“When Jesus . . . saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34, NIV).

In Oslo, Norway, our ministry teamed with a large Lutheran church. It was one of the few churches willing to help us. Their kids were deeply committed to the Lord but were caught completely off guard by our methods of evangelism. European Christians are quiet, humble people who usually keep their faith to themselves. The idea of preaching on a street corner in the middle of a neighborhood took them far from their comfort zones. At first they didn’t want to go with us, but within a few weeks we couldn’t stop them. They developed a fire in their guts for evangelism—a genuine soul obsession.

Many of them travelled by train for two or three hours each morning to help us, then travelled home again late in the evening. They couldn’t get enough. And they were so thirsty to learn more about our kids from New York. When we told them that many of our kids were former gang members and drug addicts, they had a hard time believing it. They were astonished by what Jesus had done in their lives—what He was still doing.

But what attracted them most was the genuine compassion our kids had for others. When someone was hurting, our kids would cry with them, hold them, pray with them. Every morning began with several hours of prayer and worship at the church building, and the Lutheran kids couldn’t get enough of it. The love our kids exuded for them and one another was beyond anything they had ever experienced. And they soon caught that enthusiasm. It spread like wildfire throughout the hearts of everyone working with us.

By the time our crusade ended, the kids from Norway couldn’t bear to see us leave. They had become so attached to our group, so in love with our kids, that they cried for hours at the airport before our plane left. Our kids made lifetime friends on that trip and made an indelible impact on the lives of those we left behind.

That’s the beauty and nature of compassion. It is one of the most endearing and contagious of all human emotions. It cannot be faked, and its impact cannot be explained, yet it is so real. And so very powerful!

Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.