the time! And he lived on the street!” I found my opportunity to give a leading question, “Victoria, Can you think of an adult in your life who shows compassion and mercy on you by putting you first, even when he or she doesn’t have to? Who walks you to Kids Club every day?” Victoria responded, “David does. After he got better my mom let him live with us. Now he helps my mom with the groceries a lot. He takes me and my cousin to the store and buys us food with his own money. He watches out for us and he walks me a lot of places.” We summarized our lesson by talking about how Victoria’s mom was a very compassionate person and she allowed love and compassion to flow through her, giving the power to help transform a life, David’s life. I was sitting there afraid that this lesson would go right over their little heads and in some ways they knew compassion in even more deep ways than I had experienced. Perhaps part of the reason we say that we are “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves.”