the truth is Dear Compassion Blog Reader,

My name is Darren. I work for Compassion, but I don’t sponsor a child.

No need to clean your glasses. I actually wrote that.

So as not to sully the good names of the many, many Compassion employees who do sponsor children, I should point out that technically I’m a Compassion contractor. I’ve been working on the Web Team since October 2010.

It’s a job that I’m growing to love, and the people I work with are superb. Day in and day out, I get to do bloggy, Facebooky, Tweety things that truly interest me.

There’s just this nagging thing. I don’t sponsor a child.

Not a soul on my work team has told me I need to sponsor a child, but it’s become the elephant in my private room now that I’ve seen how passionate – I mean truly passionate – Compassion employees are about releasing kids from poverty in Jesus’ name.

When I first set foot in Compassion’s Global Ministry Center (GMC) in August 2010, I was a skeptic of the highest order regarding gigantic charities, especially those that claim to rescue kids from this, that or the other.

Had I not dug deeper, I could have rebuffed the oversized statue of Jesus in the lobby of the GMC as a waste of money rather than appreciating the artist’s deliberate point of making Lord Jesus larger than life, which He certainly is.

I’m not exactly sure why I don’t sponsor a child, but here are my usual reasons:

  • I did it once but it wasn’t a commitment of the heart, and I don’t want to leave a kid hanging again.
  • I have four kids.
  • I’m busy.
  • I’m stressed.
  • I really can’t afford it. (If I had to pick one that’s the most legit, this is it.)
  • I drive an old car.
  • I’m Canadian.
  • I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed.
  • Etc.

I’m a reasonably educated, well-traveled guy. I pay attention to the world. I’ve had my boots on all sorts of ground, done charitable work in foreign places, been around the block.

So what?

After working with Compassion for two and a half months, I’m about to explode with the need to get involved with a kid. Imagine being saturated in “Compassionese” all day every day and that not rub off on you? You’d have to be pretty heartless. I guess it’s a good sign that I’m getting pretty uncomfortable about not sponsoring a child!

So, I’m asking you now, dear reader, where do I start? I don’t mean in a literal way. I know I can “pick a kid” off the website and get going. I mean, how do I prepare my heart for the commitment? How do I take on the burden that God’s placing in my heart and not see it confused with condemnation?

So many of you sponsor kids, often many at a time, and I am anxious to hear from you. I’m anxious to get going, to really change a child’s life in the New Year.

I just want to get it right.

Your Friend,
Darren

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  1. Jeannette Peterson
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 2:29 am

    Hi Darren,
    I sponsor two Compassion girls one in Rwanda and one in Indonesia. Both of them thanked me for sponsoring them in their first letter. Both of them call me Mom.
    Be ready for expressions of love, Yvette from Rwanda told me she loved me and was proud of me (in her first letter) Wulan from Indonesia told me that she wanted to make me proud of her (in her first letter).
    The relationship you build with your sponsored child will depend on you. I write at least once a month and have sent birthday and family gifts. I feel privileged to be part of their journey as they grow into beautiful women of God. The letters they have sent back have become increasingly personal as they have learnt about me.
    If you are willing to write letters….you are a techie you can send them by email. Go for it,
    If you don’t want to write letters, donate to Complimentary Interventions or Child Survival.

    Ps It is Tax Deductible, the government pays for it if you do it right, so you can afford it.

  2. Jo Anna
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 5:00 am

    Darren, It took several years for God to grasp my heart and plunge me into child sponsorship–I must admit I was skeptical. The Lord had to work on me. My heart was for the country of Guatemala and I wanted to sponsor a girl close in age to our daughters. I prayed for the Lord to show me which child He wanted us to sponsor. As I looked at the children’s photos online, the Lord directed me unmistakenly to our sponsored child. In a very clear way, He confirmed to me she was the one. 100% sure. We finally got to meet her last year on a Compassion Sponsor Tour and we look forward to bringing our daughters next time we visit Guatemala.As everyone says, the letters are so important to your sponsored child and we also get excited when we receive a letter from our sweet Petronila! May God bless you on your journey, Darren!

  3. Jan 3, 2011
    at 5:14 am

    I went on a media trip to Haiti and Dominican Republic a few years back with Compassion Australia. Our family already sponsors a child through another Christian aid agency, an agency that I’d briefly worked for in the past, so I didn’t really have any plans to sponsor a child through Compassion.

    My task was to gather audio to play for my radio listeners. I needed to create programming for our annual Compassion Day, encouraging our audience to get involved in releasing children from poverty.

    Yep, you guessed it. When Compassion Day rolled around our family made the decision to sponsor a boy from Haiti. We’ve been sponsoring Collens ever since.

    Seeing the work of Compassion first hand convinced me that even though our finances are always tight, we needed to stretch things just a little further so that we could invite Collens to join our family.

  4. Becky
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 5:31 am

    Darren,

    Those excu….reasons sound SO familiar to me……I have 5 kids, not enough money, etc,,etc… but when I sit at my laptap and watch my kids doing the usual “hey Mom, do you know where my DS is?” or “Hey mom, sneakers on sale for only $70. Then I look at the faces on the Compassion site, who would be happy for a clean drink of water, a pair of mismatched shoes, or even a postcard from someone who cares. I click on the SPONSOR button, and the heart takes care of itself as soon as I click.

  5. Jan 3, 2011
    at 5:52 am

    Darren, I’m kindof in the same boat that you’re in (well, I was a couple of years ago before I “picked a kid”). I had sponored a child before, when I was in college, but had to discontinue because I really had no money coming in. And this was back when it cost about half of what it is now. So, yeah, when I felt burdened to sponsor again, I didn’t want to start again, only to leave a kid hanging should I not be able to afford it.

    As far as not being able to afford it, I’ve taken a paycut recently, and even though there are plenty of ways to spend my sponsorship money (other than on my kids), I can’t imagine dropping my sponsorship in order to have the money go elsewhere. It’s just not that important. I can either do without something, or wait a bit while I save up the money. And God has been gracious enough to allow me to take care of my bills, and do extra–technically I’m spending more on karate lessons than I am on sponsoring my kids. :)

    So, to answer your question about how to prepare your heart, to make sure you’re doing what God actually wants you to do (rather than doing it out of guilt or an obligation since you work for Compassion), pray about it. Tell God your concerns. Ask Him to show you how you can come up with the sponsorship money each month. (Chances are you won’t miss it.)

  6. Lindy
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 6:21 am

    Hi Darren, I like your honesty and your Blog:) For me, getting started always involves a child grabbing my heart–or maybe I should say the Lord Jesus grabs my heart through a particular child or country. I think so often of the story in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus, who was “laid at” the rich man’s gate. Every time Mr. Rich Man wanted to go anywhere, there was Lazarus, still in desperate need! Somehow the humanity and the needs of Lazarus never grabbed Mr. Rich Man’s heart. Our family is constantly praying for at least one unsponsored child, and we also pray for specific countries where there are special needs. Somehow in all the praying, there will periodically be a child that becomes, like Lazarus, constantly there, “at our gate”, and the love starts to grow until we can’t help praying for a way to be able to afford to sponsor that child. It’s amazing to see the ways God provides, and you’ll be stunned at the joy that is yours when you get to be God’s instrument of love for that one, special little person! I’d really encourage you to start praying faithfully with your family for at least one unsponsored child, and wait and see who God “lays at your gate”.

  7. Jan 3, 2011
    at 6:41 am

    Darren,

    Thanks for posting this. It comes from the heart and I understand your current feelings and how nagging and overbearing they can be. I didn’t sponsor a Compassion child for a long time, although I always heard about them from church and other people. It wasn’t until I had prayed and found a deeper connection with God that I had a heart for helping out children who can’t help themselves. I now work with a non-profit, CURE International, that treats illness and disease in foreign countries while spreading the name of Jesus. I love it and feel like I just can’t get enough.

    So, my first suggestion is to pray for the heart to love a Compassion child, whichever one God shows you later on down the line. He will never give you too much to handle and knows exactly what you, and your Compassion child, need.

    Hope this helps!

  8. Teresa
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:01 am

    Darren,
    Here is my suggestion: PRAY! It’s clear God is speaking to you, so what do you do to prepare your heart for Him in any situation? You PRAY! Pray God will make it clear which child He wants to match you with. Pray you will make a “forever” committment to this child, not just sponsor for a few months and let it go. Pray you will really connect with this child. And then get ready to write, and write frequently! :-)

    I saw you said you have 4 children of your own. Get them involved! Even if they are young and can’t write letters yet, they can join you in prayer for this child, and learn about their country and culture. My daughter was 3 when we starting sponsoring, and God has worked in her heart in such huge ways through the relationships we have with our sponsored children. She views them as brothers / sisters.

    Jump in my friend! Your sponsored child will be blessed, and so will your own family. God is eagerly waiting for you to take the plunge!

    Teresa

  9. Kaila
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:19 am

    Pray. That is the most important thing you need to do. Ask God to help you become the sponsor of the child that needs you most in their life, and who you need most in your life. Pray that he will use you to spread his love where it is most needed and that he will use your sponsorship to draw you closer to Him. You don’t have to use this exact prayer, but it is very important to pray. Also important to remember is that sponsorship is a way to share love with a child, not a way to ease our guilt about being more fortunate or make us feel good (though it can do those things, too).
    Other than that, just be prepared to write. A lot. Good luck!
    =)
    -Kaila

  10. Christopher Payne
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:29 am

    I still have my wisdom teeth, and I’m an American, but all of your other reasons are similar to my life. All I can say is that our Compassion sponsorship has changed the lives of my wife and four kids. We’ve been sponsoring for about 3 years, and in the time I’ve had the opportunity to become a Child Advocate. I love Compassion and it’s ministry of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

  11. Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:32 am

    I obviously have no idea of your financial situation, but for me, it was the realization that no matter how “poor” I consider myself to be by American standards, these kids are soooooo far beyond that. I have a job. I probably make more in a week than most of them do in a year, even though I consider it living paycheck to paycheck. When I look at my house, and think about theirs… when I use my electricity and running water and tv and computer… and then I see the pictures of how they live — it gives a whole new meaning to “Can I afford it?” That, for me, is what grew me to sponsoring 8 kids — and each time I’ve added a child after another nudge from God, He’s provided the money to pay for it. I think preparing your heart for committment is simply the acknowledgement that you are so wealthy by comparison and God has blessed you with this wealth in order to meet the needs of this child who has nothing and to give him the tools he needs to grow up and be able to provide for himself and his family and to do great things for God in his family, his community, his country. It’s a mission field — and you’re this one child’s #1 missionary.

    • Sarah
      Jan 3, 2011
      at 4:47 pm

      YES YES YES!

    • Frances Michaels
      Jan 3, 2011
      at 10:35 pm

      You’re right .- our sponsorship done right is a mission field and we are missionaries to these children. I had not thought about it in those terms but God is growing me in this. Thank you for this thought.

  12. Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:39 am

    Darren,

    Thank you for your honesty and transparency, it is appreciated. I had to chuckle a few times — I’m not surprised that being immersed in “Compassionese” for a few months has led your heart to begin a sponsor and child relationship that will be life changing for both of you.

    I have wonderful news, Darren — you ask “Where do I start?” The answer is “You’ve already begun.” God has spoken sponsorship into your heart, and you have felt Him lead you here – your heart is ready to be changed by a child you don’t yet know by name. God knows this child’s name, God chose this child for you long before either of you took a breath!

    You’ve already begun, so now, please continue — continue by praying for this child, honest, heartfelt prayers — day in, day out. When you eat, pray for this child, pray he or she has food to eat. When you put your clothes on in the morning, pray for this child… when you drive to work, pray for this child’s caretakers and their own work. When you clean your house, pray for this child’s shelter or home, that it keeps them safe and warm, and that it is protected. Envision the child and the conditions that he or she may be living in, envision the child going to bed at night praying for you — Darren, this child is already praying for you, praying for a sponsor just like you, a sponsor who will love them enough to continue to follow God’s lead in caring for His lambs… a child you have already committed to with love by asking questions and wanting to be the best sponsor you can be.

    Write a letter to your sponsor-child-to-be, telling him or her that you have been led by God to sponsor, and that you have begun to pray for him or her, even though you don’t know them by name. What an incredible letter it will be for this child to receive once God has brought you to him or her by name.

    Once you have been praying for him or her, begin to pray for God to lead you to the one He has chosen for you. Trust me, when you see him/her, you WILL know. It could take some time. For our 9th sponsor child, God gave me the name “Sam”, and it took me two weeks to find him — Ato Sam (Ghana) was so very much worth it.

    Speaking of Ato Sam — I understand the “I can’t afford this” excuse — (I don’t understand the I am Canadian one, LOL, because I’m Canadian too!) — we sponsor 10 kids, 3 of which are correspondence sponsorships. We’re not “rich” by North American standards, we live paycheck to paycheck like most people, but sponsorship simply became a financial and spiritual priority. When it came to sponsoring Ato Sam, we were already at what we felt was our “max”, but we were called again… I had to ask myself if it was just my own heart longing for one more, or if it was God’s calling for us. I admit, I was apprehensive of the financial commitment, but that’s when God showed me that this is where He fills the gap. Darren, it’s not our money to begin with, He provides it, so He should be able to do with it as He pleases, with OUR wholehearted blessing. He provides for us so that we may provide for them — He is a faithful provider, trust Him.

    Will you let us know when God leads to to a specific child, and how things go? We’d love a series on building a relationship from the start, from before the match is made… this is going to be great!

    So, I’m asking you now, dear reader, where do I start? I don’t mean in a literal way. I know I can “pick a kid” off the website and get going. I mean, how do I prepare my heart for the commitment? How do I take on the burden that God’s placing in my heart and not see it confused with condemnation?

    So many of you sponsor kids, often many at a time, and I am anxious to hear from you. I’m anxious to get going, to really change a child’s life in the New Year.

    I just want to get it right.

  13. Jan 3, 2011
    at 8:02 am

    Dear Darren, We sponsored our first student in February 2010. I had no idea what an amazing journey this would be! Even without my wisdom teeth.

    My advice is to start by joining OurCompassion. Sponsors gather there to ask questions, talk about their Compassion experience, share tips & ideas, and support one another.

    Recently, folks talked about their journey in 2010 with Compassion. http://www.ourcompassion.org/?p=journal&id=5713706301185379708&from=profile&pid=

  14. Denise Brown
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 8:58 am

    Hi, Darren. I love your honesty! My husband and I are blessed to be able to sponsor three little girls (in Nicaragua, Haiti and Uganda). I’m anxious to do more, but as you’re aware, we must commit only what our finances will allow. When you’re sure you can afford it and won’t leave a child hanging – that is critical – it doesn’t do a child any good if they get a sponsor for only a few months, only to lose them – so, once you’re sure, you’ll find when the budget strings get tightened, the child will be the one thing you do NOT consider cutting from the budget. We know we will cut everything else before our girls. I also encourage you with this … God makes a way .. when we give with joyful, willing hearts, He makes a way and blesses us to continue giving to these little girls, in His name.

    I know you will sponsor a child in His time. He’s surely touching your heart and preparing you. :-)

    God Bless,
    Denise

  15. Heather
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:03 am

    Darren,
    My husband and I just got our first Compassion child while at the Creation music festival this summer. All week we kept saying, “We’d love to, but…” However, at the last service God overrode both of us and all of our rationales, and we decided that if this was something God wanted us to do, He would provide us with the means to do so. I can’t say we’re as involved as many other people are, but we pray for our “far-away friend” in India each night with our children, and have written to him at least a couple of times. We’re still learning, but I am so blessed just to know that we are blessing this little boy across the world.
    Don’t over think. Don’t try to make your expectations too high. Be faithful in taking the first step, and God will do the rest.
    Blessings, brother!

  16. Jean
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:07 am

    I get it Darren. You sound like me except for one thing – The one reason you didn’t give is- how can I be sure they will use the money correctly to make a difference? A few years ago my children were sponsoring Compassion kids, I wasn’t. It ate at me, it nagged at me. Eventually I faced the elephant, did my research and, because I could not ‘pick a kid’ – the need was so great – I put one on my Christmas list. Said if someone would ‘pick’ for me and bug me to write or write for me, I would sponsor one. My daughter gave me a beautiful silver framed photo and description of Brayan of Peru for Christmas and I wrote him every month for 1 1/2 years.

    Then, while cruising through the Compassion site in preparation to volunteer at a concert, my heart was snagged by a little girl in Kenya. I found myself sitting at the computer on a Saturday afternoon bawling for God to find Judith a sponsor. I could not get her off my heart. On Monday morning I got a letter from Compassion that Brayan would no longer be in the program. Needless to say, God had already put the wheels in motion for me to know who my next child would be! LOL

    Now, it turns out my daughter is going to Kenya as a full-time medical missionary, so, maybe, she will meet Judith one day.

    Face the elephant head-on. Ask God to show you how to afford it, what you need to change. Unless, of course, by the time you get this, He has already made that clear. And get your kids to write the letters with you. Whichever one reminds you and writes it with you gets a special time with Dad alone- a walk, an ice cream, a bike ride…. THAT will ensure those letters get written and will open the hearts of your children to the world.

  17. Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:09 am

    I had been avoiding sponsoring a child for years. Every concert my husband & I would go to, we’d get bombarded with amazing stories that hurt our hearts but I’d dismiss it & move on. I mean, I’m a stay at home mom of 3, we can’t afford it plus we have debt & Dave Ramsey would want us to pay off debt first.

    Well, our church does an event called OnePrayer. One weekend, a Compassion advocate person was there. This specific weekend was devoted to Compassion Intern. The hubby & I walked out of the message, past the table of photos & headed for the doors. Then I felt a prompting, “I’m just gonna look at the pictures.” It was when my husband showed me a picture of a 3 year old Ecuadorian boy did I realize if I walked out of that church without a child I might be struck by lightening. I knew God was yelling at me to sponsor a child.

    We left the church with a then 3 year old gir named Jersy from Ecuador. Could we afford it then? No. Has God provided the $38.00 every month since? YES! My family has never gone without in our sponsoring of Jersy. We realized our lawn doesn’t need to be weed free. Jersy probably doesn’t even have a lawn. All of those roll over minutes we have should be a sign we don’t need that plan, so we lowered the plan tons cheaper one.

    There were ways we could save. But in our efforts to support Jersy, we have opened a door for God to support us. Go for it!

    • Jan 3, 2011
      at 9:58 am

      Haha Dave Ramsey. . .yeah, I am still in debt, but I still knew it was time to sponsor a child

  18. Mike H
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:23 am

    Hey Darren,

    Sounds like you have already started on the journey. I’ve read through the other comments and all have good advice – Pray, join OC, ask questions, look through the website of children waiting for sponsors.

    Last year one of my sister’s decided she wanted to sponsor a child. She looked at all those lovely faces and so many of them tore at her heart. She called me and asked how I chose the ones I sponsor. My response – I didn’t, they chose me. If it is meant to be, one will stand out from all the rest. You will read them, maybe even look at a few others; but you will come back to that one. The one chosen for you.
    My only other comment is if you do sponsor a child – WRITE. Monthly is best, every other month works too – just answer their letters. It doesn’t really matter what you write – it’s that you have written. From my own experience and hearing of other sponsors experience; your letters will have a dramatic life-changing impact on your child. One person commented about the thrill of receiving a letter – take that and multiply it by 10 and that is the minimum amount of joy you will bring to the child.

    I have been to see most of my children and have met many children whose sponsors do not write. You can tell a diffenerce in those that receive letters and those that don’t.
    Many of mine call me Dad in their letters. I have 49 sponsored children, 1 LDP student and 2 correspondence children + 2 grown son’s.

    You will know when you are called to sponsor a child. Make a difference in their life.

  19. Jennifer
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:25 am

    Darren,
    We are on a tight budget, so here is what we do: we use a portion of our tax returns and/or our annual bonus to pay for our child for the year, as well as to cover birthday and Christmas gifts for her and give an annual gift to her family. We find that this works better for us financially. We might not be rich, but we definitely want to share. So every year, that is how we make it work!

    The photos we receive of our child grinning ear to ear because of the necessities we are providing for her and her family are enough to fuel our commitment. The letters we receive from her are enough for us to NEVER want to let her go. I hope this helps!

    Jennifer

  20. Kit
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:31 am

    Many of us “can’t afford it.” If people knew how much we were “spending” on Compassion, they’d probably lecture us– after all, we have 3 kids and raise our own support as stateside missionaries! But when God places it on your heart to give to someone, he provides a way. $38 a month is probably how much you’d spend taking your family out to eat or to see a movie, or it’s a pair of shoes or jeans. I know that we already skimp on stuff like that a lot in our family, but still, looking at it that way helps me see that it’s not really that much of a sacrifice for people like me who are very blessed compared to many. If I want to spend $40 on something, I usually can. So I decide to spend it on this instead of something else. You’ll definately figure it out, and God will help you.

    And your own kids will thank you too! I love getting my kids involved with Compassion, they love to pray for the children, write letters or draw pictures for them, etc. Do it for their sakes too, you’ll enjoy all learning and being blessed together!

  21. Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:38 am

    Darren, praying for you. It is life changing but you already know that because you are being changed….

    We sponsor ONE child with Compassion. The other child we sponsor is through another child sponsorship organization. I have seen how both organizations work…. Compassion being the one that is real…

    so true…. you will just fall in love with YOUR sponsored child. They will YOU.

    be blessed

  22. Nick Horton
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:41 am

    Darren, listen to the spirit of God. You’ve felt His conviction. Act. You know you can afford the monthly cost of sponsoring a child. You know the huge effects it will have in their life. The only thing stopping you at this point, is you. Don’t let you get in the way of doing something for God’s glory. It’s a beautiful thing to bring hope to the hopeless. God has blessed my wife and I with the ability to sponsor three children so far. I can’t imagine not having done it now.

  23. Miss Anna
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:51 am

    I first heard about Compassion at a MWS concert. I cautiously raised my hand to accept an info packet, thinking, “I love kids, but what in the world am I doing?” When I looked at the child’s info, I saw that her birthday is the day after mine, and that sealed the deal for me. I don’t know if this helps or not, but you’ll know in your knower when you’ve found the right one.
    Now I volunteer at concerts and totally love helping other people find their “right one.”
    Blessings to you!

  24. debbie
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:51 am

    I always wondered if people that work for Compassion all sponsor kids. Now I know.
    1. If you aren’t a member yet, you need to join http://www.ourcompassion.org When we are done with you there, you will not be able to count the number of kids you have :)
    2. I don’t think your heart can ever be prepared for the stuff these kids write. It just changes you, so just do it, it’s time, think no more.

  25. Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:58 am

    Darren,

    First off, as a Canadian is it really $38 anymore? You would probably come out ok with the exchange rates. Secondly, it is a life changer for the person you sponsor. As a child advocate, I attended my first training last fall and listened to how a sponsor changed the life of a Bolivian boy now man. He went from eating bone soup to a college graduate, international consultant and current seminary student at Moody’s. Third, the biggest roadblock is the economics. I think of it in terms of what I need to give up to be a sponsor myself. For my family of four it is less than one very average meal at Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc. It is less than a decent meal and far less than an above average meal. Fourth, it will be a life changer for you and your walk with God. There will be a child in one of 23 countries who will have benefited from your commitment to lift the truly poor out of poverty. It will be the best $38 you will spend.

  26. Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:10 am

    Not to rehash what others have already said, but I was once a skeptic–can they REALLY rescue children from poverty?–but now I totally believe in the Compassion commitment.

    Maybe you could start by becoming a Compassion correspondent? It would be like getting your feet wet. I very much doubt that once you get excited about corresponding with/encouraging a child that you won’t want to actually become a sponsor.

    Above all, be sure to get your kids involved in it. I know that I can bless a child’s life by providing $38/month, but the blessings have been all ours! I love how our children are learning to think beyond themselves and recognize how MUCH they have (even if it is considered just a little in the U.S.).

  27. Stacy
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:18 am

    Darren, maybe God wants you to …

    Just do it.

    (It’ll bless your socks off, I promise!)

  28. Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:24 am

    Darren, a couple of other people have said some of what I’ve thought, as I read your post and other comments: Don’t over-think; just jump in.

    I haven’t thought this through entirely, but see if this makes sense: “I think I’m ready to commit my life to Christ, but I tried it once before, and I failed. I’d like to try again, but I don’t want to leave God hanging, again. How do I prepare myself to be sure I will stick with it/do a good job/really mean it, this time?”

    That’s certainly not a perfect parallel, because God is patient, whereas a child longs to be chosen, encouraged and loved. But the nature of commitment is this: It is an act of the will. Whenever we’re contemplating any kind of change, action usually (if not always) precedes feelings.

    When I first began sponsoring, I chose two girls: Denisse jumped out at me from the packet, and I knew she was “mine.” Then I looked over all the packets on the table, looking for one more to jump out at me. After several minutes, during which time I had looked at every packet at least twice, I just shrugged, picked up a packet and said, “It really doesn’t matter, does it.”

    With the first letter from Tausi (TZ), I knew God had chosen her for me. Oh, the relationship we have formed! I have visited Denisse three times (she’s in the Dom. Rep.), and yet I don’t feel the bond with her that I believe Tausi and I have formed.

    I let Compassion send me a packet for my third child; all I said was, “I want a girl from DR-502, between 6-10 years old.” Maria and I also have a bond, which so far has survived a couple of challenges.

    I also let Compassion send me a packet for an older child, and with Uwizera’s first “Thank you” letter (for a birthday gift, she began teaching me things I had not fully learned; e.g., what it really means to give back to God with a cheerful heart, and what it means to be truly grateful.

    It. does. not. matter. how you choose. Just choose, or let someone at Compassion choose for you. Jump in. Let God deal with your heart and see how He changes you and your life.

    And, yes, get your children involved! If they’re very young, let them make little paper gifts to send with your letters. Send family photos–include your pets.

    • Sarah
      Jan 3, 2011
      at 4:37 pm

      What a wonderful post!

  29. Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:34 am

    Hi Darren! Nice to finally “meet” you (kind of). You know, you could sponsor a child through Compassion Canada. :)

  30. Darren Thornberry
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:39 am

    Hey everybody! I am blown away by all these encouraging comments. It’s great to be part of the Compassion community, and I really appreciate all that has been said!!

    • Jan 3, 2011
      at 4:05 pm

      We can’t wait to see whom you choose (or who chooses you!), when the time is right. ;-)

  31. Vicki
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:40 am

    Darren….our daughter started sponsoring a little girl in India when our daughter was 13…when she was 17 she went to India and met her little girl…our daughter is now 21. Her passion and COMPASSION played on our hearts for a long time til we began sponsoring a little girl in Uganda 3 years ago. Her visit to India and sharing with us what she saw and learned (especially about Compassion Intl.) only solidified our resolve to support Compassion ministries. What a blessing! We prayed for many months before taking the step of doing it because of being led to vs. doing it out of guilt or because our daughter was. It truly must be a commitment from the heart. BTW…our daughter plans to go back to India in 2012 with her husband to see her child again.

  32. Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:50 am

    You were me once. And if I could change one thing in my life, it would be that I wish I had sponsored a child when my children were the age of your children. I wish they had grown up with a child – written that child – then gone to visit that child. You see, it’s not always about you :)

    And now look — my 4 kids have so changed my heart that I’m an advocate! Why? Because one little life — one life you can touch and feel — matters.

    You don’t have to write them – let your children do that. Match one up by age. Then match the next child — and the next. I plan on doing this with my grandchildren since I was too ignorant to do this with my own children.

    So learn from my mistake. Don’t wait. And if you need help, I’ll pick one out for you :) I know I’d find just the right one :)

  33. Jan 3, 2011
    at 11:27 am

    Wow — I appreciate your honesty. I think when you look at the child packets, one will “talk” to you. It happens every time. You will know who it is. Though the stats are overwhelming, the plan is to help just one child at a time, exactly the way Jesus did. You will completely impact that child’s life forever. Also — I think you will realize later — as the child begins to impact your life — that God is the one that chose that particular child for you.

  34. Bonnie
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 11:37 am

    I wish I could say that sponsoring has been a great experience for me, but it hasn’t. I don’t feel that my kid is particularly enthusiastic about my sponsorship. His letters are very short and to the point, and even though I routinely keep sending them, he never seems grateful. Please don’t think that I am doing this for the wrong reason, because I know that God wants me to be doing it. I’ve invested a lot of money for years, and I just wish it was a better experience for the both of us.

    • barb
      Jan 3, 2011
      at 1:07 pm

      not every child is able to write those marvelous letters some rave about, that doens’t mean that they don’t appreciate everything they are receiving — just like all of us, some people are better at expressing themselves than others — remember different countries have different definitions of how to show thanks too — talk to someone at compassion about your concerns/frustrations — sometimes they have info that might help too.

    • Sarah
      Jan 3, 2011
      at 5:32 pm

      As a kid growing up without the challenge of poverty, I was terrible at expressing myself. Your child is growing up in poverty and may be in a culture where writing letters is strange to them. And if they have a language with a difficult writing system, it is even tougher. Your child is probably very grateful but doesn’t know how to say it. =) If you are able to, go visit your child, that will solve your doubts.

    • Danielle
      Jan 3, 2011
      at 5:41 pm

      I’m sorry that you haven’t had a great experience. Even when we know it’s what God wants us to do, it’s still easy to feel disappointed when it’s not going like we think it should. Some of my sponsored kids have definitely seemed less enthusiastic than others. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get a good understanding of your child’s personality and develop a great relationship through letters (not that it can’t be done or isn’t, just that for some it’s really difficult). Think about times when someone has encouraged you or helped you out in someway and about how much it meant to you. I know, that I am not always good at telling the person how grateful I am, but I still treasure those things all the same. I pray that you have a breakthrough with your sponsored child, and your experience improves!

    • Caitlin
      Jan 4, 2011
      at 1:22 am

      I have a sponsored child who rarely reciprocates. His letters are rare, vague, and redundant. There have been times where I feel like burying his letters in the flower bed might do more good than actually sending them. It has been nearly two years now, and the status has not changed, but about 6 months ago, God changed my heart about it. God gave me the understanding that just because I am not seeing the results, does not mean there are no results. Someone brought me a video of one of my letters being read to him. He leaned in so close as the letter was being read, so eagerly, I thought he might grasp onto it before the translator was done reading it to him…and I realized, I never see that, but he truly yearns for the love I send him.

      It is like throwing water over a brick wall. We may not be able to see what is on the other side, but we could be watering a garden that is only just beginning to flourish. Maybe the children we get the least response from are the children who need the most effort poured out.

      Keep it up. I have no doubt your child is grateful and treasures you. I know it’s hard, corresponding with so little response, and you have my respect for continuing to do so.

      • Sarah
        Jan 6, 2011
        at 4:07 pm

        Caitlin, I hope you realise how encouraging this is to read. You should post it on ourcompassion too.

  35. Mary Choi
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 12:08 pm

    I truly truly love the honesty of this post. I started sponsoring since college for me the money has never really been an issue. Sure, I was a poor college student, but really, I never missed the money because I knew it was being better spend on my sponsor child. The letters though.. I always felt guilty about not writing enough.

    Here is a truth: The sponsor is more blessed through sponsorship than the child. Sponsoring a child is the BEST thing in the world. Your child will adore you. Your self-esteen will sky rocket. And more than likely, if you don’t see your child on earth, you might be able to see them in heaven. I have no idea how many I’ve helped to turn to Jesus, but I know that at least for my sponsor kis, I’ve had some hand in it. =) There’s a reason why God blessed me with financial resources, I believe that one of those reasons is so that I can help his little ones.

  36. Sayari
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 12:45 pm

    Hi Darren,

    It was nice to read your post. You are so honest about your feelings. I am very skeptical in nature too, but sponsoring kids is a different thing. I don’t have much money too, I am on and off jobs all the time with no steady income as such. But I have opened myself to God and let Him work through me. It is always nice to share not just money, but thoughts and ideas with those little kids I sponsor. I will be very proud to see them grow up to responsible, compassionate people. It will change you too, for the better. There will be a kid who’ll always keep you in his/her prayers. You can impact a kid’s life with your positive thoughts, well wishes, experience and prayers. Believe me, it means a lot to the underprivileged.
    I hope you’ll make a difference in some kid’s life very soon. God bless you!

  37. Sarah T
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 1:38 pm

    If you really can’t afford it, and yet you want to do it, is there something you could sacrifice to fund your sponsorship, like … I don’t know … do you buy a newspaper every day?

    I don’t think guilt is a great starting-point. There should be a desire in your heart to reach out to a child. When a friend told me about Compassion – that you could write and get letters back, I knew it was something I wanted to do, but I wanted to budget first and be sure I could make the commitment. Once I decided I could, I chose my first child – Jennylyn. I was overwhelmed by my first reply letter. I had written an introductory letter, saying about my family, and Jennylyn’s grandmother mentioned my sister by name! I was an influence in their lives; my letter had been read! We could have a meaningful relationship.

    Then Christmas came – my first as a Compassion-sponsor. I got the E-mail with the “Sponsor Another Child” link at the end. I didn’t realise it was a standard E-mail, sent out every Christmas, so I thought about it. I decided yes, I could afford another, and Cindy came along. I thought I would stick with two …

  38. Jan 3, 2011
    at 1:50 pm

    Hi.
    We refused to sponsor children while we were raising our five. I see now that we were horribly in error.
    One day, watching the news, our family of five, 18, 17, 15, 13 & 11 saw a family of five, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, that needed a home, and asked if we could adopt them. No bother that we were lily white, and these five were dark, dark brown…they were kids that needed a home. The comment was “they will finish our stair steps! They will fit right in!”
    We were not able to foster those children, but I see now that our children wanted to reach out, and touch, and give to other children what they had been enjoying at home!

    Several years ago, we sponsored children, nearest to our children’s birthdates. But out children were grown up, and I was embarrassed to tell them about it. So, fast forward to this year, and we gave part of their Christmas money to the compassion children sponsored in their honor.
    “Cool!”
    “This one’s mine?”
    “How long?”
    What’s life like there?”

    I sponsored children in honor of our children way too late…but there is still time for you. Share Compassion with your children. They will thank you forever, and you will never regret it!

  39. Amy Schultz
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 2:55 pm

    It took me several weeks to figure out who to sponsor. Our church had a Compassion Sunday in July, and they had several info packets up in front of the church and there was one that was tugging @ my heart the first time I saw her picture….. she lives in Thailand and I have a heart for Asians because when I was younger I had two Asian foster sisters, and right now I’m thinking about sponsoring another child that will “tug” @ my <3!(:

  40. June Gauss
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 3:16 pm

    Darren-
    This is what God spoke to my heart with the second child I sponsored. “June, this is not a yes or no question, this is a matter of her eternity.” I now sponsor three girls. When God calls you to sponsor, He provides the finances…believe me, I’m proof!!! God will speak to you in His still small voice…..

  41. Jan 3, 2011
    at 3:22 pm

    Darren, as for preparing your heart for the commitment – just like in marriage, I don’t think you truly can (not that sponsorship is equivalent to marriage). When you get married it’s a huge decision, yet there’s no possible way to truly understand the commitment until challenges are faced.

  42. Jan 3, 2011
    at 4:03 pm

    Darrin, God is about to unfold a living gift right before your eyes. Anticipate this child like one of your biological children you waited for 9 months to meet face to face. This child is God’s precious gift to your life and heart. Now, think about your own little ones as being hungry, dirty, and sick, with no one to encourage and love them; without hope. What links would you go to in order to see them rescued from that hopelessness? 401 K’s are not secure, we have witnessed that truth but investing in the life of a child will pay eternal benefits not only for your sponsored child but for you and your entire family. Who knows, you may even find yourself rescued from the lie of poverty. You may not change the world but you WILL change the world for one child and all those little Thornberry’s.

    • Frances Michaels
      Jan 3, 2011
      at 10:49 pm

      beautifully said!

  43. Mike Stephens
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 4:21 pm

    well,

    when I first started in 2006 I never would have guessed that I would be visiting kids in Nicaragua, the Philipppines, and Tanzania and hopefully Indonesia in July ;) I still remember working the night shift at Wal-mart saving to go to Nicaragua in 2008 and hoping the world would implode. Driving a taxi like crazy and saving $4299 in about 27 days to pay for the Philippines sponsor tour in 2009 was an adventure. A Christian Rap song I like says “we all got to die and stand in front of the King” and I think my little escapades and efforts with Compassion please God. Not to mention I tell the kids I sponsor I am going to visit them to put pressure on myself to visit so far I have kept good on 3 of my promises with my 3 trips and hope to make good on this 4th one but have promised some things I wasn’t able to get exactly right. One being I was hoping to visit Chamelia in Indonesia this January but looks like it is going to be July. I also was able to send all the kids I sponsor a family gift when I was driving the taxi so that was a blessing for me to give and them to receive ;)

    But here is my thoughts on the whole thing which I heard a wise man once say hahahahahah “God planned before the beginning of time who you would sponsor” so now worries amigo hahahahahahahahhaa

  44. Sarah
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 4:31 pm

    I cannot afford to sponsor a child. I’m on benefit, and pay food, mortgage, bills, etc etc, on that.

    But I sponsor three kids.

    When it came down to it, I just knew this was something God wanted me to do. I prayed. I went and looked on the website. One child stood out to me. I sponsored her.

    Then I felt that prompting again. I prayed. I went on the website. Two little boys tugged at my heartstrings. With difficulty, I chose one.

    Then I sat and cried for five minutes before going back and sponsoring the other.

    At the end of the day, god looks after the lilies of the field and knows when a sparrow falls. I’m not saying that sponsoring won’t land you in financial hardships – sometimes God blesses us through providing the financial means, and sometimes he blesses us in the choices and priorities we learn when we are doing something that, in human terms, is beyond our means. A friend of mine who is going through a nasty divorce had her sponsorship thrown in her face when it came to financial settlements.

    BUT… God will bless you through it, and God will certainly bless the child you sponsor. God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Sponsoring a child on a limited budget may be foolish in the eyes of the world: in the perspective of eternity, it is anything but :)

  45. Sarah
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 5:29 pm

    You have gotten 49 testimonies so far. Is that enough for you to stop making excuses, start trusting God, and start sponsoring a child? ;) Go for it, you won’t regret it.

  46. Jan 3, 2011
    at 5:41 pm

    Darren, I told you I would muster you up a blog post. So here it is!
    My entire life I lived under the whole “I’m just a high school (now college) student who may not have steady income” However, God has always provided abundantly more than what I need to live on. I have been through several events sponsored by both Compassion and World Vision where incentives were offered for new sponsors. No matter how lucrative the gift was (if you see my current Facebook status you will see how much I enjoy free gifts..) I could never bring myself to sponsor a child. We even hosted a Shaun Groves free event at the church that I intern at and I still did not sponsor a child. However, towards the end of this last semester I finally felt God guiding me to sponsor a child. I came here to the website one night after church and selected to sponsor a young boy from Ethiopia with a red heart on his picture (we all know what that means…or at least I assume we do). Knowing that I support a child who had been waiting that long for a sponsor was worth more to me than any of those free gift packets that I have seen at Compassion sponsored events…

  47. Chuck
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:47 pm

    Hi Darren,
    I’m about to visit Franchesca for the 7th time. My wife,granddaughter and I have been sponsoring her since she was 4. She and my granddaughter are 11 now. It’s not about what you can do for your child, but about what your child can do for you. We have been so blessed by Franchesca. If you sponsor a child in Nicaragua, you can hop a plane with us to go visit! I’m a retired school teacher making $24,000 a year. Anyone can afford a Compassion child. The payback smiles and Love are worth millions!

    • Sarah
      Jan 4, 2011
      at 8:30 am

      $24,000 is still a lot higher income than a lot of people!!! :)

  48. Chuck
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:56 pm

    PS Darren, To you and those who cannot afford it. Make Compassion part of tithing- that’s right 10% –God will take care of all your needs and a Compassion Child too. If you can’t start with 10 % try any percent. Since I started tithing 40 years ago, God has provided jobs, vehicles, gifts, grants, and most of all happiness — AND visits to a wonderful Compassion Child.

  49. Rachael Snavely
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 7:56 pm

    Aw, Darren! I feel sorry for you! I’ve sponsored kids ever since I got my first job and I can’t imagine life otherwise! I’m having a hard time being a Compassion Advocate because every time I try to find sponsors for these kids I will always find at least ‘just one more’ for myself–even though I am in college and like you (though admittedly for different reasons) can’t afford any more. But priorities have to be made and decided on; that’s how I’ve sponsored my kids, and even gotten to go see my oldest in Colombia back in May 2009. And yes, I am proud to call them my kids, even though I’m only 25 and single. If someone gives me an odd look, it’s a perfect opportunity to explain and then give them an invitation to sponsor their own child(ren). I hope you get to do so soon too. By the way, when you do get your first one, please come join OurCompassion. I want to see your child. :)

  50. Joan
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 8:17 pm

    Darrin,
    What a refreshing post! I loved it!
    Just one word to answer your question – trust.
    God is most honored when we follow His leading with simple trust in knowing He will show us the next step. He loves it when we depend on Him for all things. Just give the Lord your hand and your wallet – He will do the rest.

  51. Jan 3, 2011
    at 8:34 pm

    Hi, Darren,

    I appreciate your honesty, so I’ll get right to it. :-)

    Well, you probably have read of things by now. I don’t know if I can add a lot to it. I will say what I tell everyone. It takes three things to sponsor a child:

    1. You pray for the child.
    2. You write the child from time to time.
    3. The funding part of the sponsorship, which is $38/month.

    The order of this needs to be considered carefully. Whereas many sponsors tend to look at the sponsorship as a financial commitment, the child looks at the sponsorship first and foremost as a relationship.

    I think the financial part can be taken care of by the vast majority of people. I don’t have a job, I don’t have any welfare payments coming in and I sponsor 15 children. They are very important to me. I’d sell a lot of things, even one of my kidneys, if it was allowed, before I would give them up. I’ve heard of people cutting out cable television, soft drinks, etc…. to financially sponsor a child. But again far more than the money, it is a matter of loving this child.

    Having said that, I am looking for a sponsor for a little boy, named Limbert, who lives with his mother in the south of Cochabamba, Bolivia. He has one sibling. He’s just 4 years old. He likes to play with cars and sing. I taught in his center last summer and it was one of the nicest centers, I’ve ever taught at. If you’d like to find out more about this particular child or want to talk about this, feel free to get in touch with me. Chris has my contact information or you can email me: keesboer@positive-entertainment.com I was there the day, he got registered in the Compassion program and last Wednesday, it was exactly half a year. So, he’s been waitng for a sponsor for a long time.

    Blessings,

    Kees

  52. Jan 3, 2011
    at 8:35 pm

    “Do it right.” I still don’t “do it right” when it comes to sponsorship. There’s so much more I could be doing and what I am doing could be done so much better. But life isn’t about being perfect – just doing what we’re called to do, when we’re called to do it, and letting God take care of the details and grow us along the way. So take the plunge. You’re already a dad who gets the important role that adults play in the lives of kids and vice versa – I’m pretty sure you’ll be a great sponsor. :)
    PS loved the post!

  53. Nancy
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 8:50 pm

    Hello Darren,

    Loved your very candid post (referred from my FB page). I was a struggling single mom back in the 90′s and in 1995 decided to become a sponsor. God was good to bless me to be able to support a child, while sometimes I was struggling to care for my own children. In 2004 I married. Just last month my husband was laid off. We sponsor 2 children and we’re determined to keep providing for them, even as the Lord has always provided for us. It’s a great exercise in faith to trust when the future isn’t always known!

  54. Rita
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:02 pm

    Hey Darren,

    Your heart is in the right place, and now your actions will soon follow. I totally agree with Miss Anna…you will know the right child for you when you see him/her. It’s happened that way for me for the 4 children I’ve had the opportunity to sponsor (at different times). Just open your heart & God will be sure to fill it up. :) Blessings to you!

  55. Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:24 pm

    1) If you have the desire to sponsor, God will arrange the funding. Sounds crazy, but it appears to be true! An example — when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, my husband took a second job so we could continue sponsoring our Compassion kids. The Lord brought him into a job that he has fallen in love with. It’s opening up new pathways in his career. I’m not sure he would ever have sought out a second job if it wasn’t for our sponsorship commitments. It has been a win-win situation and I think God paved the way.

    2) There is a child out there who you will “click” with for some reason. My mother chose a child who lost a parent because HER mother died when she was a baby and she was raised by one parent. She has a heart for children in this situation. My husband thinks I pick children who look shy. Well, I was shy as a kid. It just seems like there’s a child out there for everyone — a child who you can specifically and perfectly minister to.

    3) Sponsoring children is GREAT for your kids. At age 2, my daughter would walk around the house with a mailing envelope and try to stuff her toys in it, to send to our Compassion child. At age 5, she and her friends began gathering around the computer to learn more about kids needing sponsors. (Everyone wants to look up the kids who were born on their birthdays!!) At age 6, she sat on Santa’s lap and told him all about Compassion International and our sponsored children.

    You are showing your children what it means to have a heart, to be a Christian, to care and to share. To love others more than yourself.

    And sponsorship is just plain FUN!!! I love sending letters. I love getting letters. I love watching a child learn and grow. Fun, fun, fun.

  56. Jan 3, 2011
    at 9:36 pm

    Darren,

    If you are still having a hard time following your heart…then pray for clear direction. You would be surprised how the Lord will answer. The thing is being obedient to that answer. It will be one child that will touch your heart and that is where you will begin. Who knows you may end up sponsoring more than one child. And each child will become very dear to you in their own unique way.

    I hope this will help you as you try to over come your objections.

    Praying for you and the child you will liberate from poverty.

    RoseAnn

  57. Susan
    Jan 3, 2011
    at 10:27 pm

    Hi Darren ~
    You mentioned having children… me too. I also had all the excuses, including that I am doing/have done so much indirectly including supporting a youth group that sponsored children. I have one child – an only son whom I had when I was “older” ~ I was so blessed to have my son. I always said “I should’ve had a dozen kids” as I love being a mom..what a privilege and honor! I just started too late. Well, it turns out this past year my son is ill. I have come to learn grief… I have come to see how much of my joy was vested in my child and his future…. how valuable everyday is and how each moment of good health is such a blessing. me… The Lord could take me any day I would expect that …yet, my child?…. my only son?…. After a year plus of seeking the Lord’s face on this I prayed “Lord how do I go on in this valley?… How do I live watching my child suffer? …. The answer was found in a question.. Where have I always found my joy?….. in giving…. giving with abandon… when I’ve been inspired by the Lord to act, I have both feet in…. Yes, this is how to walk in this life … in faith, as we wait the hour with the Lord to see how He will work in our lives and trust that He is sovereign, we continue to release all the good gifts He bestows on us to go forth and bless others ~ even when (perhaps especially when ) things don’t look good for ourselves. This may be the biggest test of faith (Blessed to be a blessing…. not to hold on tightly…. not fear…. boldness….) Streams of Living Water, not a stagnant pond. You see I discovered I can have a dozen children…. and I grieve the years I’ve wasted ….. how many parents have gone before me crying out for help because they’ve seen their children suffering so? How have they, who do not have resources, go forward? Where do they find their joy? where?…. in the smile or the gift from those who Trust in the Lord…. and know the Lord God of Abraham… who instructed the father of our faith that he was “blessed to be a blessing….” I pray that you will take the small step and know the joy…. I know the Lord will honor your commitment.

  58. Caitlin
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 1:09 am

    Ask God to guide you to the child who needs you as much as you need the child. There is at least one kid out there who needs your quirks as much as you might think the kid needs you to be normal/wise/perfect. And then trust God when you find that kid. You’re paired for a reason. And pray that God place the right motive in your heart, and keep it there, even during times of excitement or disappointment.

    Other than that….

    Be prepared:
    -To develop sudden stage fright for an audience of one child in your first couple of letters. (And remember, no matter what you write, that child will still think you are amazing)
    -to dance like a deranged man in front of your mailbox the first time that “Message from you sponsored child” shows up.
    -To open up and be honest about your life and spiritual walk with a __ year old.
    -To be knocked to your knees in humility by that same __ year old.
    -To see God from an entirely new perspective.
    …. remember in the long run, though, it’s not about the letters, you, or the child, but glorifying God.

  59. Rebecca
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 6:18 am

    My opinion may go against the grain here, but I don’t feel that you should sponsor a kid just because you feel like you “should” based on where you work or because you feel the underlined pressure of not sponsoring. If you sponsor a kid when you truly didn’t want to, you’ll probably never write him/her and the relationship won’t be as strong as it might have been if you waited until you were ready. I love the kids I sponsor and I dedicate so much time and heart to them, but it isn’t for every one. If you want to sponsor a child, do so. If not, don’t feel bad for it. You may choose to give in other ways.

    • Rachel B
      Jan 5, 2011
      at 1:56 pm

      I agree! Thanks for sharing.

  60. Kathy Olson
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 8:36 am

    Darren, I have to tell you a story. When I was younger, I was really afraid of commitment. I didn’t want to commit to something and then fail. I dated my boyfriend for a year and half before I agreed to marry him and then waited another year and a half before I actually took the plunge. On our wedding night, he fell asleep at 8:30 and I cried in the hotel bathroom until 3 in the morning because I’d gotten cold feet after the fact and I thought “What have I done?” My new husband didn’t get angry with me. He told me that life is a day at a time proposition and that God gives you what you need to get through life a day at a time. I’ve been married almost 25 years now. When you are ready (stress when), When you feel the Lord tugging at your heart to sponsor a child, God will give you what you need a day at a time. When you do, you may find its the most worthwhile thing you have ever done and it will change you and your perspective about what is really important. But I agree with Kees. Its not just the money. Writing to them is so very important and don’t do it until your ready. Thanks for all you do for CI.

  61. Barbara Ferraro
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 11:24 am

    Aloha Darren,

    First you need to pray for guidance from God. I am on a limited budget and althouygh I don’t have much left at the end of the month I still have enough to pay all myt bills eveery month,including sponsoring 8 children. I just added one last april when one of mine left the project. I prayed for guidance as to whether or not it was what God wanted me to do and I felt a distinct feeling it was what I should do and I have not regretted it. Your thoughts about this tell me it is something God is speaking to you about. I recommend looking at the available children on line and asking God to show you the one to sponsor and He will put a particular child upon your heart. Leave it up to Him and He will help you decide. God bless you and your future child.

  62. Stephanie
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 11:28 am

    My husband and I started sponsoring Amado in February 2003 at a concert. His was a (seemingly) random packet that was handed to us at a concert. We had no children then, and joked that we shouldn’t have November babies since we already have so many birthdays that month (including both of ours). Amado’s birthday is November 4th. :-) Fast forward almost 8 years. We just signed up for our 6th sponsored child. We now have two kids of our own (almost 6 and 3 1/2) and they look at each of our sponsored children as family. They’ve grown up praying for them nightly. They draw pictures, pick out stickers, and write cards. Our sponsored kids’ names were some of their first words. As for me, I’ve gone from “I’ll sponsor a child and get that checked off my Christian to-do list” to a Compassion Advocate. God took me to Honduras to visit Amado (even though we had plenty of debt to pay off and I’ve never been farther south than the Houston airport). Until the day I met him, I still didn’t know if my sponsorship truly meant anything to him. And then I watched a 10-year-old boy sob when he found out I’d traveled there just for him (his biggest wish…that he’d never voiced).

    We live on one income, and pretty much always have. My husband is enlisted military, so we’re not raking in cash. There are probably many things we could spend our money on instead (like paying down the debt we STILL have…and which are mostly a result of us being wasteful anyway), but God has been faithful. The debts are still getting paid off, even with the increasing sponsorship amount. Sponsorship will change your heart and your mind toward poverty, but it also changes your priorities.

    Long post (for which I apologize), but look at sponsoring like you would at adopting. Pray about it. Have your children pray about it. Ask God for confirmation. Ask Him to lead you to the right child. Be willing to trust God to provide you with the resources to care for this child for as long as he or she is in your care. And once you’ve done all that, just do it. No matter what happens, thank you for the work you do, and God bless!

  63. Rebecca
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 11:49 am

    My advice is simple, pray. It also helps if you find a good way to remind you to pray for your child. Carry around an object or photo if that helps. The more you pray about your child the more you grow to care about them and love them. This will make you want to write to them and make you want to make sacrifices in order to give them money for their birthday and Christmas and just because you know that they need it more than you. When my husband and I are struggling financially we still give to our sponsor child because we know there are things we can give up in order to have the money to give to her.

  64. Beatty Collins
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 3:22 pm

    Great post, Darren; thanks. In addition to all of the other suggestions I’d add: go an an upcoming Sponsor Tour. When you visit a CDC and when you see the relationships that sponsors have with their kids you’ll know for certain that you’ll want to be a sponsor as well. And you’ll likely discover a child at that CDC who has been waiting for someone just like you.

    • Teresa
      Jan 5, 2011
      at 6:45 am

      That is great advice!!

  65. Jan 4, 2011
    at 3:46 pm

    Darren:

    I have been a Compassion sponsor for 23 years, and one thing that I have learned during all that time is that child sponsorship is a ministry that a person is called into. Once you enter that ministry, you discover that it is not the burden that you thought it would be. Our Savior said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    You wish to know how to prepare your heart for the role of a Compassion sponsor. Well, you prepare for it the same way that you prepare for your role as the father of a newborn child. While waiting for the birth of my own son, I did not know how to prepare my heart for what was to come. Yet, my worries melted away the second that I held my son for the first time.

    I expect that your own worries about sponsorship will melt away shortly after you establish a relationship with your Compassion child.

    God bless you, Brother.

  66. Sandra McHarg
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 4:54 pm

    Slightly left field suggestion- how about if you “started” by getting involved in some of the things which are usually the “add ons” to sponsorship like the Meals Plus program (not sure if it now goes under a different name?) because this helps support both the sponsored and unsponsored children registered by Compassion, and since it’s a pooled fund, if you couldn’t keep it up long term you wouldn’t be leaving them without any support.
    Ditto to all your excuses, except I’m an Aussie instead of Canadian. ;)

  67. Dorie Dahlberg
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 8:31 pm

    I could really relate to your list of reasons why you don’t sponsor a Compassion child. I am not Canadian, but the rest of the list certainly applied to me for many years. I also raised four kids and it took more time, energy and money than I had. I did not always have my priorities right. In addition to that, something in the house or the car always needed repair.
    And $38 a month is misleading. When I send money for a birthday and a Christmas gift, and then add a family gift, it averages out to $50 a month. But the return on that investment is fantastic, as well as heavenly. I can buy clothes for myself for $100. But when I sent that amount to Kenya for a family gift last summer, it purchased a heifer, and in India it was spent on building materials for a house! Where else can I make a difference in someone’s life for so small an amount of money?
    I am now an 84 year old widow living in a senior residence on a small pension and social security. I sponsored my first Compassion child 14 years ago. He is about to graduate from an auto mechanic course in Ethiopia. I now sponsor 10 children around the world and I also correspond with two LDP students. I don’t know if I shall live to see them all graduate, or whether my savings will last as long as I will. But God knows, and I depend on God.
    Why you should sponsor a Compassion child…
    1. Do it to be a successful happy employee. The most successful people I know in the business world are committed to the “product” they sell, whatever their job actually entails. They are purposeful, focused, enthusiastic, friendly, and encouraging to others. Joy is a byproduct of giving.
    2. Do it for your children. It is difficult in this “me” culture to raise children who are interested and knowledgeable about the people on the other side of the world. Compassion will expose the whole family to a different way of life, a different world. Hopefully, it will also grow in all of you a sense of gratitude and a willingness to share, as well as a willingness to accept whatever the child can give you. Most Compassion sponsors say they get more than they give.
    3. Do it for yourself. Been there, done that. Too often the responsibilities of being a husband and father are overwhelming. Discouragement and despair are always knocking on the door. It took me many years to learn to let go and let God. Sponsoring children has helped me be more focused, not only with money, but also with time and energy. What is important to you? Too often in my younger years, I wasted money, time and energy, often because I didn’t know what would satisfy me. Life is so easy lived with the Lord. I have grown spiritually and emotionally since I began sponsoring Compassion children 14 years ago.

    • Sarah
      Jan 6, 2011
      at 4:02 pm

      brilliant post :)

    • Feb 13, 2011
      at 11:06 pm

      What a beautiful heart….I trust God has, and will continue to bless you for your faithfulness <3

  68. Pamela
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 9:18 pm

    I have read your post, Darren, as well as all of the comments above. I want to offer my thoughts, which come from a slightly different perspective.

    To me, a sponsorship decision should not be overly emotionally complex. You write that you have see the need, and you feel a level of discomfort about not participating. It is possible that both of those things could possibly represent God calling you to sponsorship. We work to support our own families without needing a special confirmation from the Lord. We do it because they are our responsibility, we recognize what scripture teaches about caring for our family, so we act accordingly. Sometimes, encountering a need and recognizing it may be all the word from God we need in order to act. I just keep thinking of Jesus’ words about if you have two coats and your neighbor has none, give one to your neighbor. Sometimes, it is just that simple.

    I also remember something Corrie ten Boom said about her father telling her God would provide for their needs, and when she asked about when or how, he told her “When we take a train, when do you get the ticket?” She said, “Right before I get on the train.” He told her that is when God provides – right at the point of need.

    If God leads you to do this, He will provide the inspiration to pray for your adopted child, the creativity to write letters to your child (perhaps your children will want to participate this way), and the $38 monthly sponsorship amount. You will get the ticket right before you board the train.

    Blessings to you.

    • Sarah
      Jan 6, 2011
      at 4:03 pm

      great post :)

  69. Kim Edge
    Jan 4, 2011
    at 10:26 pm

    Darrin, if you can’t afford to do it, I wouldn’t do it. I’m relieved that my girl is graduating from the program in June. I’m not going to sponsor a child again. I find it stressful and you said you have stress already. You have four kids of your own to love! :)

  70. Jan 5, 2011
    at 11:04 am

    Pray without a preconceived idea of what God will say.
    It might or might not be the time or it might or might not be God’s will for you now. Never go by the pressure of the herd. if it’s right for you or not go by God’s word – not human senses/emotion/ guilt/pressure. I don’t think parenting should be that way so why is parenting (supporting a Conmpassion child) different? It is a commitment emotionally and finacially. I agree with the one who spoke of $38./month as not the amount you will spend due to the ddesirre to gift as you get to know a child. Look to your budget but also that God of course does provide if that is what you do decide in prayer. It is not for everyone. If it is for you – maybe noot yet in your walk with God. There are many ways to serve Him.

  71. Joanna
    Jan 5, 2011
    at 2:58 pm

    To tell you the truth I didn’t have time to read all the comments so maybe someone else has already said the exact same thing. :)
    I think that most people aren’t really truthful to themselves about things they truly want and need. ( I don’t have a clue which one you fall in) I am only 15 years old and I am sponsoring a girl from Ghana, and it takes basically all my money each month. I will be truthful and say it is kinda hard sometimes when all my friends are getting this or that new shirt and I can’t get it, it’s hard. But to me in the end it is always worth it, to think I am changing the life of a child in Ghana. it is just amazing, and totally worth giving up a lot for!!! I think the most important thing to do is be truthful to your self about the money issue… are you really hard up in necessity or are you just hard up in your wants???

    • Sarah
      Jan 6, 2011
      at 4:04 pm

      Joanna, you’re an inspiration and a challenge to us older folks. Thank you!

  72. Jan 5, 2011
    at 4:55 pm

    Hi Darren!

    Thank you for sharing with the rest of us! I’ll pray that you’ll let this burden God has placed on your heart be a source of growth in your relationship with HIM first of all, and then with a child He’ll point out to you. I know how difficult it is when feelings of guilt and uncertainty get mixed in our hearts with God’s call. And if He’s calling you to do it, He will definitely give you what you need (strength, finances, motivation, whatever).

    You mentioned you have four kids. How old are they? What if instead of taking on the blessing/burden of sponsorship alone, your family joined you? I bet any child would be delighted to have a whole family of people praying for him/her and sending letters. It could be a great thing for you, your family, and your sponsored child.

    Thanks for all the work you do for this ministry. Praying!

  73. mikki
    Jan 5, 2011
    at 8:11 pm

    all I can tell you is to step out in faith…trust that god will provide a way for the money to not be an issue…that is how I started my sponsorship of my first child. the first letter I wrote was pretty generic. the first letter I got in return started a relationship that has changed my life. I now sponsor two children and there are no words to describe the love that flows in the exchange of letters, and sharing my love and faith in Jesus.

  74. Darren Thornberry
    Jan 6, 2011
    at 12:50 pm

    Hi again friends. I really am amazed at the feedback on this post. Thank you everyone! And just to clarify, my being Canadian is not one of my real excuses for not sponsoring. That was just a joke to all my fellow Canucks ;-)

    Allie, my children are 14, 13, 10 and 8. I do think they will be very happy to get involved with the sponsorship!!

  75. Jan 6, 2011
    at 5:15 pm

    You must have such fun times in your house! I’m the oldest of 5 myself and we’re all pretty close in age. Praying for you & your fam as you decide. Have a super day and thanks again for the post & all your work with Compassion!

  76. Amy
    Jan 6, 2011
    at 11:43 pm

    Darren, you’ve received a lot of great advice here. Of course, you shouldn’t sponsor out of guilt.
    I’ve been a sponsor since February. It has been a wonderful experience! However, I’ve wanted to sponsor a child ever since I knew what that meant. When I was five and saw the commercials on TV (before many current agencies were active), my heart went out to these children and I wanted to help a child have good food and to learn to read and have clothes to wear.
    I’d always looked at my income as the primary reason I couldn’t sponsor, but when the Lord gave me a second job in 2009, I was flat out of reasons.
    I waited around and found Lauzi’s photo in February. I knew. I just knew she was the one and we were waiting on each other. She was older, which meant, to me, that the sponsorship wouldn’t be as long, in case my job ended. Lord, I am so mercenary. Please forgive me.
    What I did NOT know, but found out later, is that children over age 10 have had a sponsor before, but that person had to leave the program for some reason. How must Lauzi have felt when her other sponsors were not able to continue? I don’t know the reasons, but I know my child must have been heart-broken. Immediately, I resolved to go the distance with this lanky teenager whose face was as solemn as a child’s could be. I would not let her down.
    I received my reward in rich fullness when I looked at her photo taken a month or so ago. She is smiling: a big, toothy, happy grin. The blessings just don’t come any more wonderful than that.
    Having said all this, I would first praise God for the desire to sponsor. It’s an example of your heart enlarging (in the good kind of way)!
    Also, ask others to pray about this desire for you, and to share with you what the Lord puts on their hearts about it. And, ask the Lord that this desire should bear the kind of fruit HE wants it to bear, whether it is sponsorship, or another form of giving. Ask Him to open the necessary doors and give you the wisdom to follow His perfect will for you, whatever that may be. If it’s sponsorship, finding the child is gravy. You’ll know him or her the second you look at that face. Trust me on that one.
    I’ll pray for this desire in your heart, as well. May it become the beautiful blessing God intends for it to be, in whatever form it takes.
    God bless you and your family!

  77. Amy
    Jan 7, 2011
    at 3:12 pm

    I think that everyone has offered great advice, and I only have a very short snippet to add. I think prayer is the most important. We didn’t really put much thought into starting our sponsorship. We were at a concert and they played a video. My husband and I both looked at each other and together we went and picked a child then. I think the nagging you feel at your heart is plenty to get started. You see a huge need, and the reality is you can probably help to meet the need. In the past we hadn’t sponsored because of money, and after we saw the video of the children we realized we had no concept of what it meant to not have enough money. Even if we are at the poverty level in the U.S., we still have food, clothes, shelter. Praise the Lord! I think the biggest thing we have noticed in our family since beginning sponsorship is the change in our thinking towards our income. One of my favorite quotes on the blog so far has been (paraphrased) “we are not just trying to free people from poverty we are also trying to free people from their wealth”. We are prayerfully, getting closer and closer to that place. It is a place of freedom, peace and joy! If finances is an issue think about what you could “give up”, we didn’t presents for each other for that year because we knew we had enough “stuff”. One year we saved up all our Christmas money and it equaled a whole year of sponsorship. Pray for God to provide and you will be surprised! One of my husband’s Uncle’s who hadn’t given him a gift in years “happened” to send a rather large check! God is good! He promises to provide for His children and at times lets us get in on an extra blessing by using us to do it!

  78. Feb 27, 2011
    at 5:55 pm

    One of the things I really appreciate about Compassion Australia is that as an employee there is no pressure to sponsor a child with Compassion. In fact, if you sponsor a child with another organisation we strongly discourage new employees from cancelling that sponsorship to come over to a Compassion child. Our preference is that you keep your commitment to that child and when they graduate or depart, pray about taking over a Compasion sponsored child then. I like that we are about children in poverty, not just Compassion kids.

    When I started with Compassion I was not a sponsor. My first position in Compassion was in the Accounts team. In my daily work I quickly saw the depths of integrity and strong stewardship Compassion has with the money given by supporters. As a long time children’s minister, I also am convinced that the children’s ministry, through the local church, changes lives of kids and families. But having seen the other side of donations and that the money went were they said it did, it wasn’t long before I went searching for the longest waiting priority child and sponsored my Manuel :)

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