If you’ve ever wanted to visit your sponsor child, but wondered whether it is worth the money, David Chalmers’ new book, “Go into all the World,” just might convince you to take the leap. It’s the oft-debated question among sponsors: do I use my resources to sponsor more children and send more gifts or to visit my children in person? The stories recounted in this book show how a visit really allows you to be the hands and feet of Jesus. In his book, David shares his adventures in visiting his sponsored children throughout Central and South America and the Philippines. He describes the highs and the lows of meeting your children in person, from the beauty of a child trusting you so fully that she falls asleep in your arms to the harsh realities of some very difficult situations in which he finds his children living. In discussing a visit to one of his children’s homes, David writes: “It’s times like that when I fully grasp the significance and impact of a sponsor. God is using me to literally be a father to the fatherless, to give Laura words of encouragement, which she doesn’t necessarily get from anywhere else.” But it’s not all serious, heart-wrenching moments. Well, a lot of it is, because it’s God working on and through a man as he travels great distances to shower his children in love. But David also shares lots of tales of fun and laughter as he celebrates his birthday at a Compassion project, plays the drums for the children every chance he gets and introduces everyone to Australian football, or “kicking the footy.” (I think that’s the right phrase!) David is a humble and caring man, who at one point sponsored as many as 50 children through Compassion. Most recently, he spent a year in the Philippines working at an orphanage, and now he is back home in Australia, where he is a teacher. You can learn more about David by visiting his blog by clicking here. You’ll get a thorough review of Compassion’s sponsorship program in reading this book. I highly recommend it. “Go into all the World,” can be purchased by clicking here, here, here or here. David describes a sponsor’s role quite well when he writes: “The one thing I can tell you after visiting so many of my kids is that in my own strength I alone am completely inadequate for the job of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. It is God alone who can release them and give them joy, hope, freedom and an opportunity to dream, despite their circumstances. I am merely an instrument he is using to show these precious people his love for them. There is nothing I’d rather be doing.” Read “Go into all the World,” and maybe you, too, can become God’s instrument in showing His love to His children.
He sits in a plastic white chair by the doorway, shoulders hunched forward, eyes down.
That’s my first view of my newly sponsored boy, Marlon. He’s seven years old, and we are about to meet for the first time.
I have never met one of my sponsored children before this day. My son Aidan and I chose this boy from a stack of child packets during our flight from Miami to Managua just days earlier.
As we prepared for this trip, we purchased three backpacks and filled them with gifts for our other three Nicaraguan boys. Then we decided to sponsor one more boy during the trip, so back to the store we went. One more backpack and a few other items later, and we were ready.
While looking through the packets on the airplane, we narrowed our choices down to two boys. In Marlon’s photo, he had a bit of a scowl, and his information showed that he lives only with his father. There is no mother mentioned. My heart broke for him when I read that, and I knew he was the child for us.
The night before we visited Marlon’s project, Aidan and I filled his backpack and wondered what our meeting would be like the following day. We’d seen many videos of joyous children at the moment they learned they had been sponsored. The videos showed tears, hugs and smiles from both sponsors and children, the start of beautiful relationships around the world.
But our meeting with Marlon would not be like this.
As we approach Marlon, he is surrounded by other children from the project. Korina, Compassion Nicaragua’s tours and visits specialist, is nearby, ready to translate for us during this special meeting.
She tells Marlon that I am his new sponsor, and I kneel down in front of him, and can see right away that he is closing down quickly. He is nervous, probably scared, and continues to look down, unable to meet my eyes. As more children gather around us, he begins to cry quietly, wiping at his face quickly as if to hide this fact from the rest of us.
Of course, this has me in tears instantly as well, and I tell him not to worry. I tell him it’s OK to be nervous, and that I have children at home who would be shy and nervous in a meeting like this as well.
To break the ice, I give him the photo album I brought for him. I go through each photo, introducing him to each member of my family, as Korina translates. He gives very little response.
I give him the soccer ball we brought for him, and he holds it in his lap. I begin to show him some of the items in the backpack, as Aidan takes photos, and the other children press in to see. We don’t get far before I suggest that he explore the bag on his own at home, as I can see this curious crowd, the pressure of my presence, is just too overwhelming for this young boy.
I move to the chair next to him, and we take some photos together, but I can feel the tension in his back, and it is difficult to give him his space, when I really want to wrap him in my arms and tell him there is nothing to worry about.
Marlon’s young aunt is with him at the project on this morning, so I ask her to tell me what his life is like at home. Her answer is not easy to hear.
She says Marlon lives with his father, grandmother and two brothers. His mother left him when he was a baby, and he has only seen her a few times.
I pat the knee of this brave boy sitting next to me, whose heart has been broken and battered already, at such a young age. I marvel at this perfect match for sponsor and child, him abandoned by his mother as a baby, and me by my father at birth, similar scars on our hearts.
We sit together quietly for a while, and the crowd, losing interest in us, begins to move away.
Marlon bends over and touches the backpack. Progress, I think. He struggles to adjust the straps on the bag, and I reach in and help him. He doesn’t seem to mind. He discovers the ball pump in a side pocket of the bag, and I use hand motions to show him where the needle is, how to put it in the pump, where it goes into his soccer ball.
So we have connected in a small way, but our time is up. I promise to write him many letters before I stand to leave, patting his knee one last time. It is not easy to walk away from this boy.
And I pray he will remember these moments when he begins to receive my letters, that he will remember the love in these moments, and that we will meet again in the future, to continue to build this blessed relationship.
We are two mothers sitting side by side, watching our sons laugh, play together.
They are climbing the inflatable waterslide’s ladder, then racing down the slide, two boys from different countries who became fast friends this morning. After they tumble into the water, make their splashes, they resurface with huge smiles and climb up again.
We laugh, too, every once in a while. We are both mothers of sons. She has three, and I have five. But mostly we are quiet, sitting together in the shade, finding refuge from the heat, taking in the scene in front of us.
Our translator asks me, “Is there anything you want to ask her?”
His job is to translate, to encourage us to communicate, and he is very good at this. But he is also a young man. How can he know that mothers don’t always need words to communicate? Mothers can be content watching their sons build a friendship, marveling at their sons from different worlds together, laughing, splashing more.
Is there anything I want to ask her? Of course there is, and questions buzz through my head like a swarm of bees. How can I narrow it down? Which questions are most important?
By nature, I often enjoy silence more than talking, and she seems the same, this mother of my sponsored child. This hard-working woman, whose struggles I can only imagine, has taken a day off from her duties to visit an amusement park with her son to meet me, her son’s sponsor, who lives more than 2,000 miles away from Managua.
Our time together is short, and my questions are many, and as our translator patiently waits, I desperately choose one.
“Can you ask her, what is Jose like at home?,” I say.
He asks, and she answers, “He is obedient.” She says he plays well with his 5-year-old brother and helps him a lot.
I nod and say, “That’s good.”
But she isn’t finished.
She tells our translator that Jose sometimes becomes so emotional when he reads my letters to her that he cries. She says he can feel how much I care for him in the letters.
I can feel my throat tightening as I take this in, as we continue to watch our boys together on the waterslide, smiling, sliding, splashing.
Then she tells our translator that I sent Jose a financial gift earlier this year. She says she is so grateful for the gift.
I had sent money in March for Jose’s 11th birthday.
She explains that the gift arrived at a very difficult time for her family, that they were struggling, and it enabled them to purchase shoes for Jose and food. She is very grateful, she says again. Unsure and awkward when accepting thanks, I nod again.
I take a deep breath to push back the emotion, and I explain this gift was from God, not from me. He blesses me, and in turn uses me to bless her. And his timing is perfect. He knew when they would need the gift.
After my words are translated, she nods, and I nod. We hug each other, our eyes watering, then look ahead at our sons again, side by side. I swallow hard as my throat tightens again.
Our translator watches us, then says simply, quietly, “God is good.”
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.
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.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 9 out of 10 mothers will lose a child before it reaches the age of 5, and children in the Congo face malnutrition rates of 3 times higher than the rest of the world, according to World Vision. This is also an area that has been severely affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis, leaving many children without parents.
There is something you can do to help these children. World Vision is working with communities in the Congo, and you can sponsor a child there for only $35 a month. Your sponsorship provides a child and his community with improved healthcare and support, emphasizing assistance to those affected by HIV and AIDS. Children will attend school, and farmers will be offered seeds and training on new farming methods.
The following children are available for sponsorship in this area, where many families live in small mud and brick homes with tin or thatched roofs.
Magy lives in this region, with her mother, one brother and one sister. Her mother is a market vendor and struggles to provide for the family. Magy is 4 years old, likes to play with dolls, and helps at home by running errands. Her birthday is Jan. 1, 2009.
Dany, 9, lives in the Congo with his father, three brothers and one sister. His father is a market vendor. Dany enjoys mathematics in school, likes to play soccer, and helps at home by carrying water. His birthday is Aug. 7, 2004.
Verro, 4, lives with her parents, two brothers and four sisters in the Congo. Her father is a social service worker, and her mother is a market vendor. She likes to play with dolls, and her birthday is Jan. 1, 2009.
Platini lives in this area with his parents, two brothers and six sisters. His parents are farmers. Platini, 9, enjoys reciting poems and stories at school, likes to play soccer, and helps at home by running errands. His birthday is Aug. 14, 2004.
Jeremie, 9, lives with his grandmother in the Congo. He has one brother and two sisters, and he likes to play soccer. Jeremie’s birthday is Aug. 1, 2004.
Please contact me if you are interested in sponsoring any of these children, or click here if you wish to see other children living in the Congo who are available for sponsorship. You can also view a short video about the Congo by clicking here.
Last Monday was Compassion’s last week of Blog Month, with a goal of seeing 3,160 children sponsored.
Week Four’s assignment was to choose one of two quotes and write about it. You can check out what bloggers wrote by clicking on their links below.
And if you’re ready so sponsor a child, please click here. There are 3,202 children waiting to be sponsored right now.