We envisioned a version of the Compassion Movement. We hoped it would become a lifestyle for many. We prayed it would catch a life of its own and that it would create a positive effect around our union. And, yes, we prayed it would go beyond. We wished it would go viral and just spread around the world. As you read today, just eight months after the official launch of the Atlantic Union Conference Adventist Youth Ministries Compassion Movement, you can be assured it has gone viral individually, as well as corporately.
On a cold February day, many of the youth and young adults across the Atlantic Union went on the streets with smiles on their faces to help dig out their neighbors’ cars after a big snow storm. A few days later, the One Year in Mission Team, composed of young adults from each corner of the world, went out in Union Square, New York City, wearing compassion T-shirts advertising “Free Hugs,” and they just hugged people and told them Jesus loves them.
In March, the students from Sandia View Academy in New Mexico spent their spring break showing compassion to the Hurricane Sandy survivors. Then came the Global Youth Day, sponsored by the General Conference Youth Ministries Department, that was inspired and named “One in Compassion” after our movement. The New York City annual rally drew thousands who participated in scores of projects and marched for compassion and against violence as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge.
Since then, springs of compassion have been popping up everywhere. The young adults in South Lancaster have held several Compassion Days. The infamous Boston Marathon bombing brought more than 200 young adults to Copley Square and to the sites of each explosion to pray, sing, hug, and give roses with a Bible promise to those who were grieving.
The students at Parkview Junior Academy joined in with “Make an Impact With Compassion” in Syracuse, New York, and their help has now been requested by the city leaders who have come out and worn our compassion T-shirts, together with school teachers and conference administrators.
In Bermuda, about 200 Adventist youth and young adults took to the streets of the capital, Hamilton, to distribute clothes, food, shoes, and diapers. They also conducted free health screenings, paid for people’s parking, prayed, and hugged the less fortunate. In Worcester, Massachusetts, New Haven, Connecticut, and Corona, New York, youth, young adults, and adults are joining the movement and becoming the heart, hands, and feet of Jesus.
Recently, Compassion Day photos from La Paz Adventist Church in the Dominican Republic, were sent to us. Then we heard that young people in Johannesburg, South Africa; Sydney, Australia; and Manila, Philippines, are planning compassion rallies. Acts of compassion always generate more acts of compassion. It is the gift that keeps on giving. It goes viral because, though it is not new, it is fresh, timeless, global, and transcends all languages.
It is hard to go anywhere in the Atlantic Union and not see a compassion T-shirt in action. The union magazine is talking about it, and the church’s global magazine has mentioned it several times. Secular media and newspapers have also covered it in New York, Boston, Syracuse, and Hamilton, Bermuda. If you type the following hashtags in Twitter or Instagram you will see it #compassionwknd, #compassionday, #compassionbda, #compassion, and #bostonstrong. Join the movement right where you are and help others to become His heart, hands, and feet.
José Cortés, Jr., is the director of Adventist Youth Ministries in the Atlantic Union.