7 Ways to Be a Better Neighbor to Your Sponsored Child (and Their Community!)

Sarah is wearing a pink patterned dress and Sophia is wearing a white patterned dress. They are standing in front of a brick and cement building and they are holding hands.

As a sponsor during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been hard to lose the connection to my child in Colombia through our letters. I miss learning about his life and hearing him describe his day-to-day activities. Yet, as I reflect on our past letters, I realize they reveal a whole world of support that my child has hopefully been able to stay connected with during the pandemic! 

He writes to me about his local center, based in a church, his grandma, his friends, his love of playing soccer and Scriptures that encourage both of us. While I’m sure all of these relationships and supports have been affected by the pandemic, he’s going to be able to connect back to them much more easily and much sooner than to me, his sponsor, who has always been loving him from pretty far away!

There are so many ways to become a better “helper” when we are called to love and serve the materially poor. In biblical terms, it’s about being the best neighbor that we can be. Being a good neighbor is about intervening thoughtfully when you do intervene, just as the Samaritan tailored his help to the wounded traveler, providing just what he needed when he needed it. We all want to help our sponsored children to grow into their God-given potential and to love and serve God where he is calling them. We also dream that entire neighborhoods and communities will be impacted when we give. Sustainable poverty alleviation is crucial in this process.

Here are 7 ways you can be a better neighbor to your sponsored child and their community

1. Learn as much you can about their country, its history and its social context. Compassion provides country guides and other resources. Another great source is to check international news sites like the BBC World News or The New Humanitarian. Pay attention to both what is good and what seems broken as you learn.

2. Map out the relationships that are important to your child. Who do they talk about in letters? Pray for those significant family members, mentors, teachers and church leaders. They are the ones who have the privilege to love and care for your sponsored child daily!

Jesus, wearing a dark blue shirt and jeans, is standing with his grandmother, Rosa, wearing a pink and white shirt and black and white striped shorts. Next to them is the project director and the tutors. They are standing outside Jesus' home. The Compassion staff are wearing face masks.

3. If you send a birthday gift to your child, don’t specify what you want them to buy with it, even if you love the idea of them having something fun like a ball or new toy. Often the best person to determine what a child needs is a family member or close contact from their center versus their sponsor.

4. Consider giving family gifts when you can. Family gifts are a wonderful way to intentionally include parents and caregivers in the decision-making and in the celebration! Emerging research shows that unconditional cash gifts have a very positive impact on general welfare for poor families.

5. Imagine yourself as a partner to your sponsored child as they grow, and also a partner to their family, to their center and to their community. You are part of a larger purpose God has for your child! They are also part of God’s larger purpose for you!

6. Check out the Compassion Gift Catalog and learn about supporting community development for the neediest children and families we serve. When you purchase a specific item, like a goat, an emergency food pack or a Bible, it goes to a family who has that specific need and is ready to use your gift well! Many of our gift options help to improve the lives of children plus their families and communities.

7. Learn about sustainable poverty alleviation by reading a book like “When Helping Hurts,” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, or browsing the resources provided by The Chalmers Center and other experts on how to effectively help the materially poor. 

Jose, wearing a green shirt and red shorts, is sitting outside his home with his brother, Victor, wearing a white shirt and jeans. They have their arms around each other.

When we encounter neighbors, the best place to start is to listen to what they need and what they dream for themselves, and then empower them with the resources or assistance that they need to achieve their God-given dreams.

When we bring our own plans, ideas and assumptions to others without listening or empowering them, we can disrespect or harm them without even knowing. It’s hard to break those patterns (called the “charity mindset” or “dependency mindset”), but Compassion is committed to helping us be the best neighbors we can be! This is how we release children from poverty together, in the name of Jesus, and in the way of Jesus.

Photos by Nico Benalcazar, Sara Navarro and Daniela Velasco.

two girls

10 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Shari September 10, 2023

    My sponsored child will be graduating this year. What happens when a student wants to attend college?

    1. Elizabeth September 11, 2023

      Thank you for your question, Shari! Compassion’s program provides youth ages 12 and older with customized training and education paths according to their own unique potential and God-given talents. For example, students may receive assistance in the following areas: tutoring for entrance examinations, assistance with university education, vocation training, apprenticeships, job-search skills, computer literacy, entrepreneurship, financing start-ups, and providing seed capital and micro-loans. I hope all this information is helpful! Please feel free to send us an email at [email protected] if you have any other questions.

  2. Jerrie. Manning May 9, 2023

    I have sponsored with a different Agency in the past. My personal info got stolen and I began to receive demanding messages asking for money directly to my sponsoed childs family. Are your records secure?

    1. Kaye-Lin May 10, 2023

      Hi Jerrie. I am sorry to hear of the experience you had. Compassion takes sponsor and child protection very seriously. We are committed to your privacy. You can view our Privacy Policy here: https://www.compassion.com/privacy-and-conditions-of-use.htm#information-we-collect . Along with this, we suggest that sponsors only use their preferred or first name in their letters and exclude your last name. In this day and age with social media, we understand the possibility of anyone finding your information. This is why we recently changed our policy with sharing child information, and you can read more about this here: https://blog.compassion.com/we-stopped-sharing-childrens-full-names/ .

      I hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  3. Walter Feath April 28, 2021

    How often should a sponsored child and family be sent money? Every other month? How much money is the best amount to support a family in need without send too much? Thanks for your efforts to help children in poverty in Jesus name.

    1. Kaye-Lin April 28, 2021

      Hi Walter! 🙂 Thank you for asking this question, and for wanting to bless your sponsored child. You can send additional gifts up to seven times a year. You can send four family gifts, one birthday gift, a general gift, and a Christmas donation. With that said, there is a limit on the dollar amount that you can send. You can send a total of $1,000 to the family throughout the year. You birthday and general gifts cannot exceed $100 each. So, that would mean you can send up to $1,200 a year in addition to your monthly support. When it comes to Christmas donations, those work differently because they are given to the Christmas fund. I know this is a lot of information, so if you have any questions, please send us an email at [email protected]. We are happy to help you! Thank you for sponsoring your sweet kiddo! 🙂

  4. Michele E LaHue March 16, 2021

    Thank you for this great blog! I especially like the part about not disrespecting those we are trying to help.

  5. Steve Jones March 6, 2021

    Can I send my child a gift from the compassion gift catalog?

    Is that a good idea?

    Thank you

    1. Kaye-Lin March 8, 2021

      Hi Steve! Thank you for wanting to bless your sponsored child and their family! 🙂 When donations are received through our Gift Catalog, the funds are collected and distributed to help specific families who can benefit from an item included in the catalog. Because the needs of our beneficiaries and their families vary across the different countries we work in, not all gift catalog items would be appropriate or accessible for every child and family. This means that you are unable to purchase an item from the gift catalog specifically for your sponsored child. With that said, you are welcome to send a monetary gift to your child and their family. Your child will be able to use this gift for what is most needed or wanted at that time. I hope this information helps. 🙂 If you have any questions, please send us an email at [email protected]. We are happy to help!

  6. Alexandra Andor March 6, 2021

    Thank you for this article! It is an answer to one of my prayers. So thank you!!

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