That Letter You Need to Write

The message from Compassion International on my voice mail said, “Call right away.” I had a knot in my stomach. Something was wrong. Compassion does not call sponsors just to chat.

When I reached the lady at Compassion, she told me the startling news. Our sponsored child, Mutuyimana Valentine, had just died. They did not yet have any details to share as they had just received the report from the field.

Young child holding a soccer ball next to a man.

I went into my old paramedic mode and stoically asked a bunch of questions. There were no answers as to WHY at this point. That response might come in a week or so. But it almost did not matter.

The precious girl whom I had hugged in Rwanda last October was dead. Her mother and father had lost her, and she was only 11.

After five minutes of conversation, I hung up, and I became “un-stoic,” if that is a word.

Sad, sad, SAD.

The little shy girl who we had exchanged letters with and had “adopted” was dead, and I felt extremely sad. I wondered about her parents and her siblings and her funeral. I wondered why she had to die so early.

Compassion had completed health screenings on her, and she had no major health issues.

I began to question … why had I not written her more? I was thankful we had met in person.

I was grateful our church provided the Bible on an MP3 player that I gave to her during our personal visit. I had asked the Compassion worker to make sure she got into the Word and to remind her how to use the machine we gave her.

Two young children with a man in a classroom.

How many kids in the world die because there are not enough antibiotics? Or no doctors available for them? Or because their families lack clean water or the knowledge to treat illnesses? In Roanoke, if our kids have an infection we just go to the doctor and get medicine. “All better.”

In Rwanda, especially in rural areas, that is not always the case.

I am so grateful that in her young life, she met the Lord and was trusting in Him. I am so glad God let people halfway around the world know this special little girl.

Write to and pray for your sponsored child.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Quigg Lawrence is a Compassion sponsor from Roanoke, VA, where he currently lives with his wife, Annette. Quigg is the senior pastor of the Church of the Holy Spirit and enjoys photography and any sport where you get to hit something.

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17 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Sarah Ray September 3, 2011

    My eyes are full of tears. I think we Americans fail to see this as even a possibility, because although we know out compassion children are in true poverty.. Death doesn’t always come to mind, just the things that can cause it. I love my compassion “son” Jose like I love air and sunshine, but I often get too caught up in the everyday to take a moment to write him.. Thank you for the reminder of how precious our adopted ones are, and to not take their earthly existence for granted.

  2. Amanda September 2, 2011

    I am so sorry that this happened. I am so thankful that
    you were able to sponsor her brother. I will be praying for
    you and for her family. God bless.

  3. Debbie Beghetto September 1, 2011

    Thanks for share your post, it so sad to hear that lost your sponsor but she will be remembered in your heart. She’s now with the Lord free from suffering. I’m so glad to hear you’re sponsoring her brother… that wonderful..God bless you. My prayers are with you/family and your sponsor’s family.

  4. Kathy Olson September 1, 2011

    Wow. My heart breaks with yours. I’m about ready to cry with you. I like what Laura Dorsey wrote above and don’t know that I could say it any better than she did. I do believe that when we belong to Christ, there is a reason for all things, even the tragedies like this. That doesn’t help the pain, but someday you WILL see her again and next time, you won’t have to say goodbye. Praying for you and your family and for hers. Glad you can sponsor the brother.

  5. Gail September 1, 2011

    Thanks for sharing your story, your pain. Your fmaily and Valentine’s family have my sympathy.

    As I read your story I am reminded that for us this is one child we loose, we grieve. For many mums and dads around the world they loose child after child to poverty reality causes. Thanks to every person giving to and working for Compassion, each day mums and dads around the world are saved from facing this again.

  6. Kees Boer August 31, 2011

    I’m so sad to hear this…. It’s heartbreaking, especially when you have met the child and the child is no longer just a photo on the refrigerator with some letters. I know she is like a daughter to you. This must have been horrific news to hear. I’m so glad that first of all she came to trust Christ as Saviour. I’m glad that you got to meet her. Most children their biggest desire in life is to meet the sponsor. Then I’m also so glad that you gave her the Word of God on MP3. I think you’re a wonderful sponsor!!! Don’t beat yourself up for it too much!!! She is very happy with the Saviour now. She is also happy that you sponsored the other child and you can really have a huge impact in her life. I hope you get to write another blog, because I’m sad about this and I want to know what happened….

  7. Lisa August 31, 2011

    Thank you for your post. Wow, heartbreaking. I am so glad you are sponsoring her brother and will get to visit.

  8. Mike Stephens August 31, 2011

    What great reminder to visit our sponsored kids and how meaningful and precious the time is we have.

    Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

  9. Jill Foley – Compassion Family August 31, 2011

    This is heartbreaking. I love to see that you are turning it around to encourage others to write and pray for our sponsored children. It should be like this with everyone in our lives – none of us know when God will call us home. This is a great reminder to live with purpose and with no regrets.

    Today I will tell my family members, my friends, my sponsored children, my own children that I love them – and pray for them.

    Praying for you and your family, as well as Valentine’s family. God is good in allowing you to sponsor her brother – to continue building a relationship with this family.

  10. Teena August 31, 2011

    Praying for you and for her family. So thankful you were able to meet her and speak into her life.

    Hard. Sad.


  11. Kelli Johanesen August 31, 2011

    That is so heartbreaking. I’m praying for you, your family and Mutuyimana’s family. That is a somber reminder of how precious each life is and how we should never take anyone for granted.

  12. Quigg Lawrence August 31, 2011

    Laura – thanks for the thoughtful comment. Very touching. The happy news is that my wife and I were able to sponsor Valentine’s 6 year old brother Nizeyimana Eric! I hope to see him and the parents in a year when I return to Rwanda.

    And small blog correction, I was raised in Richmond but have lived in RAoke since 1989

    1. Laura Dorsey August 31, 2011

      Valentines’ brother….that’s so awesome! Hope that you keep us posted and are able to write about that trip one day, when you can go.

    2. Jacquie Parella August 31, 2011

      Sorry Quigg! I will fix that.

  13. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies August 31, 2011

    What a heartbreaking and heavy post. I am so sad to hear about the death of your child.

    Thank you for sharing your story and for urging sponsors to write. This is often a HUGE missed opportunity for those who have children through Compassion International. Some write once or twice a year, if that. Yet, those children are hopefully waiting a every mail call.

    Our letters have so much potential, they can change and minister to children and their their families. They can battle the lies of poverty and show these children that they really DO matter.

    My passion and my blog are focused on ministry opportunity we have with our sponsored children. Click my name in blue t stop by.

  14. Laura Dorsey August 31, 2011

    I know that I don’t have the right words to say anything, after reading this Quigg. Lord help.

    You have written that you wondered why you didn’t write more, but you are comforted in knowing that you were able to visit her-how beautiful this is to me. Looking at your pictures and knowing the cost of your commitment by making this trip, oh my, you know this child must have been so filled up because of that visit! Knowing that you cared that much, for her. And the gift that you gave her was so much more than any other gift that anybody could give, wasn’t it? And didn’t the Lord know when you gave it to her….He already knew then and even years before, in the womb that the day was coming that He would draw her back to Himself. But He sent you before that day came, for a purpose.

    You made me think about the death of my daughter’s closest friend a few years ago, at 24 yrs old. She was just weeks away from getting married when she died, and I was about to have a wedding shower for her. Amy was a labor and delivery nurse at a large hospital. Not long before she left this ‘temporary home’ she told me that she was discouraged at work, because she didn’t feel that she was making a difference for the Lord in any persons life. All around her, every doctor and every nurse, were unbelievers who had no interest in the Lord and were very vocal about the affairs they had with each other, etc. I am writing this because I thought about Amys funeral, when you wrote that you wonder about the funeral for your child in Rwanda. The Lord used that funeral service for Amy, and He was glorified so much that day, because of the telling of Amy’s example as His servant. The hospital closed down the labor and delivery dept that day and re-directed incoming Mom’s to other hospitals, and every staff came. And the people that Amy thought were not seeing the Lord displayed in her life got up one after the other and cried, and talked about how her quiet witness had impacted them and that they had each decided to trust in the Lord, because of her. And she never knew…well, she does now! I thought about this for your child. Who knows how the faith of this young girl may have impacted her siblings, her friends and other family? Stories will be told about what, she believed, and WHO she believed in! Oh, you made a powerful difference in her life, helping to grow her faith!

    My heart aches for you my friend, many hugs and thank you for sharing this, even in your pain. I pray for you that you will see this beautiful girl again one day, dancing with the angels!

    Thanks also for your encouragement to all of us to know the importance of our contacts with His children.

    1. Cindy Hale October 30, 2011

      Laura, thank you for sharing your words of comfort and Amy’s story. She is STILL impacting people through you. God’s many blessings, mercy, grace, and peace rain down on you and your family.
      I love you brother Quigg.

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