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.
Do you feel like poverty is an issue that’s too big to fix? Are you overwhelmed by the number of people living in poverty in this world?
More than 1.2 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line, according to The World Bank. That means they live on less than US $1.25/day.
Feeling helpless in the face of such a large number is understandable, but don’t let that prevent you from sponsoring a child.
For only $38/month, you can change the life of a child. Your sponsorship money will provide that child with nutritious snacks and meals, educational opportunities, health and hygiene training, medical checkups, the support of a local church staffed by caring adults, and the message of God’s love through Jesus Christ.
By becoming a sponsor, you also have the unique opportunity to mentor a child through letters, filling him with love, hope and encouragement.
Johnny Carr, author of “Orphan Justice,” says, “Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart’s cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?”
Are you investing yourself or are you giving up in defeat?
In Matthew 26:11, Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”
It’s true the poor will always be here, and it’s true that you can’t “fix” poverty, but you can make a difference in a child’s life.
You can make a difference in Cristian’s life by clicking here. Cristian is 6 and lives with his parents and one sibling in Colombia. He has been waiting 241 days for a sponsor.
You can make a difference in Maria’s life by clicking here. Maria is 9 years old and lives with her parents and five siblings in the Dominican Republic. She has been waiting 213 days for a sponsor.
There are 3,249 children on Compassion’s web site today who are waiting for sponsors. You can view them by clicking here. Please consider helping one of these children.
Hope is a powerful gift, and it is a gift you can give by sponsoring a child.
Without hope, a child growing up in poverty faces many challenges. Staying in school is unlikely as day-to-day survival takes priority. Nutritious meals and medical care are rare, and even the ability to dream of a better future may become difficult.
When you sponsor a child through Compassion, that child receives medical and dental check-ups, spiritual and educational training, meals, and best of all, hope.
If you’re wondering how hope can be lumped in with those other life essentials, take a look at recent research, which shows that sponsored children fare much better in life than their non-sponsored peers.
A study published in the April issue of Journal of Political Economy and led by Dr. Bruce Wydick, a professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, shows stark differences between sponsored and non-sponsored children.
Former Compassion-sponsored children were found to stay in school 1 to 1.5 years longer than their non-sponsored peers. In Uganda, that average was even longer at 2.4 years.
They were 13.3 percent more likely to finish primary school, 27 to 40 percent more likely to finish secondary school, and 50 to 80 percent more likely to complete a university education than non-sponsored children.
Those are just the study’s findings regarding education. Employment and leadership also were affected greatly by sponsorship.
As adults, former Compassion-sponsored children were 14 to 18 percent more likely to have salaried employment and 35 percent more likely to work a white-collar job than their non-sponsored peers. They also were found more likely to become community leaders, church leaders and teachers.
This is all statistical proof that the hope child sponsorship provides is changing lives. But how about some personal proof? I receive letters from my precious sponsored children sharing goals for their future, career aspirations, and sometimes, just simple requests of prayer to pass to the next grade in school.
Here are just a few examples:
“I want to go to university to graduate as a telecommunications engineer.” – recent secondary school graduate Favian, 19, Guatemala
“I want to finish elementary and high school and become a professional.” – Luis, 7 Colombia
“When I grow up, I would like to be a cop.” – Winston, 11, Guatemala
“My dream for the future is to be a doctor.” – Esteban, 7, Nicaragua
“I would like to become a lawyer.” – Wagner, 16, Guatemala
Imagine how these children’s lives have been changed by sponsorship that they are dreaming of careers.
Please consider giving hope to a child in need. You can sponsor a child today by clicking here.
Last week, I received the phone call that no sponsor wants to receive. It was Compassion calling to tell me that my sweet Roxana from Guatemala has left the program.
This is the same child about whom I posted earlier on this blog after receiving a particularly sweet letter from her. She wrote that she dreams about playing ball with me, and she hopes to see me someday. She also let me know that she keeps the photos I’ve sent to her in a frame next to her bed.
I’ve sponsored her since April 2011, when she had just turned 7.
The Compassion representative who called me said Roxana’s parents pulled her out of the program.
There could be any number of reasons for a parent to take their child out of Compassion. Moving to another area or some other change in the family’s situation could be the reason, though it’s best not to speculate because then my imagination will go wild and only cause me to worry. Instead, I must respect the parents’ choice and trust in God’s plan.
Of course, that’s not exactly easy to do.
Fortunately, my 8-year-old daughter Ryan was able to push things along. She, too, was sad to lose Roxana, but she was ready to start scouring the Compassion web site that same day to sponsor a new little girl.
I set Ryan up at the computer, and searched for girls in Guatemala around the same age as Roxana, and my daughter quickly narrowed it down to one little girl. I told her I wanted to think about it, but the next day, she was back to campaigning for her chosen girl.
She was fairly relentless. Ryan enjoys writing, drawing pictures and making cards for the girls we sponsor, and she wasn’t going to let me mope about Roxana much longer. And she did pick a very cute little girl, so I sponsored my daughter’s choice, Hania, 7, of Guatemala.
I emailed Compassion later that day to request an emailed digital copy of Hania’s photo on file, and found out I am her first sponsor. I also found out this little cutie had been waiting for a sponsor since she registered with Compassion back in September of 2012.
How can it be that almost a year has passed that no one decided to sponsor this little girl?
I immediately sent her an email with photos using Compassion’s online letter-writing tool, and my daughter got to work making cards and drawings for her new friend.
Later that night, Ryan came downstairs at bedtime to show me the photo of Roxana she keeps on her dresser. She leaned in my ear and whispered, “I prayed for Roxana.”
The door may have closed on that special relationship with Roxana, but I am comforted knowing that I’m not alone in continuing to pray for her.
And now we open the door to our newest sponsorship. Welcome to our family, Hania.
As an advocate for Compassion International, I have two children for whom I am currently looking for sponsors. Sponsorship costs $38/month, but the relationship you will build with your child will change your life.
Jose, 6, of Nicaragua, lives with his mother, who is employed as a laborer. His home duties are caring for children, making beds and running errands. There are three children in Jose’s family.
Jose is performing above average in Kindergarten, and his favorite activities are playing a musical instrument, basketball and playing with cars. His birthday is September 10.
He lives in an area in Nicaragua where the average monthly income is $97. Jose’s community has electricity and water, but needs vocational training centers and employment opportunities.
Jade, 7, also lives in Nicaragua. She lives with both parents, who both are sometimes employed as laborers. There are two children in the family. Her home duty is running errands.
Jade attends primary school, where her performance is average, and she enjoys playing with dolls and running.
She lives in an area where the average monthly income is $120. Like Jose’s community, Jade’s also has electricity and water, but needs vocational training centers and employment opportunities.
Your sponsorship would provide these children with Bibles, Bible classes, medical checkups, de-worming, vaccinations, nutritious food, tutoring, sports and special celebrations.
I personally sponsor two boys from Nicaragua, who in the same age range as Jose and Jade, and they are incredibly sweet and loving. I always look forward to their letters!
What can you do with $100? Pay your cable bill? Take your family out for a nice meal? Buy a new outfit?
I’m sure you can think of many ways to spend $100, but what do you have left when that money is gone? Is it anything that made a lasting impact on your life? More important, is it anything that made a lasting impact on someone else’s life?
Take a look at what you can do for someone else with $100.
Compassion allows sponsors to bless their children with monetary gifts above and beyond sponsorship. These can be birthday gifts, family gifts or even general gifts. The gifts can range anywhere from $10 to $1,000, and one hundred percent of the gift goes to the child, with no money taken out for administrative costs. Compassion restricts the amount of money you can send to your child in order to avoid creating dependence in the child’s family or jealousy within the community.
When you send a monetary gift to your child, it is changed into the child’s local currency and transferred to the Compassion office in his country. A Compassion representative then meets with the child and his family to decide what items are most needed before going to purchase the items.
It can take up to two months for this process to take place, but when the gift money is spent, the child will write a letter to you detailing the items purchased. Sometimes, depending on the resources available in your child’s center, you will receive a photo of your child with the gift, too.
These gifts can help your child’s family tremendously. The average income in the communities of the children pictured above varies from $42/month (Ghana) to $147/month (Colombia), so giving a monetary gift is a great opportunity to help your sponsored child.
“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17
As the holidays approach each year, I am often dismayed by my children’s greed. Wish lists and letters to Santa fill up pages with wants and more wants.
At our house, the lists look something like this: video games, iPods, LOTS of Barbies, and on and on and on. Somehow even “gift cards” pops up on those lists, just in case the wants aren’t satisfied.
Even Charlie Brown laments the commercialism that often overshadows Christmas in his famous holiday show.
I’ve noticed this consumerism in the kids doesn’t only manifest at Christmas, though, so this year, I wanted to find a way to chip away at the entitlement that seems to be coursing through the veins of “kids these days.”
I know, I know, every generation’s parents think their kids are spoiled and don’t appreciate what they have, and I’m sure a lot of that goes along with being a child. I’m sure everyone from my generation heard the famous “kids are starving in Africa” line at dinner, just as our parents heard about the kids starving in China.
So like any good parent, I told the “when I was your age” stories and the “walking to school in the snow uphill both ways” tales. But words never seem to bring home the point like actions do.
While I wasn’t willing to send my children on uphill marches through the snow to prove my point that they actually have it pretty good, I was ready to find something that would have more meaning in their lives.
In September, while reading one of my favorite blogs, the writer took a trip to Guatemala with other bloggers. The trip was sponsored by Compassion International, a charity whose motto is “releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”
The bloggers spent a few days touring Compassion-run projects around the country and writing about their experiences. I was deeply moved by the stories and photographs that resulted from this trip, so I started researching Compassion. In just a few days, I’d made the decision to sponsor a child.
I couldn’t believe how many children there were on the web site or how specific I could get in my search. I could narrow it down by region, country, age, disability, orphan, HIV/AIDS affected, gender and even birth date.
Finally I chose a 10-year-old boy from Guatemala named Anderson. I showed his photo to my children and explained sponsorship. I wasn’t sure what their interest levels would be, but am happy to report that it went over quite well.
They had all kinds of questions about Anderson: where did he live, what was his house like, what did he eat, what was he like. I read them the brief biography from the web site and told them the only way to find out more was to start writing to him.
Then each of my three oldest boys sat down and wrote a letter to this boy in Guatemala. A boy they’d never met, but had already piqued their interest. My 9-year-old even sent him some baseball cards from his own collection.
We have sponsored a few more children since then, including a 5-year-old girl from Colombia, hand-picked by my own 5-year-old daughter. I was thrilled to witness my daughter’s thoughtfulness when she picked out stickers from her own stash to send to a little girl she has never met.
In three short months, these sponsorships have impacted our family in many small ways. They’ve made us more conscious of how we spend our money and more thankful for our blessings, to put it mildly.
They also have provided many teachable moments, like when my daughter wanted me to make a video of her doing a ballet dance to send to our Colombian girl.
I said, “Honey, she doesn’t have a TV.” That reminded me that what may seem obvious to us adults isn’t always so clear to the kids. Her look was one of disbelief, then horror, as she empathized for a moment with this little girl who lives without a television.
Do I dare tell her this little girl likely lives without a lot more than television? Do I tell her that thanks to our meager contribution, she gets a couple of meals a week, some tutoring, some healthcare and spiritual guidance?
That hardly seems like enough to me, and I’m sure the unfairness of it will be too much for my Kindergartener to grasp. It’s too much for me to grasp.
“She doesn’t have a TV,” I repeated, “so why don’t you draw her a picture of yourself doing ballet instead?”
As she bounced off happily to draw her picture, I thought, there will be plenty of time for her to understand the reality of the situation.
For now, she can do what she can, which is caring about somebody else.
(This story was written by Kerri and posted in December 2010 on another web site, http://www.parentingfortherestofus.com, a blog about parenting with several contributing writers).
If you’ve ever browsed through Compassion’s photos of children available for sponsorship, you may have wondered why so many of the children look unhappy.
It’s not a marketing ploy to tug at your heartstrings, and while these children are living in poverty and maybe in difficult family situations, that’s not usually the reason for sad expressions.
In reality, it’s just difficult to get a child to stand still for a photo. On photo day, there are many children standing in line waiting to have their photos taken. Compassion has some guidelines for the photographer to follow in posing the photo as well, so it can be challenging.
Follow the link below to see a wonderful video of our sponsored child Jose in Bolivia on picture day a couple of years ago. He was four years old at the time, and you can see for yourself what these photographers go through to get a decent photo.
This video was taken by a sponsor who visits Bolivia regularly. Compassion updates children’s photos every 18-24 months.