By Sarah Fujimoto
Have you ever felt crushed inside? I lived most of my life with a crushed interior while trying to maintain a put-together exterior. I finally got tired of the work it took to maintain my own faade and surrendered to the love that was pursuing me for quite some time. It actually died for me and it lived in me despite my resistance for many years. Love has a way of doing that to you. It frees you, it softens the hardened places, and it enables you to really live. It takes you outside of you, while completely fulfilling you at the same time.
I saw love in a different way when I began to work with the poor a few years ago. While I looked into the eyes of numerous homeless people I saw a beauty that was real and different. It attracted me to them, and I felt an overwhelming compassion for these people. I felt that I could relate to them, their brokenness was not hidden or covered. They did not hide their flaws or needs. Love resided in them, it was clearly seen.
After some time I realized my life mission was focused around fighting for a cause that I did not apply in my own life. I didnt serve those homeless people with pure love, it was mixed with pity and a striving inside of me to establish justice for areas in my own life from my past that I did not feel were vindicated.
The songs that make up the Compassion Art compilation CD are filled with hope and equality. The lyrics do not demean the poor and oppressed that they talk about, it does not pity them, and it does not brush over the injustice that they experience. The multi-faceted songs bring hope and justice to despair and oppression. The many genres combined and packed into just one song show the diversity of people in this world, paralleling the diversity of God himself. The contributing artists include such a smattering of talent as Paul Baloche, Lakewood Choir, Tim Hughes, Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Watoto Children’s Choir, Martin Smith, CeCe Winans, Andy Park, Leeland Mooring, Darlene Zschech, Israel Houghton, Chris Tomlin, Graham Kendrick, tobyMac, Kirk Franklin
Christy Nockels, Martin Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman.
The first song on the cd talks about coming to the water,; it reminds me of a place of refreshing. Come to the water and drink. Receive, and let the love that you receive flow and pour out of you. Isaiah talks about the poor as needy and in search for water. But the Lord says that he will answer them and will not forsake them. It is he who makes rivers flow on barren heights and deserts into pools of water. It is his love that grows in sparse things and places.
The artists of Compassion Art bring a sweet aroma of love and challenge to those that listen. With each artist connected to an organization that works with the oppressed and poor, the proceeds for the songs will forever be given to organizations that benefit the poor. Front man Martin from Delirious, after experiencing poverty in the slums of India, wanted to do something with the resources and platform that he had. It was out of this that CompassionArt was created. He states that CompassionArt is more than an awareness campaign, but an action plan. It is an action plan of love that draws us to respond and join in on this campaign of love, reconciliation, and restoration.
What resources do I have to give? What can I do? It will look different for each person. I realized lately Ive been waiting for a great plan or program in my life to be fulfilled to start to love the poor. I realized the poor are all around me, including myself. Regardless of economic status, we are all in need. Yet, the answer lies right inside of us. It has already established us, accepted us, and it calls us to live freely without blame, blemish, or condemnation. We are good enough, and loved. And out of that love, we can love others. It is not attached to anything that I do first, but me just being me, who I was created to be.
There are people all around us, will I engage? Will I love those around me with a simple gesture or encouraging word? The songs on CompassionArt challenged me as I was overwhelmed with the love God has for his people, as the singers and songwriters reminded me of being highly favored and the human dignity that we each share and deserve. CompassionArt challenges me to love. Sacrifice and service revolve around love. I must understand first the sacrifice and service chosen for me so that I could truly live and love freely. May the challenge to love, brought by these songs and songwriters, bring us to experience the freeing grace of love that enables us to live freely and lightly. For our sacrifice is no longer a sacrifice when we have love, because it is not a have-to anymore; rather, it is a privilege.