We’re Losing A Friend, A Part of Our Family

Malnutrition so ravaged his little mind that the seizures began. His mother — out of food and out of options, but full of love — wrapped him in a blanket and kissed him one last time.

She saved his life.

She placed him outside a police station and waited. She hoped. Maybe she even prayed to one or many gods — that her boy would be found and loved, fed and healed.

And he is. Today, he’s my son.

Shaun Groves: We're Losing a Friend, A Part of Our Family

My family and I in 2013.

We adopted our son Sambhaji from India five years ago.

He eats Cheerios at my kitchen table instead of parathas at hers. He throws a mean fastball and does better on spelling tests than I ever did — his mind and body have healed well.

He loves to read, pretend he’s Batman, and get mail from his friend Ranjith in India.

Ranjith is growing up in the same small Indian village where Sambhaji lived. My son is Ranjith’s sponsor, pen pal, friend.

Shaun Groves: We're Losing a Friend, A Part of Our Family

Sambhaji writing to Ranjith, who attends the Compassion program in India.

With the help of Compassion and a local church, Ranjith is served hot meals, learns to read and write, gets the medical attention he needs, drinks clean water and is known, loved and protected.

Because of Compassion, Ranjith is tucked into bed every night by a mom who has his face. His mother never had to say goodbye. Poverty didn’t win! God did. And a family stayed together.

But what now for the children of India?

Compassion’s relationship with more than 147,000 children in India will soon end on March 15. And my family’s relationship with Ranjith will end too. I’m struggling.

Whether you sponsor a child in India or if you’ve ever had a child you sponsor depart the program for unexpected reasons, you may relate to what my family and I are going through.

Shaun Groves: We're Losing a Friend, A Part of Our Family

My kids with pictures of their friends, the children they sponsor.

Grieving

We didn’t know our last letter to Ranjith would be our last letter. If we’d known, my son wouldn’t have written about baseball and pizza! We would have spent every word telling Ranjith how proud we are of him, how much we love him, and how often we will be praying for him. And while Compassion is going to do everything they can to get a final letter to Ranjith for us, it’s the not knowing if we will get say goodbye that hurts the most right now. We’re losing a friend, a part of our family.

God gives us each other for times like this. “Bear one another’s burdens,” Paul wrote, and “grieve with those who grieve” (Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:15).

Will you be brave enough to admit this hurts and talk about it?

Praying

I look across the table at my boy and I think of the millions of mothers and fathers across India who simply cannot keep their children fed and healthy and educated and alive without help. Where will that help come from now?

The most powerful institution on earth is not a charity, corporation or government. The most powerful force on earth is the Body of Jesus Christ. Compassion’s work can be stopped, but the Church cannot. The 589 churches across India who have faithfully partnered with Compassion are not going anywhere. We can keep supporting them with prayer.

Will you pray with me that God will continue to use the local church in India to care for children in their communities?

Compassion International Is Ending Operations in India

Children attending the Compassion program at their local church in India.

Forgiving

It feels good to blame someone for this tragedy. I blamed Compassion until I learned how long and how hard they worked to stay in India. I blamed governments and politicians on both sides of the ocean. I blamed myself for not praying harder and sooner. Is blame really helpful?

It’s human to be angry when the decisions of the most powerful bring harm to the most vulnerable. It feels better than sadness sometimes. But Ephesians 4:31 tells us to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger.” Christ enables us to be more than human at times like these — to forgive and to pray for those we’re tempted to blame.

Will you join me in forgiving?

Giving

I sponsored a child for the first time in college. After a few months, his parents moved him to an area where Compassion wasn’t yet operating. I was forced to stop being Carlos’ sponsor. But I chose not to sponsor another child for more than a decade.

When I don’t want to give any more (yes, I have days like that) I turn to the most well-worn page in my Bible where Paul reminds me that I have been “made rich in every way” so that I may be “generous on every occasion”(2 Corinthians 9:11).

My relationship with Ranjith will soon end, but the opportunity to give is endless. Compassion is still caring for 1.8 million children in 25 countries today and many of them need a sponsor.

Will you join me in sponsoring another child today?

Compassion International Is Ending Operations in India

Hoping

Hope is a powerful thing. Sambhaji is my healthy happy son today because of his mother’s hope. She hoped that someone else could give him what she could not. And God did have a plan to care for Sambhaji. He also has a plan for Ranjith and all the Indian boys and girls we must say goodbye to now. I’m choosing to believe that even though I will not be part of Ranjith’s life anymore, God always will be.

Will you choose to believe that God is good and has a plan for India’s children?

Saying goodbye is hard, friends. We’ll grieve and pray together. We’ll forgive and keep on giving together. And we will not stop hoping together. God’s peace to you and our family in India.

39 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    Raya Shelashska June 28, 2017

    I am so sorry about your loss. What a tragedy. But had you and this made his life brighter. My prayers go for your family today.

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    Darla Coulson May 24, 2017

    My heart ❤️ goes out to so many of us that had a sponsor child in India. I cried to lose my relationship with Ronomol & didn’t know if my last letter would reach her. Would her 11 yr old heart know it wasn’t my choice to stop writing?
    Would she get the care or help she needs?
    I chose to sponsor another child Compassion suggested but will miss Ronomol & will🙏🏻 pray for her care &’that she will develop a passionate relationship with the Lord.
    Thank you so much for your blog. I need to read it again. 💜🙏🏻🌿
    With hope,
    Darla

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    Jessie Smith May 9, 2017

    My wife and I have been sponsoring little Rupa in India. Only she’s not so little anymore after 6 years of sponsorship. I have always had some special place in my heart for India, only our Lord knows why. while my wife and I were not always the best letter writers, we prayed constantly for her, her family, and nation. After getting an English language Indian newspaper for several years, I can only speculate on why the Indian government did what they did, so I won’t mention it. We will continue our prayers for her and others in India. We are also praying for the Lord to guide us in perhaps sponsoring another child.

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    Emilie Downs May 9, 2017

    I never got to say goodbye to Sonia, my child in India. I logged into my account in October and she was gone–and so were all my letters to her and any information. I called customer support immediately and my worst fear was confirmed. I broke down crying on the phone. There was no further support given to me–no emails, no ways to get in touch. It was simply over. My heart grieves for Sonia and I worry about her so much. I pray for her every day. If there really is a way to get a final letter to her, I’d like to know about it. My emotions are still very raw as to how my case was handled.

    1. Avatar
      Shannon May 9, 2017

      Hi Emilie,

      First of all, I want to apologize that you felt as if you were left in the dark after your precious, Sonia completed her time with Compassion. We want you to know that our intention was never to leave anyone out of the communication, nor was it not to tend to your heart as you process the loss of your child. We know that losing a child, no matter the circumstance is very difficult, and our hearts are broken with yours. Compassion had done, and is continuing to do, everything they possibly can to mend the issue with India, so that we may continue to help those children. However, we do know that God has a plan for the missions in our heart, and we know that he is the one leading the way. Although we did have to completely shut down our ministry in India at this time, we are still praying, still loving, and still searching for a way we may be able to help in the future. Please know that at this time, we are not able to send any more letters through to India. Although we would love to allow you to send a letter, regrettably, we have no staff left to process or deliver the letter. Again, I am so sorry for this.

      Furthermore, if you would like, we would be happy to send you all your letters that we have in the system since last May when we began saving the kiddos letters. If you would like us to do so, please email this request to socialmedia@compassion.com.

      Keep in mind that although Sonia’s Compassion project is no longer functioning, the church and the community is still there. In many cases, the support system that has been built is now established, and we know that they will still have community in which they feel safe and loved. Please join us in continued prayer for this child. We know that although you may not be able to continue to sponsor her, your prayers can make even a larger impact.

      I hope this is helpful! I will be praying that God allows your heart to heal, and begin to feel peaceful that he is in control, and he will take care of and provide for Sonia.

      Blessings, -Shannon

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    Tammy Minnick April 1, 2017

    Dear fellow parents,so many other parents are too feeling the shock and disbelief of what you and your adopted children are feeling. Please be assured that we all are grieving with you, praying that all the beautiful blessings these youngsters received will by God’s grace stick with them as they enter this transition. We cover you, and your children with prayers of comfort. We ask holy spirit to accompany you day and night. We ask Father God to give you strength to dig in and never give up hope for the day you will see them in eternity. You are loved. You are not alone. Blessings to you.

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    Donna Burleaud March 31, 2017

    Thank you for this great blog post expressing our hearts & thoughts. I had the privilege of sponsoring two children in India, a little boy and girl, who grew up during the time I’ve been writing to them over the last few years through the ministry of Compassion. I sent off my last letters last week not knowing if they will be received…God’s grief is far grater than mine but I choose to trust Him completely with my kids & India and will continue to pray each day. In front of my computer are pictures of Amit (now a man, 20) and Anima (now a young woman, 15) of India. To their left are my two new kids, Blaise, a little boy 8, and Adjo Lea, a little girl 6, from Togo…all four are ever in my eyes and heart. In Philippians 1:3-11, especially v. 6 it states that He will complete the work He started in the lives of these children. God bless all of you and we will meet soon and rejoice in what He has done!

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    carol schumann March 21, 2017

    I also lost a long sponsored young woman Carolin who graduated from the program and is now a nurse. I sent a final letter and pray she received it. I was sad that I couldn’t send a final graduation gift to her. I still continue to pray for her daily. I know that God blesses her and cares for her also. I write to many other children and sponsor one other young girl and a young boy. I wish I could afford to sponsor more than I do.
    It is so hard to know that these children are losing many of the things we take for granted. May God continue to love and protect them until the borders are once again open to Compassion.

  8. Avatar
    Andrew Smith March 20, 2017

    The grieving mentioned in the article is something I’m sure many sponsors of Compassion children in India are experiencing. I wonder if there is a way that we can all get our children final messages. I am sure that it has already been looked into, probably. Many of us have built up a relationship over years, sometimes perhaps up to 20 years. For a child and a sponsor not to be able to say goodbye and have to silently grieve without closure could be difficult for some, especially the children. I hope that the Compassion organization was given the opportunity to emotionally prepare the children for the separation.

    1. Susan Sayler
      Susan Sayler March 21, 2017

      Andrew, we understand this is a grieving process for everyone and want to provide every avenue possible for closure. We sent more information and special stationary in the mail so that sponsors can send their child a final letter. Do you sponsor in India?

      1. Avatar
        Debi Bernard April 1, 2017

        Is it to late to write that letter? We have a little boy we were sponsoring in India and I didn’t get the letter written out of grief and sadness. I do want him to know we love him and he will always be in our hearts and prayers.

        1. Christina Wilson
          Christina Wilson April 3, 2017

          Debi, yes, you may still send us your final letter to your sweet boy. We kindly ask that you please send your letter to us as soon as possible. We completely understand how difficult it can be to write a goodbye letter to your precious child :(. Thank you so much for the huge impact your love and sponsorship has made in his life. God bless you!

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    Mary P. March 19, 2017

    I have sponsored Neenu in India since she was 8. Next month she will be 19.Her sweet letters always encouraged me and helped me to see the growth she was experiencing daily. Her grades were always good and she loves her family and friend so much. I will miss her every day, but will take encouragement that God will bring good out of this difficult situation in his timing.

    1. Avatar
      Shannon March 20, 2017

      Hi Mary! Thank you for sharing your heart with all of us! Our hearts are absolutely feeling this loss as well. We thank you for your continued prayers for the kiddos and families in India, as well as all of our sponsors and staff! 🙂

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    Robbin long March 16, 2017

    I held out hope during this process and grieved when the decision was final. Sajin is 20, and Samuel is turning 18. I have sponsored them for many years. They know the Lord loves them, as do I. I have been blessed to meet them and will forever cherish that memory and visit my picture gallery often. Thank you compassion for your efforts, sponsors for your prayers, and God, we know you will provide.

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    Leigh March 15, 2017

    Just today I wrote my final letter to Saranya in India, and prayed it will make it to her. I have sponsored her for eight years, and she delighted our family with her letters and with her sweet spirit. She too, wrote us in English, proof that the education she was receiving was excellent. It is hard to imagine not hearing from her again. But we are assured of a reunion someday in Eternity. Between now and then I will pray for her safety, her health and her heart. And I will gladly sponsor another child.

    1. Avatar
      Lynn March 21, 2017

      What words did you use? I am at a loss of what to say to my child Amit.

      1. Avatar
        Pam Brooks March 23, 2017

        I told our child, Alisha(who is 8 years old), to always remember these things: God loves her, Jesus loves her, and they will always be with her. Also that we love her, will always remember her, and will pray for her and her family. The Bible verse I wrote out was John 3:16. We are grieving for the loss of contact with Alisha. It is driving me to seek to trust more deeply that God will bring about good in the lives of the church and people in India.

  12. Avatar
    Janice Sohlman March 15, 2017

    I don’t sponsor a child in India, but I did contact my 3 MA elected officials in Washington and received replies from the 2 men. Sen. Elizabeth Warren did not give me the courtesy of a reply. I didn’t vote for her and certainly never will. I’ll continue to pray for that country.

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    BETTY HACKLER March 14, 2017

    I sponsored Aries WHO LIVED IN INDIA FOR 4 YRS.SHE WAS A SWEET LOVING GIRL WHO WAS 5 WHEN I STARTED SPONSORING HER. I LOVED HER DEARLY. IT WAS SO SAD WHEN I WAS TOLD I COULDN’T NO LONGER SPONSOR HER AND NOT KNOW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO HER NOW. I HOPE THE LETTERS,PRAYERS, LOVE AND ENCOURAGEMENT I GAVE HER ABOUT GOD WILL HELP HER THROUGH THE DAYS AHEAD. I WILL CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR HER AND HER FAMILY .

  14. Avatar
    Kalah March 11, 2017

    I am losing a child from India which she calls me sister. I have sponsored her since she was 6 years old and she is 14 years old. She now writes her letters in english! I thank God that I had an opportunity for God to use me in her life and she will continue to follow God’s footsteps. I wrote my last letter which was very heartbreaking. I know God is in control.

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    jun March 8, 2017

    amen

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    Yvette McDonald March 7, 2017

    I too have lost a Compassion child in India. I sponsored Ujjal for almost 12 years and it is heartbreaking to know that I will never know what will become of him. I pray that the Christian foundation that Compassion instilled in him will last him the rest of his life and that God will bless him in his endeavors. And I pray that the Indian Government will allow the good work that Compassion is doing in India to continue.

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    Jennifer Drury March 6, 2017

    Thank you for this. It’s been heartbreaking to know that the sweet girl who calls my daughter her best friend will no longer be able to communicate with her. It’s hard to think about Pratiksha not receiving meals and education at her Compassion center. But there is hope – that God knows every hair on her head and will not abandon her, that she knows and loves Jesus and belongs to Him, that we will see her again, even if it’s in heaven. Thankful God gave you Sambhaji to love :), and thankful that He has a plan. We started sponsoring a new child a few months ago, an 18 year old who had been waiting for so long, and we adore him as we do Pratiksha.

    1. Sarah
      Sarah March 6, 2017

      Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. My heart breaks knowing that your daughter will have to grieve the loss of her friendship with Pratiksha, but I pray that this will only strengthen your hope and your faith in the Lord.

  18. Avatar
    Kirk Turner, DDS March 5, 2017

    There is certainly a larger opportunity to “adopt” another child in need but how do you move on from the loss of your child?

  19. Avatar
    Chris Kincaid March 4, 2017

    I too lost my sponsored child in India several years again when the Compassion program in her area was no longer viable, for whatever reasons. Compassion had been in contact with me for several months to keep me updated on the situation. The night they called to say that the program could not be saved, they asked if I wanted to sponsor another child in India. I had been to Kenya twice previously, so asked if, instead, I could sponsor a little girl there. The woman on the phone with me pulled up the first girl in Kenya and her birthday was in a few weeks. (God is so amazing.) Last year, when I returned to Kenya for the third time, I was able to meet Mueni and spend the day with her and her family. I continue to pray for Neela in India, but I know that God’s plan was to send Mueni to me.

    1. Sarah
      Sarah March 6, 2017

      Chris, thank you so much for sharing this powerful story of God’s goodness and faithfulness in your life and the lives of your sweet children, Neela and Mueni. This closure is incredibly difficult, but the Lord is still who He has always been. He will continue to turn what Satan intended to be harmful into something beautiful that puts His glory on display.

  20. Avatar
    Robert Setter March 4, 2017

    I love the spirit of this entry, but I don’t like to think of the relationship as simply ending because Compassion is leaving. I started sponsoring five years ago. The first child I sponsored was in Indonesia. He had special medical needs and was also one who had been waiting for nearly a year. It was wonderful having him as long as I did. Maybe a little less than a year after Yoses, I picked up what was then my third sponsored child from Peru, Fabian. One day, Compassion called me to explain that Yoses’ family had left. Yoses could no longer be sponsored. I knew nothing more than that. Less than three weeks after that, I got the same call again in regards to Fabian. With him, I at least knew the family had moved to Argentina, but that was all. It’s a strange emptiness you feel, not knowing what has become of someone you have given a piece of your heart to, whatever size.I take comfort in the belief that my relationship with Yoses and Fabian never really ended, because I can still pray for them, and know that the impact I had on them as a sponsor is something that will never leave them. If the children of India have taken to heart what they’ve been taught, all they’ve been given and blessed with, then our job, Compassion’s job, was well done. Wherever they go now, whatever they do, Compassion’s work, Compassion’s love, goes with them.

  21. Avatar
    Dixie Estrem March 3, 2017

    We also mourn the loss of our little boy, Luckey who just had a birthday in February. We had looked forward to following him until he was done with school and then hoped to visit. Yes, we will keep praying. God is not done working. No government can stop His power. I place my trust in the God who created the Universe. So I mourn, but I mourn with hope.

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    Vicki March 3, 2017

    Only you, Shaun, could have written this as you did, and written it so well. Thank you.

    Our last sponsored child in India, a fine young man, completed his program not long before we received that first letter from Compassion, telling us that we could send no more funds into the country. We had the check for Selva’s final gift ready to mail. We wrote a final letter, but, like you, have only the hope that he received it. We never received one from him. He had written such sweet letters, full of love for Jesus and for us, and being unable to share with him one more time really hurt. Still hurts.

    Yesterday, I learned that I am losing another, a young woman I have sponsored for 14 years. She was one of my first two girls. She did not end her education well, and I have no confidence that she has escaped economic poverty. She dod meet her Lord and Savior, however, and I will see her, one day, along with the others who have chosen to live for Christ Jesus.

  23. Avatar
    Jill Foley March 3, 2017

    Shaun, This is so good. Thank you for writing it and sharing it. I’m so sad to be losing Preeti – her photo of Compassion’s website reminded us so much of our youngest daughter and we were drawn to her. We sponsored her 6 years ago. We’ve lost other sponsored children before – for reasons out of our control, but this feels so different. So unfair. So heartbreaking. I am grieving for everyone involved.

  24. Avatar
    Sarah Faith Calleja March 3, 2017

    I so love this article! Whatever circumstances, God is still working and is in control of everything. We can be assured that God will never foraske those kids down in India 🙂

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      jun March 8, 2017

      amen

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      Jamie March 5, 2017

      I don’t understand why this family can’t continue to send money /supplies/vouchers? to these Kids. Surely this organization wouldn’t try to prevent people sending things directly to the kids. This doesn’t make any sense?

      1. Sarah
        Sarah March 7, 2017

        Hi Jamie! There is never any guarantee when you send funds or items overseas that the items will get to the right people or be used in the manner originally intended. We also aren’t able to give out the addresses of these children for privacy and safety concerns. Although Compassion is no longer allowed to fund the churches we work with that provide the programing to the children, we are encouraging them to continue ministering to children and their families in whatever ways they are able. While the situation for each local church is different, the heart and passion to serve the children in their communities is the same. We are very hopeful that meaningful ministry and support will continue in some manner, even if it is not to the degree it exists today through the help of our generous sponsors. It is extremely difficult for us to have to pull out of India, but we are continuing to trust that the Lord has bigger plans than we can see for India and these precious children.

  25. Avatar
    Sarah Faith Calleja March 3, 2017

    I so love this article! Indeed, God is still in control in everything 🙂 Those kids will never be forsaken, in Jesus name 🙂

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      Catherine Hughes March 9, 2017

      Perhaps the Plan of God is for the alumni of compassion will partner with the churches and take over the work. My first three children were from India. In the seventys. They and many others would be in their fiftys by now. They have the model the equipment, and the knowledge. God can make it happen.

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    Yvonne Reynolds March 3, 2017

    We have ‘lost’ three Compassion children over the last seven years. It has been hard, devastating. I cried when we ‘lost’ Eduardo because I was ‘suppose’ to meet him on a Compassion trip. But God connected us with another child who I needed to be connected with for some healing of my own. My son will be ‘losing’ his Compassion child in India who he has been sponsoring for 5 years. He was 17 when he first started sponsoring Susanta. This hurts! But God knows the details of what is happening in India. He continues to be with those pastors and volunteers at those churches. I pray that the many Compassion graduates who have completed the Compassion program in India will continue to share about Jesus with the many children and families who still are longing to know more about the joy and hope the graduates have.

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