‘The Compassion Journey’ coming to Greenfield

The Times-Gazette

You can experience the realities of global poverty, explore different cultures and hear stories of children in need without ever leaving the area when The Compassion Journey comes to Greenfield from Feb. 1-10, said Rick Schluep.

The Compassion Journey, a family-friendly, interactive activity will be available for the public to visit at the New Directions youth center, 910 N. Fifth St., Greenfield. Posted public hours include 4-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3; 4-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10.

You can reserve a specific time to visit the interactive exhibit by registering via the Greenfield location at www.compassion.com/journey or you can arrive during the public hours. The Compassion Journey will also be available for individuals and groups to experience by appointment (contact Schluep at 937-218-2811 or by email at rschluep@compassion.com to schedule a time outside of the public hours).

“This free event is appropriate for all ages and is an excellent opportunity for anyone who has never had the chance to travel outside the United States to get a small glimpse of what life can be like in developing countries,” said Schluep, a regional advocate manager with Compassion International, a child-advocacy Christian ministry that pairs compassionate people with those who are suffering from poverty.

The ministry releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty, according to Schluep.

“This is a very unique opportunity for our community to be able to host this,” said Schluep, who added that several youth groups have already scheduled exclusive times and days to visit The Compassion Journey while it is in Greenfield. “Compassion has two Journey exhibits that will be hosted primarily in churches all over the United States, and Greenfield is one of the first locations for this interactive tour through the life of a child growing up in extreme poverty.”

Participants journey to five learning stations, each depicting the realities for children growing up in extreme poverty: What do they eat? How do they live? What do they fear? What do they dream about? What are their prayers? Five to six guests travel together as a group between the stations at their own pace. To help process some unique challenges of poverty, Compassion provides guided discussion questions to start spiritual conversations. Individuals/families have time to consider a compassionate response at the completion of their journey.

But Schluep that is not required, and no one is pressured to do so.

Those attending will be provided with headsets that are sanitized after each use, and an iPod. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to go through the program, Schluep said.

The Journey follows the life of Kevin, who grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, and what life was like for him, including going hungry and lacking a sense of security.

“It could lead to some really great discussion, especially in a culture where we’re so focused on ourselves. Much of the world lives on $2 a day,” Schluep said. “This allows you to kind of experience a cultural thing as well. It’s pretty strong on several levels.”

He said the program is being held at New Directions because a facility with 1,000 square feet of open space was needed.

“I believe this opportunity to step into another world by visiting The Compassion Journey will impact your life beyond what you can even imagine,” said Schluep.

The Times-Gazette