Norah sat on the striped couch generously sharing her story for another Compassion video interview. As a speaker for Compassion, she travels to events across the country and shares her experience of being released from poverty in Jesus’ name. On this particular day, she had traveled to Newport, Kentucky, to a quirky video studio in an old church sanctuary.
What she didn’t know was that her sponsors had just made the same trip.
As we shared in Part 2 of Norah’s story, Norah had been searching unsuccessfully for the couple who sponsored her when she was a child in Uganda. When she and her husband moved to the United States, she immediately started looking for them on social media with only the meager clues she had from letters years ago. She mentioned looking for her sponsors when she had speaking engagements, which gave Compassion staff an idea. They began to plan for a surprise meeting just as Norah was beginning to despair of finding her sponsors.
So on this special August day, while Norah shared details of center staff who had inspired her and letters that had encouraged her, Jeff and Bonnie of Colorado prepared to walk up the stairs of the studio and meet the person they had prayed for, encouraged and treasured for so many years.
Meeting at Last
As the film crew carefully prepared, the interviewer began to ask Norah more specific questions about her sponsors. Finally, she asked, “If you could meet your sponsors today, what would you want to tell them?”
Norah’s eyes brightened, and she leaned forward, excited to share her message, even as Jeff and Bonnie started to walk into the studio, holding hands.
“I would like to say thank you — thank you so much — to my sponsors, Jeff and Bonnie Mowry. I hope I see you one day, I love you so much, wherever you are …”
Bonnie interrupted with a quiet “How about today?” that seemed to shake the room.
Norah turned, dumbfounded, and saw her sponsors for the first time. Totally overwhelmed, she stood and retreated to the corner of the room, covering her face with her hands to hide the tears of surprise, relief and joy. Jeff and Bonnie followed, enfolding Norah in their arms and thanking Jesus that they had finally been able to meet.
Hearing the Whole Story
After hugging, crying and getting on their knees to thank God for what he had done, Jeff, Bonnie and Norah returned to the interview couch where they had gifts and stories to exchange over the next several hours.
Though Jeff and Bonnie knew some of how their sponsorship had affected Norah and empowered her as she grew, the letters they had exchanged revealed very little about how Norah’s Compassion center had slowly transformed her whole family.
Before Norah was registered in the program at a local church, her mother struggled to support the family on her meager income as a hairdresser. But as Jeff and Bonnie listened in humbled amazement, Norah shared how the Compassion center taught both her and her mother how to make jewelry. Eventually, her mother became very skilled and started selling jewelry as her main business. The training she received from the center enabled her to care for her children and send them to school. Norah also shared that her whole family came to know the love of Christ through the center.
And Jeff and Bonnie leaned close to see pictures of Norah’s husband and three children, eager to hear about her family and career. They marveled at how much work Norah has now done to advocate for children.
Gifts of Gratitude
After opening Jeff and Bonnie’s eyes to the full impact of her sponsorship, Norah had a gift for them. Many years ago, when she was about to graduate from the program, she made Bonnie a beautiful necklace and hoped that she could one day give it to her as a thank you. And when Norah moved to the U.S., her mother also made a necklace that she wanted Bonnie to have if Norah ever found her.
Norah had been asked to show these necklaces for the video story she was recording, so she had them both with her. Pulling out these two beautiful pieces of jewelry, she explained what they meant to her and finally, after so many years, placed them around Bonnie’s neck.
Bonnie in turn had a gift to give: a silver bracelet beautifully engraved with the verse she and Norah had shared in their letters, Jeremiah 29:11.
And then the conversation dissolved into reminiscing about letters, videocalling relatives to introduce the sponsors and, as always, marveling at the beautiful story God had written.
Grateful to be Part of the Story
Throughout this beautiful reunion, Jeff and Bonnie kept returning in wonder to the fact that their small act of sponsorship had done so much more than they knew. There were so many people involved, so many local church staff, each doing their job to bring about this beautiful story in Norah’s life.
“It’s not just us — it’s a whole team,” Bonnie says. “It’s a whole army of people that God mobilizes in order to effect change in the life of a child. This picture of what we’re doing is very little, but there’s so much going on in the background.”
With this whole army of people in view, Jeff and Bonnie are immensely grateful that God gifted them with the opportunity to be part of Norah’s life.
If this remarkable story inspired you to give to Compassion’s ministry, consider making an end-of-year gift today!