I want to talk about something that is very dear to my heart today – child sponsorship. Adam and I sponsor two kids. Dickson is from Tanzania, and we sponsor him through Compassion, and Cai Lin is from China, and we sponsor him through Holt International. We started sponsoring Cai Lin at a Winter Jam event we took our youth group to in Kentucky, and we committed to sponsoring Dickson at our first Passion conference that we took our college students to in Atlanta. For those of you that know me personally, it might surprise you that Adam and I sponsor a child because we do not have children ourselves. So, if we don’t have children why would we be so intentional as to sponsor two children? It’s simple, really – it’s a Biblical command to take care of the widow and the orphan. It’s not optional. We might have chosen to not have children as a part of our lives in the traditional sense, but that doesn’t change God’s commands.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Additionally in Isaiah 1:17 we hear, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Again in Psalm 82:3 we see, “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” So, as I said, it is clear that God’s heart is for the outcast and oppressed, the widows and the orphans. As his followers, we need to have a heart for the same things. We can’t say, “well it’s important to God, but it’s just not my thing…I’m going to focus my energy over here instead.” There is so much freedom in Christ and so many choices as to how we minister, but some things are nonnegotiable, and I believe this is one of them. As Christians, we don’t have the luxury of hardening our hearts against the things that break God’s heart, and this is definitely one of those issues.
I am not saying that everyone needs to run out and sponsor a child or two (although I’m also not saying you shouldn’t). However, I am saying that we have an obligation, a command, a calling as Christians to do something in this realm. There are a million options that don’t include adoption and foster care, but if that is something you feel called to then by all means go for it! However, you can also become a Big Brother/Big Sister, get involved as a tutor/child advocate within the foster care system, go to the youth or children’s ministry within your church and ask if there are any kids that could use an extra helping of positive adult influence (more than likely the answer is yes), become a child sponsor, and the list goes on. There is absolutely no excuse to not be involved in this because you can be as involved as altering your entire family to welcome a child or as minimally involved as paying a set amount every month (which can even be on automatic withdrawal), with no obligation to even write your child, and literally everywhere in between.
About Our Boys
Now allow me to tell you a little about our boys. I get absolutely giddy talking about them. I am just so dang proud of them! I’ve talked thus far about the Biblical command for this, but it is also just such a great joy for us. I know it helps the kids, but it truly blesses Adam and I as well. First, Cai Lin, since we have been sponsoring him longer. It has been so neat to watch him grow as we get a picture with each update. Every time we get a new picture we are amazed at how big he is getting. He will be fourteen in August. He lives with his grandmother who is “sickly” according to the report. His father passed away, and his mother remarried and moved away. He loves school and is a great helper, not only to his grandmother, but also his friends. He also loves sports and goes running every morning. Our sponsorship pays for his educational expenses as well as “living goods distribution”.
The most recent picture and update we received from Cai Lin.
Dickson is nine years old and in the third grade. He lives with his mom and his three (I believe) siblings. His father passed away as well. His mom is a farmer and works as the weather and crops provide. He actually just wrote to me that he does not like the sunny season because the crops aren’t growing. His favorite subject is reading, which absolutely thrills me, and he helps his family by carrying water, helping in the kitchen, and running errands. He likes playing games with his friends, like hide and seek, and telling stories. There’s so much more about each of the kiddos, but this is a general overview of their lives.
It might have clicked with you that our kiddos are not actually orphans. They are both living with family members, yet I just spent all this time talking about caring for orphans. Cai Lin and Dickson fall under the preventative care category, meaning that if they were not being sponsored, it might not be possible for them to continue living with their families. By sponsoring them, we are enabling them to remain with their families, preventing them from becoming orphans. This, of course, is always the goal of these agencies – to catch families before they fall apart and do what they can to keep them together. And, man, what an honor to be a part of that!
The most recent picture and letter from Dickson.
How it Works
Each sponsorship group will run different I’m sure. Through Holt we get updates periodically from Cai Lin’s person (either a social worker, teacher, caregiver, or Holt staff member) that are already translated. We are not allowed to write to him or interact with him much at all. This is because they know not all sponsors would write back, nor do all kids even have sponsors, and they don’t want it to be unfair for the kids, which I completely understand.
Compassion, on the other hand, allows much more interaction. Dickson writes to us, and it shows the original letter (so we get to actually see his handwriting) and the translation. Then we are encouraged to write back, send pictures, and small gifts, such as bookmarks, coloring sheets, etc. We are also encouraged to send extra money for his birthday and Christmas. Also, Adam and I are hoping to go meet Dickson in the next few years on one of the Compassion trips that are available to sponsors. I’m not sure if anything like that is available through Holt. Also, Compassion has an app through which you can write your child and just upload pictures, which makes it really convenient too.
For Holt, it costs $30 a month to sponsor Cai Lin, and this covers his medical care, education, and basic living expenses. For Compassion, it costs $38 a month to sponsor Dickson. As with everything like this that we do, we did check up on the agencies before we committed to working with them. As of 2016, 70% of what we donate to Holt goes directly to the child. With Compassion, at least 80 cents of every dollar goes directly toward caring for the children. So, we sacrifice two times of eating out a month, and we change two kids lives. For us, it’s worth it. For the kids, it’s definitely worth it.
I pray that you would consider what your role should be within the orphan crisis. Maybe it’s child sponsorship, maybe it’s something else, but I guarantee you that God has a place for you. If you’re interested in sponsoring a child, please check out the websites for Compassion and Holt International. I can guarantee you will not regret it. It is truly one of our greatest joys. If you already sponsor a child, I would love to hear about your kiddo and your experience in the comments!Follow "By the Grace of God I am" on social media