Catalyst 2009: It Could Have Been Me

As I write this, there are tears splattered on my keyboard and mascara smeared on my cheeks. I’m not much of a crier, perhaps being desensitized as a result of reading painful stories every day. But the video of Jimmy Wambua meeting his sponsor has made me cry like a baby.

The reason why is I know Jimmy. Jimmy stayed at our house for two weeks, so he went from being a former participant in Compassion’s sponsorship program, an African, and someone with a different culture and accent, to being a friend. To a human.

As much as we don’t want them to, our differences — culturally, geographically, economically — can separate us. “Others” can seem so very other. So unlike us. So “unrelatable.”

Yes, we have compassion for them. But it’s hard to really relate to them. Understand them. View them the same as we view ourselves, our neighbors, our family.

But Jimmy is my husband’s age. The two of them sitting on our couch talking about girls made Jimmy so utterly real to me. He’s someone who despite all our differences is so like us.
Someone who simply had a sponsor who loved him, who told Jimmy that Jesus loves him, and set his life on an entirely new path.

So when I watch the video, I don’t just see some African who some Canadian “saved.” What I see is myself in another situation, another time, another circumstance. I see that this could have been me. And I see that this can be my sponsored child.

15 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Bill van Steenis January 5, 2010

    Amber, That has been me, many times as I have visited my compassion children for the first time. It is an extraordinary experience that must be lived out. It simply can’t be explained. I have had the high privilege of seeing many of my children, in south america and the Caribbean. We have had parties for our sponsored children at the hotel we stayed at. They brought the children and their chaperones to the hotel with the Compassion interpreters and we spent the day in the pool and giving them what ever food they wanted. It was always a blast for us. I hope to do it again soon.

  2. Faye October 31, 2009

    I was about 30 rows up from the end of that stage where Jimmy shared about his life. I saw his face when he turned and saw his sponsor. I watched him cling to the man who while in college decided to rescue him and I watched him collapse to the stage, unable to stand any longer.

    I was one of nearly 13,000 weeping people that day. My husband and I have toyed with the idea of sponsoring a child for years and just never done it. Tonight, we clicked through and now are the sponsors of four-year-old Judine in Haiti.

    I realize that the day I get to meet her probably won’t be as dramatic as Jimmy’s day in Atlanta, but then, I don’t believe she’s eating from a dumpster either.

    Who knows? God does. As the parents of three sons, we now have a daughter. As God blesses, I’m thinking our family will grow.

  3. jenie wilson October 27, 2009

    I sobbed & then sobbed some more. I had a knowing in my heart of the significance of the decision to sponsor a child thru compassion intl 2 yrs ago -how much it means to God,
    and to the child who is now forever connected to me.

  4. Michelle Nezat October 27, 2009

    I was there when Ken Coleman said the words, “Have you ever talked to your sponsor?” In an instant I KNEW (and every other of the 13,000 Americans there knew) that it was going to be a “talk show like” moment where the sponsor was going to come out on stage. It brought back the very real difference I could be/am making in the life of my sponsored child. It is on my bucket list to visit my child in Kenya one day. Although I appreciate Dwight’s comments, I just want to see the precious face of the little girl we consider our own even though we’ve never met her.

  5. Jefff Carpenter October 22, 2009

    You think I’d know by now, having walked with Christ for a few years, to not be frustrated when I found myself unable to sleep and wandering around this weblog in the wee hours of last night. To instead be expectant, anxious to see where the Holy Spirit would be taking me this time and what He’s going to teach me…


    This video struck me like a tidal wave, bringing tears flooding, first from Jimmy Wambua obviously– then from ME. I was swept up in a powerful surf of emotion, years of child sponsorship experiences swirling around my mind.

    Now, today, I realize that I was given a gift. I’ve been blessed to hear Jimmy’s childhood story at last! A story I’d been denied hearing earlier yesterday by my lousy phone connection to a teleconference that Jimmy was part of. During that call I couldn’t hear who this Kenyan man being introduced was, much less the drama he then described.

    Thank You Father for leading me to “ CATALYST 2009”. And you, Ms Van Schooneveld, for facilitating His will that I experience it without preconception. 

  6. Dwight October 21, 2009

    Compassion has a multi million dollar marketing budget. If they want to use the LDP students to promote the ministry why can’t they spend $400 to fly them to meet their sponsors? Fly them and bring a camera….

    Doing this video is dramatic TV but it is also a little sad and leves me feeling like compassion is exploiting the LDP students.

    This is not a normal visit. I was in the Philippines a few weeks ago on a mission’s trip and I visited the children I sponsor. It was nothing like this. Should I feel discouraged? This type of video sets up an expectation about the child and family that not normal! (I have visited 3 children.) Most Children and families live in very difficult situations and are thankful for the help. The father of one child works 10 hours a day to make $3. Meeting them was emotional in a different way. But if I compared it to this video I would be discouraged.

  7. Catherine Leigh October 19, 2009

    God’s love is so everlasting, unconditional, and worthy that when the glory of the Lord is revealed all you can do is cry out to God in gratefulness.

    Thanks Amber for sharing this moment of blessing. Wow God is so awesome.

  8. Caitlin October 19, 2009

    It was pretty amazing. I’ve seen the other videos where the girls meet their sponsors…it hit harder to watch Jimmy, now a grown man, fall to tears and melt into his sponsors arms.

  9. Michael October 19, 2009

    I’m with you Amber. This past summer I had the honor of being present when another Compassion student met her sponsor for the first time. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen:

  10. Sara Benson October 19, 2009

    I watched this video a couple of days ago and it made me cry too. What an awesome privilege to be able to watch this first meeting and to see the love between a sponsor and “child.” I hope the fact that Jimmy treasured and kept the original letter that he received will act as a reminder to all sponsors to WRITE to your child!!

  11. Cheryl J October 19, 2009

    My husband is glad I care for our Compassion kids, but does not get “into” it very much. I showed him the part about Jimmy meeting his sponsor and my husband cried, too! I love that this video is such a real way we can show people how much the sponsors mean to the ones being sponsored. However, the feeling is definitely mutual. I love my Compassion kids!

  12. Vicki Small October 19, 2009

    I cried, too, when I saw it, Amber. Cried like a baby, imagining that Jimmy was Tausi, or Uwizera. Except that I think I would be the one who could not stop the tears.

  13. Juli Jarvis October 19, 2009

    And I must add — “It could have been me” — that spoke in that church, as I’m one of the Child Advocates myself. It could’ve been me that sponsored him, because I have children I love supporting. This story is heard over and over around the various projects, thanks to God…Thank you for the unique perspective on the fact that Jimmy’s situation could’ve been me, too.

  14. Juli Jarvis October 19, 2009

    I spoke to Jimmy about this video last night. I asked how it came about that his sponsor chose him. He said it was a miracle story — that his sponsor had gone to a church where an Advocate was sharing about child sponsorship. He walked up to the table and looked across 50+ photos of children, and his eyes rested on Jimmy. Somehow, he felt his eyes were saying to him, “I want to live,” and he sponsored him. Then Jimmy said to me, “It was at the same time I was roaming the streets eating from dumpsters hoping someone will stop and rescue me from the situation. God in a still voice must have heard my voice and sent for help in Canada.” Truly a miracle story! I would love to see a film of Jimmy sharing his testimony sometime! Praise God for rescuing this precious child!

  15. Lindy October 19, 2009

    Amber, thank you for posting this! I’m with you–tears running down my face!

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