Leadership Development Program In 2006 my wife and I went on a sponsor tour to the Dominican Republic. Before our trip, we thought we knew what Compassion did, but our understanding of the ministry fell far short of what we saw.

When I came home from that trip, I signed up to be a volunteer child advocate. I made coffee mugs with photos of my sponsored children on them, and I spoke of the kids often.

“Hey Patterson, you know those kids that you’re so fond of? ”

“Yeah, Norm.”

“I think we should sponsor one of those kids as a shift.”

I explained to Norm that a typical child sponsorship is under $40, but then I told him about the Leadership Development Program. I suggested that if we were able to get 12 firefighters together, we could sponsor a Leadership Development Program student and it would cost only $25 per person each month.

Norm made a commitment immediately and started recruiting others. I contacted Compassion the following day, and later that afternoon we had a student to sponsor — Juan David Dominquez Galvez.

At age 5, Juan David had lost his father in a construction accident. His mother was left alone to care for four children. In her desperation, she enrolled Juan David in the Compassion-assisted child development center in their community outside the capital city of Santo Domingo.

Shortly after enrollment, Juan David was sponsored. His new sponsors, the Hopper family in Australia, wrote letters of encouragement often and continued to do so for 13 years.

Thanks to the support of his sponsors, Juan not only graduated high school, but he also earned his school’s Most Excellent Student Award. Then Juan applied for the Leadership Development Program and, after months of academic tests and intensive interviews, was accepted into the program.

Just a couple weeks after Juan David became eligible for the program, I returned to the Dominican Republic with my wife and daughters on another sponsor tour. We knew that on this trip we would not only be able to visit the girls we sponsor, but we would also have the opportunity to meet Juan David and tell him about a group of firefighters who would be his sponsors for the next six years.

On Wednesday evening of the trip, the Compassion staff had prepared a meal for the visiting sponsors. Four Leadership Development Program students were asked to give their testimonies. One of them was Juan David.

It was on this evening that Juan David learned that he had been sponsored, and that his dream of becoming a pediatrician is possible. When he heard the news, he wept. So did 40 Compassion sponsors.

Being part of this amazing student’s life has had great impact on many people. Juan David continues to communicate with the Hopper family in Australia. My family and the Hopper family communicate with each other regularly by e-mail. Juan’s letters to his sponsors and to my family are regular reminders of God’s grace. To my children, he is a living example of faith.

Today, Juan David and his fellow Leadership Development Program students in the Dominican Republic express their gratitude for the opportunity they have been given by sponsoring a little girl in Haiti, named Lovina.

I look forward to the day when I sit beside a group of firefighters from Seattle at Juan David’s graduation ceremony.

Who can you sponsor a student with?

  • 11 Comments
  • Print This Post Print This Post
  • Add a Comment

11 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Jan 11, 2010
    at 8:12 am

    I was there when you 1st told Juan David he had some sponsors! It was an awesome and touching moment and yes — I did cry! Juan David is such an impressive young man; I love him so much. I love the photo of the firefighters — how cool is that?!

    When my little girl from Thailand got accepted to the LDP, I also gathered a group of friends together to help sponsor her through LDP. I wanted to help finish the journey we had begun years before! It’s been an amazing and blessed journey, and now she will be graduating in May. I will be at her side for the ceremony, Lord willing!

  2. Amy Wallace
    Jan 11, 2010
    at 8:28 am

    That’s so awesome! I would love to sponsor an LDP student someday. I’ll have to start looking for a group…

    • Jun 8, 2011
      at 1:47 am

      I think this would be a fun one to do with local people found via OurCompassion.

  3. Sara Benson
    Jan 11, 2010
    at 9:36 am

    Thanks for sharing your story! I hope many more people join together to sponsor these students. I sponsor a student with my parents, my grandmother, and my aunt. I sponsored Careen while she was in the child program and when she was accepted into LDP, my family steped up to help me sponsor her!

  4. Jan 11, 2010
    at 3:16 pm

    Here is a link to Juan David speaking to a group of 300 Compassion Child Advocates from 12 countries in October, 2008. I’m sorry I had to trim off a little to fit YouTube’s guidelines for length, but here it is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOr73ZsTDNk

  5. Lindy
    Jan 11, 2010
    at 7:24 pm

    Thanks so, so much for sharing this story, Michael!
    What a great blessing for all of you and for Juan! I loved reading it!!!

  6. Michelle
    Jan 12, 2010
    at 5:06 pm

    What an awesome story!! Yay Juan… and yay for all of his sponsors!!!

    I’m hoping my little girl will make it into the program. Then I’ll be looking for fellow sponsors!! :) But it is a great idea, and I am grateful you shared it. I don’t think I would have thought about it myself… but then, I also didn’t know it was $300 a month. Is it that much for every country?

  7. Jan 12, 2010
    at 5:37 pm

    Michelle, yes every country is the same. My understanding is (Compassion staff, please correct me if I am wrong) that different area’s of study require a different time commitment as well. Juan David will be in the University for 6 years. An accounting student would likely be a 4 year commitment-so that’s something to consider going in as well. When I consider the lives that will be touched by Juan David during his life as a Christian physician, it makes the investment seem pretty small.

  8. Nina
    Mar 4, 2010
    at 8:03 am

    This is awesome beyond words. Thank you so much for posting the video – not a dry eye here, for sure! What a special young man – many thanks go to his previous sponsor, and the firefighters, who have helped to make this possible.
    It just boggles my mind to see what is possible, when these kids, who otherwise had no hope, have just that little support and encouragement. How blessed we are, as sponsors, to be able to be a part of this.

  9. michael patterson
    Jun 8, 2011
    at 7:21 am

    Annabelle, I agree! Be sure to work with Compassion before you pursue this, though. It is extra work for Compassion, and they will be able to give ways to streamline the process. One person needs to be in charge of collecting the money, receiving letters, etc. I copy all Juan David’s letters 12 times and distribute them. I collect money from each sponsor every 6 months and send it in. You can contact me through OurCompassion if you would like.

    • Jun 8, 2011
      at 12:07 pm

      Good to know–thanks for the tip! I am not ready for this yet, as I recently started sponsoring another child, but I would love to do this at some point. It would be great to get my family on board. . .I have time to plant some seeds :)

© 2008-2014 Compassion International. All Rights Reserved.
ECFA Charity Navigator BBB