Monday, January 27, 2014

Lessons Learned About Sponsorship

I've been a sponsor for quite a long time - 19 years to be exact. Over the years I have learned a few things and I thought I'd take a moment to share some of the lessons with you.

1. You will be changed. When I sponsored my first child, I did so with the mindset that I would change the life of a child. I had no idea my life would also be changed. I had no idea God would use sponsorship to change my world view, birth a new passion and release me from wealth.

2. When you give, do so with open hands. Hopefully your sponsorship experience will be a good one - a great one! But remember that we are dealing with humans and therefore we always runs the risk of disappointment. We must trust God with our financial resources and give with no expectations. Compassion is a reputable charity, but ultimately they have no control over free will. In the case of my LDP student's recent departure, I have to trust that my investment in her education and training and life was worth it despite her desire to follow through. Compassion has poured into her life for many years, and I must trust that. But even if it had been only a year or a few months, it's still better than nothing. It doesn't take long to plant a seed. God is the only one who can see it through and see that the seed roots itself and grows.

3. You have no control of the outcome. This really is an extension of the second point, but I think it bears repeating. We really can't have expectations for our sponsored kids. It's not our job to help them succeed. We are simply friends who are praying and encouraging and contributing financially to their lives. If their family moves away from the area where Compassion works, it's not the child's fault. If their family pulls them from the program for religious or other reasons, it's not the child's fault. If the child stops attending school and the program, there is nothing we or Compassion can do. God is in control.

4. It's not about me. Sometimes I start to feel sorry for myself that I haven't heard from my sponsored child as often as I'd like or that the letters aren't all that personal. But then I realize that it's not about me. It's far more important that I am pouring hope and love and encouragement into their lives. I sponsored them in obedience to God's calling. I didn't sponsor them to have a pen pal.

5. A little bit is better than nothing. Again, I touched on this earlier...I think of my friend, Marlennis from the Dominican Republic. She was sponsored through Compassion until Compassion moved out of her community. Part of me regrets that she didn't get the full experience, but then I remember that she knows Jesus because of the few years she was in Compassion's program. She knows Jesus. That's really all that matters.

6. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. I've had my share of disappointments and surprises. My very first sponsored child had a baby while I was still sponsoring her! I cannot imagine if I had thrown in the towel on sponsorship at that point. The second girl we sponsored was in Mexico and her project was shut down by Compassion. Years later two girls we had sponsored for several years left the program - one moved away and the other was forced to work by her family, preventing her from attending the Compassion project. Our first LDP student didn't work out. Then our second LDP student didn't work out. With all those disappointments and frustrations, it would be easy to understand if we stopped sponsoring kids. But God has called us to this ministry. We feel passionate about it and have seen God using sponsorship to release children from poverty in Jesus name. It's worth a second and third and fourth chance.

I'd love to hear what you have learned through the sponsorship experience...please share with us through the comments. If you don't see the comments tab, simply click on the title of this post and you should be able to see them.
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