I wear many colorful and different hats related to Compassion’s ministry –– sponsor, child advocate, Area Coordinator for the Advocates Network, Compassion blogger. But one of my favorite hats to wear is one you may not be aware of –– child correspondent.
What is a child correspondent?
A person who writes to a child in place of the sponsor.
Why is letter writing so important that correspondents are necessary? Isn’t financial support enough?
When you become a sponsor, you tell a child in need, “Yes. I want to know you. I want to have a relationship with you.” Your sponsorship models Christ’s love through your involvement in the child’s life, through the act of writing letters.
Poverty tells children, “You don’t matter!” But that is a lie. Your letters shine light into the darkness. They say: “You do matter Suzana.” “I care about you Renato.” “Jesus loves you Lerionga.”
The power of words, the power of a letter is tremendous, and for an impoverished child to know that you, someone from across the globe, cares . . . well, that’s the difference that can release the child from poverty.
Sponsorship is much more than just the financial support. Obviously, the financial support is critical, but it’s the letters a child receives that play a crucial role in his or her development and growth on many levels –– emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.
Can I request a correspondent for the child I sponsor?
Yes, you can. However, Compassion prefers that you write to your sponsored child because of the relationship you can build through the letters. Letters can be the bridge that makes THE difference in a child’s future –– the bridge a child can walk across to leave poverty behind.
For instance, with one of the children I sponsor, I suggested she apply for the Leadership Development Program (LDP) because of what she shared with me in her letters. She applied … and was accepted!
I continue to sponsor her with some support from others, and her letters are now five to six pages, typed. She’s a tremendous source of encouragement for me.
However, in some cases, like when a business is a sponsor or when an individual sponsors numerous children, it may be beneficial or necessary to request a correspondent.
How do I sign up to be a child correspondent?
If you want to be a correspondent, call 800-336-7676. Any sponsor relations representative can help you.
Your name will be placed on a list of willing correspondents. If the need arises, you will be contacted to correspond with a particular child, and that child packet will be sent to you.
Please realize that you may or may not be contacted, depending on the need. Also, it could be several weeks or months before you receive the opportunity. The number of children on the list varies greatly from time to time.
Can I correspond with a Leadership Development Program student?
Yes. I have just begun to correspond with an LDP student in Colombia.
Can I write to a child I meet in a child development center on a sponsor tour, especially if I learn that the child is not receiving letters?
I can definitely relate to this question. It has happened to me often.
Many of the children I have met while visiting Compassion-assisted child development centers have asked if I can find their sponsors when I return home, just to ask them to send letters.
Right or wrong, I usually suggest that the sponsor probably has a “huge heart” and loves the child greatly, but perhaps sponsors 100 children or more and is not able to write each one!
For some children, not receiving letters is taken in stride. They continue to love and pray for their sponsors.
Others will do the same, but take the lack of letters personally, and feel hurt and unloved.
Imagine my joy when several children came to me in the Dominican Republic with letters and photos in their pockets, asking me to find their sponsors to thank them!
You can certainly request to be a correspondent for a child you meet, but it is not likely that you will be able to do so.
For instance, if the child is sponsored by someone from Canada, Australia, the U.K., or somewhere other than where you’re from, it will not be possible to connect you as the correspondent.
This happened to me once, and I had to entrust the child to God’s hands rather than feeling I should be the one to “fix” the hurt feelings.
Is any special attention given to a child not receiving letters?
Yes – reminder notes are sent to sponsors in these cases, but the notes do not always achieve the desired results. When they do, the child is delighted and encouraged in their faith!
Can I send gifts to my correspondence children? Can I visit them?
Yes. Call 800-336-7676 to send a financial gift to your child or visit compassion.com for a list of gifts that can be included with your letters or to arrange a visit with your child.
Here is a picture of me with the child I correspond with – his actual sponsor is a local church. I have written Junior for 10 years now, and we are best of friends.
He, his mother and I have had the pleasure of being together on two different sponsor tours.
However, because his studies were hard, Junior chose to leave his student center a little over a year ago, to work in the marketplace as a truck driver.
Believing this was not best for him, I wrote to urge him to return to the center, and he did, one year later!
I encouraged him to believe in the Lord and trust Him, and that God has a bright future for him. I honestly felt he did not think he could amount to much in this world, but I knew it was not true.
Through the help of the wonderful country office staff and his supportive center director, and because he was sad to lose correspondence with me, he decided to give sponsorship another try.
Now, through the support of the student center, he’s in a tech school learning how to become an automobile mechanic, and has a much brighter future than he would have had without the correspondence and friendship between the two of us.
He also prayed to receive the Lord and has written about his enjoyment of attending church and attending Bible studies!
I recently sent gifts to Junior’s family via a friend visiting her child on a sponsor tour in the Dominican Republic. To my surprise, her tour group was visiting Junior’s student center to do some maintenance work, and she not only met him and delivered the gifts personally, but also sent a “thank you” from Junior and his mother by video!
See how important letters can be? Powerful stuff in God’s hands.
What should I say in letters to my child?
Questions are good to ask.
I have a child advocate on my team who is an excellent letter writer. She even keeps a spreadsheet to record what questions she has asked for each child and what their answers were.
Here’s a list of some basic questions:
- Do you have any pets?
- What is your favorite subject in school?
- Do you like to sing or draw?
- What is your favorite song, color, game, animal, flower, Bible verse, etc.?
Simple questions not only affirm that you care about your sponsored child, but the questions also help them realize that their feelings and opinions are important – it’s that self-worth thing. 😉
As you deepen your relationship with your child you can start to ask questions that may make them more aware of the world and the role they can play:
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What country would you most like to travel to and why?
- If you could do anything for your community, what would you do?
The questions can be sent one or two at a time, to develop a conversation. For more tips and ideas, check out “What Should I Write About? Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Write About?” on compassion.com.
Now I have some questions for you.
- Why do you write –– or not write –– your own sponsored children?
- What are some of your favorite responses from your children?