When I was a junior at Vanderbilt, I signed up for a class on the writings of John Milton, the great 17th century poet. On the first day of class, the professor asked us to introduce ourselves and explain why we were taking the course. Student after student identified themselves as graduate students taking the course as part of a master’s degree or doctoral degree in English. You can imagine how I felt introducing myself as an undergraduate history major and confessing that I had enrolled because “I thought it might be interesting.”
The professor pulled me aside after class to confirm my suspicion that I “would not survive the course” without his help. And help me he did. That professor met with me every day after class to review the material and to offer additional assignments. Thanks to his help, I made a B in the course and Milton became one of my favorite poets.
This issue of the Beacon focuses on compassion, and on people who have sacrificed their resources and their comfort, traveled to distant lands, pursued careers, and made lifestyle changes all so they could minister to others in need. While my example of the professor who gave me 15 minutes of his time each day might seem to pale in comparison, I offer it as a reminder that compassion does not have to take the form of a grand gesture in order to make a real difference.
Every day at Mississippi College, I see students, faculty, and staff demonstrating compassion to others in large ways and in small ways. Some of these efforts incorporate evangelism and others are simply acts of kindness, but all follow the model of compassion established by Christ.
There is an old saying that goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The fact is the majority of us will not be called to minister to AIDS orphans, heal the sick, or serve in distant mission fields. But as Christians, I hope the stories in the following pages will inspire each of us to look for the many ways, big and small, that we can demonstrate the compassion of Christ to others.