Haphazard or intentional?
Yes, it’s true that I am a sponsor and supporter of Compassion International. But, for me it took time to grasp the reality of what they do for children all over the world. Here is my story and why I am now an avid supporter of what the organization is and does!
For those who don’t know, I am a Compassion International sponsor. I take the lives of the poor and disadvantaged children of the world very seriously. I have been a Compassion international sponsor for over 7 years and in that time I have learned what caring and praying for someone half-a-world away feels like. But it has not been an easy road and I didn’t always feel this way.
I first got involved with sponsoring a child because I felt like it was the right thing to do and a friend had suggested it. I could support and help someone without a lot of effort and I was told it made an impact. That was all I needed to know to make the decision. It was simple, but not fully thought out on my part. Honestly, it was half-hearted.
My friend and I support a single child, a boy, together. Thinking this was all I needed to do to help out, I was satisfied with the arrangement. My friend wrote to the child once every 6 months and life was good. I felt that I was “doing my part” to help, with very little effort. Sure, I prayed for him and sent him special gifts, we wrote about life in Maine, and sent him encouraging verses. This was the common routine. But, I hadn’t taken the proper time to learn about the impact the letters had or the way in which the sponsorship helped the child. I saw his picture and knew his name. But the details were vague in my mind. I failed to learn everything I could.
Time went on and several years past as I became more sensitive toward Compassion International’s mission. I eventually took over full sponsorship of the child. But, hard times had struck and I started to consider, briefly, if my sponsorship was really making a difference. I started to became desperate about my own circumstances. I started to think only about myself. I am normally a compassionate guy, but I had been consumed by my troubles. Thankfully, after much thought and even more prayer I realized that I needed to continue to have compassion through the worst of times. That is who I should be.
I thought, “If I don’t continue to take care of this child, so young, how can I be showing true compassion.” Yes, I could have used the sponsorship money for my own needs, but this would have been completely selfish. I was responsible for this child’s future, so I decided to do the only thing that was right in God’s eyes and in mine. I took the responsibility seriously. In the past I had prayed for him and cared for him financially, sure, but that wasn’t enough anymore.
Over the next several months I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about Compassion International and the lives they change on a regular basis. I studied about the compassion Christ had and this opened my eyes to the impact Compassion international has on others. Their compassion mirrors Christ’s compassion while he was on earth. I fell in love with their methodology in caring for each child. It wasn’t just about their spiritual or physical well-being, but their whole life. The holistic approach the organization has is absolutely wonderful.
I became an active writer to my little guy and it changed my perspective. I always liked helping support people physically, and in person. I loved encouraging people with my words. “Why hadn’t I ever written him before?” I realized I could use the same compassion I had in person and extend that to the written word. I started expressing love and concern to my little guy. When he needed prayer, I prayed more and shared my prayers with him. When he was happy about something I rejoiced when I heard good news. Romans 12:15 came to mind, “rejoice with them that rejoice; and weep with them that weep.” I took an active role in my sponsored child’s life. I learned about the good and bad.
Something amazing started to happen. I realized how effective words can be in encouraging someone even when they are far away. This was very rewarding in its own right to send letters of encouragement to him, and I was rewarded with more frequent letters in return, expressing love and concern for me, too. He said he was praying for me and I was praying for him. It became an honor to be a part of his life.
The sooner I sent a letter, the sooner one would return for me. I learned so much more about my sponsored child and his family that I had not taken the time to learn about in the past. The money I was giving to sponsor him didn’t matter anymore. It wasn’t about that, but about how much of an impact my words could have on this little guy’s life. His entire life became the focus of sponsorship.
Having something to focus on was very crucial at this point in my life; life kept getting harder. At one point I felt my whole life had fallen apart, but I was glad that I could still focus on helping at least one other person. In honesty, Compassion International became my “way out”. Letter writing and praying for someone else helped me get through the darkest times. I saw the impact it had on me and I liked it. I always loved showing compassion toward others; it is what I always wanted to be like.
Time went on and I started praying about sponsoring a second child. It might have been a crazy idea but it was founded on one principle. “I want to care for others more than myself” (Philippians 2:3, Proverbs 21:13, Galatians 6:2, Galatians 2:10, Proverbs 19:17, Ephesians 4:32). Finally, the conclusion came that it would be a good idea. So I started to look for the next child I would sponsor. A certain one always came to mind. This child had been waiting more than a year for sponsorship and it broke my heart. Kids can wait up to two years before receiving a sponsor. Without hesitation I knew this was the child I would pick as my second.
Excitement built as I clicked the yellow “choose me” button and it continued to build as I received the welcoming packet for the child several weeks later and sent my first letter. I spent the next few months trying to learn just as much about the second child and family as I had with the first, making sure to send frequent letters. The reward was always a letter in return with a heartfelt greeting and requests for prayer. As I learned about my second sponsored child and family my heart exploded with desire to sponsor more. I had caught the compassion bug! 😉 But, I was burdened with knowing I could only afford so many sponsorships.
Sponsorship is so important because of the letters. To the children, letters are more precious than gold. It encourages them. It can change the way they look at life. They parade a letter around like they found a rare artifact. To them it is priceless to know there is someone out there, half-way across the world, praying for them and loving them through letters.
In my search for ways to fulfill this new found desire to encourage children through Compassion, I learned about their correspondents program. It is about children who are sponsored but do not receive any letters for one reason or another. Sometimes this is because large organizations will sponsor many kids but not have enough staff to write letters to them all. I am very thankful there are companies, organizations and private groups who can sponsor in this way.
Because of this letter-writing dilemma it gives me and many others a unique opportunity. We are able to receive different sponsored children and write to them like normal. We get letters in return and we have the same influence and responsibility to write these children on a regular basis to encourage and impact their lives. The requirement is that we write at least 3 times a year.
I was able to contact Compassion International directly and inquire about this opportunity to write and impact other children’s lives. I was thankful to get accepted and added to the list of compassion correspondent writers. They said it could take some time after getting on the list to receive a new correspondent child, but I only waited a month. The first one came in and I was so excited to learn about the ways I could pray for this new child and family. The letters started coming and I was excited to know I could impact yet another life.
Giving encouraging words to children is one of the blessings in my life. I now have 5 correspondent children and I still sponsor 2 others for a total of 7 that I write to. I try to write monthly to each of them and in turn I receive a steady number of letters, describing their day-to-day activities, favorite past-times, and food recipes (my favorite part of the letter; food 😜). Sometimes if the child is too young to write on their own it is written by the parent or tutor. Sometimes the topics are not always happy and pleasant. These kids struggle through a lot and they share what is going on so I can pray for them individually and more effectively.
I take this responsibility seriously: to communicate in a way that encourages them and helps them through whatever difficulties they have. It is not always easy to encourage them why a parent is sick or why someone left or why the weather is so destructive. But I can always reassure them of God and His grace and wisdom. . . . And, sending them a coloring page or picture always encourages them. 😉
Kids are in need of love and support. This is why I chose to sponsor and write to children, and I believe Compassion International does a great job at making this a reality.
That is my story and these are my compassion kids. Thank you for reading and I hope this has encouraged you to take a step into the world of sponsorship. If you are interested in sponsoring a child through Compassion International, please do so. It is a great experience and will change the way you look at helping people if you take it seriously; and I pray that you do. If you are interested in the correspondents program I have mentioned, a Compassion employee has stated the following,
Please consider helping make an impact on a child’s life today.