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Always Picked Last (Extreme Poverty Style)

Always picked last Imagine a world where you grow up with a mommy and a daddy and live in a nice warm house with your family.

You have your own bed, and sleep each night with a full belly. You go to school, and in the afternoon you go to sports practice on a green grassy lawn that is safely guarded from speeding cars and other dangers.

Imagine a world where your toys are bought from Wal-Mart, and you get a new Christmas, Easter and birthday outfit every year.

That’s not very hard to imagine … is it? Most of us grew up in that setting — or one very similar.

The situation that is hard to truly grasp is living in the circumstances the children in our sponsorship program live in.

We’ve seen the pictures; some of us have had the chance to see poverty firsthand. The reality the children in our sponsorship program live in is mostly the opposite of ours.

While some children are blessed with both parents still living, many live with other family members or older siblings. They eat one meal a day *maybe*, and play with toys that they find in the trash dumps outside their wood-walled, tin-roofed, one-room shanty.

So imagine how it brightens a child’s day when he or she goes to the child development center and receives a letter from you — the sponsor.

Now imagine a child who doesn’t have a sponsor. When all the children receive letters at the center, one never comes for this child.

This child, Carlos from Colombia, was registered into the sponsorship program in April, 2008, and has never — I repeat NEVER — had a sponsor.

What questions do you think run through his head when he attends the center during letter-writing and receiving time? What would run through your mind?

“Wait!” You say. “Doesn’t the sponsorship program still provide Carlos everything he needs? He is registered, after all.”

Let me see if I can explain.

Remember Valentine’s Day in grade school?

You set out your decorated box to receive notes from your classmates. After exchange time is over, you check your box.

You stick your hand inside with anticipation. You grope around for a moment before the realization hits — no one gave you a Valentine message. Not one person.

The rest of the class got one from each class member. Your feelings are very hurt. You continue your school day, and receive all of the benefits from the education your teachers provide. You also receive a nutritious meal during lunch time and exercise during PE.

When you get in the car to go home, your mom knows something is wrong, but not even her hug can console you. A hug won’t ease the ache in your heart caused by not receiving a Valentine from any of your classmates. Understand?

Regrettably, there are more than 18,000 children in our sponsorship program just like Carlos — children who have been waiting for 12 months or longer for a sponsor. This number has skyrocketed 500 percent since June 2008, when it was just over 3,600.

Should this cause us to be disheartened? I don’t think so.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” — 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)

I think this is a time for us to search out our purpose in this cause and press forward as God leads us. This is a time to rally — to advocate for these children. What will you do?

Here are some ways to help:

Most of all, please pray.

Pray that God would raise up sponsors for these children. Pray that the children in our program will receive hope and love from the church staff, friends and family — despite their circumstances.

If you’d like to sponsor Carlos, please call us toll free at (888) 503-4586.