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Why Is It So Hard to Say Goodbye?

so-hard-to-say-goodbye I grieve today for the child I’ve lost. The relationship has ended. He’s left the Compassion program. There’s nothing I can do. And he’s not even really mine; I’m the correspondent.

I’ve had children leave before. Maregu graduated from the program. Sandra moved outside of our ministry area.

Ruan’s sponsor got married and his wife decided to write to him instead of having me as his correspondent. Ravi somehow is different.

Ravi dropped out of the program.

I don’t know why he left; it may have been family issues or peer pressure or feeling that working in a low-income job was better than completing his education.

As a 14-year-old boy, it could have been any number of reasons.

I simply know that our staff in India would have done all they could to reach out to him and encourage him to stay connected to the program and all it offers.

I suspect that his departure also hurt those wonderful men and women who mentored and cared for him right there in his part of India.

About three years ago I was speaking with one of our staff members who sends field memos to country offices on behalf of Australian sponsors.

On the same day they had received two emails from two sponsors of 10-year-old boys from Bangladesh in response to “why did my child leave the program” [3] questions.

One child left because, like Ravi, he dropped out due to lack of interest and peer pressure. The other left because the support he had received from our ministry and the church had lifted him far enough out of poverty that the family was now considered “too rich” to be supported by us.

Two 10-year-old boys left; two very different reasons. You could say one was a success story and one was a failure.

Yet I say that every child who is presented with the Good News of Jesus Christ is a success story. Every child who receives more vaccinations and more education than he would have otherwise had is a success story. Every child who interacts with God’s Church and is influenced by His servants is a success story.

They are both success stories.

Like me, many sponsors may not know why their child has left the program, they just know he or she has. Sadness can overwhelm as you lose this special member of the family. Grief increases knowing that you can’t physically see or speak to him or swallow them in the hug you long to give.

When it feels like there is nothing you can do to help this child anymore, there is just one thing you can keep on doing as before, and that’s the most important of all.


I may not ever see Ravi, or hear from or about him again. He may never think of me again. But his photo is on my wall and his name is written on my heart.

I will continue to pray for him because this is the most powerful thing I can do for him. My God sees Ravi and loves him, wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, whether he loves God or not. So I keep praying for my boy Ravi.

And today I start giving a little bit of my heart to a new child, Ita, as our friendship begins and my lifetime of prayers for her starts.