Today I’m writing the blog I had hoped to never write. With our hearts aching, Compassion has begun the process of ending our operations in India.
If nothing changes in the next couple weeks, our last day of operation in India will be March 15.
Months ago, the Indian government began blocking funds from reaching our field offices and church partners. Without those funds, we can no longer pay our staff or provide resources to our church partners and the children they serve. Please know that we have tried everything within our power to resolve this issue with the Indian government. But to date, all of those efforts have not resolved the matter.
As we navigate this difficult moment in Compassion’s history, I am flooded with emotions. I am heartbroken for the 147,000 babies, children, young adults and mothers who will no longer receive the benefits of Compassion’s programme. I am distraught over the partnerships with 589 churches that will come to an end. I am concerned for our 127 staff members who have committed their careers to helping the poorest of the poor in their own communities.
And yet, I continue to have great hope for India.
I have hope because I know that, even after Compassion has left, those 589 Indian churches that are passionate about caring for children will still be there. They will continue to do what they can to serve families throughout their country. Compassion’s model has always been to lift up the local church so she can better serve her own community. We trust those churches grew stronger through years of partnering with Compassion, and they will take that strength and grow it to meet the unique needs of the communities they serve.
I also have hope for the future because I have met some of these precious Indian children, and I have witnessed their resilience. I deeply believe that nothing—no government, no politics, no principality—can stop the work of God in a child’s heart.
And I hope with all my heart that Compassion’s work isn’t entirely finished in India, the country that’s home to one third of the world’s poorest children. God has called Compassion to release children from poverty and I don’t believe He’s excluded Indian children from that calling. I don’t know what our service in India will look like in the future, but I’m confident we will continue to follow God’s leading.
I’m honoured by how you, our sponsors, have faithfully walked beside us through this trial. You’ve prayed. You’ve fasted. You’ve spoken on behalf of Compassion through your social media channels. I am in awe of our Compassion family – hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life who banded together on behalf of children we may never meet in person. That is powerful. That is humbling.
I want to assure you that Compassion has broken no laws in India. We have been and remain committed to abiding by the laws of every country where we serve. You may have seen reports from Indian media accusing Compassion of forcing children to convert to Christianity in order to receive the benefits of our programme. That, of course, is simply not true. We partner with local Christian churches to extend the love of Jesus in very tangible ways but we never required a child to convert to Christianity to benefit from our programme. To do so would violate the dignity, freedom and grace that Jesus so freely gives each of us. Our church partners deliver Compassion’s holistic child development programme to children in need regardless of race, religion, caste or creed.
Despite this heartbreaking situation in India, please know that Compassion’s ministry is still flourishing. We are continuing to serve more than 1.8 million children in 25 other countries. Our partnerships with more than 6,700 churches in those countries are as strong as ever. And our commitment to answering God’s call to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name is unwavering.
Thank you so much for your support through this difficult season. I’d ask that you please continue to pray for the children of India. Pray also that God will continue to equip the church in India and that she will rise up to care for the vulnerable. Pray too for India’s leaders—that they would be willing to speak directly to us about this situation so we may come to a mutual understanding that benefits the children of India. And, finally, please continue to pray for Compassion, that new doors of ministry would open even as some are closing.
Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado was born in El Salvador and became the President and Chief Executive Officer of Compassion International in June 2013.