Pick Up the Phone, God Is Calling You to Sponsor a Child

07/16/15

When I was a kid, our telephone was mounted to the wall in the kitchen; its long, curly cord almost touched the floor. We didn’t have an answering machine so when the phone rang, we answered. 

Every call was an invitation to live life, to adventure—just like the call Eugene Choi answered six years ago, in the middle of Malawi.
 
Going on a mission trip to Malawi seemed like a big adventure. Eugene was in college at the time. He and his team were working in one of COTN’s Children’s Homes—a family-style home for orphans—when he first met Richard Jaziwell. 
 
At the time, Richard was a shy 16-year-old who didn’t know much English. He’d lost both of his parents when he was a child and had been living in COTN’s Children’s Home for years. 
 
                                   Richard came to live at the Children’s Home when he was eight years old.
 
Eugene remembers when they exchanged their first awkward hello. Richard was a quiet kid and Eugene wasn’t sure what to say. But as the days went by and they spent more time together; a friendship formed and Richard became a little less shy. He even taught Eugene’s team how to do a traditional African dance.
 
Eugene felt like God was calling him, inviting him into the adventure of doing something bigger. “I felt God saying, ‘Hey, you need to help this kid out,’” he says. 
 
Soon it was time for Eugene to fly back to the United States. But he hadn’t forgotten about that 16-year-old kid back in Malawi. He signed up to be Richard’s sponsor. “I was excited for this new relationship,” says Eugene, “and I knew that God had specifically chosen to connect us.” 
 
Then, just one year later, Eugene had the opportunity to go back to Malawi. This time he would be leading a Venture team to Chiwengo Village, where Richard lived. 
 
COTN has many older children like Richard who are still in need of sponsors. With the help of sponsors like Eugene, these children will be able to create a much brighter future for themselves, their community, and for their country.
 
“Richard greeted me at the airport and I was pleasantly surprised that he knew more English,” Eugene says. “I loved catching up with my friend again!” They picked up right where they had left off. They laughed together, shared their favorite things—Richard loves Bob Marley, Bruce Lee, and Beyoncé. And soon, Richard was telling Eugene bigger things, like his dreams, what he wanted to be when he grew up. 
 
This time after Eugene left, they stayed in touch; checking in through Facebook, sharing prayer requests, celebrating their birthdays. A few years passed. Eugene graduated from college and got a job. Richard graduated high school and started attending Lilongwe Technical College, working hard toward a degree in mechanical engineering.
 
Then, in 2013, Eugene had yet another opportunity to lead a mission trip to Malawi. “There he was again, at the airport, greeting me with a huge smile,” says Eugene. “But this time Richard was different.”
 
Richard worked alongside the team, serving as a cook, translator, and head of the construction project. Eugene was overwhelmed by how much his friend had grown up since that first shy hello. 
 
Eugene just returned from his fourth trip to Malawi! This is the most recent photo of Eugene and Richard goofing off—just like brothers do. “I’ve been blessed to go to Malawi many times,” says Eugene. “That’s something I don’t take for granted.”
 
“Just talking to you about this right now is making me smile,” Eugene says. He explains that his friendship with Richard has taught him a lot about what really matters. “It puts me in check,” he says, “living the fast-paced lifestyle that we do.”
 
That day, six years ago, when Eugene answered God’s call and began sponsoring Richard, he never imagined how much it would change both of their lives. “In my opinion, Richard’s given me a lot more than I’ve given him,” Eugene says. “He’s like the brother I never had.”
 
Eugene says his sponsorship experience has given him more confidence in COTN and in God. Being a sponsor is about more than just giving money each month. It will change a child’s life.