What My Sponsored Kids Mean to Me

08/18/14

Child sponsorship is an interesting thing. In my more cynical of seasons I saw it as something to do to make yourself feel better about the fact that you have excess and others don’t. Perhaps that’s because of the guilt-trip commercials that always catch me off guard. 

 
But four years ago I heard a different message about child sponsorship through Children of the Nations (COTN). I didn’t feel guilt-tripped into sponsoring. I felt privileged to sponsor. I wasn’t shown pictures of despair. I was shown pictures of hope. 
 
Kim's attitude toward child sponsorship changed when she saw that she could bring hope and smiles to children through her involvement.
 
After being in-country with COTN several times, I can tell you that there is despair. There is severe need. There is immense pain. Sponsorship is vital to these communities and to the lives of these children. 
 
But what struck me about COTN four years ago and still strikes me today is that the focus is not on what was, or even is, but on what could and will be. The focus is on a transformational process within a child’s life. And Jesus is at the center.
 
I chose my first sponsored child from the COTN website a little over three years ago. At the time I simply felt good about contributing to an organization that was filled with the hope of Jesus and was reaching out to children in need. I sent letters and the occasional gift. My sponsorship was on auto pay and it was easy to just keep it going.
 
Then I went to Malawi and met this child, and everything changed. I saw his face. I held his hand. I heard his voice. His life became so real to me and my life was forever changed. 
 
I distinctly remember the day I met Lemelani. I can still see a confused boy walking toward me in the village. I can still remember his face changing when a translator explained why I was looking for him. I can still feel my tears when he ran back to his home and brought out every letter I had ever written him. I still smile at the way that boy gripped my hand tighter than any child ever had.
 
"I began to realize that this wasn’t about my guilt, my excess, my money, my anything—or frankly me at all. This was about Jesus and His call to love."
 
It was on that day that I began to realize what sponsorship is to a child. I began to realize that this wasn’t about my guilt, my excess, my money, my anything—or frankly me at all. This was about Jesus and His call to love. We are filled to be emptied. I believe this goes for our hearts and our wallets equally—and sponsorship requires both. 
 
I love that, to Lemelani, I am not just a means to a free handout. He knows, because COTN instills it in their children, that I care for him, that I pray for him, that I love him. And that I do it all because of Jesus. He knows that Jesus is the one who saves. A year ago, Esnat joined my sponsorship family, and she knows that too.
 
                                                            Esnat, me, and Lemelani in 2013.
 
Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
 
What if you could be a part of that plan for someone? What an honor. What an immense source of joy for everyone involved. And God calls us to it in James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” 
 
This summer 750 children need sponsors through COTN. That’s 750 opportunities to be a part of the story of the Lord working in a child’s life. Will you pray about which child God has in mind for your sponsorship family?
 
                                                                        My family in 2014.