Circle of Compassion Launched
Can I do this? I repeatedly asked myself midway through the first draft of the first chapter.
My writing voice, according to my editors and readers, is light and breezy—sometimes funny, sometimes perfunctory, often reflective, but never heavy.
So how can one do the same for the heavy hand of poverty? There is nothing light and breezy about it, neither is it funny nor perfunctory, and one cannot be reflective without feeling and sharing the pain.
Poverty cannot be sugarcoated.
Circle of Compassion is about destitute children, born under the worst living conditions, but who have grown wings through Compassion International (CI), whose ministry is to release children from poverty in Jesus' name.
I had heard all about these stories before as a member of CI's consultative five-member advisory group for the last nine years. But seeing the children's heart in the raw, up close, hearing the details of their growing-up struggles, I was ready to step on the brakes and call it quits.
What's so amazing about grace, however, is that it urges you on and you can't retreat to the pit stop, not even for tire repairs.
Story after story, I felt as though Someone had taken the wheel from me and kept my engine running. He gifted me with people at CI who rigged me up for more. I flew to Cebu to interview a goon-turned-Christian, a drug lord-turned-CI volunteer, a communist-turned-pastor, a social worker-turned-CI leader—they made their way to the book, enriching the children's stories. The draft took on a shape of its own.
After the manuscript went to my editor, I got terribly sick with gastroenteritis that knocked me out for three days, sapped of strength to reach the finish line.
But here it is, in printed form!
It was launched on the first day of the 2013 Manila International Book Fair. The event was attended by the Country Director of CI and some of his department heads. Our photos below tell the story of how, in the writing process, I (held up by the OMF Lit's publication team) was ensconced in God's circle of compassion so I could join the happy occasion to celebrate the work of His hands.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1 (NIV)