We were sitting on the Lido Deck of the cruise ship ms Nieuw Amsterdam with a group of young adults participating in “Cruise with a Mission” when a man in his 80s, by the name of Monroe, approached our table and started talking with me. He said he was an atheist and added that people like us made him want to be a Christian. “I have been an atheist for too long; it is hard to change now,” he said.
I took time to speak with him and mentioned how in the Northeast United States and Bermuda, Adventist youth and young adults are initiating a movement of compassion. I told him that our resolve was to live a lifestyle of compassion, 24/7, 365 days a year, with the same priorities of Jesus. As soon as I said that, Monroe stopped me. “I don’t have a problem with Jesus. I love what Jesus was all about. He was all about compassion,” Monroe said. “I have a problem with people who go to church every weekend and treat others the way they do. Jesus is not the problem.”
Though it is sad to admit it, I must say that, in many cases, Monroe is right. Jesus has never been the problem. Christians (including Adventists) and people who claim to follow Jesus but live “compassion-less” lives are the worst advertising there is for Christianity and for Adventism. Having the truth, knowing how to defend our beliefs, and being right is good. However, doing all that without having compassion is unchristian and irresponsible. It seems that many of us are good for arguing but, at times, really bad for living a compassionate life.
There is hope. Right here in the Atlantic Union, youth, young adults, college and university students, Pathfinders, Adventurers, and many others are initiating a Compassion Movement. We enjoy the truth, we know how to defend it, if needed, and we want to live a life of compassion with the priorities of Jesus. We want compassion to be our lifestyle. We want to be the heart, the hands, and the feet of Jesus in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and in Bermuda. Will you join us? Will you encourage the youth and young adults of your church to become a vital part of this movement? Will you support them as they seek to have the priorities of Jesus at home, at church, and in the community?
Together with your conference youth director and the Compassion team, we are here to encourage, inspire, and help you to begin living a compassionate lifestyle. For information, resources, daily inspiration, tips, weekly blogs, and small group study lessons, in several languages, go to our Web site: www.compassion-now.org.
The second Sabbath of every month is Compassion Day when we go out into our communities across the Atlantic Union territory to show compassion. Can you imagine 40,000 to 50,000 young people and their friends showing compassion on the same day at the same time throughout our cities? Please join us. And on March 22-24, youth and young adults from every conference in the Atlantic Union, as well as Northern New Jersey, and from the other 12 divisions of the world church will come to New York City to participate in a show of compassion at our annual Compassion Rally.
We do this because Jesus did it, because we love humanity and God’s creation, but we also do it because Monroe and many people like him won’t believe unless they see our compassion. It’s not that hard. Let’s stop being the problem and become agents of compassion!
José Cortés, Jr., is the director of Adventist Youth Ministries in the Atlantic Union.