The Death of Compassion!
Written by: Wilkerson, David Posted on: 03/19/2003
Category: Christian Living
Times Square Church Pulpit Series
The Death of Compassion!
By David Wilkerson
February 3, 1997
A crack-addicted mother killed her own six-year-old
daughter, Elisa, suffocating her with a pillow.
Four-year-old Nadine starved to death in her mother's house
in the Bronx. Police found the girl locked in a bedroom --
shriveled, emaciated, curled up in the fetal position. All her
cries for help had gone unheeded by her crack-addicted mother.
A twenty-year-old mother took her three children to the
rooftop of their apartment complex. One by one, systematically,
she pushed the three children screaming off the roof to their
deaths. Then she jumped and fell to her death. New York's Daily
News showed pictures of anguished onlookers wailing in unbelief
at the sight of the mother and three children lying dead in the
street. People were doubled up in agony at the sight.
Terrified, they screamed, "What has happened to our country?"
A sixteen-year-old girl jumped off the elevated train in
Brooklyn and fell on a little boy who was rushing home to play
with a new toy his mother had bought for him. As I write this,
the boy is in a hospital, in a coma. The teenage girl died.
A distraught mother laid her little girl on a bed, covered
the child's head with a sweater, went to the kitchen, got a knife
and began stabbing the little girl to death. Later, the mother
could give no explanation for her action. And she didn't seem to
have any sorrow over it.
Another mother got stone drunk, loaded her two children into
a car and began careening wildly down the road. She ran down two
children, killing them instantly, and smashed the car into a
divide, killing herself and her two children. Four children dead
-- killed in an instant by a mother in a drunken stupor!
I could go on and on, with one tragic story after another.
These are just a few of the stories that have appeared in our New
York City newspapers over the past few months. There seems to be
no end to all the awful crimes committed against children. And
they are happening all across the land.
I believe it is all God can do to restrain himself from
moving in before the end of time and putting an end to it all. I
will never believe he is just some benign spirit who sits in
heaven, unmoved by the horrible spirit of murder loose in this
land. No -- he is a compassionate father who agonizes over his
During his time on the earth, Jesus was the embodiment of
God's compassion. Scripture frequently says Christ was "moved
with compassion" by the suffering of people. And if that was the
case in the first century, what great grief there must be now in
our Lord's heart!
The Bible tells us "...his compassions fail not"
(Lamentations 3:22). "Thou, O Lord, art a God full of
compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy
and truth" (Psalm 86:15).
Most Christians Living
Today Would Like to Think
That, Like Jesus, They Are
"Moved With Compassion."
When I read stories like these from our newspapers, I also
want to be moved with compassion. Even the worst sinners are
"moved" when they hear of the suffering of children. I hear them
speak in trembling voices on radio talk shows as I drive in my
car. They say, "How awful, tragic, sad! What is our nation
coming to? We ought to lock up all the drug-using mothers. We
need to get tougher on crime." After taking several such calls,
one radio announcer declared, "America is still full of
But compassion is not just pity or sympathy. It is more
than being moved to tears or stirred up emotionally -- more than
speaking out about the evil behind such crimes. Compassion means
pity and mercy accompanied by a desire to help change things.
Truly compassionate feelings move us to do something!
This is illustrated in the compassion Jesus showed in the
gospels. At one point, he departed into the wilderness to pray.
When the multitudes discovered his whereabouts, they followed him
by foot from all the surrounding towns. In desperation, they
brought him their lame, their blind, their dying, their demon-
What did Jesus do? The Bible tells us: "And Jesus went
forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion
toward them, and he healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14). That is
Had Jesus been hampered by our modern thinking, he might
have gathered his disciples for a committee meeting. He would
have analyzed the problems and talked about the sins that had
brought society to such a place. He would have pointed to the
frothing demoniacs and tearfully said, "Look at what sin does to
people. Isn't that tragic? See the wages of sin at work!"
Or, he could have said, like so many sanctimonious people,
"Look -- I'm very tired. I've worked hard ministering to you.
But now I'm exhausted, and I need to talk to my father. You can
be sure I feel your pain. I'll tell you what: I will call my
disciples together, and we'll have an intercessory meeting.
We'll agree in prayer for your needs. Now, go in peace."
That is modern theology, in a nutshell. Everybody is
willing to pray -- but few are willing to act!
Matthew 9 says of Jesus, "When he saw the multitudes, he was
moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were
scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (9:36). The
phrase "moved with compassion" here means "stirred to action."
So, what did Jesus do about it?
He didn't just talk. His heart was moved and stirred at
what he saw -- and he had a consuming desire to change things!
Did he have pity toward those people? Yes. Did he have
sympathy? Yes. But those feelings moved him to action! He
said, "I'll do all I can to make a difference!"
"Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in
their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and
healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (verse
35). This was not some vain theology. Jesus didn't just get
alone with the father and say, "Lord, send labors into your
harvest field." Jesus went himself! He laid hands on lepers.
He got deeply, practically, intimately involved.
In Matthew 15, we read of an incredible scene: "Great
multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame,
blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at
Jesus' feet; and he healed them" (15:30).
I don't think we can appreciate this scene today. Can you
imagine it? All around Jesus, hundreds of afflicted people were
sitting and lying on the ground -- the diseased, the despairing,
little children too sick to sit up, people crying aloud for help,
groaning in pain, fevered, demon-possessed.
Jesus didn't turn them away. He performed miracles of
healing and deliverance: The dumb spoke, the crippled leaped, the
blind saw, the sick and diseased suddenly were made whole. And
with every healing, the people pressed in even closer. I imagine
the people picking up their sick children and pushing forward,
with the disciples trying to keep some order.
These people were out in the wilderness for three days
without food. And now they were fainting from hunger. That's
when Jesus said, "I have compassion on the multitudes. I will
not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way."
I could stop right here and make that the focus of this
message: "I have compassion -- and I will not send them away!"
But the Lord wants to say to us much more:
Our Once-Caring Nation
Is Slowly But Surely Losing
Its Heart of Compassion for
the Poor and Needy!
America's compassion is dying! Here in the harbor of New
York City stands a lady whose arms have been outstretched to the
poor and needy for more than one hundred years. Yet now things
are changing drastically.
State governors compete with one another to see who can cut
the most people from the welfare rolls. From the White House on
down to cities and counties, there is a stampede to cut food
stamps and wipe out welfare -- to give as little as possible.
Just last month, President Clinton talked about the many
thousands of people who no longer receive welfare benefits. And
here in New York City, food distribution centers are quickly
drying up. Funds for giving programs are dwindling.
Now, I am not a politician. I do not want to get into a
political discussion about the rights and wrongs of welfare for
the poor. Yes, I know there has been a lot of cheating in the
system. And I believe there should be changes -- that all able-
bodied men should work, and that we must not pay mothers for
adding more illegitimate babies to the welfare rolls.
But what bothers me is that most of the rhetoric I hear on
the subject is mean-spirited, cold, heartless. There's a
hardness sweeping this country!
I tell you, God will not stand by and allow the richest
nation on earth to put mothers and children on the streets. He
will not allow billions to be spent on space research while our
cities' children go hungry. And rest assured -- we are just two
years away from having hundreds of families on the streets in New
I know the feelings of many middle-class workers across the
nation as they struggle to survive financially. Many suburban
people hold good jobs but are being taxed to death. They can't
even afford to have their children vaccinated or to give them
health care -- yet they hear of ghetto mothers who get free
clinical care. They can barely keep food on their tables, while
free food stamps go to people on welfare. One hard-working
mother said, "I might as well go on welfare. At least my kids
would get medical attention."
I understand all these economic pressures. But as
Christians, we dare not allow our country's cold, hard spirit
toward the poor to rob us of compassion!
One former governor is pushing for a new law that would
legalize euthanasia, the killing of the elderly infirm. He says
the nation can no longer afford to "waste its resources" on them.
He suggests that the best thing the elderly sick can do is to
"die and save our medical resources for the young."
This is shocking! We have become so hard and calloused that
Jack Kevorkian -- "Doctor Death," the man who assists in planned
suicides -- is looked upon as a hero. He is referred to as a
"compassionate, caring doctor, helping people out of their
misery." Yet what he does is just plain murder!
Worse, euthanasia is now being allowed in cases not just of
physical pain, but emotional pain as well. If you have a nervous
breakdown and don't want to face life, you can call Doctor Death!
One day soon, our nation will legalize euthanasia. We will
cut off more and more food stamps to the poor. And our streets
will begin to look like those in Third World countries -- full of
beggars, children and homeless people.
Yet what shocks me most is the lack of compassion I see
spreading in the church of Jesus Christ. Many of God's people
are growing cold-hearted and uncaring. Demoninations say their
missions funds are dwindling. People simply are not giving
toward foreign missions anymore.
Recently, I sent out to our readers a simple report of our
missions giving. I wrote, "I want you to know that at least ten
percent of every dollar you send us is tithed to missions. We
support child-care ministries around the world. We operate
orphanages in Romania and Mozambique, and we give many thousands
to Latin American child care."
I thought people would be thankful for our ministry's
commitment to giving. But I was shocked and dismayed by the
numbers of irate letters we received from several readers. Here
is what some of them said:
* "Take me off your mailing list. I did not give you
permission to spend out of my offering to your ministries
overseas. I want every dollar to stay here in the United
* "I do not want any of my money going to foreign missions.
I'll support your ministry in New York, but nowhere else."
I say to all who feel the way these people do: If you don't
like the fact that we tithe your gifts, the best thing to do is
to stop giving to us. I don't care if that costs us thousands of
dollars. God will not endure that kind of attitude!
Thank God, the majority of readers are thankful for our
commitment to give out of compassion.
Let Me Now Talk About
Us -- About Times Square
Church and Our Staff!
We minister in one of the most troubled, hurting cities in
America -- both spiritually and, very soon, economically. It is
a city where over two million people receive government
assistance, many of them on welfare. This city is flooded with
drug addiction, despair, homelessness.
Matthew writes that multitudes came to Jesus, casting down
at his feet the lame, blind, mute, maimed and crippled. And
today I see this happening in New York with the church of Jesus
Christ. The government has failed; all other institutions and
systems have failed; so, what is the last hope for humankind? It
is supposed to be the church of Jesus Christ! And very soon, we
are going to have more hurting, more homeless, more helpless
people cast at our feet. They will be brought right to our
What will we do then? Should we pray for revival, hold all-
night prayer meetings -- and simply step over the homeless lying
right outside our church doors? No -- never! That is not
A few Sunday nights ago, I could not sleep. My spirit was
in turmoil, because I couldn't put out of my mind the mother I'd
just met backstage. In one arm she held a five-day-old baby, and
in her free hand she gripped the hand of her two-year-old. Her
husband had lost his job and couldn't find work, and he'd left
This young mother was now sleeping on the floor of a small
apartment where ten other people lived. They wanted her out
because her babies cried so much. She could not get welfare; she
had no family, no place to go, not even money for milk. She told
me, "I'm headed for the streets. There's no place for us to go!"
I gave this pitiful young woman some money, and our helps
ministry began working with her. But that wasn't the end.
Another young mother who attends our church came to us in a
similar situation. Her husband was on drugs and couldn't hold a
job. She was unskilled and couldn't work. She also told me,
"Pastor Dave, I'm just a week or two from being on the streets."
Then I met two other dear women whose husbands beat them.
They fear for their lives and for their children's safety. And
all the city's "safe houses" are full, with long waiting lists.
As I lay down that night to try to sleep, I couldn't shut my
eyes. Was I moved? Yes. Full of pity? Yes. But something
else was going on inside me. I prayed: "Lord, what do you want
us to do about this? How can we change this tragic situation?
I'm sixty-five, and I'm tired. I've spent enough time with drug
addicts and alcoholics. Please -- not another program."
But the image of the five-day-old baby kept coming to mind.
I thought, "We're the church of Jesus Christ. We are to have
compassion, and not send them away. What can we do?"
I realized that in just two or three weeks, our Isaiah House
would be open and operating in Times Square. And we would be
moving our men's Timothy House into that facility.
Suddenly, there it was, right before my eyes: The former
Timothy House building would free up ten apartments. We could
use the building as a living center for abandoned and abused
mothers. We could only put two mothers and their children in a
single apartment -- and that means helping only forty to fifty
families a year. It is only a drop in the bucket. But something
has to be done!
Compassion cannot be only sympathy and pity. It must be
feelings moved to action! It asks, "God, what do you want me to
Let Me Tell You the
Kind of Outpouring I'd
Like to See Here in
New York City!
Our church has spent much time in prayer. We have just
concluded a twenty-four-hour-a-day, thirty-day prayer chain. And
in January we opened the year in prayer and fasting. But exactly
what are we praying about? What are we looking for?
The late Leonard Ravenhill, who wrote Why Revival Tarries,
was a great man of God -- in my mind, a true prophet. I sat for
hours listening to him talk of a coming great revival. He waited
for it for more than sixty years, but he died without ever seeing
When I grew up in the Pentecostal church, all my father and
grandfather ever talked about was a coming great revival.
Evangelists talked about it at camp meetings: "There's a revival
coming. God is going to sweep multitudes into the kingdom!"
Yet, at the heart of all this talk of revival was one basic
thought: "We won't have to go out into the streets and get our
hands dirty. We can just stay here and pray. The Holy Ghost
will draw people in!"
But the definition of revival is, "the awakening or
resurrection of that which threatens to become a corpse." It
means, "to wake up the dead church -- to revive it, resuscitate
it, so the ungodly will be inclined to enter its doors."
Beloved, the church is not supposed to have to be
resurrected from the dead! We shouldn't have to be praying for
some great revival. And while we all have been shut in, praying
for revival, the following things have happened in our country:
* One-half of all our teenagers smoke pot. More than a
third drink. Twelve-year-olds indulge in sex. Fourteen-year-old
girls are having babies. We have lost an entire generation of
young people to cynicism, hardness, disillusionment.
* Our cities are about to burst into flames. The nation is
satiated with sex, pleasure, the idolatry of sports. One of
every two marriages ends in divorce.
* The sobbing sounds of hungry, battered children now rise
as thunder from our cities. Homosexuals demand marriage rights.
Desperate fathers roam the streets by the hundreds, looking for
work. Many black and hispanic men are unable even to get
interviews for a job.
As the year 2000 approaches, what is the church doing about
these things? What has captured our attention and energies?
Not long ago I received a letter from a woman who attends
our church. She said, in effect, "Times Square Church needs
healing lines, miracle meetings, signs and wonders -- like the
things that happen on Brother So-and-so's TV show."
I want to answer this woman's letter lovingly and publicly:
"Dear Sister: Let me tell you how you can produce a mighty
miracle, a great sign to all unbelievers.
"There is a mother in our church who is about to be put into
the streets with her children. She's single, and she's willing
to work. Would you kindly take her in and give her your extra
bedroom for three months? Or simply let her sleep on your couch?
Would you feed her while she looks for an apartment? Would you
minister to her? Would you lift her out of the pit of despair?"
Would doing this constitute a miracle? Would it be
considered a sign, a wonder? Yes -- absolutely! Every
unbeliever who'd see it would say, "Now, that is what Christ is
all about. And that is what Christianity ought to be about!"
The Bible says that if we are meeting human needs -- if we
are obeying the commandment to be compassionate to the world, and
giving ourselves to the needs of others -- then we will be a
well-watered garden! "If you deal your bread to the hungry...if
you cover the naked...if you do not hide your face from the
poor...if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the
suffering soul...then the Lord shall guide you continually,
satisfy your soul" (see Isaiah 58:5-12). "...thou shalt be like
a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail
not" (verse 11).
A minister acquaintance recently showed me a videotape of
church meeting that is part of what is being called a great
revival. Yet what I saw on that video were strange
manifestations. At one point, the pastor leading the meeting
said to a weeping man, "There is no crying here. This isn't a
prayer meeting. It is time for laughter!" Then the leader knelt
beside a man on the floor and began saying, "Pump up, old joy!
Pump up, old joy!"
I asked my minister friend to explain all this to me. In
essence, he said, "Christians have become so defeated, dry and
downcast that God is trying to resurrect joy. The Holy Spirit is
trying to free people up through manifestations."
No! The laughter we see today is not new. I had holy
laughter when I was ten years old. I laughed for hours and then
wept for hours -- all because of the conviction of the Holy
Ghost. There is nothing new about that.
I ask you: How did the church ever get to this low point of
being downhearted, anyway? How did the church ever come to need
such pumping up?
It is because we have not dealt with Isaiah 58! That
passage tells us very plainly and directly why Christians lose
their joy, go dry and become bound up. It is because they have
become engrossed in self-survival!
Most Christians now hear only sermons about how to cope with
life's problems, how to deal with emptiness. They no longer have
a burden for missions, for people on the streets, for the poor.
Instead, they sit around and complain about how their tax money
is being spent. And these same Christians walk right past the
poor and needy!
Why aren't shepherds teaching their people to reach out to
human needs, so that when the needy come to church they'll find a
well-watered garden, a deep source springing up? The Lord said
he would do provide that for anybody who was willing to give of
Almost three hundred years ago, the Moravians came to New
York with the Dutch. As they established a church, they also set
up an outreach to the poor. Today, all of their churches are
gone -- but the Moravian ministry in New York still exists, as
one of the great feeding programs in the city.
Likewise, the Bowery Mission is still going on after one
hundred and fifty years. And Jerry McCauley's ministry to the
poor is still in operation after one hundred and sixty years.
God is meeting the needs of the poor -- even though many churches
have gone to dust!
We should not have to travel any farther than our own
neighborhood to have the greatest kind of revival imaginable.
God says that if we will deal our bread to the hungry, bring the
poor into our house, cover the naked and give of our own soul to
the hungry and suffering, he will guide us and provide for us
continually. We will be like a well-watered garden -- a spring
of water whose waters never fail!
God is telling us, "Focus on helping others! Reach out to
the poor, the hurting. I will answer you, guide you, satisfy
you. You will be a spring of life to others. Your blessings
will never fail!"
If you are not comfortable with this Old Testament teaching,
listen to what Jesus said in the New Testament:
"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was
thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took
me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and
ye visited me not.
"Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we
thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or
in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
"Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you,
Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it
not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:
but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:42-46).
"Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have
need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how
dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17).
At this point you may be saying, "I'd like to be
compassionate, to help the needy. How can I make a change?"
I can only tell you that God will answer this prayer: "Lord,
I see all the human needs around me. And I know that the only
Jesus my city may ever see is the one they'll see through me and
my church. God, you're going to have to direct me. I'm ready
with my wallet, my house, my time. Show me where to go, Lord!"
Rest assured -- God will bring those needs to your doorstep!
You may think, "But I have so many problems of my own. I
can't spend time helping others." Let me ask you: Are you
lonely? Volunteer to visit hurting people in a hospital or a
rest home. You won't be lonely before that night is over! Do
you need a friend? Go to the street, find a homeless person and
ask, "Are you hungry? Let's go to McDonalds." Buy that hurting
person a hamburger and talk to him about Jesus.
God wants every one of us to be a part of his compassionate
heart to the world. And if you're willing to do that, he will
send the needs to your doorstep.
So, present yourself to the Lord to be used. He will open
all doors to you. Then you will truly know his heart of
When in New York City Visit Times Square Church
Located at 51st Street & Broadway (Manhattan)
Schedule of Services
Sunday Afternoon............................... 3:00
Sunday Evening................................. 6:00
Tuesday Evening [Prayer, healing, communion]... 7:00
Thursday Evening [Intercessory Prayer]......... 7:00
Friday Evening................................. 7:00
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