When I told my mom that I thought God was calling me to be a missionary, she wasn’t that surprised and mentioned something about my always having a compassionate heart. She told me the story again about when I was a child, I would always put my coins in the little charity boxes for kids with disabilities, for people fighting disease, or for abused animals.
I do think that God has given me the gift of empathy and compassion, but these traits didn’t develop naturally; they were learned and cultivated. It was my mom who taught me to be compassionate, and it was through her deeds, her lifestyle, and not merely through words.
When I was around 10 or 11, there was a tragedy in our small town. A drunk driver hit and killed a person; I don’t remember the details at all, but I believe it was a young person he killed. This drunk driver became the bogeyman of our town; he was reviled and hated for what he did. Mom’s heart went out to the family who lost their beloved member, but Mom felt God was also calling her to visit the man, this murderer, in jail. She was obedient and did so and started ministering to him in jail. This started my mom’s jail ministry that continues to this day, and my dad joined in years ago too. Together, they have been ministering to inmates in the local county jail for more than twenty years.
In our society that is more or less compassionate and Christian, inmates are a forgotten group and are thrown away. But our Lord loves them just the same, and my mom was opened to being a vessel of this love. It’s not a “sexy” ministry; nobody really applauds those who ministers to people in jail, but it is an important and vital ministry. Did not our Lord tell us not to forget those in prison?
Through mom’s actions long ago and through a lifestyle of giving and showing compassion to others, often to the forgotten of society, Mom has taught me to have a compassionate heart. I still strive to be more and more like Mom in this regard, as I have a long way to go. But I thank you, Mom, for your example of faith, obedience, and compassion.