Have you ever seen those commercials on TV asking for a dollar a day to help a child across the globe? Or perhaps you’ve tried to get your kids to eat their vegetables by using the phrase,
“Do you know there are kids starving in Africa who have no food?”
Maybe you’ve even thought,
“It’s unfortunate that children are hurting, but there’s not really any tangible way I can help.”
I used to be one of those people.
Well no, I take that back. I actually used to sponsor a child back when I was in my 20’s (and believe me, it’s strange to say that as my 40’s are getting closer and my 20’s are getting further away). I was a new Christian at the time with a little extra spending money and sponsoring a child seemed like the “right” thing to do.
So I signed up, put her picture on the fridge, and prayed for her when I went to get my late night snacks. I didn’t get much communication from her and, to be honest, I felt a big disconnect.
I knew nothing about her, where she was from, what her family was going through or what she needed from me. I even started to doubt whether or not my money was even getting to her.
So I stopped.
After all, at least I had tried, right?
Fast forward about 10 years.
We had only been living in Nashville for about a year with our then 4- and 5-year-old children when the tragic earthquake struck Haiti. As a French speaker and someone who had visited Haiti on a missions trip, this international tragedy hit me especially hard.
But it wasn’t until my children and I attended a benefit concert that my husband was helping put on that I knew things had to change. After images from the disaster flashed on the screen, it was the first time I ever faced questions like these from my children:
“Mommy, are those real kids?”
“Why are they eating mud?”
“Where are their shoes?”
“What happens to them now that their mommy and daddy are dead?”
“Can they come live with us?”
From that moment on, I knew our lives could not be the same.
I got more practical and prayerful with my kids when it came to helping others. We bought groceries for the homeless men at our church. We all served in a soup kitchen downtown. We prayed for those we saw on the street.
But they weren’t the kids in Haiti.
So when Christmas came around, we gathered toys and personal supplies for children our church partners with in Kentucky. We sent gifts oversees. We gave the shoes off our feet.
But our kids couldn’t see the kids they were helping.
They didn’t know who they were. They didn’t know who their siblings were, couldn’t tell what games they liked to play, and certainly never heard anything about them after the holidays.
They wanted more.
They wanted to be a part of another child’s life. Not just any child, but a child their age they could relate to on at least some level. They wanted to feel like they were making a difference. They wanted to learn how to put feet to their faith.
After all, isn’t that what we all want? Isn’t that what Jesus wants for us?
So we’re not waiting any longer – not for another tragedy to strike, not for another holiday to come and go, and certainly not until we can get “enough” money.
We are celebrating my daughter’s birthday this month by adding to our family.
Thanks to Compassion, we were able to locate Gabriele in Brazil who shares my daughter’s exact same birthday. My now 6-year-old son wanted to get in on the giving too, so he will also be sponsoring a boy with his exact birthday in India* (Ayush).
So what have I learned in the past 10 years that will make my sponsorship experience different this time around?
First of all, I’m a mom now. The idea of any child hurting absolutely destroys me.
And while I may sometimes make my children feel as if the world revolves around them, I would be doing them a great disservice if I didn’t teach them that the very opposite is in fact true: that they are simply one star in a great big universe. For the galaxy to glow, we each must be present and fully ignited.
While each of us is unique and worthy in the eyes of God, we all shine brighter when we work together.
Second of all, I recognize the picture and letters we’ll be receiving weren’t mass produced in a factory. They are actual communications from an actual child who greatly looks forward to and depends upon our support, prayers and correspondence.
Even though it may seem like we have nothing in common, because our sponsored children are exactly the same ages as our own children, we will always have a connection to what they are going through, dreaming about and hoping for. That, my friends, is priceless.
Finally we’re not sponsoring children because we have to, we’re sponsoring these kids because we want to expand our family in a unique way. While we may not feel called to adopt children into our home at this point, we certainly feel like we have been called to adopt these children into our hearts.
And whatever God calls us to, He will equip us for.
So time will only tell how our family will change and grow as a result of this experience, but I plan to be as transparent as possible with you every step of the way as I continue to share our Compassion story here on the blog.
Whether you’ve been considering sponsoring a child for some time now or just happened to land here from an accidental link, I pray that you will feel compelled to consider why you do what you do when it comes to putting feet to your faith. If nothing else, you just might learn a little more about who God created you to be in the process.
After all, it’s only when we truly know who we are in God’s eyes that we can begin to share that with others…and I hope you’ll be ready and willing to share that goodness with a Compassion child very soon.
When you do, I think you’ll find you needed that child far more than he or she ever needed you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sami Cone is a published author and seminar speaker who draws on her life experiences to help women realize their full potential. You can keep up with Sami, her family and her frugal adventures on Twitter and Facebook.
*NOTE FROM EDITOR: This content honors Compassion’s historical work in India. While we no longer have an India sponsorship program, we are grateful for the lives changed and meaningful work achieved through our sponsors and donors in our nearly 50 years there. For a detailed explanation of the end of our sponsorship program in India, please visit: compassion.com/india-update.