Sponsorship brings to us sponsors both joys and blessings, but we also make certain sacrifices. For many, the monthly cost of sponsoring requires sacrifices — eating out less often, engaging in recreational activities less frequently, and so on.
But we make other, less recognized sacrifices, and they do cost us something. I call these “sacrifices of the heart,” and they call us to greater trust. What follow are four such sacrifices.
- When we are unable to visit the child
Tausi is one of my first two sponsored children, along with Denisse. I have written about Tausi previously in relation to the gifts we give our children.
I had her first letter two months after I began sponsoring her — possibly sooner — and she was so expressive, so excited, so thankful for my sponsorship.
I fell in love with her on the spot.
She asked me, in almost every letter for at least two years, to come see her. She tried enticing me with references to her “beautiful country” and to the lovely garden at the child development center.
Mostly, she simply asked when I was going to come see her.
I knew the chances of that were slim.
I began responding in the only way I could: by assuring her that I wanted to go, and “If it is in God’s plan, I will go to see you.”
After she had received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, I assured her that, even if we were never to meet in this life, we would surely meet at Jesus’ feet.
I find that, as more time passes, my desire to meet Tausi in person grows stronger and deeper.
I have to trust that God will give her joy and help her focus on her schooling, her time at the center, and her family — and that He will fill her heart with the hope in Christ of seeing her mom again, and seeing those who loved her on earth, also in heaven.
- When a child departs the program too soon
This is a tough one. We do not always have the opportunity to write a final letter — or even to receive one.
About a year after Maria, another sponsored child, had moved away from her child development center — and to an area where no Compassion program was available to her — she departed the program.
Because of her circumstances, I had been waiting for that “shoe” to drop, and I was not surprised. But I did grieve, and initially, I was told that I could not write a letter because it could not be delivered.
Months later, I received a final letter from her, and all my grief rose to the top. I continue to pray for her, and I still am called to entrust her to our Father in heaven.
- When a child’s parent dies
A few years ago, I received a letter from Tausi telling me that her mother had died. She added that, at 13, she thought she was too young to lose her mom, and I agreed.
I cried for her, and I cried because she could not see me sharing her grief. Would a few words in a letter convey my care for her? I wanted to hop a plane and go wrap my arms around her, but that was out of the question.I had to trust that her Father in heaven would comfort her and keep her strong.
- When a child dies
I have not faced this one yet, and for that I am thankful. But for those who have, the finality of the news must be just devastating. No final letter can be written, and probably none will be received.
I am well acquainted with grief, and this is one possibility that I hope I never face. Losing a sponsored child in death, even if we’ve never met face to face, requires the whole grief process, an ultimate letting go, and trust that we will meet again in heaven. What else can we do?
I had never thought of these experiences as sacrifices that sponsors make until I sat recently listening to one of the speakers at the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit.
Not everyone will agree that sacrifice is an issue for a sponsor facing these experiences. And to the extent that they are, we make them out of love.
But child sponsorship, especially through such a relational ministry as Compassion, is not all warm fuzzies and feeling blessed. We experience losses or hear of our sponsored child’s losses, and our hearts break.
We want to jump in and fix whatever is wrong; we can’t do that for our own children, and we certainly can’t do that for our sponsored kids.
We have to entrust them to the Lord, over and over and over again. We have to remember that God is good, He is able, and He is faithful, and one day, all will be made right. So be it.
Can you think of other “sacrifices of the heart” that call or have called you to greater trust?