Kurt Campbell remembers the moment God melted his heart for the people of Sri Lanka. It was on Easter Sunday, 2009. Sitting in his comfortable, warm church, singing worship songs, he started to cry.
Several weeks earlier, he and his wife Cari had prayed and felt led to donate their entire savings account to aid in the crisis in Sri Lanka. They’d heard the details of how the end to the 26-year-long civil war had killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Knowing World Concern was responding and rescuing war victims, Kurt and Cari wanted to help.
“I’ve often said, your pocket book follows your heart, but sometimes it works the other way. It was after that financial investment that we felt more connected to Sri Lanka,” recalls Kurt.
As he sat in church that Easter, tears running down his cheeks, he realized they probably weren’t singing worship songs in Northern Sri Lanka. “I thought, here’s a group of people who don’t know the Lord as their savior, and surely aren’t experiencing the love and compassion I’m used to on a daily basis. My heart just broke,” he said.
Kurt’s burden for the people of Sri Lanka grew over the next two years, especially as he’s had the opportunity to travel there several times. During his visits to the displacement camps, he saw first-hand the tremendous losses people have endured – loss of life, loss of limbs, and loss of loved ones.
“One of the hardest places to visit was a special camp where people went once they left the hospital … it was basically and old factory floor with cots lined up one after another,” said Kurt. “I came across two children – a girl about 4 years old, and a boy about 6. The boy had a bandaged leg and would obviously be crippled for the rest of his life. The girl had lost three fingers on one hand. I was looking right at her, but she had a completely blank look on her face.
“If God had used me for anything in those camps, it was to make the kids laugh. But this girl, nothing. A blank stare. What had she seen?” Kurt wondered. She was most likely an orphan and had seen the horrors of war.
That experience changed Kurt. He felt more compassion and more of a desire to help than ever before. “There’s something about the Sri Lankan people – something within them – an ability to persevere and to tackle life that is so beautiful. It’s not a hand-out society. These are people who are truly hard-working individuals who want to do things on their own. That really resonates with me.”
One of the most significant aspects of the work Kurt observed was how World Concern staff pays attention to individual people, walking with them through their struggles. “We’re affecting people’s lives and it’s wonderful,” he said.
Kurt Campbell is the owner of Campbell Nelson Volkswagen and Campbell Nelson Nissan in Seattle, Wash. Campbell Nelson is the sponsor of the “Free Them” 5k, www.worldconcern.org/5k.
To learn more, visit www.worldconcern.org/srilanka-rescue.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …” – Matthew 6:19-20