It happens to other sponsors, but not to my family. I read about it every week in the prayer brochures, when Compassion employees lift up the needs of sponsors and our staff and children in the field. But it wasn’t ever supposed to happen to our sponsored child.
My parents recently received a phone call from Compassion staff. Alfan Said Yusuph, our 6-year-old from Tanzania, died due to health issues in his abdomen.
I sat at my desk, stunned by the news. Alfan was such an adorable little boy! Full of life!
In his letters, he expressed his love for the picture we sent him of our family dog. He was excelling in school. He shared about all that he was learning about Jesus and talked about the church he attended.
I found myself very distracted the day we heard of his death. I wondered how his family is coping. I wondered what kind of ceremony they would have in Tanzania to remember such a precious child. I wondered if his family realized that his sponsor family was at a loss over what to do.
I stared at his picture. I thought, How do you say goodbye to a sponsored child? Then it hit me – this wasn’t just a hypothetical question, it was a reality in our lives.
And not just in my life, but in the lives of many other sponsors. On average, about five to 10 Compassion-assisted children die each week.
I still haven’t figured out a great way to mourn Alfan’s death. It still makes me sad. I’m still overwhelmed by the tragedy of the death of a child. However, I cling to hope! I cling to hope and joy that someday, Alfan and I will be reunited.
I anxiously await the day that Alfan and I will meet at the feet of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The day where we are both in heaven, embracing, and praising God for the beauty of binding our hearts together during our short times on Earth.
We should all cling to the promise of God from Isaiah 25:8a (NIV):
“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces …”
Because when loss is involved, Christ is our only hope in the face of death.