Over the month, I have blogged a few times at Compassion’s request about children who need to be sponsored. Each week they have given us a topic and I have usually mulled it over for the week before finding time on the weekend to write on it. As the weeks have gone on the requests have gotten harder. When they asked us to write a letter to God, I struggled over whether that was too personal or showy to include on my blog. But after praying about it, I decided to ask God to give me the words and to use them as He saw fit. As long as I’m blogging with the goal to please God, I should trust him to take control of where my words go and who they impact.
And then the last assignment came last Monday. Write a letter as if you are a sponsored child. And I felt totally overwhelmed. Even as I’m sitting here writing this post I have no idea what I’m actually going to say or whether I will actually complete this assignment. How is it possible for me to possibly know or imagine what it’s like to be a child living in the depths of poverty? Isn’t is demeaning for me to try and act as if I know one shred of what they’re going through?
So I’m sitting here thinking about what I know about these children. Our family has sponsored a little girl in Rwanda since Charlotte was born (we picked her because they share the same birthday). We’ve been receiving letters from her for three years now about what her life is like. We know that she lives with her Mother and Father and siblings but that her parents aren’t consistently employed. We know that she loves Jesus. We know that she isn’t a spectacular student but that she is trying. We know that she helps her mother with the laundry and gathering food. We know that she likes animals but the animals that she references are different than the typical dog and cat that we mention. We know that when we send her a birthday gift she talks about using it to buy food for her family.
We started sponsoring a little boy from Bolivia when James was born (again, the same birthday). We chose him because he had been waiting for a sponsor for over six months. Over the past year we’ve corresponded with him and learned about him. He loves soccer. He went to visit his grandfather during a school break. His father is sometimes employed as a bricklayer and his mother is unemployed. He also talks about buying food for his family with his birthday gift.
These children live in homes that have dirt or cement floors. Tin roofs. The common medical problems in their communities include worms and parasites. Instead of big birthday parties with lots of friends, they buy food for their families with the money that they receive. Their only access to medical review is through Compassion’s child development center and Compassion provides support for not only the child but their whole family.
When I was at dotMom last weekend, Compassion had a former sponsored child, Olive, who spoke to us. She spoke to us about spending the first five years of her life living with her grandparents and spending years spending the night in the woods because that was when the rebel army would come and steal children to join their army. She talked about meeting her mother for the first time when her grandparents could no longer care for her and standing in a line and getting her picture taken because her mother asked her to. She had no idea what the picture was for, but she says now that it was the best day of her life.
She talked about going to school at the place where her picture was taken and still not knowing what it was or why she was there. And then one day she received a letter from a couple in Australia that said that they were praying for her and that they would pray for her for years to come. She still has that first letter that she received over 20 years ago from her sponsors. She said that knowing that someone out there knew who she was and were praying for her changed her life. She began to believe in herself because they believed in her.
Olive now lives in America (she came to the US on a volleyball scholarship for college) and has a daughter who has chosen a child to sponsor. She didn’t mention if she ever got to meet her sponsors or if they’re still in touch, but the fact that they radically changed her life was evident in every word that she spoke. This couple paid $38 a month and that $38 gave Olive hope and a life. Their sacrifice and generosity changed her life and the life of her child and family and is still being felt as Olive travels and speaks on behalf of Compassion. They’re changing other children’s lives by choosing one and changing hers.
Compassion has used the month of September as a way to educate people about their mission (Releasing Children from Poverty in Jesus’ Name) and to ask people to join them in their mission by sponsoring a child. They had a goal of 3,108 new sponsorships this month and as of a few hours ago there were still 266 kids that need sponsors. If you have been praying all month about whether or not you can sponsor a child, I urge you to go and look at them. Scroll through the pages of children and pray over each one. Look at those that have been waiting almost 300 days for a sponsor. Those who live in a country that is highly affected by AIDS. Those who have special needs. Those are all children, real people, who need those of us who can barely grasp the kind of poverty they’re living in to step up and help them escape it.
How hard do you think it would be to wrap your mind around a loving and generous God when the floors of your home were made of dirt? How difficult to believe that you are worthy of love and that you can amount to something other than an occasional day laborer if that’s the only life that you’ve ever known or heard about? These unsponsored children are learning about God already in the child development centers. They are already part of the program even when they are lacking sponsors. But I would guess that it’s harder to believe all that they’re being taught without knowing that there is someone in a far off country praying for them and believing in them. This is what I would imagine a prayer from a waiting child would be like.
Lord, I know you’re there. My teachers tell me that you love me and I guess I know that you do. I’m glad that I get to come to school. It makes my Momma feel better to know that I’m getting something good to eat every day. She worries about me a lot but I think she’s been worrying less since I’ve been coming to the center.
Lord, my teachers tell me that there are people praying for me around the world. She has always told me the truth so I guess there are, but I don’t know any of their names. I wonder if any of them know my name? My friend received a letter from a family last week and they said that they were praying for him. I wonder why no one writes me a letter and says that they’re praying for me?
Please let someone pray for me. I just want to know that there’s someone out there in this great big world that you created who knows my name and prays just for me. Who says that they love me. I know my Mom loves me and I’m thankful that she does, since some of my friend’s Mom’s are gone. But it would be really nice if there was someone out there who loved me just because I am me and not because she’s my mom.
Thank you for letting me get to come to school. Please let my friends know that there’s someone out there praying for them too.
You don’t have to sponsor a child this month or this year or this decade. But please take a second to look through the list of unsponsored children and pray for them. And if God moves you to sponsor one then please pick one and start breathing the gift of hope into his or her life. You have no idea what God can do with your prayers and your money if you just give them to Him.