Compassion… North Dakota Style

by DanWolgemuth on April 4, 2014

A North Dakota fishing spot and a relationally-engaged Youth for Christ staff person provided the perfect conduit through which a memory could be forged.  Justin was hungry for an experience that involved both adventure and companionship; and in a single day he got both.

Some simple instruction and a few well-equipped guides provided the fertile ground for the unforgettable.  A northern pike proved to be the payoff.

Dennis, our YFC staffer, offered to clean the fish before Justin took it home, but Justin insisted on a fully intact trophy.  The wheels of Dennis’ car were barely stopped before Justin bolted to the front door of his house.  Within a few minutes Justin’s dad entered the experience.  The results were devastating.  Through a half-drunk and curse-infused eruption Justin’s dad screamed, “Get that thing out of here.”

Tears swelled in Dennis’ eyes as he continued to relate the story.  This kind of urgent need has fueled him in North Dakota for decades.  “Justin needs more than a drunk dad.”

Dennis’ tears were now my own.

And my tears had long ago been the tears of my Father.

Compassion is the gift that God gives us to enter the brokenness of others.  It’s the key that unlocks the door to pain and hope.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:36-38)

North Dakota was not on the way to anywhere… except to the heart of God.

When our heart breaks for Justin we understand more clearly why God rescued us.  He was less interested in rehabilitating a self-sufficient people group… He came to interrupt the inevitable; He came to ransom the captive; He came to break the cycle of destruction that leaves Justin at the door of a half-drunk dad.

God cares and a heart that swells with compassion is a tribute to His love.

Compassion connects us to the character of God.  Compassion in action connects us to the life of Jesus.

Justin needs more…

The harvest is plentiful.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane Knowles April 7, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Each week I am blessed and encouraged to keep loving young people for Jesus’s sake. Thanks Dan for your faithfulness to Friday Fragments and the body of Christ


Pat Ryan April 9, 2014 at 12:15 PM

This story brings tears to my eyes also. Growing up as a child of an alcoholic I can feel the hurt although my dad didn’t hurt me in as harsh a way. I only realize me damage later in life when I saw my emotional reaction to a conflict I was not a part of. I was very shaken up during a conflict at work that I had no part of. Even so I had to get off a phone call and calm down. I say to a co-worker, “I don’t know why that argument bothered me so much”. The co-worker said to me “oh, you are an adult child of an alcoholic” and he just walked away. The Co-worker was one to and became an alcoholic and drug user until he found help at AA.
God bless Dennis for being there for Justin.
Dan your comments make me think about “Speak of Jesus” by Carl Medearis . A must read!


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