Uncomfortable Compassion

  • By Hope Worldwide
  • 01 Dec, 2016
Kasia Kedzia recently returned from the 2016 South Africa Singles Corps.  She   reflects on the fact that serving others with a compassionate heart is often one of the best way to heal ourselves.   Reprinted with permission from https://kkedzia.wordpress.com   .

Everyone has a story. Hearing peoples stories can move our hearts, it gives us the opportunity to hear the why behind who they are. During a recent service trip in Africa, with an organization called HOPE worldwide, I was able to hear the stories of both the men and women I served with as well as those we served.

Sometimes people’s stories can be hard to hear. They can brush up against the raw (still healing) pieces of our hearts like an alcohol soaked cloth against an open wound. Other stories can be so beyond our experience or comprehension they stifle us. In these moments to choose compassion can be hard.

In Mark 1:40-42 Jesus healed a man from leprosy. Leprosy isolates and disfigures. This man was socially, physically and emotionally isolated. No one was willing to help him. Yet Jesus was not only willing but filled with compassion.

For many years I numbed my pain and refused to enter it. This often prevented me from feeling compassion and empathy. I had trouble showing compassion when I focused more on myself over the other person, when someone’s behavior wasn’t changing, when I felt helpless to fix it or rescue the person, when it hurt or I was afraid and when I jumped to judgment. In some way judgment was the most dangerous because it gave me the right not to care. Yet, a lot of my healing has come through compassion for others. Feeling and understanding pain enables us to feel compassion. If we stifle our pain we numb our compassion also.

A lot of the experiences on this trip involved being willing to enter others pain and sharing my own. God transformed these times to great joy and hope only He can give.

1Peter1: 3-“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”

Grief without hope can be unbearable. But hope, God’s hope, produces courage and compassion.   Watching the courage of others can give us courage and build our compassion. And so I watched as the privileged American men and women around me served a population of people I worked with for years who’s circumstances I had become accustomed to, and emotionally disconnected from. . I watched and listened to what moved these men and women’s hearts. It gave me courage to access my own emotions and grieve with them. I accepted that I could not fix it but I could listen and rely on God instead of myself.

Grief, pain and disappointment can make us weaker or far wiser and tender, depending on what we put our hope in.   I entered the slums of a small province in South Africa watching barefoot children run past me through the garbage on the dirt road, ducking between the small tin shacks. I listened to a woman living there tell her story. She was taking care of 9 children, only 3 of which were her own. When an older woman she was close died she took her children in to take care of them also. Having myself grown up abandoned this struck a deep cord. Here was this woman, with no job, not from the place she was currently living, living in a small tin shack amongst garbage. She had nothing yet she made no excuses. She didn’t say, “They are not my children or responsibility.” She didn’t say, “I don’t have the means to support them.” She simply saw no other option but to take care of these children.

Poverty scares me. It makes me uncomfortable and triggers deep-seated childhood fears of my own poverty, and living in scarcity. Her scarcity put mine in a very different perspective yet we shared one thing, the feeling of hopelessness and fear it can bring. As an adult, my childhood experience produced in me selfishness, self-centeredness and self-protection. What poverty produced in this woman was compassion.

I felt my stomach and throat tighten as I thought about times I have chosen self-protection over mercy, when my circumstance and stakes were so much lower. The woman spoke of how hopeless she used to feel but now this program gave her hope, courage, and a voice. It helped her to see she was heard and seen. I felt ashamed and humbled. For years God had given me hope but I hesitated to claim it. I didn’t trust God’s mercy for me and in turn had trouble extending it to others.

In the day-to-day world it is so easy for us to be disconnected and disengage emotionally. This year has been a year of daily choosing to connect and to feel. This trip challenged this choice to new heights – to   be present in each moment and feel everything.   Compassion can be uncomfortable, but when I trust God I surrender my will into His care and engage.   I engage in others’ stories and see beyond their faults because Jesus sees beyond mine.

We are here not just to weep with people, but to put hope and Love into them.

In Matt. 14:12 Jesus’ disciples grieved. It’s about laying mine and another’s pain at the feet of Jesus that makes us able to bear under it and can give others hope. When I dull my pain, I dull my joy and compassion. When I numb my lows, I numb my highs. Jesus has a different perspective on grief. He cried with those who mourned even when he knew he was about to turn the mourning to joy.

Depending on God for my ultimate well-being has allowed me to face my own pain and enter into others with them.   Trusting Him is the doorway to intimacy, freedom to love, to hurt, laugh, make mistakes, ask for forgiveness, feel my feelings and start each day new.

Zeph 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Ps100:5 “The Lord is good and his love endures forever”

One of the most profound effects of being deeply connected to God is a renewed sense of your own preciousness. When I know and believe God cherishes me as a beloved child, I know and believe in my worth as a person. As His child, I learn to place worth on what he values: me and others.

I see how   we become more like Jesus when we don’t avoid grief,and also let ourselves get pulled in by the grief of others. There is nothing wrong with allowing myself to feel it. Jesus mourned and cried even when he knew what I don’t, the ultimate outcome.

I don’t need to try to fix it.   Jesus turns death into resurrection.   Out of weakness came real strength.   Out of repentance comes real power.   Out of giving away and serving others comes real strength, joy and comfort as I comfort others. Out of generosity comes real wealth. Serving, showing compassion and entering our own and others pain brings something even greater than what was there before. We can bring something better out of the bleak we enter. We can give hope by offering our most genuine selves.

By Shane Engel 07 Dec, 2017


* Since 27 Nov 2017, Mount Agung Volcanic Eruption has dispersed about 40,000 residents from 10km from the crater.

* The government has set up several emergency camps for displaced residents.

* In the last 48 hours, the volcano has shown a slow down of seismic activities. Just like other volcanoes, it is a bit difficult to conclude whether the activities is slowing down or is the crater getting clogged.

* The volcano remains in high alert and residents are not yet cleared to return to the villages.

* Meanwhile, the city of Denpasar and many other tourism sites are not affected. Airport has resumed its operation.

* HOPE worldwide Indonesia continue to monitor the situation closely. So far, the basic needs are covered by the local government and residents. However, our prepositioned food supplies remains on stand by if there are needs for mobilization.

* Indonesia has also been experiencing several flooding and landslides as the rainy season is starting to be more active.

* As we serve the country, HOPE worldwide will continue to monitor the disasters that take place and provide assistance whenever there is a need in the community.

* Please continue to pray for the country as well as many other vulnerable countries.


The airport on the holiday island of Bali has reopened after tens of thousands of travelers were stranded for two days due to an erupting volcano, but Indonesia's President said the danger has not passed and urged anyone within the mountain's exclusion zone to get out "for the sake of their safety." Mount Agung’s hazard zone has up to 100,000 people that are called to evacuate the area around the crater, however only 43,000 people have followed the order.  Villagers around the Bali Volcano are refusing to leave despite warnings of an “imminent” larger eruption, with the state of emergency extended to at least December 10.  HOPEww is on the ground and is closely monitoring the situation for ways to provide relief.  

Prayers for Indonesia!

Mount Agung on the Indonesian island of Bali continues to release volcanic ashes after several days of eruptions. Ash and debris are shooting as high as two miles high causing mass spread of hazardous pollutants into the air. As many as 40,000 residents are encouraged to take shelter away from the danger zone. The international airport has been shut down and many people are in need of shelter and essential supplies.

Our own Charles Ham, Disaster Response Coordinator, and the HOPEww rapid response team are on the scene. They rushed to deliver masks and assess the situation on the ground. Many of the residents need food, shelter, blankets and possibly health care depending on the severity of the upcoming days. We ask for your prayers for these individuals who are experiencing this displacement right now. Please pray for their safety, for their needs to be met and for our staff and volunteers to have the wisdom and the resources to help them in the best way possible.

Please donate to our disaster response fund today to help with these efforts!

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 30 Nov, 2017

Come join us in 2018 as we learn to walk “In His Steps”! We are excited to offer 27 life-changing trips all over the world throughout 2018! Many of our most popular sites fill up within the first month of registration so to increase your chance of getting your top choice, make sure to apply early! This year most of our programs are open to all – teens, campus, singles and families.

Click here to take a look at the detailed site descriptions to learn more about HOPE Youth Corps, HOPEww Volunteer Corps, HOPEww Medical Corps and HOPEww Agriculture Corps sites.   Many of these sites are open to all!  If you're single and want to learn more about our 2018 HOPEww Singles Corps sites - including our Houston Singles Disaster Corps -  click here.  Some sites have specific age restrictions. Most North America trips (Canada, U.S., and Mexico) are open to all teens 15 years old and above.  The minimum age for U.S. teens is 18 to go on all other trips. Non-U.S. teens can travel internationally from the age of 15.

 Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.

There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance. Email hyc@hopeww.org with any questions.

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 14 Nov, 2017

As we travel to foreign countries to serve and learn, we encounter amazing individuals, whose lives have been transformed by the work of HOPE worldwide . We strongly believe in respectful service. On our Volunteer Corps, we assist existing programs, and provide additional help. We do contribute, but we also learn from the incredibly resilient individuals we meet. While serving in Africa these past few months, we met these courageous women…

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 01 Nov, 2017

Matching Gift Challenge!

Challenge accepted!! Recently, a member of our community challenged our supporters and friends to raise a total of $50,000 by December 31, 2017 for HYC Scholarships. Our generous donor will match what we raise dollar-for-dollar! The money raised to meet this challenge will help students experience this amazing program. Double the impact of your gift by donating today!

Here is how you can get involved:

The individual who raises the largest amount will get a full scholarship to the HYC of their choice* for 2018 sites!   (prize does not include airfare).

Every year, hundreds of students volunteer their time to plant, rebuild, mentor, train and encourage. Thank you for making it possible for those with limited financial resources to share in this incredible opportunity to serve those in need. 

Click here  for our HYC Scholarship Fund Brochure.

Please help us SPREAD THE WORD and share with a friend .  

´╗┐Any questions please contact:

Mandy Goins

Cell: 610-608-7094

Email:  hyc@hopeww.org

By Shane Engel 17 Oct, 2017

Churches in South Florida are continuing to bring hope to Bolivia through the 5th annual “Celebration of Caring Golf Classic.”  The fundraiser is scheduled for Friday, November 17 on Key Biscayne off of the Miami mainland.

The Golf Classic benefits HOPE  worldwide  Bolivia, providing funding for programs that serve Bolivia’s children and most vulnerable populations. Since HOPEww was established in 2011 in the capital city of La Paz, the country’s health care and social services systems have been positively impacted. The tournament has raised $157,000 since its inception!

There are six levels of sponsorships ($1,500 - $5,000), and individuals can golf for $225. All information is included on the website ( www.CelebrationofCaring.com ), including a registration portal and links to videos, stories and blogs about the work in La Paz. Individuals can also donate through the website.

The Crandon Park golf course is considered one of the most picturesque in Florida. Golfers are surrounded by tropical foliage, mangroves and breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay as they encounter seven saltwater lakes and challenging sand traps during their round.

Former Florida residents Dr. Kevin & Noelle Broyles lead HOPE worldwide  Bolivia. The Duke-educated Dr. Broyles was behind the building of Centro Médico Internacional Hope Clinic in Bolivia, a cutting-edge sustainable social enterprise that will generate revenue to meet increasing medical needs in the La Paz community. CMIHope  is the result of a joint effort between Foundation Arco Iris and HOPE  worldwide  that integrates high quality health services to the population of Zona Sur of La Paz with financial support to the charitable work of HOPEww and Hospital Arco Iris, who partner to serve Bolivia’s large indigent population. 

“Celebration of Caring” welcomes all golfers to join in this “fun”draiser.

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 01 Oct, 2017

It’s taken me a long time to process what happened in Africa. I’ve been home for over a month. It didn’t help that two days after returning to the States, I was thrown back into the routine of starting a new school year, half asleep and still hungover from a three week adrenaline rush. And it didn’t help that as soon as I got back, people were asking about the trip – “How was Africa?” “Did you get sick?” “How was the food?” “Were you scared?” “We’ve been praying for you.” 

I was overwhelmed and frustrated with their simple question. “How was Africa, how was Africa?” I didn’t want to diminish the effect this trip had on my heart by spewing out words that didn’t give it justice. I didn’t want people to ask, because I wasn’t ready to answer. My standard answer to people asking became “It was amazing!”. I tried to leave it at that, though in saying it, I felt both trivial and fake. It was amazing, but that wasn’t enough.

There is no perfect way to describe serving in Africa. I guess I can start by telling the story of how my family came to be there.  After all, the ‘getting to Africa’ had a huge impact on my life, as well.  January 1st of every year I choose a spiritual quality that I want to grow in, and I work on it for that year. This year, I decided I wanted to grow in my faith. Through the process of getting to Africa, I did grow in my faith.

This year I was realizing that it is very easy to be faithful when you have everything you need. I wanted God to test my faith, and to help me grow in it.   I had no idea of how he would do this, but I fully believed he would do it.

Africa had never been on my bucket list (and I’d never heard of Zambia!). But I guess God had other plans, because a Bible study at our home led to an idea, which became a conversation, which quickly turned into a vision. And that vision was that Dru and I take our girls and go with the HOPEww Volunteer Corps to Zambia, Africa to renovate a preschool. The project was such a great fit for our entire family. It was obvious God had his hand in it. Dru is an electrician/plumber/handyman, who was perfect for building renovations. I am a teacher, able to help with teacher training and planning in the classroom. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It fit in a perfect window in our summer vacation.

By HOPE Youth Corps/ HOPEww Singles Corps 30 Sep, 2017

We have 27 trips all over the world throughout the year. Registration opens on December 1, 2017. Apply early to ensure you get your top choice. Some of our more popular trips fill up within the first month of registration. The Houston Singles Disaster Corps will open registration sooner, as the program will take place early in the year (February).

Our 2018 theme will be “In His Steps”, and our curriculum will be based on the book of Mark.

So start planning, and start saving! There will be scholarships available for teens and campus students who need financial assistance.

By Shane Engel 29 Sep, 2017
UPDATE:  We are happy to announce that we were able to successfully send 16 pallets of direct relief to Puerto Rico today!  2 pallets are scheduled to fly out Saturday, October 14 and the rest will be sent by cargo on Sunday.  Thank you to all who have contributed to these efforts and a special thank you to the South Florida Churches of Christ for their generosity and the lending of the Broward Church building for our staging area!  Please keep Puerto Rico in your prayers as the recovery effort will take months if not years.  
By Shane Engel 22 Sep, 2017

 "We are grateful that our twin Island Trinidad and Tobago has been spared this season and that we are in a position to help our brothers and sisters throughout the Caribbean.  We have joined forces with a local NGO called ITNAC an acronym for "is there not a cause' They are known here as first responders for providing assistance in disaster stricken Caribbean areas. We collect relief items and food and have had our volunteers there daily . Last night we got the assistance of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment who sent their large trucks and military staff to transportation water and clothing to the port to be taken to Dominica.

One of our sisters Kendra Blanchard, who lives on the Island of Grenada  (35 minutes flight from Trinidad) parents live in Dominica, which was badly destroyed by Hurricane Maria. They are alive but their home was damaged and they are staying with neighbours.  [Kendra] is attempting to go.  Together with ITNAC we plan to charter a boat from Trinidad which can carry supplies and relief workers to Dominica.

We are engaging local donors for housing and medical supplies as well as food and water to be taken on the chartered vessel.
I have been sending regular updates on t e HOPE w orldwide Trinidad and Tobago Facebook page. You can add me on both to keep abreast if you would like.

I am very grateful that you have made contact with us and for the support offered. I am attaching a few pics of the work and our progress."

Kirtia Arthur
HOPEww Trinidad and Tobago


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