I’ve been writing and thinking about child sponsorship a lot since I got back from the World Vision Child Ambassador conference in October. Being a child ambassador, I have the privilege of matching children around the world with sponsors. Every time I get a new batch of picture folders I see those precious little faces and I just want to sponsor them all. My heart is big enough, but our bank account is not.
When I first interviewed to become a child ambassador, I felt fired up. I felt that it was what I was supposed to be doing. After all, if I can’t sponsor them all, the next best thing is helping to find them sponsors, right? I helped match quite a few children with sponsors in that first year, and then got pregnant for the second time, and this “ministry” sort of lost steam.
I kept getting little “messages” from God. I knew I should be trying harder. These children around the world have no voice to speak for themselves, but are so, so worthy of our attention. I knew I was supposed to be that voice. I was supposed to plant the seeds of hope. But I was busy. It’s not that I stopped caring. I just lacked confidence and urgency I guess.
In October, I went to the conference and came home reignited. Child sponsorship works, and I wanted everyone to know it. I wanted everyone to see these beautiful, precious children. I wanted them to be lifted up in prayer and love and hope. I started right away and I’ve helped match quite a few children with sponsors in the last couple of months.
But even within my new fiery motivation after coming home from the conference, I could feel myself moving back into my old comfortable ways. It goes against my nature to get out there and talk to people, even people I know well. But the point of God’s message for me was not necessarily to convince people that child sponsorship is the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter how many times I am told no, or how many times I have to feel a bit awkward in asking. If I don’t ask who will? The point is….why would God ask me only to do “comfortable things?” I wasn’t getting the message.
In the first batch of picture folders I had, there was a girl from Bangladesh. I looked into her eyes in the picture, and I just really wanted to sponsor her. All of the children are precious, but I just felt a connection with this one particular child. I stared at her picture folder every day wondering if I should sponsor her or not. Could we afford it? Meanwhile, I had written a blog post about child sponsorship, and a friend had contacted me about it. I met with her, and brought my eleven picture folders with those eleven precious children. She chose to sponsor a child that day, and guess which one she chose? Yup. The girl I had been considering. I was so happy that she was sponsored, and I moved on to trying to match the other children.
In mid-December, I received a new batch of picture folders. I had four folders, and again, there was one child who just called to me. I wanted to sponsor that child, but again, was unsure if we could afford it. I thought about it every day. Meanwhile, a friend at church asked me about child sponsorship (again after reading a blog post I had written). Last night, I shared the folders with her, and she chose to sponsor two children, one of which was the child I had been called toward. At first I felt disappointed. I know it seems silly, but my gut reaction was that I had missed my chance. Then I realized how ridiculous I was being, and felt elated that not only were two children sponsored, but their sponsor would also reap the benefits.
All this has finally helped me start to “get the message.” I can’t save all the children in the world. I am not called to do so. This is not about me sponsoring kids or “missing my chance.” What I am called to do is plant seeds. To share the idea that if we all change the life of one child, it will eventually change the world. If I put myself out there to connect children with sponsors, it does way more than just sponsoring one more child myself. I’m not saying I’ll never sponsor more, but I think I’m finally getting the message. My ministry lies in the realm of the uncomfortable. I must stretch myself so that children around the world can be heard and seen and brought out of poverty into the light of God’s love.