The great writer Leo Tolstoy once recalled a big tale that he never got around to telling: "What a wonderful novel I could have written about a story I heard in Moscow, a supposedly true story. An officer's wife was about to bear a child. The doctor attending her declared that she herself could not be saved. A priest came hurriedly to give her the last rites. He was a monk from a nearby cloister."
Tolstoy continued, "It so happened that during his worldly life he had been a famous surgeon. He realized at once that there was a chance to save both the woman and her child. Without stopping to think, he grasped the instruments and performed the operation. It was successful, and the happy officer fell on his knees before the monk. But the latter, in his turn, begged forgiveness and made those present swear they would never tell a soul of his deed, for he had sinned grievously, he said: He had seen a woman's naked body."
Tolstoy concluded, with tears in his eyes: "The news leaked out. The monk was sent to do penance in a distant cloister in Siberia. Oh, what a wonderful book could be woven about that." He was right. In our own day, a memorable book could start by telling of people who glorify God by showing compassion to the desperate. A book could continue by showing how something-maybe foolish governmental restrictions, maybe lack of Christian support, maybe just the weariness that comes from day-and-night commitment-choked off that passion. But the best book would show how some, nevertheless, persevere.
The final three of the nine finalists in our Hope Award for Effective Compassion contest embody perseverance: The honored groups enlist parents who keep from snapping, retirees who refuse to retire, and volunteers who pour out their lives for the disabled and abandoned. Three of the nine organizations are scheduled to receive $5,000 awards at a WORLD/American Bible Society dinner in Dallas on Oct. 16, and one grand prize winner will receive an additional $5,000. The next issue of WORLD will report the winners and the names of the readers who nominated them.
• Snappin' | by Alisa Harris in Oconomowoc, Wis.
• Roving Volunteers in Christ's Service | by Emily Belz in Denton, Md.
• Galilean Children's Home | by Jamie Dean in Liberty, Ky.
For more information on this year's Hope Award for Effective Compassion and to read profiles of other nominated organizations from this year and previous years, click here.