There was once a school teacher in England who decided to sponsor a young boy from Africa. The little boy was about eight years old and not very self-confident. In his first letter to his sponsor, he told her, "You can see from my picture that I am not very handsome." The school teacher replied, "Well, I think you are very handsome. Your picture is on my desk. I look at it every day and think how handsome you are."
In his next letter, the boy said, "Well, thank you, but you can see from my report card that they sent you that I am not very smart." His sponsor replied, "Well, we all have our special gifts and talents. You find something you are good at and work at it with all your heart."
"Dear Sponsor, I found something that I am good at! I am a very fast runner! There are 5 children in my class and I am the fastest!"
She replied, "I am so proud of you! You run as fast as you can!"
Several years later, the teacher heard from her sponsored child again- "Dear Sponsor, I am a very, very fast runner. I can run faster than anyone in my town. In fact, I can almost run faster than anyone in my whole country! I am going to run in the Olympics!"
That year, the school teacher watched proudly from her cottage in England as that same little boy who had once possessed almost no self-confidence won a silver medal in the Olympics.
On his way back to Africa, the young man came to visit her. Handing her the medal, he said, "This is yours."
"Oh, no, no," she replied, "You ran as fast as you could. You worked so hard. I'm so proud of you. You keep it."
"No," the boy said, "If you had not encouraged me when I was younger the way you did, I would never have made it here. This is your medal. This is your victory."
Wow. Doesn't that just give you the chills? Let me share our Compassion experience. For many, many years, we have been sponsoring a girl my age. The letters she writes are often very formal. It seems all she talks about is school. At first, we were very frustrated. It almost seemed as if someone else was writing the letters for her. However, this story has inspired us to encourage our child in what she writes about most- school. Someone needs to encourage her. Tell her how proud they are of her. Tell her she has value. In a third-world country, getting good grades, let alone going to school, is something to be very proud of. We have been challenged to write FOR OUR CHILD instead of just things that we want to write. One more thing- if you were an extremely impoverished child in a third-world country and you knew a rich American was sending money to you, wouldn't you feel indebted to them? Perhaps your pride would be hurt. Maybe you would feel embarrassed. If our girl is feeling like that, we want to eliminate all those doubts. We love her and love sharing our great abundance with her. If you sponsor a child through any ministry, let them know that they are loved and valued by you, and more importantly, by GOD, their heavenly Father. Sometimes, though, because there are limits on what you can write, it's hard not to send the same kind of letter every time. Here are some ideas on how you can encourage your child and brighten their day:
- Interview them- Ask them about some of their favorite things such as food, color, hobby, etc. (Just make sure you don't ask about anything that they might not have access to because of their poverty.) It will show them that you value their opinion- share your favorites with them too!
- Make something for them- whether it be a simple drawing, a bookmark, a note card...you will not only be giving them a material gift, but the gift of time.
- Send them a coloring sheet- it will hopefully provide some entertainment. One idea would be to send them a picture of the state that you live in or landmarks in that state.
- Send them a postcard from a place that you've visited.
- Give them a picture of you or your family.
- Share your favorite Bible verse.
- Include several strands of embroidery string and some instructions of how to make a friendship bracelet. (I think that an actual friendship bracelet would be too bulky for the envelope.
- Use special stationery.
- Send them baseball cards- we also sponsor a boy in the Dominican Republic where baseball is a favorite sport. I bet that a baseball card would really be a treasured possession!
- Write a joke, a song, or a funny story- (Just make sure that it would still make sense in any language...no puns, poems, or rhymes...)
- Send stickers! :)
- Visit them. If you are able to afford such a trip, visiting your sponsored child could bring hope and life into their lives.