Willow Creek's WCA president now heads Compassion International

Jim Mellado

Several concerned listeners have asked me in recent weeks to check out the newly-appointed president of Compassion International. After a year-long search, Compassion hired Santiago "Jim" Mellado as its head. As we read his bio, it turns out those concerns are valid red flags that perhaps this international agency may have compassion, but not much discernment. Mellado will formally take his new position in September.

"My heart is full these days as I anticipate joining Compassion's team and giving myself fully to the cause of releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name." Mellado said, "As I look back on my life experiences, I can see how God has been leading, stirring, and preparing me for this role."

There are two points of concern:

  • Mellado served as Willow Creek Association president for the past 20 years.
  • In 1995 he and Bill Hybels created and launched The Global Leadership Summit.

I've been planning to post this sooner, but it wasn't until a couple of days ago when I heard (on our station) a spot voiced by Wes Stafford, former president of Compassion International, talking about teaming up with UNICEF for an event.  (We pulled those spots from our station.)

And then there is this letter to the editor published a couple days ago at Lighthouse Trails Blog:

To Lighthouse Trails:

I just came across your site in search of some background information concerning the emergent church movement (which I was aware of, but had no idea of it’s size or that it was labeled as such).

I was concerned about a particular speaker at Compassion Intl. and after finding the post at the Lighthouse Trails blog, “Letter to the Editor: What To Do When Christian Charities, Such as Compassion, Turn Contemplative/Emergent,” and reading some articles at ‘Stand Up for The Truth,’ I realized there are many on that particular list that cause concern. I made the decision to draft a letter directly to their President to confirm a few specifics.

Last June they appointed a new President and Chief Executive [Santiago Mellado]. When I went to the website to get his contact information I read over his biography again… rather than summarize, I would just encourage you to read it.

Blessings, Mrs. H.

LTRP Note: Compassion International’s new president, Santiago Mellado, was the president of the contemplative/emerging-promoting Willow Creek Association for 20 years (according to the biography mentioned above). Couple that with Compassion International’s embracing of numerous contemplative/emergent speakers, and concerns about Compassion mount.  It is also troubling to consider what the ramifications may be for Compassion International if Mellado shares the same “Christian Palestinianism” views that Willow Creek leader Lynn Hybels has.


As someone who has sponsored a sweet little boy from Haiti these past several years, I know that I can separate the boy from the ministry. But knowing that it only takes a slight nudge for a ministry to slip down that slippery slope of compromise, I am grieved to see yet another organization going in this direction.  Thoughts?