My parents raised me to always put others before myself. As little kids, they required my brother and I to tithe 10% of our income to the church, no matter what. Our family sponsored World Vision children from before a time that I can remember, and we prayed for these kids regularly. I remember being taught about the famine in Ethiopia as a child and hearing my parents ask us to pray for the people there who needed food. At Christmas, we always adopted a family in need, providing them with food, gifts, and other things they requested through the Salvation Army, and my mother helped spearhead the efforts to get other church members involved in adopting families. My mom still donates all her used clothes and household items to local charities that help the poor, and every week, my dad drives a load of wood to a woman in their neighborhood who has only wood as her source of heat. My parents are people of great compassion, and they have taught me to try to live up to their example. I am blessed for this.

Perhaps because of their teaching and modeling of a life of service and sacrifice, my greatest desire as a person, as a writer, as a woman, and as a friend is to help those in need. I feel a great call on my life to do something for those who do not have the blessings I have – particularly the poor. At this point in my life, I am praying for discernment about how I can use my gifts to do just that.

Yet, God has given me another great desire, and that is to collaborate with other artists – writers, musicians, painters, sculptors, etc. – to work to end poverty. I can imagine nothing better than pulling together a group of people dedicated to this goal, people willing to give of their time, gifts, and even money to help raise up the poorest among us. I am praying, too, for a way to make this happen as well.

All of these ideas have begun to coalesce because of a CD my parents gave me this Christmas – CompassionArt. The CD contains 12 songs written and performed by 12 Christian artists – including Chris Tomlin, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman. The songs were written with the idea that all proceeds – including those gained by CCLI licenses (the licenses that churches acquire to perform songs in services) – will be given to organizations that work to eradicate poverty. This means that these artists, their managers, agents, and studios will never make one penny from these songs; every cent earned from these recordings will be spent on helping the poor. I find this idea so inspiring.

With the CD, which is full of really great music, came a DVD, and so yesterday I spent an hour watching the collaborative process that produced these songs. Twelve song writers gathered in Scotland for one week and worked together to produce the songs on the album. I was brought to tears by the beauty of seeing people work together honestly, watching them give each other meaningful and strong feedback and criticism, and witnessing the spirit of God move among the artists. It truly was beautiful.

If you are interested in supporting the work of CompassionArt, please visit their website and buy the album. You can also pick up the companion book there, and they sell coffee, too, with half the proceeds from that sale going to CompassionArt’s chosen projects. Subscribe to their newsletter if you’d like to keep up with their projects, and if you work with music ministry at your church, encourage your congregation to sing these songs – they really are amazing. In December, CompassionAct gave their first distributions, totalling almost $80,000, to their chosen charities.

Meanwhile, for now, I will continue to pray for my own way, but more than that, I will continue to seek out people who are using all their “heart, soul, and strength” to love the poorest of the poor. I will try to feature these people regularly here on this blog, and I will do what is my power to support them. Please let me know if you know such people. I’d like to spread the news of their good works.

I have been blessed my whole life to be well-fed and clothed, always with a dry place to sleep and people who love me. These are not blessings I can take for granted any longer. I must find a way to use them to help those who don’t have them. I am called for this. Now to figure out the path of the calling.