sacrifices of the heart 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.

  1. 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.

    The problem?

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

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  1. Oct 10, 2012
    at 7:02 am

    #2, when a child leaves the program too soon. It was hard to explain my grief this past summer when we learned the boy we sponsored in Guatemala City had simply stopped attending and was dropped from the program. Knowing the strong pull of the gangs and crime we’ve prayed for him to be protected, and now I pray, knowing he is still in the reach of God.

    • Oct 10, 2012
      at 10:30 pm

      Kees, that is heartbreaking, to have a child cry to come to live with you! Maria, who is no longer in the program, asked me to go live with her family, and I had to explain that I have a husband and a home, here. All of which she knew. Sponsoring really does make me exercise my trust “muscles,” which I will say are not as strong as I want them to be!

  2. Oct 10, 2012
    at 7:20 am

    Vicki,

    This is a great blog. I know with some of the children when I visit them towards the end of the visit they cry…. Sometimes they want to go with me back to where I live and live with me and that breaks my heart too…. I miss them very much and I wish it was possible. I know one of my children lives with a mother, who drinks a lot and she was crying as she was telling me. She wants to live with me…. but I don’t know how that can happen. Then as you wrote we just need to entrust it to God. He’s the ultimate Shepherd.

  3. Oct 10, 2012
    at 9:01 am

    I would love to have the finances to jump on a plane right now and visit my Compassion kids! A couple of them have even asked if we will ever be able to meet. It was hard telling them that I can’t promise we will ever meet in this lifetime. Trust…so hard for us to do sometimes, but it is the one thing that can give us the peace we need to continue on this journey.

    • Oct 10, 2012
      at 10:32 pm

      I agree, Yvonne, and it’s the only way I can let go. That doesn’t mean we stop caring or praying–nor should we; it’s just accepting the realities and hanging onto our hope in Christ for the future–ours, our kids’, and the hope of heaven. Do you agree?

      • Oct 11, 2012
        at 9:08 am

        Natalia was the first little girl that we sponsored. A few months after we started sponsoring her, her family moved away from the project. I still have her picture and letters in my Compassion kids binder. We still pray for her. I know God placed her in our lives for a reason and we can continue to ‘keep’ her in our lives by praying for her. We do have hope in Christ and I pray that each one of these kids that go through the Compassion program know that too.

  4. Oct 10, 2012
    at 12:06 pm

    Amazing post. #2 This spring my little boy moved away from the program. I was devastated and I cried. I was okay for a while. Then last week I got his final letter. He said, “I hope we can keep in touch because I would not like to lose a friend.” Apparently he received a letter I wrote him about him being my new friend. It broke my heart. And I cried again. I guess one doesn’t really get over it. I just pray for him always. Trust is so hard. But God is good.

  5. Mike Stephens
    Oct 10, 2012
    at 3:04 pm

    well I must say I tried to do everything in my power to visit the kids I sponsor and with a little elbow grease, prayer, probably more on the part of my sponsor child and his/her projects and hope, I have been able to visit kids I sponsor in Tanzania, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Indonesia, and at the end of the week Victor in Peru! ;) I made it a goal to visit all the kids I sponsor once while they are young and once while they are older. Victor will be the last one of the original group of kids I started sponsoring and I have two more I have added since then. I must say the pictures and videos of meeting my kids are priceless as you all well know. One of the greatest “sacrifices” I felt I have “had to make” it’s not even really a sacrifice, but when I visited Chamelia in Indonesia last year she sang me a song which is basically the verse “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty.” The song is an encouragement to me to really BELIEVE in hopes/dreams God has given me, and just going to Indonesia has greatly increased my faith so the sacrifice of the heart I have to make is to trust God and BELIEVE and trust that He will bring to pass things I think/believe He will do b/c He instilled the faith in me that He will do them and Chamelia’s song was just an enouragement of what we have always known: God has NEVER lost ;)

    • Oct 10, 2012
      at 5:23 pm

      Wow that is soo awesome!! Did you per chance visit IO787? I correspond with a little girl there. Someday I will go there.

      • Mike Stephens
        Dec 17, 2012
        at 7:17 pm

        Lizzie,

        No, I did not visit IO787

  6. Ken M.
    Oct 10, 2012
    at 3:10 pm

    Number 2 has been something I had to deal with five times; actually six times but one of my children returned to the Compassion program after being gone for 8 months.

    Losing the child I sponsored the longest has been the hardest for me. I lost him in February after 5 and 1/2 to 6 years of sponsorship due to his project ending their partnership with Compassion. I watched him grow up: age 5 and 1/2 to age 11 and 1/2. I visited him 3 years ago this month.

    Compassion allowed me to sign a waiver so he could have my address and email but 7 months have passed with no response from him. In August I found him on Facebook. I didn’t send a friend request but sent a message. I asked him if he and his mother were doing alright. I told him that I’m still praying for him. Two months have passed since I sent the Facebook message and there has been no response.

    I did a lot of crying and always ask God for strength to let go and move on. I stopped writing to my other children for 3 months and realized I wasn’t being fair to them. I even felt like dropping all of my children but I knew that would be crazy to do and I would regret it.

    Another child of mine, who seems wise beyond his 13 years, said that he feels sad because of my loss. Then he reminded me that I still have children who love me and when my new children get to know me the way he knows me, they will love me, too.

    • Oct 10, 2012
      at 5:22 pm

      Man. that has to be so hard. I will be praying for you.

    • Oct 10, 2012
      at 10:35 pm

      Ken, as you well know, I have been aware of your losses and your hurting. I have been so glad, each time, that you did not quit, did not give up. What a gift is the child you referred to in your last paragraph! That brought a smile to my face! :-)

  7. Ian Lyall
    Oct 10, 2012
    at 4:28 pm

    I can understand. For years my wife and I supported two workerr for CEF io Romania and hnped to go visit Sibiu-then they quit. It hurts to write this.

    • Oct 10, 2012
      at 10:36 pm

      Such reunions we have to look forward to in heaven, yes?

  8. Oct 10, 2012
    at 6:53 pm

    As a passionate correspondant I write to many children, most of whom are sponsored by someone else. As I wrote in this post http://blog.compassion.com/why-is-it-so-hard-to-say-goodbye/ it is very hard when you have to say good-bye.

    About 2 weeks ago I was notified that the only one of my children I have met, Sarah from IO, has departed and my heart broke again. The good side is that she left because her family circumstances have improved.

    Whatever the reason, we do grieve and miss our sponsor kids when the connection breaks. Our comfort and joy in Christ is that we can continue to pray for them and their families our whole lives. I look forward to heaven all the more because of these precious relationships that Compassion has enabled me to develop with children and families around the globe. For this I am very thankful.

  9. Oct 12, 2012
    at 6:04 am

    Although we have never experienced #4, we have experienced 1, 2, and 3 (although sibling and not parent). Yes, these are certainly sacrifices of the heart for sure! I remember we wanted to visit our Ana in Mexico, and after sponsoring her for 5 years, she left the program. We never were able to visit her. :( We have lost others who have graduated early. We have not yet had any of our children leave the program because of graduation, so we’re praying none of the ones we hav now leave early! If they all stay, then we will have 3 graduating in 2016. One of our children lost their eldest brother last year, and when we received the letter where this child shared the news and the grief, we grieved as well. Our hearts broke for this child and family, and we wanted to get on a plane! Thank you for this great blog post!

  10. Oct 13, 2012
    at 5:38 pm

    I have experienced all of these, except for #4. Many times, it has been #2. The most grieving experience has been #2. My very first child, Lupita in Mexico, I had sponsored for about four years before her project closed.
    I think we should add #5 – When the financial sponsor decides to stop sponsoring the child, and you are unable to financially take over. I have had this happen more times than I can count in the three/four years that I’ve been a correspondent. Some have hit me harder than others.
    Three of my children have lost a parent. One lost his father a couple years ago. The other two each lost a mother within a few weeks of the other (different countries and different continents). This was just earlier in the spring. Each time, I have grieved with them and wanted to hop on the first plane to be with them and give them a hug and love on them.
    The hardest part for me is writing that final letter. But, it is also a sense of closure, a way for me to give myself permission to move on. Lupita’s last letter made me grieve all over again. Her final request was not continued prayers for her family, but that I would help another child the way I had helped her.
    These children grab a hold of our hearts and remain there for eternity.

    • Ken M.
      Oct 15, 2012
      at 7:09 am

      Stacey,
      Lupita’s last letter to you reminds me of the final letter I received from Jeferson, my first sponsored child. He was from Colombia. I sponsored Jeferson for about 18 months.

      Since I was getting used to sponsorship I wasn’t a very good writer. In the 18 months of sponsorship I don’t remember writing more than 5 times.

      During a trip to Boston I made up my mind to become a better writer and bought postcards to send to Jeferson. I wanted to tell him about my trip. I imagined the look of excitement on his face after receiving the cards. When I arrived home there was a creme colored envelope waiting for me in my mailbox. I didn’t like what I read. I had grief but it was somewhat lessened.

      The financial situation of Jeferson’s family had greatly improved. His mother requested that Jeferson be removed from sponsorship because of it. She felt that another child should have the chance to be sponsored. Jeferson’s mother also sent a beautiful family portrait. Because I’m thinking about their portrait, I am smiling as I type this.

      Even though I grieved over losing Jeferson and felt bad because I was a terrible writer I was glad that his situation improved. Losing him opened the door for me to start sponsoring in my favorite country, Brazil.

    • Nov 21, 2012
      at 7:20 pm

      Oh, Stacey, thank you for mentioning the loss of a child you are corresponding with–and therefore, have built a relationship with–because the funding sponsor ends the sponsorship. There may be good reason for that; the funding sponsor might not have a choice, but it is still so hard on both the sponsor who corresponds and the child.

      I also heard of a funding sponsor who had decided to take over the correspondence. which made me wonder whether the funding sponsor had considered the emotional upheaval for both child and corresponding sponsor.

    • Dec 18, 2012
      at 10:33 am

      Stacey, your suggestion for #5 was part of one of my early drafts. I was asked to remove it, as a staff member would be addressing that in the near future. I agree with you that that is as heart-breaking as any of these sacrifices. As a correspondent sponsor, you are the one who builds the relationship, reads of the joys and sorrows, successes and failures, and what is learned.

      I learned, maybe a year ago, of a correspondent who lost the relationship with a child because the funding sponsor had decided to take over letter-writing. I share two sponsorships with another advocate, who corresponds. I would take over corresponding with these girls only at Janet’s request, or–if she were unable to communicate with me–her husband’s, for her. The child is going to grieve without understand what just happened, why she/he lost the loved sponsor.

  11. Sally
    Oct 17, 2012
    at 12:43 am

    Thanyou for your beautiful and encouraging post.

  12. Nov 3, 2012
    at 7:29 am

    Thank you so much for your heart felt words. I pray that our Lord and Savior shower blessings upon you for your love and care, I know that He has because of the children we sponsor. I also pray that your words will encourage others to sponsor children, there are so many! Our Lord said “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” Mk 9:37

    • Nov 21, 2012
      at 7:26 pm

      Thank you, Sally, and thank you, Don. I would be so supremely blessed, if someone were moved to sponsor a child, because of any of my posts!

  13. Mike Stephens
    Dec 17, 2012
    at 7:21 pm

    I’ve only had to deal with #3 having one of my sponsor children’s mother’s die of typhoid, it seemed avoidable. I think all she needed was some antibiotics and she should have been able to make it yes? But I didn’t know she had typhoid until she was dead. but I also had an LDP student I correspond with get typhoid and survive! So glad to have that testimony ;) Hallelujah!

  14. Mike Stephens
    Dec 17, 2012
    at 7:23 pm

    Lord thank you for letting Udaya overcome typhoid! You are AWESOME! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivcvjYU7tZQ

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