By Rob Schellenberg
If Christian organizations want the world to change, they need to work together to help children know Christ.
That was the message Compassion Canada and Briercrest College and Seminary officials stressed as they signed a new partnership agreement in Caronport, SK. April 4.
Compassion Canada works daily in 27 countries, helping meet the needs of 1.2 million children with the help of many committed Christian workers. Briercrest trains and equips Christian workers for lives of service.
"This partnership that we are signing today, this is not a man-made partnership. It's not an idea that we came up with," Compassion's president Barry Slauenwhite told the group witnessing the signing. "I believe this idea was birthed in heaven. It was birthed in the heart of God."
The agreement calls for both organizations to look for opportunities to work together in developing courses on holistic child development, and service and learning opportunities for students. Most importantly, however, is that both groups want to change the world by introducing children to Christ.
"The gospel of Jesus Christ is going to go forward in a powerful way through this relationship," Compassion's director of marketing, Aaron Gonyou, said. "More people are going to hear about Christ. More people are going to grow in Him. And I think ultimately that is what this is all about."
"We are absolutely 110 per cent all about bringing children to Christ," Slauenwhite said.
He went on to explain that Compassion believes that helping impoverished children is more than just sending food.
"You can put a band aid on poverty. . ." he said. "The best way to attack and address poverty is from the inside out, by changing the heart."
The goal is to bring children to faith in Christ, be educated, grow socially, adjust to society and rise out of poverty through learning a skill.
"We develop people – not communities," he said, explaining that when individuals develop they in turn develop their surroundings and change the world around them.
Slauenwhite believes that's the most effective way of ministering to children, and that joining forces with a school that trains future church and field workers is a great move.
"My prayer and my hope, as the leader of Compassion Canada, is that every student that comes to this campus will be (captured) with the belief and the affirmation that children matter," Slauenwhite said."We believe it is the beginning of God's dream, God's strategy for two wonderful ministries to join together and show the rest of Canadian Christians what partnerships could look like as we work together to build the kingdom of God."
Dwayne Uglem, president of Briercrest, agrees.
"I welcome this day, recognizing that it is the beginning of a learning day and a chance for two large organizations to figure out how they might walk together more constructively for the kingdom and for the good of kids, and for the building of the church and the chance to indeed give glory and honour to the Lord."
"May our Lord be honoured by the way that we work at walking together and may it indeed bring a smile to our Father's face."