There’s No Debating the Value of Child Sponsorship

On Monday, many in the world of child sponsorship were shocked when World Vision announced its decision to change its employee conduct policy, allowing gay Christians to work in its United States branch.

The World Vision U.S. board spent several years praying about and discussing this issue, according to a letter by World Vision U.S. CEO Richard Stearns. World Vision U.S. will continue to expect abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage for all staff, and will continue to require every employee to agree to the doctrinal issues in the Apostles’ Creed or World Vision’s own Statement of Faith.

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“Thank you for your letter and for taking the time to write me. I’m sure you’re quite busy and that your family needs all of your time.” – Cristian, 5, Romania

Stearns pointed out in his letter that World Vision employees belong to more than 50 denominations, a number of which have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians.

Stearns wrote, “I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue.”

And with that announcement, Christian leaders across the country were ready to voice their opinions.

Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, quickly issued a statement against World Vision’s new policy, calling it offensive. Others speaking out included Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and John Piper, retired megachurch pastor.

Child ambassador volunteers have resigned, and sponsors have canceled their sponsorships, while many have taken to social media to debate their opinions on World Vision’s decision.

As a sponsor and child ambassador myself, it has been heartbreaking to watch this play out.

This post, however, is not intended to change the reader’s opinion on World Vision’s new policy. I will not argue this issue. It has all been said before, and likely will continue to be hashed out over and over until the end of time.

Andre

“I’m also very happy when I get letters from you. I’m looking forward to your next letter. May God bless you.” – Andrei, 12, Romania

While that debate rages, though, I will urge you not to cancel your sponsorships. Please, do not give up on these children, with whom you have formed loving, long-lasting relationships. And if you have not yet sponsored a child, maybe now is the time to do so.

This new policy will in no way affect your sponsored children across the world. Why punish them?

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“I would like to be friends all my life. No matter what will happen, I will be near your family all the time.” – Dragos, 13, Romania

These are real children, and much more than just a photo stuck to the refrigerator with a magnet. These are children who are living in poverty. They may have difficult home lives. Their sponsor may be the only person who affirms to them that they are loved.

No matter a person’s feelings on this new policy, I pray that sponsors will not let this come between them and their children.

Do you not believe that you are important to your sponsored child? Please read the quotes under the photos in this post. They are directly from letters from my own children, whom I sponsor through World Vision.

And for every Bible verse that backs up your opinion for or against World Vision’s new policy, I suggest there are just as many verses commanding us to care for the poor.

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 82:3-4

UPDATE: World Vision has announced today that it has reversed its new policy. For more information, click here.

Five Beautiful Children

As a Child Ambassador for World Vision, I have five children for whom I am advocating right now. Please take a look and see if any of them touches your heart. Maybe one shares a birthday with you or a family member. Maybe you share a hobby with one or are particularly interested in their country. If you see a child you would like to sponsor, please contact me. You can make a difference in the life of one of these children.

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Ganesh is a 5-year-old boy living with his parents and one sister in an Indian slum. His father is a driver and struggles to meet the family’s needs. Ganesh likes to play ball games.

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Elder Aroldo, 8, lives with his parents, two brothers and four sisters in Guatemala. His father is a farm laborer. Elder Aroldo is in primary school, helps at home by gathering firewood and likes to play with toys.

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Nuredin is a 10-year-old boy living in Ethiopia with his parents and one brother. His father is a farmer. Nuredin helps at home by caring for animals. He likes to play basketball and enjoys drawing.

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Seraphine, 12, lives with her parents, two brothers and three sisters in Rwanda. She helps at home by gathering firewood, and she likes to play ball games. Seraphine is in primary school, where she enjoys learning a foreign language.

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Mariney is a 13-year-old girl living in Colombia with her mother and extended family. In primary school, Mariney enjoys art. She helps at home by sweeping floors, and she likes to play hide and seek.

World Vision Gift

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Mihai with his sister and mother in Romania

A beautiful family photo isn’t the only reward for sending your World Vision sponsor child a family gift, but it is a pretty great one. Of course there’s also the great feeling you get knowing you helped someone out.

But the most important aspect of sending that family gift? It’s this: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16

It pleases God.

In verse after verse in the Bible, God commands us to share our blessings and care for the poor, and in my experience as a sponsor, He always has rewarded me many times over when I have been faithful to Him.

With just $100, Mihai and his family in Romania were able to purchase warm winter clothing and boots for both Mihai and his sister. His mother wrote that this was much appreciated because this winter would be a very cold one for them.

They also purchased school supplies for both children, a large blanket, shoes and toys.

Looks like money well spent to me.

Love in Letters: Fishes and Eels?

I receive many letters from my sponsored children throughout the year, and like all children, they often have a funny way with words. Sometimes the letters leave me chuckling, and other times teary-eyed. I’m going to share some of these funny and loving tidbits more regularly, and will post under the title “Love in Letters,” so that you, too, can enjoy these remarkable children.

This is the ending of a letter from my sponsored boy in Albania, 8 years old:

“The number of fishes and eels are there in the sea,

That is the number of greetings I sent to you.”

I love it, and look forward to sending him just as many greetings.

Note: I did not include my boy’s name in this post because he is from Albania, which is one of World Vision’s restricted countries. Sponsors are asked not to share names or photos of children from these countries. The majority of families in these countries are not Christian, and World Vision follows local laws and customs in order to work there. 

Christmas Wishes from Albania

I received a Christmas card this week from my sponsored boy in Albania.

He wrote a message inside: “Dear Friend, I wish to you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hugs!”

The children’s drawings used to make the card are beautiful, and the card includes the verse Matthew 2:10: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

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front

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inside

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Christmas Wishes from Romania

This week, I received Christmas cards from two of my World Vision sponsored boys in Romania, Cristian and Andrei. Each country has its own style of card, which the children send to their sponsors every year. Below are photos of both the front and inside of this year’s card from Andrei, and also the front of last year’s card from Cristian.

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Front of card from Andrei, 2013

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Inside of card from Andrei, 2013

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Front of card from Cristian, 2012