keep hope alive The moment I was sponsored through Compassion at age 8, I became aware that I was bigger than poverty. Poverty was a situation, a condition, but I was a life. All I needed were positive messages of hope to grow out of it.

It is the relationships that sponsorship promotes through letter writing, not so much the money, that ends poverty. Think about it this way: A child runs to a parent for protection not because he has see the parent carrying weapons but because the parent has fostered a relationship that assures the child of protection.

In the same way, a starving child approaches the mother for food even when he can clearly see there is no food in the hands of the mother.

This is a relationship that grows confidence and bears fruits of optimism and the belief that nothing is impossible.

The moment I read my first letter from my sponsor I felt empowered. I heard him tell my 8-year-old heart, “There is nothing impossible with the God I am telling you about.”

I believed him like he was a messenger from God. Writing about it now reminds me of a story I heard many times growing up — that the angel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, saying to the virgin Mary, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.”

I remember myself at that age wondering how God will release me from poverty, and my sponsor sending another letter saying that he is praying for me and encouraging me to work hard in school and trust in God.

Jimmy visits Graceland ministry in South Africa, which cares for children of alcoholic parents.

At times poverty threatened and lied to me that nothing is possible, but my sponsor would write to me, “Jimmy, it doesn’t matter what you are going through, ‘for nothing will be impossible with God’.”

A candle was lit inside of me and I started believing in the dreams of my childhood. The circumstances didn’t matter: I believed I was bigger than poverty. In time I began seeing myself as the savior of my community from the oppressor, this grinding poverty.

I became a joy to my mother. She loved listening to my positive messages. I became her favorite preacher. It satisfies me to remember the many times I made my mother forget her struggles, pain and suffering.

My sponsor restored my mother’s joy. Within a year of sponsorship, I could read the Bible that I had received from the program. I read to her all my favorite childhood memory verses in English.

Many nights she asked me to read her the Bible and then she would pray and we would go to bed a happy mother and a hopeful child.

Some of those nights we went to bed on an empty stomach. On such nights, unable to sleep from hunger, I would hear my mother crying to God to let me live another day. In my innocence I would ask her why she was crying. She would reply, “Because I can hear the rumbling in your stomach.”

I would assure her that I would make it to the morning. That was the strength my sponsor put in my heart — to be there for my mother.

At her deathbed, my mother called me to her and shared her joy for having been my mother. She encouraged me to live a life of loving people just as my sponsor loved me. Then she bid me goodbye saying, “My son, I see you succeeding in life but I do not see myself sharing the success with you. Trust in God.”

A few months later, I received the sad news that my mother had died. She had left my grandmother a gift for me: her Bible. From her Bible I quoted Jeremiah 29:11 to my sponsor when I wrote to break the sad news.

In his reply, my sponsor Mark wrote:

“I am sorry to hear about the death of your mother. I cried when I read your letter. It was great to read your scripture reference – Jeremiah 29:11 — because I also believe that God has good plans for you. I shall continue to pray for you.”

Jimmy and 8-year-old Jayden at Graceland ministry.

I celebrate my sponsorship with Compassion because through the relationship with my sponsor, I caught the fire of hope. Sponsorship puts hope in the hearts of children and in return these children serve the rest of the world with that hope.

My mother died in hope, satisfied that she bore a son of hope; a hope she believed will survive and be taken to the ends of the earth to the glory of God.

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  1. Teresa
    Nov 8, 2010
    at 6:44 am

    Mr. Wambua, you are clearly a man called by God. Your solid faith is an example to all. You have inspired me today to not just pray and lead by example in my home, but to read my Bible with my children as a family. May God continue to lead your paths, and may He bless you abundantly.

  2. Marci C
    Nov 8, 2010
    at 7:09 am

    Jimmy, Thank you for sharing your life and story with us. I know as a sponsor, I have gained much insight into sponsorship through watching the video of you meeting your sponsor and those of the LDP Student interviews; yours brings tears each time that I see it. For those who have not seen the video where Jimmy meets his sponsor, I have attached the link. Thank you for continually sharing your story with us, that we may, too, be a beacon of hope for our children. May the Lord richly bless you in the path He has placed you.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbUK8D-xIdQ

    Blessings ~ Marci

  3. Nov 8, 2010
    at 8:07 am

    Jimmy, you are such an inspiration. I am so sorry about the death of your mother, but I am glad that both your sponsor and our Lord were there to support you. I weep every time I see the video of you meeting your sponsor. What a touching testimony to the deep and powerful way a sponsor can change the life of the child. These testimonies are why I have dedicated so much time to trying to inspire sponsors in their letter writing ministry. I hope that through my outreach and my blog that I can give sponsors tips and ideas on how to reach out to their children on a regular basis.
    Last night, we welcomed our 8th Compassion child into our family and as soon as I saw her on my account, I sent out an email. Amazing how we can love a child at first sight!
    Thank you for sharing your powerful testimony, Jimmy. Let’s continue to reach out to sponsors and tell them how very important their letters are! God bless you.

  4. Nov 8, 2010
    at 8:50 am

    Wow. Your story is amazing. I love the part where you said-

    “The moment I was sponsored through Compassion at age 8, I became aware that I was bigger than poverty. Poverty was a situation, a condition, but I was a life. All I needed were positive messages of hope to grow out of it.”

    The lie of poverty entraps so many. When we come to the realization that our hope we find in Jesus is bigger than the lie, that is where freedom is found. Beautiful story. Brought me to tears.

  5. Nov 8, 2010
    at 9:12 am

    Your story brought tears to my eyes, Jimmy. I’m sorry your mom could not share your progress with you, but in my heart of hearts, I believe she knows and celebrates each step, with you. And I know you are instilling or encouraging that same hope in every child you meet, especially as you visit communities in poverty.

  6. Nov 8, 2010
    at 9:16 am

    What’s going on between Compassion and Facebook? I had the same trouble, yesterday, trying to Share a post from here; the message is that the content has been deemed abusive or…something. I’m still trying to fathom what could be considered abusive in stories of hope!

  7. Nov 8, 2010
    at 9:37 am

    Jimmy, I thank God for your testimony. It was because of your words–and those of other former Compassion children–that I knew that I should become involved with Compassion. Thank you for being the light of Jesus and for being a great example of hope for children in poverty!

  8. Nov 8, 2010
    at 11:45 am

    Wow! Thank you for telling your story and inspiring us all.

  9. Nov 8, 2010
    at 11:59 am

    Jimmy, thank you so much for sharing this. I know you honor your mother in all that you do. May every single child that we sponsor understand that they are bigger than poverty, and that God is there to guide them out. May all the families hear this, and find hope to endure and thrive!

  10. Nov 8, 2010
    at 12:29 pm

    Jimmy, the video of you meeting your sponsor for the first time changed me forever. I have shared it with others because of the powerful testimony God has given to you. I was also very touched by the follow-up video. Now your story today has once again blessed me, and I will share it with others. God bless you for your ministries. I used to live in Kenya and still pray for the many I know there.

  11. Cindy Hartman
    Nov 8, 2010
    at 10:50 pm

    Hi, Jimmy…I am Bethany’s mom. Your story amazes me and brings tears to my eyes. It is truly a God thing. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. Linda T.
    Nov 8, 2010
    at 11:16 pm

    Jimmy, your Mother’s hope HAS survived. And it IS being taken to the ends of the earth, to God’s glory. By YOU. God bless you.

  13. Nov 9, 2010
    at 7:38 am

    What a beautiful way to share about your mother, Jimmy! Thank you so much for telling us about her — very special lady!

  14. Nov 9, 2010
    at 9:37 am

    What a beautiful story…both for you and for Compassion. It’s so wonderful to hear how sponsorship of YOU, deeply and directly impacted your mother’s life.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  15. James
    Nov 9, 2010
    at 9:13 pm

    I had to stop several times and start over. Please keep the promise and know that one day there will be no more hunger. Until then, please keep helping those you can and being a light to those that need more time to see the light.

  16. Nov 10, 2010
    at 9:56 pm

    Jimmy, you are always making me cry. I mean that in a good way. :) Thanks for sharing your story!

  17. Nov 11, 2010
    at 8:56 pm

    Jimmy,

    This is an amazing story. I’m so glad I read it. I’m kind of going through the same thing, but then from the other prospective….

    My mother’s life has been going down for the last couple of months. So, when I visited my children a few months ago, I told them about my mother’s life and they all were praying for my mother. Also, I got to know a lot of the children in their projects and they are also praying for my mother. Now, I am getting letters, where the children are all asking about my mother and that they and their projects are praying for my mother.

    Well, last Friday, I thought my mother started to pass away. Everyone in the nursing home told me that it was a matter of anywhere from a few hours to a few days, but she was dying and her organs were one by one shutting down. I had told my mother how many children and many others from my church to my dad’s church to Compassion USA to Compassion Netherlands to many, many others were praying for her and I had put a picture of children praying that I took a few months ago in a project in Sacaba.

    This is the picture, if you click on the link:

    http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs186.snc4/37627_407703978229_738468229_4526722_6449365_n.jpg

    Well, a few weeks ago, I had also spoken with one of the nurses in the hospital, but she said that she was an atheist and very opposed to Christianity. So, when my mother started dying, I told her about the many children that were praying for my mother and how to expect for God to do something. She looked at me as if I was crazy and if that was ever going to happen!!! I showed her the picture.

    Well, my mother got out of the downward spin and now she is in her bed, able to talk and also able to think. Last Friday, when she took that turn for the worse, she was pretty much in a semi coma… Now we are able to talk. She is still very weak, but next to her bed is the picture of the children praying and she knows about it. She is ready to meet Christ and will be waiting for us on the other side. When she does meet Christ in person, she will be totally healed…

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Jimmy. I have to tell my mother about it. And your mother is seeing your success, probably better than any of us for that matter. She is one of the clouds of witnesses to cheer you on. I’ll have to tell my mom about your mom so she can look her up. Now, I’m almost crying.

  18. Nov 12, 2010
    at 12:16 am

    Jimmy: thank you for this post. I have watched the “one Act” video many times now and it makes me cry. I’ve been traveling with two other compassion speakers, and your story has been moving people wherever we go. Yesterday we got 23 children sponsored at a college. When you say that your life changed because a teenager sponsored you, it moves these students to act and do the same. God bless you!! Susan

  19. Nov 14, 2010
    at 9:06 pm

    This is so encouraging to read from a sponsors perspective. Despite all of the press that Compassion has out there telling me that letter writing matters and relationships with sponsors change kids lives, I think a lot of the time I sterilize the whole process and think my sponsored kids, who are teenagers, probably don’t care that much about who I am or what I say. Or think I’m lame, like an American teenager would!

    I hope that I can truly bring encouragement and hope to my sponsored kids.

  20. Debbie Beghetto
    Nov 15, 2010
    at 5:15 pm

    Beautiful story with the power of love, it makes me cry. You were chosen by your sponsor and your mother has witness to see you grow with love and hope. Your mother had died peacefully with uttermost joy and faith knowing you will sucess in life.

  21. Lauren
    Nov 29, 2010
    at 10:35 pm

    To be 8 years old and starving but to still be able to see poverty as a situation that you could one day over come is extremely inspirational. You are a remarkable person, thank you for sharing your story!

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