I’ve been keeping watch. Pacing footsteps. Counting heart-mends.
Not heartbreaks. Even though Nicaragua brought heart splits, tear drops, knees bent.
I’ve been holding breath. Thinking…
And when all the pain swelled and heaped up to yield His last exhale, I wonder if the world stood quiet, and in unison took in one long inhale. Standing. Also holding breath. Waiting for His return.
But don’t we know? Release costs.
Release from apathy. Release from self-thought. Release from sin.
Our release cost the Father His only Son. By way of His broken, holy, sacrificed body.
Release costs. It always costs.
Which is why the oft-repeated mission of Compassion is weighty to me.
“Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.”
Not weighty like a pile of rocks heaped on an aching back. Weighty like all those heavy, warm blankets piled on top of a cold body.
A good kind of weighty.
I watch as our bloggers say goodbye to their sponsored children. I see light catch their eyes just right and glossy, translucent beads stream down their face. I know they are counting the cost. The cost of sponsoring a child.
I know what the cost is because I’m a sponsor too.
Sponsorship costs me $38 a month. It cost me time to write thoughtful letters. It cost me sincere heartfelt prayers. It cost me boldness to talk to friends and family about why I sponsor a child in poverty.
It cost me a different budget. A different mindset.
But I sponsor Fos. And when her letters started coming I found out her dad had left. Her mother had abandoned her. And she lived with her very ill grandmother. So I wrote. I prayed. I wrote. I prayed. I wrote. I prayed. I sent birthday gifts. Family gifts. Christmas gifts.
Then I wrote and prayed some more.
Over the course of five years her letters started to tell a different tale. She accepted Christ. Her grandmother was healed. A few years later her father came back home. Shortly after her mother came back home.
Fos was so much more than a picture on my refrigerator. She was the girl who bought a dress with the birthday money I sent. And she wore it everywhere.
She was the little girl who loved to be in the church programs. Loved dancing. Always asked me to pray for her grandmother.
And when I wrote, I told her all the things little girls should hear:
“You are beautiful.”
“You are talented.”
“You have a future.”
“You are so so loved.”
But one Monday morning my phone rang and it was Compassion.
“Brianne, we’d like to thank you so much for your sponsorship of Fos. She has been departed from Compassion because her family circumstances have changed for the better. She is no longer in need of the ministry’s assistance.”
And I cried. It was a good cry. A sad cry. An, “I’ll miss you. I can’t believe God let our lives touch. I am so grateful for you” cry.
I released Fos from poverty.
Still I cried. And to be honest, I’m still crying. I miss Fos. It was hard to have five years of investment end sooner than I thought it would. Even though it was the best possible news.
I brace myself as I click through photos of children. Ready to sponsor again. And I pause. I brace myself. I think of the cost.
Then I think about Fos and how her life is forever changed because of the church, Compassion, and me. All working together. And we did it. Release.
Being in Nicaragua helped remind me just what sponsorship means.
It moved me from thinking about what it costs me to sponsor a child to thinking about what it will cost a child in poverty if I don’t sponsor.
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I recently had to release a young man from Ethiopia as he had completed the program and had gone to vocational school, he wrote me a beautiful letter thanking me for my words of encouragement and he said that it was hard for him to believe that someone so far away could really care for him. It was a beautifully written letter and I know that he has a good vocation now and can make his way.
Thank you for such a well written full story of what sponsorship means. The tremendous change for Fos is truly God working through you. I recently sponsored some children in Nicaragua and really don’t know what to expect. Your story really helps me. Thank you for sharing your story. God bless.
I just received news today that my most beloved daughter, Kwagala in Uganda, may be leaving the program. As an orphan, last year she asked if she could call me Mom and my heart built a love bridge like no other all of the way to Africa.
My heart is broken. I wish I could wrap my arms around my girlie and love on her. I pray there may be a way she can stay in the program.
Out of our 19, this would be the first time we’ve had a child leave and our bond with Kwagala is so strong, I am just in a state of shock.
I am thankful for the time we’ve had and I’ll be praying that we can meet one day. (I know, if not here on earth, then we will in Heaven!)
I was really touched by this note. I too have been so moved by sponsoring my children. They are always in my heart and mind. I would love to visit them but I feel that it would be difficult to leave them. I also think about how the money that it would cost me to travel could be used to provide for the needs of others and ask myself if it would be selfish to go. I’m still praying about it.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Praise God for answered prayers! My husband and I have sponsored, and released, several children. One hard part of release is not knowing what is going on in their lives now, or since they left the Compassion program. 🙁 I have saved all their letters ( I think 🙂 and will occasionally look back at them. The young man we sponsor now will turn 17 this summer. I guess we may be releasing him in a year or so. I really like your example the affirmations you gave Fos. I want to remember to do that with our boy. 🙂 God bless you richly!
Oh my. Good hard tears indeed!
Oh Brianne! I completely know how you are feeling right now, because I also received a phone call similar to yours just last week! And yes, the tears did flow. These children become a part of our family. But knowing that our little Eduardo has accepted Christ helps me to know that he is a part of God’s family. Sponsorship does cost, but I know that our family will continue to make the sacrifice, because we know that sponsorship works. I will be praying for you Brianne as you select another child to add to your family.
Thank you so much, Yvonne! You are right, they become part of the family. Part of our prayers. Part of our thoughts. But God is so good to use us, even if for just a season! Grateful for you!
well said! thanks for the encouragement! I think the hardest for me sometimes is thinking “what if the sponsorship doesn’t workout right or is a failure?” but it’s worth trying and fighting for 🙂
Yes, Mike! It is SO worth it!
That would hurt. Oh, yes. I haven’t lost a child yet but I read of this so often I know it may come. You are a beautiful soul and your Compassion posts catch the Savior’s love flowing right through you. Bless you, Brianne! And offering a prayer for Fos too.
Thank you so much, Christine. Your words are so encouraging. Thank you for taking time to lift up Fos in prayer! Such a blessing!