First of all, if you are not familiar with the correspondent program, I encourage you to read the post So You Want to Write Letters by my friend Jessi. I just want to say that I think it is such a wonderful blessing for kids and correspondent sponsors that Compassion has this program!
And if you are a correspondent (or a sponsor!) who has had to say goodbye, I just want to encourage you with two thoughts:
1. The time you had with the child was valuable, whether or not you see the fruit!
If you are discouraged, I want to encourage you to keep writing to kids! It does make a difference. Out of the six kids we are saying goodbye to, we only received letters from a few of them. But each of our kids received a ton of letters from us. I know that they will be able to hold onto those letters and re-read them throughout their lives.
And this is how I know that the letters we send in that short time matter--one of our boys wrote that he had stopped going to church and seeking God because he felt that no one loved him. But after receiving letters from us, and knowing we loved him, he said he was reminded of how much God loves him. And so he is now attending church again and studying the Bible! Not every kid shares how your letters impact their life…but the letters do have an impact.
2. God cares for that child more than you ever could!
This is applicable for sponsors who have lost kids too. Sometimes it feels like there is no closure…like when your teenage girl from Ethiopia runs away and is not found by the project… But this is when I have to remind myself that God knows where each precious child is and He cares for them! And although we cannot be guaranteed a life-long relationship with each child with whom we correspond or sponsor, we are able to pray for that child for the rest of our life. And God knows where that child is and how he or she is doing. Isn't that so encouraging?
Now I thought I would share what I am sending to my kids in this particular situation. These kids had not received many (if any) letters from their sponsors prior to be assigned to me as a correspondent and they are now returning back to their sponsors. So this is a general form of what I shared with each kid, I just modified it to make it more personal. Feel free to copy and edit this letter to suit your needs:
I am sorry to write and say that this will be my final letter. It makes me sad to say goodbye. But I am so thankful for the time that we did have to exchange letters! I was so blessed to be able to team up with your financial sponsor and to write to you for the past few months! Now your financial sponsor would like the opportunity to get to know you and I will be praying for God to bless your friendship.
I want you to know that I feel so honored to have gotten to know you. You are such a precious child of God and I am praying for God to guide your future. Please know that while I am unable to write to you, I will pray for you for the rest of my life. You will always have a place in my heart and I hold onto the hope of seeing you in heaven one day as we worship our Savior and King.
Most of all, I want you to remember how much God loves you. He loves you more than any person on earth ever will! I would like to share a verse with you and ask you to memorize it because I think it will encourage you. The verse is Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I love you very much and I am praying for you! God bless you, dear friend.
Considering that these kids may very likely never receive a letter again, I wanted to send a package of letters. Since I had been sending Jill's Fruit of the Spirit letters and only reached Kindness, I finished up my adaptations of Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control to include.
I also included a version of the Father's Love Letter and a reading plan for Holy Week (as seen below since I cannot find the link):
Along with a copy of the child's photo, a Christmas ornament and card, and Juanito's artwork, I included a few journals from Trusty's Mailbag Shoppe, which has some really cute and fun templates for sending to sponsored kids (it is very inexpensive since you can print all the copies you need and all the proceeds go to Deborah's sponsored kids!). I sent the kids the Bird Watching Journal and Searching for God journal.
Since the packet ended up being a little on the larger side, I used file folders and decorated them with Christmas cards:
Everything fit very nicely inside!
I hope that these ideas are helpful if you are preparing final letters! And if you are interested in becoming a correspondence sponsor, I encourage you to check out Jessi's post here.