Made Known

Knock, knock, knock. The innkeeper opens the door. With a downcast face and a shake of his head he answers the desperate plea of the young couple. “Sorry, there is no room.” This mythical exchange is so entwined with the telling of our Savior’s birth; we hardly realize that the innkeeper does not appear in scripture. A few years ago, he joined the Mercer’s nativity collection. The set that includes him has become my favorite. Something quickens in my heart every time I unwrap him. My attention is drawn to his earnest face as he curiously raises a lamp in the air.

Scripture records that Mary and Joseph were indeed travelers, and that they journeyed to Bethlehem. Jesus was most definitely born while they were away from home. There was no guest room available, so he was placed in a manger. His earthly parents were young, poor, without shelter, and with a most immediate need. Nothing in 2,000 years of re-telling this story is new. However, the innkeeper has recently given me new perspective. Presumption makes room for his story. The story of the innkeeper invites us to insert ourselves into God’s story. 

We are never more a part of God’s story than when we answer the knock of the desperate. When we make room for the poor, and invest in the lives of the young and vulnerable, we enter into a holy exchange. The innkeeper offered the best he had, even if the best he had was a stable and straw. In doing so, he ushered in the divine prophecy. Incarnation. God made flesh. Immanuel. God with us. 

We heard the knock of a desperate community in East Java. Not unlike the humble and lowly manger, we have seen God transform acres of tombstones into a divinely beautiful place. This Christmas, we reflect on Jesus’ birth. God’s desire to be made known to all people led up to this moment, when He entered our broken world to bring light to the darkness.

Please consider making a year-end contribution that brings life and hope to families that we have come to know and deeply love. 

For the Sake of Others,

Mike Mercer
President and Founder of Compassion First

Love is at Work

It never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
— 1 Corinthians 13:7 (GW)

Love. It greets her at the door.

She enters Sarah’s House defeated by insecurities which are often masked by a forced smile, a strife for extreme perfection or rages of anger. 

She comes in feeling like a stranger. She thinks her past, her struggles, her hurts are things that no one can relate to, and certainly not accept.

She walks through the front gate burdened by the power of lies. 

“I’m not pretty enough.”

“I’m not good enough.” 

“I’ll never achieve anything, so why even try?”

But love is at work.

It acknowledges her insecurities and even celebrates her flaws. 

Overtime her fits of anger or conservative mannerisms are transformed into music, sounds of guitars and keyboards. She is taking risks, dominating in dance battles and proudly singing off pitch to her favorite songs. Love brings health. Love brings life. Love turns perceived inadequacies into something beautiful.

She is no longer a stranger but embraced as a sister. Her background is different and her story unique, but the bonds formed here make Sarah’s House a home and new faces, family. 

Robbed of years of schooling, she is not only catching up, but enrolling in college and anticipates a bright future. She is chasing dreams and setting expectations of herself. This is because love says, “I know you have fallen a billion times but get up and keep going because I KNOW you can do it.” Love believes in her long before she believes herself. It never stops cheering.

Love has no agenda.

It knows no bounds. 

It is less concerned about yesterday than it is excited at possibilities of today.

Love shows up when it is hard or when it’s weary, but it ALWAYS shows up. 

It’s every day and it changes everything.

Love never fails. 

Written by Compassion First Field Coordinator at Sarah's House

Local Work: A New Partnership with Safety Compass

We are dedicated to serving adult survivors of sex trafficking in Oregon. It is our goal to work in a collaborative manner with authoritative local organizations like Safety Compass to create a program that offers services to the exploited and vulnerable living in Oregon. Safety Compass is a new, crucial organization for survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation in underserved Oregon communities. We are privileged to be a part of their foundational work by fiscal sponsorship. 

Safety Compass provides support to survivors in Marion County and Clackamas County. The survivors in these communities just outside of the Portland metropolitan area would not have any advocacy services available without Safety Compass. Women in their care are recovering and receiving much-needed assistance.

About Safety Compass:

Safety Compass was founded in 2014 by Executive Director Esther Nelson. In her first 18 months, Safety Compass made 156 contacts with 58 domestic and sexual violence survivors, provided community education to 183 community members, trained 30 emergency room staff and administration at Silverton Hospital. They have been nationally recognized for their efforts to advocate for sex-trafficking survivors, having provided almost 200 hours of consultation assistance to other professionals on how to serve this population of survivors in a culturally specific manner, since the program began.

In the past year, Safety Compass has been utilized by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as a resource for local families whose children went missing. In total, Safety Compass has had approximately 300 contacts related to direct service. They have trained major crimes investigators from every law enforcement agency in Clackamas County in how to identify and intervene on behalf of sex trafficking victims. They have also trained DHS Self Sufficiency workers of Marion County in how to identify and intervene on behalf of sex-trafficking victims. Safety Compass was adopted onto the Marion County Child Abuse Multi-disciplinary Team (know as CART). Safety Compass spearheaded an effort to encourage CART to create a subcommittee to address commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Marion and Polk Counties. This was a successful effort and now Safety Compass co-chairs this sub-committee.

In collaboration with Intel, Compassion First was able to provide Safety Compass with a new laptop computer for a survivor that enrolled in online educational classes. We are seeking out opportunities to best serve Safety Compass. To stay up to date on how you can be involved, visit our US Survivor Care page and the Safety Compass website. You can also read a recent newspaper article about Esther's work.