The Story of Compassion Connect
In the early 2000s, Clear Creek Community Church (Gresham, OR) was a healthy growing church that was sending teams of short term missionaries to Mexico. Through the collaboration of churches, doctors, dentists, and volunteers, they were able to hold medical and dental clinics for the local people. These missions experiences were shaping the life of the church, and Clear Creek pastor, Gary Tribbett realized that Christians reaching out to their neighbors in this way was very effective.
Miles away at Winona State University in MN, Milan Homola was pursuing his undergraduate degree. While there, his pastor asked him, “If there was one thing you could do that you were most passionate about, what would it be?” Milan responded, “Help churches work together to serve their neighbors.” At the time, he didn’t know why he said it, where it came from, or what it meant, but his life was soon captured by this vision.
A few years later in 2005, after another Clear Creek trip to Mexico, a couple people asked a piercing question, “Why don’t we do this in our own backyard?” Gary’s immediate response was, “It’s impossible to do this in the States,” but the question never left his thoughts.
That fall, Milan and Tara Homola moved to Gresham, OR to attend Multnomah Biblical Seminary. They searched for the right church and ended up at Clear Creek. Soon after, Gary and Milan met and subsequently realized they shared a similar vision. By January 2006, they started meeting at a local coffee shop to dream and began to wonder if they could actually make their vision become a reality. They pondered a series of questions: “Could members of an American community provide free medical and dental care for the underinsured of their own community? Could churches work together to reach out to their neighbors? What would happen if the churches acted as the Church in a neighborhood?” After much prayer, they decided to step out in faith believing that God would take care of the details and logistics.
The first clinic, Compassion Rockwood, was held in April 2006, and the results were nothing short of miraculous. The God-initiated experience and insight gained through the first clinic gave them a passion and focus to form an organization whose purpose is to collaborate with churches to make a lasting cultural impact on neighborhoods as an expression of God’s love. Therefore, Compassion Connect was born.
Today, there have been nearly 20 Compassion Clinic events primarily in the Portland Metro area, but as far away as Rwanda. The organization works to bring churches together to serve in low-income housing complexes and local school districts. It is also working with local groups to attack the local sex-trade that is preying on young teenage girls.