The Power in a Name

In the vast majority of American Christian homes, it’s not too difficult to notice our refrigerators — covered in array of family pictures, Christmas cards, and often a photo of a sponsored child in another country.

Without hesitation, most of our friends will gush about their sponsored child and proceed to pull out their most recent letter from the field — a handwritten note accompanied by a crayon sketch of the child’s family, signed by the child’s all-too-elaborate-and-difficult-to-pronounce name.

While I am overjoyed to see my friends’ excitement for their child and hear the stories they have to share, I can’t help but wonder: Do sponsors know the importance of their sponsored child’s name?

power in a name

This past summer I spent several weeks in a remote village in the northern region of Ghana, West Africa. As I walked streets flooded with African children chasing white faces, I couldn’t help noticing their sincere gaze and hesitant stutter as they attempted to say one of the few English words they knew: “Name?”

I would tell them my name — and they would giggle and hold my hand, saying my name over and over as if it was the greatest thing they’d ever heard.


They’d say it again and laugh …


I still love to hear and see the passion of others who sponsor a child, and the stories they have to share.

Except now, since returning to the States, I listen to their stories and I follow up with a heartfelt question:

“Does your sponsored child know your name?”

While the significance of a name may not carry as much weight as it previously did in Western culture, one’s name is still the most distinguishing characteristic an individual in a developing country clings to.

It tells their story — their lineage, their present and the legacy they will leave.

Your sponsored child would be thrilled to know that you see his or her face on your fridge every day … but he or she is even more excited to receive a letter from you.

power in a name

This holiday season, will you take a few moments to sit down with your family and write a letter to your sponsored child?

Share that you see her face daily, that she fills your prayers, and that you are honored to hear from her. Be a part of your child’s Christmas, and share with him the most important thing he longs to hear from you — your name, and your commitment to his.

3 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Kristin Read November 13, 2012

    Thank you both for your feedback! Mary, I cannot wait to hear the response from your sponsored child! Please keep me posted. Blessings to the two of you.

  2. Mary November 12, 2012

    This is such a beautiful reminder that I need to keep in touch with my Compassion child. My husband reminds me of this regularly. It’s one thing to send money, but it’s another to make it more personal and tell them how much you care.

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Kirk November 12, 2012

    This girl knows how to write. Great points and I’d love to hear more

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