2022 Compassionary of the Year

David Crocker presenting the 2022 Compassionary of the Year award to Wayne Smith. September 16, 2022

It is one of the true joys of this ministry when we hear the stories of compassion that come from an Inasmuch Day or just a person serving someone else. Stories of lives being changed because they served for the first time or someone who was confined to their home because they were wheelchair bound and now have freedom again because a group of believers built a wheelchair ramp. 

As you might imagine, countless stories and life-changing moments have been shared with the staff of Operation Inasmuch over its 27-year history. We have gotten to know and meet some pretty remarkable people from many different communities and walks of life who have not only served but have devoted their lives to showing compassion to others. 

One of those people that I want to highlight in this month’s article is Wayne Smith. Wayne’s first career was with students, spending many years as an educator and a principal. He never thought of himself as the boss or even a leader but as a servant to the students and faculty surrounding him daily. But the time finally came for him to think about retiring from that mission field, and he began thinking about what his next career of compassion might be. 

There was a certain people group that Wayne had ministered to before. This group is/was typically ostracized by society. They are usually looked down on, and there is a great amount of fear, misinformation, and even prejudice toward this group. I am referring to the HIV/AIDS community. 

After his retirement, Wayne entered into full-time HIV ministry. Through his church, a ministry called Samaritan Ministry was formed, and Wayne directs that ministry today. Over 150 clients are served monthly through food delivery, events throughout the church, and other benevolent services from Wayne. Wayne is family to those whose family has abandoned them. He is transportation for those without a way. And when they pass, he helps make arrangements and even serves as the minister at their funeral. 

Wayne’s passion for education shifted to the social and medical environment. Most recently, Wayne led a massive RAM Clinic through his church. If you are unfamiliar, RAM is Remote Area Medical, and they deliver competent and compassionate health care to those who are impoverished, isolated, and underserved. This huge day mobilized hundreds in their church to serve so many healthcare needs in the Knoxville area could be met.

I say all of this about Wayne to share some good news. At a recent breakfast hosted by Operation Inasmuch, Wayne Smith was honored as the 2022 Compassionary of the Year. We were so thrilled to present Wayne with this prestigious award. Wayne was only the second person ever to be recognized with this award.   

So, what does Compassionary mean? It’s a little like compassion and a little like missionary. We generally know what a missionary is but let’s define compassion. From a biblical viewpoint, compassion is that human disposition that fuels acts of kindness and mercy. It is a form of love that is aroused within us when we are confronted with those suffering or vulnerable. So, a Compassionary is an individual who puts compassion into action for themselves, their communities, and the world. Or further defined as a change agent emboldened to make a difference, serving beyond responsibilities to family and work to give help and hope to the least, the lonely and the lost.

Do you know any Compassionaries? We would love to hear those stories!! (Seriously, email or call us with those stories!!) Are you a Compassionary? We should all strive to be, if not! Jesus modeled the way we should live and put a premium on serving others. Let’s all be more like Jesus! 

Note: Many of my retelling of Wayne Smith’s story can be found in David Crocker’s new book, Compassionaries: Unleash the Power of Serving. All proceeds from book sales benefit Operation Inasmuch. 

Written by:
Gene Whaley

Ministry Director

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