Compassion Experience

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COLUMBIA - Volunteers from The Compassion Experience pulled into the parking lot of Compass Evangelical Free Church Thursday. Behind them rolled a trailer with the faces of children from all over the world. Inside arranged in boxes and carefully packed in bags sat the makings of two different stories. The story of Carlos and the story of Shamim.

"Basically what we're doing is bringing the lives of impoverished people and children to the forefront of people's minds," Gary Wessel said. 

"When you get here you learn about the lives of Carlos and Shamim. You get to see how they live, what they go through and what it is like to have hope."

Wessel is a volunteer from Illinois. He and is wife have been on numerous mission trips to different parts of the world. Wessel is also a father, he said this is in part why he volunteers with The Compassion Experience. 

"Yes I have kids and I think that's why I want to do this because I want kids in need to know that there are people who care about them, I want them to have hope." 

According to Wessel, there are a total of eight different Compassion Experience trailers that tour the United States. Each trailer recreates the lives and living conditions of impoverished people from countries all over the world. 

Mark Anderson is the children's pastor at Compass Evangelical Free Church. He said the response to the new experience has been overwhelming.

"As of a few days ago we had about 1800 reservations for this. I've even had some schools call and arrange for different classes to come for field trips," Anderson said. 

Anderson is also a father. He has three kids and has worked for months to make sure The Compassion Experience made its way to Columbia.

"Basically what I want is for people to know that it doesn't take a lot to impact someone's life and that's why I wanted to bring this to Columbia."

The Compassion Experience is open Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Anderson also said this is a family friendly event and he looks forward to seeing people experience compassion in an intimate kind of way.