Small acts of great love can rewrite the headlines of our lives. Christ shared His love generously with us and now we can give that same gift to our global neighbours.

A story went viral on social media recently—you might have seen it. A woman shared about her encounter with an elderly man who had lived through diphtheria, polio, the Vietnam war and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet he was still enchanted with life.

His secret?

“I learned a long time ago not to see the world through the printed headlines. I see the world through the people that surround me. I see the world with the realisation that we love big,” the 87-year-old said.

“Therefore, I just choose to write my own headlines. ‘Husband loves wife today.’ ‘Family drops everything to come to Grandma’s bedside.’ He patted my hand. ‘Old man makes new friend.’”

For many of us, 2021 continued to bring significant challenges as the devastating pandemic dragged on. But while COVID-19 dominated the news cycle, remarkable stories of good news were still taking place all over the world. Tales of ordinary people doing small acts with great love.

These are those moments, inspired by God’s extravagant love for us and written as hope-filled headlines. In a year that sometimes felt like it languished, these good news headlines from children in Compassion’s programs remind us of the incomparable, unstoppable love of Christ.

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1. A Letter Shows Weslin He’s Worthy of Love

Bullies at school had eroded Weslin’s self-confidence. He was born with a cleft palate and for that reason was rejected by the other children. When he was seven, he joined the Child Sponsorship Program in Nicaragua. He received his first letter from his sponsor four months later. Her words changed his life.

“I never had many friends. But my sponsor told me that the Lord loved me, and I had to love myself too,” he says. Now nine years old, Weslin knows he’s worthy of love and friendship. “Every day, I thank the Lord for sending a special person like her to befriend me and my family. I want her to know that her words changed my life. They taught me to love myself.”

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2. Ride to Hospital Helps Save Two Lives

On one of the coldest nights of the season, Myriam went into labour on the dirt floor of her home. She lives high in the Andes in Ecuador, surrounded by vast outcrops and snow-covered mountains. The town’s remote location means it’s not unusual for women to give birth at home, but a midwife is usually present. Myriam had no one except for her young children.

As the hours passed, it was clear something was wrong. A relative phoned Flor, who runs Compassion’s local Survival Program. Realising the family didn’t have the resources to get to the hospital, Flor herself hired a van. She drove the treacherous, winding road to get Myriam to hospital. Thanks to her actions, baby Valentine could be brought safely into the world by doctors. “The brothers and sisters of the church and Compassion are angels,” she says.

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3. Free Period Products, Dignity for Girls

In Ayusri’s small island community on Sabu, Indonesia, menstruation is considered a taboo topic. The silence and secrecy around the subject leads to harmful myths and shame. Ayusri felt too embarrassed to talk to her family when she got her first period.

It’s a different story at her Compassion centre, where girls are empowered with knowledge, supplies and most importantly—dignity. “I usually saved my pocket money to buy sanitary napkins,” says Ayusri. “But I don’t have to worry about this anymore now the Compassion project shares it for free.”

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4. Teenager Invents Drone to Deliver Medicine

17-year-old Tkalegn is an avid inventor whose problem-solving creations have won national acclaim, even catching the attention of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. When the pandemic hit his country, he wanted to find a safe way to get medical help to the people who needed it most. His solution? A drone to deliver medicine.

“I intentionally go to places and talk to different people to identify problems in the community,” says Tkalegn. “Then I start working on what I should do to contribute to solving them using the skills I have.”

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5. A Simple Touch Showed Yasmin She’s Valued

Yasmin often had itchy skin due to her cramped living conditions in Brazil. Eventually, she developed open wounds and rashes. Her friends avoided her. She felt so embarrassed she stopped talking altogether. “I wished I was invisible,” she says. “But one day, someone touched my shoulder.”

That person was her Compassion centre director, Alessandra. With kind concern, Alessandra organised medical care, reassuring Yasmin the centre would cover the costs and local worker Cecinha would deliver the prescribed medicine. What happened next changed everything.

“Cecinha came to our house to show my mother how to use the medication,” says Yasmin. “In order to teach my mother, she washed my hair with her own hands. She wasn’t afraid of me.” For so long, Yasmin had felt ostracised and rejected. That simple touch made her feel loved and valued. “I’m getting used to feeling loved and welcomed again,” she says with a smile.

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6. Box of Cornflakes is an Answer to Soraya’s Prayer

Soraya’s home was reduced to rubble by the earthquake that struck southern Haiti on August 14th, 2021. Unable to return to her house, the six-year-old and her grandmother relied upon emergency aid. Through Compassion’s program, the little girl has learned to pray to God when she has a need.

“I asked God to send us my favourite cereal,” says Soraya. “And when I ended my prayer I said, ‘Jesus will send me cornflakes, Grandma, wait and see.’”

Compassion sent trucks of relief supplies to families affected by the earthquake. As Soraya opened the box of food—a gift made possible through donations from people all over the world—she smiled at her grandmother. Holding out a big red box of cornflakes, she said, “I told you God would answer my prayers.”

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7. Teens’ Cafe Serves Kindness With Coffee

When Ovidio’s tutor encouraged him to pursue his dream for starting a pastry-making business, the teenager felt challenged. “She told us not to put limits to our dreams. At the time, my reality was that I didn’t even have money to buy a pair of shoes!” says the 18-year-old. “Thinking I could have a coffee shop of my own felt impossible.”

Today, his dream is a reality. Ovidio’s coffee shop in El Salvador serves more than the world’s favourite beverage—Ovidio shares Jesus’ love with his community.

“One day, we had some extra cupcakes and we decided to give them away to people who were living on the street. Their smiles melted our hearts,” says Ovidio. “When they received their cake, their faces were shining.”

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8. Mother Welcomes Abandoned Children as Her Own

And finally, Mama Beatrice. Welcoming a child into your home is no small act, yet her extravagant love for others is a gift she freely gives. In Rwanda, Beatrice lived through the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

“God got me out of the jaws of death so many times,” she says. Her four children survived, but her heart broke for the tens of thousands of children left orphaned in the crisis. “I made a vow to God that I would take of vulnerable children,” she says. “God protected me from the killers so that I could serve Him.”

When her own children had grown up and moved out, she began welcoming orphaned and abandoned children into her home. She started with just one child, but today she cares for 15, two of whom are part of Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program.
“Beatrice doesn’t only take care of children, she takes care of her community too,” says Colette, a local Compassion staff member. “She is a mother with a heart for the nation.”

Just as Jesus came to the world as a tiny baby, we are invited to start small as we imitate Christ’s great love for His people. We can serve the neighbours within our reach. We can pay attention so that others feel seen and known.

You can watch the family-friendly animation above to see how love looks in action. This beautiful animation was created by Compassion International to celebrate small moments of love across the globe during this season of difficulty.

And like Ovidio and Alessandra and Beatrice show us, with one small act, we can reflect the love of Christ and be a gift to those around us.

Words by Zoe Noakes and Rachel Howlett.