The Letter’s the Thing

Paul the Apostle spent quite a lot of time talking about the “seen” reality versus the “unseen” reality in the world, and how it’s important for Christians to focus on the unseen things that God is doing instead of on how things appear to be going.

There are many examples I could draw from to illustrate the difference, but for now I am just going to mention the biggest one there is: Jesus!

Having the benefit of hindsight (and what a benefit it is!) we know that Jesus was the Son of God and that His death on the cross allowed Him to take our punishment upon Himself so we can be reconciled to God, inherit eternal life and be saved from the judgment and death that we rightly deserve.

However, at the time of Jesus’ death it did not look like the awe-inspiring and glorious victory of mercy and justice and triumph over evil that it was. Instead it looked like all the hopes and aspirations of Jesus’ followers were destroyed, that the Messiah still hadn’t come and that an innocent and good man had been condemned to a pointless death!

In the crucifixion of Jesus there is a considerable difference between the seen (the end of all hope) and the unseen (the fulfillment of all hope).

When it comes to Child Sponsorship and letter writing, there are seen and unseen elements at work on several levels.

In the seen reality, letters are just a novelty, something fun to give and receive if you’re into that type of thing; letter writing is like cross-stitch or model-airplane making — something some people like doing and others aren’t so interested in.

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However, in the unseen reality letters can change lives. They can bring hope into a sponsored child’s life. They can bring the knowledge that someone loves and cares for them. They can bring together two people from vastly different places and cultures and forge a friendship that is deep and personal. And they provide another channel to proclaim the wonderful news of Jesus’ love and what He did for us!

Letters are no longer something that certain “types” of people are into but something we should all be able to do to love and serve another person.

This does not mean it is easy to write letters, or that you have to be as involved in the ministry of letter writing as a person who is really gifted in that regard. But it does mean that we can all do something.

  • If you are naturally gifted at writing, you can show love by writing to your sponsored child(ren) and also perhaps take on some “Correspondent Children” to write to as well.
  • If you don’t necessarily enjoy writing but can do it easily enough, I encourage you to lovingly serve your sponsored child(ren) by writing regularly. If you are at a loss for what to write about, consider these letter writing ideas.
  • If you prefer not to write at all, you can ask Compassion to find a sponsor to correspond with your child so your child can experience the wonderful relationship that can develop through letter writing.

Writing a letter may seem unimportant, but it is a labor of love that can make all the difference to a child in poverty — for poverty is not simply a lack of money, but also a lack of hope.

About the Author: Jessica McPherson lives with her husband, Eoin, and family of rescue animals in Christchurch, New Zealand. She loves reading, writing, baking and crafts but most of all sharing God’s love with a hurting world. She blogs at Truest Riches.

8 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    Terri M. February 18, 2014

    I am a new sponsor of a 3 year old girl named Fritzcar. I never really thought about how to communicate with a 3 year old that speaks another language-but I have written my first letter and also made a little scrapbook of 6 small pages. My worry is that I laminated them. Is that against the rules? Will this be considered plastic? I hope not. Anyone know? Thanks in advance.

    1. Susan Sayler
      Susan Sayler February 19, 2014

      Hi Terri! That sounds like such a sweet mailing! Thank you so much for blessing your little girl and her family with a loving first letter and scrapbook! Keep it up! You are welcome to laminate pages. That works great because then they will not be ruined if for some reason they get wet.

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    marv February 16, 2014

    I write every month… in the past I got a letter back for every letter I sent… so about 1 letter a month or sometimes 2 letters every 2 months. In the last year or so I have seen that I don’t get as much mail/ return letter. I am thinking I might stop writing every month and only send a letter when I get one… I think maybe compassion does not want to send letters as much as before or maybe the child is getting not as happy as before about getting letters… maybe as a child ages they want to write less….

    1. Susan Sayler
      Susan Sayler February 18, 2014

      Hi Marv! Wow! You are an amazing letter writer! Thank you so much for loving and encouraging your child through your letters! A few years ago, we changed our letter writing guidelines. In these new guidelines, children who never receive letters from their sponsors only have to write two letters a year. However, children who receive frequent letters from their sponsor (like yours!) are required to write back to each letter up to six letters a year. This means that since you write frequently, you should be receiving six letters a year or about a letter every other month. This may explain a little bit of the change of frequency in the letters. I’m sure the young lady you sponsor is still just as happy and encouraged by your letters though!

      1. Avatar
        “Penelope” February 19, 2014

        Susan, the new letter writing guidelines do not seem to be followed by all of the countries, particularly Ethiopia. I write pretty regularly, but have only received 2 letters from my Ethiopian kids in all of 2013. One of my Ethiopian kids told me that she was only required to write 2 letters per year. Others have not said it, but that is all I have received from them. Ecuador was doing okay initially, but has somewhat fallen by the wayside (in my experience). Is there some internal efforts to follow-up on non-compliant countries, centers etc. where letters are being frequently sent to the children?

        1. Susan Sayler
          Susan Sayler February 21, 2014

          Hi Penelope! I had checked into the adherence to the guidelines in Ethiopia after the conversation came up on OurCompassion. From my research, it is a center by center issue and not a whole country issue that we are seeing at this point. This means that there may be some staff members (not just in Ethiopia) who are confused about the guidelines. It is a case by case issue, and we have to address it on a case by case basis. I would encourage you to let us know when your child is telling you that he or she can only write 2 letters a year if you write frequently. This way, we can do an inquiry and hopefully clear up all the confusion at that center.

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    Judy Myers February 14, 2014

    Awesome blog post, Jess! Way to go!

  4. Avatar
    Lizzie February 14, 2014

    So true Jess! Thanks for sharing about the importance of letters. The unseen benefits are enormous indeed 🙂

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