Being a Sponsor is Not Easy

Yesterday, I spent four hours with the boy I sponsor. It was our second time together, and I enjoyed seeing him again, seeing how he has grown and hearing him speak a few words of English. Three years ago he didn’t know any English.

man and boy smiling

I was delighted to meet the director of his child development center and to finally see photos of his mother, father and younger sister. I also saw pictures of the house they built with one of the family gifts I sent.

I enjoyed telling Lerionga that I’m going to be a father soon and recounting in greater detail the things I’ve shared in my letters. But all of our conversation lasted about 10 minutes, and then there was silence.

I am extremely uncomfortable with silence when I think it’s not supposed to be there.

In advance of my time with Lerionga, I imagined this meeting would be different from our first one. I imagined that conversation would be easier, that there wouldn’t be silence. I imagined it would be an “unbelievable encounter.” But it wasn’t.

man and boy sitting togetherMy day with Lerionga was a great day. It was a special day, and in many ways for me it was a selfish day.

It was a selfish day because I wanted us to be “best buds,” but two days together, lots of letters and some financial gifts do not best buds make, even after four and a half years of sponsorship.

I first sponsored Lerionga because I wanted to change the world for the better, make a difference for Christ. I wanted to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

And in all honesty, I’d like to hear some of that before I get to Heaven. (But now that I’ve said this, it doesn’t count if you tell me.) ☺

Being drawn to something and arriving at the destination are not the same thing. They’re separated by the size of the dream, and dreams aren’t realized with the snap of the fingers.

Dreams are made with sweat and discomfort, effort and uncertainty and moments of success and failure. They’re kneaded together with sacrifice and generosity and held together with drive, perseverance and surrender.

Relationships are like that too. And so is sponsorship.

Is your sponsorship about your child or is it about you? How about other relationships in your life? Do you look outward, for others to change, or do you turn inward, where you can change?

My sponsorship is about me. And it’s about Lerionga. I need to do better about remembering that.

My sponsorship is about me. And it’s about Jesus. I need to do better about remembering that too.

Being a sponsor is hard. But so is living in abject poverty.

Being a sponsor is hard. But only because I’m fallen and I over-think things.

Don’t over-think this. Sponsor a child or sponsor another child if you’re already a sponsor. And then don’t even think about canceling the sponsorship; Jesus didn’t cancel His.

man riding a camel

26 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Teresa April 14, 2014

    Why do people condemn others for canceling their sponsorships? No one know what battle they might be fighting and need help with themselves. I think it’s wrong to try to make a person feel guilty when no one knows what they might be struggling with. And I don’t think we should judge them for sponsoring to start with if they cancel because only Jesus knows a person’s heart.

    1. Jessica April 15, 2014

      Yes, sometimes people do have to cancel their sponsorships but often people don’t think about it and cancel because they do not realise that they have enough money and/or they don’t want to cut back on buying things for themselves.
      It’s all a matter of priorities, I have a friend who would move to a smaller house before cancelling any of her sponsorships.
      We should prioritise sharing God’s love to others, not have it as an optional extra.

      1. Teresa April 16, 2014

        It’s not always about money. Sometimes people cancel because they are struggling with emotional issues or physical sickness, etc. Sometimes they think the child would benefit more with a different sponsor.

  2. Catalina July 22, 2010

    hahahah…this is a great post! SO HONEST, SO TRUE…But so LOVING on a way. I’m a translator and interpreter for Compassion in Colombia, ad I know what you mean by those 10 min. conversations. But I believe those short lived moments will undoubtedly last forever in your child’s mind and memories. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree: SPONSOR a CHILD! I hope to some day soon (here in my own country, of course)

    1. Teri October 12, 2013

      Where in Colombia? My husband will be on a sponsor tour October 31-November 5 in Cartagena. Are you in that area?

      And I like the post, Chris!

    2. Chris Giovagnoni July 22, 2010

      “I believe those short lived moments will undoubtedly last forever in your child’s mind and memories”

      I believe too.

  3. Michelle March 14, 2010

    Well…. I love the camel’s face! 🙂 It’s cute. They’re just lucky it didn’t eat the camera….

    I know that sponsorship is about me. And Ludis. But me too….. I have a book that I keep all her pictures and letters in.

    Whenever I feel like a failure in my own personal life, I just sit down in my fluffy chair, grab the book, and then I’ve got proof right there in my hands that I am worth something. I AM making a difference in the world. A kid I’ve never met knows I love her and am trying to help her. Seeing her smile for the first time means the world to me.

    So sponsorship is about us both. And I’m okay with that. 🙂

    Chris, I’ve often wondered about meeting my sponsored child and if I’d have long awkward silences….. but judging by the pics of you and your boy, it sure looks like he is enjoying being with you and that he is getting to do things he likely wouldn’t have ever been able to do!!! I love reading your posts. They convey so much that resonates with me….. Thanks for that!

  4. Jennifer March 13, 2010

    Great post Chris! Very good insight and honesty.

  5. Jessica Harmon Mitchell March 12, 2010

    WOW! This really is an amazing post! Thank you for the clarity and discernment.:)

  6. Caitlin March 10, 2010

    I think generally, all camels have a face only a mother could love.

  7. Lisa Miles March 9, 2010

    Chris G. — Congrats on the upcoming new addition to the family!!! How very exciting!!!

    Is that a camel you’re riding?

    My sponsorship is about me, Jesus, my family, my children’s families, our communities. It’s kind of a group dynamic. I like to think that everyone’s needs are being met to a certain extent, so I don’t dwell too much on the selfishness aspect. I think we’re all growing from our interactions with each other. We’re all contributing something to the experience in our own way. My sponsored children have enriched my life, I believe I’ve enriched theirs. We’re all good. 🙂

    1. Chris Giovagnoni March 10, 2010

      It’s a camel. Yes, indeed.

  8. Holly79 March 9, 2010

    Is that a camel!? If so, it’s either an unflattering angle or that poor camel has a face only a mother could love! (No offense to the camel-type-creature.)

  9. Amy March 9, 2010

    I received my first letter from Lauzi, from Kenya, yesterday. It touched my heart to read the words, to see that one of her favorite Bible stories is of the Samaritan woman and Jesus.
    It made my day and made me yearn, Chris, to meet this special child. I don’t know if this can happen, or if we will be “best buds” either, but I would love it if the Lord chooses to intervene in such a way.
    Thank you for your post. It provides a lot of food for thought.

  10. Christian March 9, 2010

    Sponsoring those in need is great work. Keep it up.

  11. Amanda March 8, 2010

    Thanks! Great post!

  12. Juli Jarvis March 8, 2010

    I especially like the photo one of the other bloggers posted with you and Lerionga (in the background) on the ferris wheel. Hilarious! Now, that is true bonding…

  13. Peder Eide March 8, 2010

    Needed to hear this today. Thanks.

  14. Mike Stephens March 8, 2010


    Congratulations on making it to Kenya! Thanks for sharing, it provided continued inspiration/motivation for me to press on to finish paying for the Tanzania Advocate Tour in July!

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU.”

  15. mariavictoria March 8, 2010

    Thank you for your letter.
    I have sponsored two children and wanted to make sure that it was a genuine thing after hearing of another organisation call the same being presented in the webb as ‘crooks’.
    Am I right?.

  16. Katy Balsis March 8, 2010

    Thanks, Chris. This is powerful.

  17. oh amanda March 8, 2010

    “Being a sponsor is hard. But so is living in abject poverty.” Thank you for that reminder.

  18. Stephanie March 8, 2010

    Such wisdom! Thank you for making me think.

  19. Steve Jones March 8, 2010

    Great post. Well said.

  20. Amy Wallace March 8, 2010

    Wow, great post!

  21. Jocelyn Clarambeau March 8, 2010

    Great perspective Chris. Thanks for the reminder. Safe travels.

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