Here’s the most practical advice I can give you if you want to serve the global poor: sponsor a child. Through Compassion, or World Vision, or any number of smaller organizations, you can give a sum of money each month to provide for the basic needs of a child who doesn’t have enough. It’s a tried & tested, sustainable investment you can make that will transform lives and entire communities. Not only that, it will transform you too — if you choose to fully engage. I’ve experienced the process and seen the results, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is one of the best ways for the Church to love and serve our brothers and sisters in need.
When I visited my sister’s sponsor child, Jeanne, in Rwanda, I saw how sponsorship money had been used to improve her entire village. There is a park in the area where she and her friends can play safely. There is a church with a big meeting space, where people can gather for educational classes. There are staff from Compassion who make sure Jeanne is in good health, and is getting the help she needs to succeed in school. And what brought joy to my heart more than anything else, is that Jeanne had chosen to trust Jesus with her life because of the gospel message shared at the Compassion programs. Jeanne’s dirt-walled room was decorated with letters and photos from my sister, just like my sister’s fridge is decorated with letters and photos from Jeanne. They are two of God’s dearly beloved children, connected by love over miles of ocean.
And if you’re not convinced that sponsorship makes such a difference in another’s life – believe me that it will make a difference in yours. When I was young, I contributed my paper route money to a Bolivian boy we sponsored as a family. His name was Wilfredo, and he was my exact same age. I wrote letters to him, and prayed for him before bed at night. As I got to know Wilfredo through letters, I learned that he was not who I expected him to be. He was funny, even through the language barrier. And, he was quite the fashionista. Every time we sent him extra birthday money, he’d go get a trendy hair cut and buy a cool t-shirt. Wilfredo taught me that there’s more to a person than his need. He connected me to a different culture, and widened my eyes to a different way of seeing God.
So, my challenge to you is that if you don’t already sponsor a child, sponsor one now. It’s a simple, wonderful way to love a person in need. And, if you do already sponsor a child, drop what you’re doing right now and write him or her a letter. Then, commit to letter-writing as a regular practice. Pray for your sponsor child as often as you can, and involve your children in the process too. They will learn to care about the global poor through connection with another.
Usually I’d advise an immediate response if you feel called to sponsor. But if you need some time to work the extra expense into your budget, set yours sights for February because at that time you’ll be able to sponsor children from the Hand to Hand Foundation in Pattaya to go to school. This will be a great chance to get more connected with our mission in Thailand, and to practice becoming global missionaries from right here at home.