Defend Childhood

Four years ago I made the decision to start sponsoring a child through World Vision. I’m not really sure anymore how or why I chose to start sponsoring at that point in my life, and I don’t even remember how I chose World Vision. Ever since then, though, I have become more and more passionate about child sponsorship in general, and about World Vision as an organization.

Our family now sponsors five children across the globe. There’s Ruramai from Zimbabwe. She was the first. Her mother exchanged letters with me in the beginning because Ruramai’s English was not strong enough. Ruramai’s mother and I were pregnant at the same time and we rejoiced together at the birth of our babies. I sent Ruramai a special gift of $100 for Easter. World Vision worked with her family to determine what they most needed. I was amazed at the pictures I received of them with their two new goats, school supplies and uniforms for Ruramai and her brother. Ruramai soon started writing to me herself. She told me she wants to be a teacher, just like me. That she prays for me and my family each day. She is such a beautiful young woman now of 13. My experience was so positive that I decided to sponsor another child. Daniela from Bolivia. Daniela had this million dollar smile with her front teeth missing. She told me all about the rivers and the beautiful land that surrounds her. Not long after that, my first son turned two and I wanted for him to learn about the world and all of its people. We started sponsoring Esdras from Honduras, who was born the exact same day as Elias. Esdras has sent us handprints, and Elias has sent him stickers and crayon scribbles. Someday he’ll write the letters. The love for our “neighbors” was growing and growing, but I wasn’t done yet. For some reason, I really felt called to sponsor a child from Armenia. Maybe it was because it was winter and I just couldn’t bear to think about kids cold without blankets. Tigran from Armenia joined our family. Finally, when my husband got a big promotion at work, we decided to be thankful by sponsoring another child. We started sponsoring Abrahan from Peru.

I wish I could sponsor all the kids who need someone.

I had never felt God’s call so strongly in my life as when I made the decision to become a child ambassador for World Vision. Changing the lives of these five children through being their sponsor…giving them hope and love…it was great, but it wasn’t enough. Being a child ambassador means that I try to match children who need sponsors with people here in the U.S. who will sponsor them. It was something so outside of my comfort zone, yet I felt so strongly that it is what I should be doing. God’s call is interesting in that way. But I knew that all He needed was a willing heart. He needed someone’s hands and feet to work through. So I interviewed and I became a volunteer child ambassador.

I did a lot at first. I talked to family and friends and members of my church. I got twelve kids sponsored. Changed 12 little precious lives. (Well I didn’t do it…I just helped get it started). But somewhere along the way I forgot what it was all about. I got busy with a toddler. I had a second child so there were two kids under the age of three. And I started worrying that I wouldn’t be able to do it. How could I convince people to give their precious money? What if they said no? What if I looked like a fool? I don’t have a lot of time anyway. I really wanted to connect kids with sponsors, but somewhere in there I just got lost.

This weekend, though, I went to the World Vision Child Ambassador conference. I was hoping it would help reignite my passion, and give me some tools and courage to get going again.

The conference was an amazing experience and I learned a lot. But I realized something unexpected while I was there. God isn’t asking me to convince people. He isn’t really asking me to do anything except be a willing body. I can give of my time and my passion and He will do the rest. Tools and training are important, but what is more important is listening to God’s call and being willing to follow. All I need to do is provide opportunities for sponsorship, and not worry about the outcome. The child sponsorship model works.

I learned a lot this weekend about child slavery and child labor. About kids who never really have a childhood because of poverty or cruelty. I learned about families having to make impossible decisions and it was all so hard to hear. It was hard not to feel overwhelmed by the terribleness of it all, especially with two young children of my own. How is it possible that we were all lucky enough to be born here and they were born there?

But I was also reminded that I am one pillar in the lives of my sponsored children. Just one pillar of hope and love in the many that World Vision is providing kids all around the world. I can help defend childhood one child at a time, and I can help others do the same.

Sponsoring a child will change you if you let it.

Will you join me?

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