Compassion’s Zoe Noakes shares some inspiring examples of how the pandemic didn’t stop people from showing up for each other—like the young man who rode a buffalo around his community with a karaoke machine to spread joy and raise funds for Covid-19 patients.

Last year (2020) felt like a year the world changed. Society was separated and the widespread changes, quarantines, and challenges shattered many lives. In a year that many of us would like to erase, beautiful things still happened. Let’s remember the ways God filled the cracks with gold.

In early March 2020, I was on a storytelling trip to El Salvador for Compassion. One minute we were loading the van to head to a child development centre, the next we were packing our bags to rush to the airport—urgently called home as Covid-19, a seemingly distant threat, suddenly became very real. In a matter of weeks, the world felt like it shut down.

Ever since, my days have been spent at home, sharing stories about how the pandemic is affecting children living in poverty. These stories will stay with me forever.

Yhovana’s is one of them. When Covid-19 hit Bolivia, her husband lost his job. She works at a farm. One day, desperate to feed her children, she looked down at the bucket of chicken guts she fed to her employer’s pigs. She had no choice. “I collected the nicer intestines to cook and eat,” she says. When Compassion’s partner heard, they delivered groceries because Yhovana’s family needed food, but they also deserve dignity.

Another is a grandmother in Brazil. She had just been handed a basket heaving with food by Compassion’s local church partner. She was all alone. Concerned, the pastor asked if she needed help to carry it. Her response brought tears to his eyes. “It would be heavier if it were empty,” she replied.

Or Tribin, a mother in Bangladesh. Even before the pandemic, she and her husband struggled to earn enough to feed their little girls. In what is the most challenging season of their lives, she says the pandemic has taught her to believe in miracles. Compassion’s partner keeps providing for them at just the right time.

If these stories broke my heart, others made me laugh. In the Philippines, 25-year-old Romel rode a water buffalo with a karaoke machine blaring to spread joy and raise funds for Covid-19 patients.

“I felt I had to do something about the rising cases of Covid-19, so I decided to put on a suit, borrow a mobile karaoke machine from a friend, and sing on muddy, flooded streets.”—Romel

Mostly, though, I am left in awe of people’s courage, dedication, and capacity to continually pour out love upon vulnerable families. In 2020, the world shut its doors and closed its borders. Yet people like Compassion’s church partners opened their hands and their hearts. In dozens of different languages, they said ‘What do you need? We are here for you.’

You were part of it. In a year that many of us would like to erase, truly beautiful things happened. By sponsoring a child, you empowered Compassion’s incredible local partners to be the hands of feet of Jesus. In the Japanese art of Kintsugi, broken pottery pieces are repaired with gold. By embracing the flaws and imperfections, it creates a stronger, more beautiful piece. 2020 was a year that often felt broken but I saw how God filled the cracks with bright, shining gold.

Here is some of the gold from the year the world changed. These moments and lessons represent prayers answered, lives changed, and lessons learned. They show what is possible when together, we rise as one.

1. We showed up for one another

children-annd-man-on-cart-and-yak.jpg25-year-old Romel rode a water buffalo with a karaoke machine blaring to spread joy and raise funds for Covid-19 patients.

We were separated by distance but fought to remain united. Friends celebrated graduations and birthdays by driving past homes, balloons streaming from car windows. Teenagers taught grandparents to use Zoom. Neighbours dropped encouraging notes in mailboxes. Loved ones waved from pavements beneath hospital windows.

When vulnerable families needed healthcare during the pandemic, Compassion’s partners were there. From April 2020 to January 2021, they supported 970,660 cases of medical care.

Being separated was hard. It caused excruciating pain to many. But distance couldn’t stop us from showing up for one another, and time together now is all the more precious.

2. We realised the church is more than a building

girl-with-plastic-bag.jpg10,614,674 food parcels were distributed to vulnerable families by Compassion's church partners.

From the beginning, the church has always been more than a building. But in 2020, when many couldn’t access attend services in person, this truth really shone. Churches all over the world adapted, shifting online, moving services outdoors, and providing support in new ways to continue being the hands and feet of Jesus

When their church doors closed, Compassion’s partners taught children virtually, prayed for families over the phone, and even delivered birthday cakes at a safe distance. They distributed a staggering 10,614,674 food parcels to vulnerable families—each one representing a full belly and lifted a weight off of anxious parent’s shoulders.

3. We learned to smile with our eyes

girl-with-mask-and-yellow-jacket.jpg7,128,706 million hygiene kits were distributed by Compassion's church partners. 

It was a skill most of us didn’t realize we needed. When face masks were introduced, suddenly we had to express ourselves using only the top half of our face.

In some developing countries, the prices of face masks and hand sanitiser skyrocketed, making these simple tools of self-protection out of reach. Compassion’s church partners distributed more than 7,128,706 million hygiene kits, helping to protect precious lives.

4. We saw God’s faithfulness

MicrosoftTeams-image-(1).pngFood baskets in Brazil. 

In all of the challenges, we saw God at work. He inspired the young Filipino man in his quest to create smiles, He showed up on Tribin’s doorstep through the faithful centre volunteers, and He walked alongside the Brazilian grandmother as she carried her food basket home. He made pathways through the wilderness and rivers in the dry wasteland, just as He promised. If you haven’t seen this in your own life yet, take heart. He is still working. 2020—the year it felt like the world changed—was one of widespread changes, quarantines, and challenges. But let’s remember the ways God filled the cracks with gold.

Related posts

If only you knew: Owen’s story

If only you knew: Owen’s story

Monday, 04 October 2021 — Compassion International

When Owen found out he was sponsored, his mother spun him around the room, his brothers jumped up and down and their faces lit up with huge grins. Owen knew his life was about to change, but what he didn’t expect was through his sponsor’s letters, he would first hear the words “I love you”. Owen and his sponsor became the best of friends through letter-writing. His sponsor even flew to Kenya to be the best man at his wedding! This year, Owen was invited to write one last letter to his former sponsor. It had been 12 years since they last wrote to one another.


Read more

Three ways to pray for the child you sponsor

Three ways to pray for the child you sponsor

Tuesday, 21 September 2021 — Compassion International

It can be hard to know how to pray for your sponsored child if you don’t understand their cultural context or what they’re going through. Children in different countries can experience poverty in various ways. In this short blog, we suggest three things you can pray for.


Read more

Inspiring people who live in poverty and help others

Inspiring people who live in poverty and help others

Wednesday, 01 September 2021 — Compassion International

These inspiring people have a strong motivation to help others. Despite growing up in poverty and not always having everything they need, they share what they have!


Read more

If only you knew: Liz’s story

If only you knew: Liz’s story

Friday, 27 August 2021 — Compassion International

It’s been more than a decade since Liz from Peru last wrote to Rebecca. Their friendship, built on pen and paper, began when Liz was six. Today, she is 27 and has one final message to share with her former sponsor: “If only you knew how the future of this child could change.”


Read more

Siblings are top achievers despite their struggles

Siblings are top achievers despite their struggles

Monday, 26 July 2021 — Compassion International

Although they were found struggling to survive, educating their children has always remained a priority for Nitsuha and Amanuel’s parents living in Ethiopia. With support from Compassion, the siblings scored the highest grades in their classes.


Read more

A mums and babies programme turned around a mother’s life of misery and rejection

A mums and babies programme turned around a mother’s life of misery and rejection

Thursday, 03 June 2021 — Compassion International

Contracting polio threw Mwanajuma into a life of hardship, rejection and stigma. But a Compassion mothers and babies programme ensured her newborn baby survived and she and her children no longer had to beg on the streets for survival. 

Read more

Show more