Spring Fever – the weather is nicer, we all want to be outside, and sports seem to be everywhere! Between the NCAA basketball tournament and the start of the regular baseball season, we are surrounded by competition and contests.
That also means we are surrounded by great letter-writing topics! You can use sports as a launching point for learning more about your sponsored child. Here are a few tips:
Ask about your sponsored child’s favorite sport and athlete. Then, search for news stories and photos online and print off a photo or a short article to send to your sponsored child.
For example, two weeks ago the Dominican Republic team won the World Baseball Classic Championship, and the entire country erupted with joy (a photo of the celebration is above). The Dominicans beat Puerto Rico in the final game, unseating repeat Classic champions Japan in the only global baseball tournament to include Major League Players.
“This means the world to us,” said Robinson Cano, second baseman for the New York Yankees who was also named the Most Valuable Player for the Classic. “You know how it is back home.”
Back home – where every boy dreams of becoming a professional baseball player and breaking the cycle of poverty (for him and his family) forever.
If you sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic, baseball is a very good place to start asking questions about who your child roots for or admires! All 30 major league baseball teams have at least one Dominican baseball player on their roster – in fact, 11% of all major league players came from the DR, the highest number of players from any country other than the United States.
The World Baseball Classic is current enough that you could find news stories and photos, or follow your child’s favorite players as the baseball season develops. For a list of Dominican baseball players in the major leagues, click here.
You can also use sports to encourage your child in school (check out tip #3 in this article) or find other unique ways to learn about your child’s favorite sport. We have several posts about the most popular sports in your child’s country, as well -- you may have never heard of some of these!
Sepak Takraw -- Philippines, Cambodia, India
Kabbadi -- Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, India
Cricket -- India, Bangladesh, Nepal
Futbol/Soccer -- Haiti, Honduras, the Philippines
Badminton -- India, Nepal, the Philippines,
Netball -- Swaziland, Kenya, Ethiopia, India
Ask good questions and you’ll learn a lot about your child, his country, and the passions that you may have in common!
Inside-out, sideways, backwards, askew – when your team faces tremendous odds, a rally cap is a simple way to show you still believe. Any baseball fan knows that a team can come from behind to win in spectacular fashion.
We believe that’s true for children in poverty, too. Show your commitment, and a child can overcome overwhelming obstacles. Provide opportunities to learn, grow, and play, and you will see children transform.
One Child Matters serves almost 4,300 children in the Dominican Republic, a country where baseball is unquestionably the national sport and universal language. We are so blessed to have several partners in our ministry there who work alongside us as we change the lives of children.
The amazing thing is that they happen to be major league baseball players. Along with their wives, families, and friends, several current and former MLB players have helped us invest in our programs in a unique way: they helped us build a baseball field, and then have come back year after year to check on it, run baseball clinics, help Medical Mercy check on the kids, and share their testimonies and the light of Christ in their lives.
It’s been nothing short of incredible! God is so good.
We pulled together some fantastic footage of the players (including the Cleveland Indians’ pitcher Justin Masterson, Minnesota Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson, and baseball agent Randy Rowley) serving at the “Field of Dreams,” also known as “The Baseball Project,” also known as Mission Valiente Joshua 1:9 Child Development Center. The field was started thanks to a generous gift by Garret Anderson and his wife, Teresa. Garret retired last year after a stellar career with the Angels.
The name of the child development center references Joshua 1:9, where God commands us, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Thank you, sponsors and prayer warriors, donors and baseball players, family and friends for building a place where kids can discover that they have reason to be strong and courageous, because God is with them wherever they go!
On yesterday’s blog post, G.A. asked what sort of employment opportunities are available for older children in our programs. It’s an excellent question, and our programs in the Dominican Republic provide some great examples of the skills children in our programs learn before they graduate from our programs.
All of our programs are designed to enrich the whole child – we address physical needs like nutrition and health while also encouraging their educational and spiritual development. As children mature, we can add life skills or vocational skills training, such as tailoring or sewing classes, cooking, and barbering.
One of our programs in the Dominican Republic has been highly successful in training new barbers among the older students. Several have graduated from the barbering program and now volunteer their time at other projects, giving children haircuts to encourage good self-esteem as the young barbers sharpen their skills.
One of those young barbers is Jose. In addition to being pictured above, Jose answered a few questions for us about this program:
Do you think you have a better chance of getting a good job when you grow up because you were sponsored?
Yes, because I learn technical courses. I graduated of Barber and I am the barber in the afternoon because I study in the morning. Besides I participate in the English, sewing, and computer courses that are taught.
Are you happy being in the sponsorship program?
Yes, because I learn about God and to have a better development in the life, and because I acquire knowledge through the technical courses.
What do you hope to be when you grow up?
I want to be an architect, because my dream is to build my own house.
We will share more about Jose and the barber program at a later date, but we wanted all of our sponsors to know that this is an important consideration for all of the children we shepherd into adulthood. Our hope and prayer is that they graduate as well-rounded young adults with a strong foundation in faith and education, ready to reach their God-given potential and dream big, just like Jose!
One Child Matters serves almost 4,300 children in the Dominican Republic. It is a country of exquisite beauty and unique challenges. Why is ministry needed there? Here are a few reasons:
So-called “free unions,” where couples live together without the formality of marriage, are quite common and very unstable. In the communities we serve, the average number of children in each family is 5; however, these children are often from 2 or 3 different fathers. Blended families pose their own risks, as children from previous relationships may be rejected or neglected.
In urban areas, most adults work as street vendors or have low-paying part-time jobs that rarely provide enough for their families. Our more rural programs have seen families struggle to survive off the land. Our programs provide an element of stability for children, giving them access to nutritious snacks and educational support, easing the burden on parents who have so little.
A country's culture can shape our approach to ministry as much as the challenges children face.
Did you know?
With a Bible in its coat of arms, the Dominican Republic is the only country in the world with such explicit biblical symbol on its flag. In 2010, the Dominican constitution as amended to clarify elements of the coat of arms (seen at left), specifically that the Bible is turned to John 8:32, which says “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Due in part to its rich faith heritage, the Dominican Republic is receptive to our programs for children. Each of our 30 child development centers in the Dominican Republic is connected with a local church which helps reinforce the biblical values we teach. Often the children in our programs end up bringing their parents and siblings to church with them, multiplying the outreach in their communities.
Do you sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic? What would you like to know about your child’s country?
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)
What is the best part of this verse?
Even when we were dead in transgressions, God made us alive with Christ – a synopsis of the gospel, but why did He do it? Because He is rich in mercy, and because of his great love for us – essentially the reason we celebrate Easter with such joy. It is by grace we have been saved!
It is by His grace that we can introduce others to His great love for us. Sponsorship is rich in mercy, as well, and it brings children new life as they begin to break the cycle of poverty. It is by His mercy that we can extend hope, truth, life, and love to 40,000 children around the world. Thank you for partnering with us as we follow God’s great example. Praise God for His grace and the merciful way He builds His kingdom.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Is there a better example of love than Christ's selfless act? Christ made his sacrifice not because of what He would get from us, but what He could get for us. Sponsorship follows the same model. You step forward for the good of the child to help them secure a better future and change their lives forever.
Like us, separated from God because of our sin, children in poverty can feel isolated and helpless to change their circumstances. In God’s great mercy, love is the hinge on which life change swings. Learning they are sponsored may be one of the first miracles these children experience -- someone who has never met them values their life and future enough to make a commitment on their behalf.
Paul gives us a worthy challenge in Ephesians 5:1-2 when he says "follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
How are you walking in the way of love today?
Today, on Good Friday, we rightly focus on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross – that He gave His life so that we may have life to the full (John 10:10). Scripture makes it absolutely clear, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11) and “that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4).
That is the Life we seek to bring children in poverty. We want to nurture the whole child, meeting their physical needs and their spiritual needs, improving their lives today and introducing them to the One who gives eternal life. Our motivation is confirmed in 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
This is the glory of Easter: the world thought Jesus’ life was over on Good Friday. We know the
truth – that His life lives on in us! The cross was not the end, but the beginning. May the depth of His love and the mercy of His great gift of life be evident to us today.
The truth about God’s character is powerfully revealed in Easter. Jesus is obedient to the point of death on a cross, and God finds a way to make us right with Him, the ultimate act of love. God’s power and care is evident in the empty tomb – nothing can stop His love for us.
That truth is a vital component of our ministry. It’s found in the message given to us on the cross, a message we know is essential for a child beginning to break the cycle of poverty: you matter so much to God. The truth of your worth is in Christ and in His act, and there’s nothing about you or the challenges you face that will change that.
Sponsorship also becomes a tangible truth that combats the hurtful lies borne out of a child’s circumstances. The presence in a sponsor’s letters and prayers counter any doubt – and that is a gift a child will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
As we near this all-important weekend in the Christian faith, we pray this over the children in our programs as well as you who serve alongside of us, that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Easter is a time of reflection, when we look to the cross in awe because we now know that the cross is not the end. The cross is where hope resides, where God showed us that even the darkest points in our lives can be redeemed.
The cross IS hope for a child in poverty. Hope that life can change forever, hope because Someone thought you worthy of the greatest sacrifice. Hope is in the staff who know you by name, because there is a God who knows you by name. Hope is crucial to our ministry – hope is the slayer of discouragement, conqueror of lies, lifter of heads.
Sponsorship brings hope in tangible forms. Hope floods out of every sponsor letter, in the knowledge that God can move in the heart of someone halfway across the world to ensure you get the care you need. Hope is knit of our prayers and encouragement, because we too have been lifted by the hope of the cross. We have been changed, and so we extend that hope to others.
And so we pray this for the children in our programs, the children we’ve pulled into our own families through sponsorship:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
"Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." (Proverbs 15:30)
Thank you for bringing light and good news to children around the world, for they become the messengers to their families, communities, and world!
The past few weeks have been very busy for the staff at the New Life Home -- they admitted a record 18 babies! The New Life Home has a special ministry of nursing abandoned babies to full health. Most of the infants in their care go on to be adopted by loving families.
Please join us in welcoming some of these sweet babies with prayer and thanksgiving!
Meet Alfred, a precious young boy found abandoned in a district hospital. Because Alfred’s mother was HIV positive, Alfred has started the anti-retroviral drugs that have been so successful for other babies at the New Life Home. Upon admission, Alfred weighed 5.7 pounds. With his glossy head of hair, Alfred continues to be the picture of health.
Young Jed was not very happy when he first arrived at the New Life Home, but he soon got over his distress. Weighing almost 9 lb. with a small umbilical hernia, Jed was left at someone’s door in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya. The staff is pleased he is so alert for his age.
Abira was abandoned at a secondary school and was taken to the local police station. Although her skin was chapped and sore, she weighs a healthy 7.6 lb. and is in stable condition.
Leo was found abandoned near a local primary school. He is on antibiotics for a respiratory infection and is already putting on weight. The staff at New Life Home is enamored with his soulful eyes.
Kathleen is a sweet girl who was offered up by her mother when she was just 3 days old. At just under 6 lb. at her admission, she is a healthy girl.
Irvin has had quite the journey. Abandoned by his mother late last year, a Good Samaritan found him and took him to the police station, who instructed her to care for the child. She did so for several months. When a social services office heard his story, they took Irvin to the New Life Home. He arrived at over 16 lb., a very strong and healthy boy.
If you are interested in supporting the work of the New Life Home and the care they give these little ones, please consider making a donation today. We praise God for the way He provides for children society often overlooks. What a tender Father we have!
The origin of the word valentine goes back centuries and stems from the Latin valentia, meaning “strength, capacity.” That this term came to be associated both with your chosen sweetheart and the letter or card you send to express your love for that person is a great reminder for us today.
You chose your sponsored child to receive your love and support out of the strength or capacity for love that God gave you. We want to express our thanks and joy to you for making such an important decision and building a personal ministry to a child halfway across the world.
If you have time this week or weekend, please stop and write a short valentine of sorts to your sponsored child. Just as we enjoy receiving cards and expressions of love from those close to us, it is a special thrill to receive a note that emphasizes how much you are cared for and prayed over by someone geographically distant yet so close to your heart.
It doesn’t have to be a long note, and if you can’t find a sheet of stationery feel free to use a card or postcard of your own. (Just be sure to leave half the space for translation.) Send it to One Child Matters at P.O. Box 62600, Colorado Springs, CO, 80962.
Your decision to sponsor a child communicated much love and care, but taking a few moments to further emphasize that will mean so much! May you have a sweet time with your valentines near and far!
Partnerships are a beautiful thing. Because of your help, thousands of children are hearing about the love of Jesus while having their practical needs met in unique ways. We recently heard news of how children benefit when the body of Christ links arms -- this past weekend, more than 240 children received a new pair of shoes, and there are 2000 more to give away!
If you own a pair of TOMS shoes, there's a big group of kids in the Philippines who would love to say thank you! Our friends at Convoy of Hope (who have also helped us get nutritious meals to Haiti after a major earthquake devastated the country) made sure the donated shoes arrived for these eager recipients. Take a look at partnership in action!
This little guy could not wait for his friends to get new shoes, so he helped find all the needed sizes!
As so many children wear ill-fitting shoes, finding the proper fit can take time. Here the shoes are lined up so the children could stand next to them to find the right size!
And then the fitting began! The staff team had this down to a science!
One staff person remarked, "It's hard to imagine how important a pair of shoes can be to families who can't afford them. What a blessing!"
Kids young and old were able to receive a new pair of shoes.
We like to call this picture "Happy Feet!"
Special thanks to TOMS Shoes, Convoy of Hope, and the staff in the Philippines who worked so hard to bless the kids in this special way!
To learn more about why shoes are SO important for children in the developing world, read this story. And thank you for the many ways your partnership provides for children in need!
At One Child Matters, we get to work alongside God as He intervenes on behalf of a child. The way He interceded for tiny Benjamin is nothing short of amazing -- so much so that when an MSNBC reporter learned of it, she had to share it, too!
How do you see God's character in this family's story?
This is a story that has stayed with us, reminding us of God's faithfulness even when times are difficult. Psalm 40:1-3 comes to mind, as well:
From all of us, thank you for what you do to step into the lives of children in need. Thank you for how you have provided hope and encouragement this year. Please share Benjamin's story with others as a reminder of how God sees our needs and responds. God is good, and we pray His blessings over you in the coming year!
(A huge thank you to the New Life Home, the Omondi family, and reporter Jane Wells for her work in making sure the world could hear another story of hope! To learn how you can support the ministry at the New Life Home in Kenya, click here.)
Half of the fun of our Christmas Gift Fund is knowing that soon enough, boys and girls will receive wonderful presents from you, their sponsors.
The other half is anticipating the photos of children thrilled to receive these presents, surprised by the generosity and so thankful for the gift.
In some ways, these photos remind us of how we are to embrace the birth of Christ -- a gift without measure, unquestionably generous and worthy of praise.
That's why we love these this photo from a Christmas party at one of our projects in Honduras. Such quiet joy in his face!
But the children receive more than presents. Most projects serve a special meal. Some also put on a special Christmas presentation, complete with the story of the birth of Christ as the kids perform a play or other songs and activities. This is a hugely important outreach to the community and parents.
Thank you for helping us share the joy of Christ this season. It does more than simply put a smile on the face of a child -- it helps bring hope, truth, life, love, and mercy to entire communities in a tangible way. To see how the Christmas Gift Fund has been used in the past, click this link.
A massive typhoon churned through the Philippines, and our country staff is asking for your prayers.
UPDATE: Our projects received rain but sustained no real damage; most of the storm's force was well south of them. However, they ask for your continued prayers:
"Please pray for these people who lost their loved ones during the typhoon. It will be hard for them to celebrate this special season because of their present situation. There are some who are still missing due to landslides. Thank you so much for your concern."
Typhoon Bopha made landfall early Tuesday morning just south of the island where most of our projects are located. Although spared a direct hit, they are experienced heavy rains.
When it first made landfall, Typhoon Bopha was considered a "super typhoon" with Category 5 strength (roughly the size and power of Hurricane Katrina). Thankfully it has since weakened to a Category 2 storm. Most families in this region of the Philippines live in the most basic of homes with tin roofs and wood slat walls. It’s estimated that more than 50,000 have fled seeking shelter from the rains and mudslides that are common in the mountainous areas of the Philippines.
We’d appreciate your prayers for the safety of the children and their families as this storm passes. To help us respond to crises like typhoons (and smaller yet equally devastating incidents such as medical emergencies) One Child Matters relies on the Children’s Crisis Fund. Your donations enable us to move quickly in times of need. If you’d like to help, visit www.onechildmatters.org/ccf to make a donation online.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. We will provide updates as we are able.
Did you know you are a fighter in the battle against HIV/AIDS? Here's how we -- because of your help -- are moving to address the needs of children in countries devastated by this disease.
On a day where we as Americans stop and recognize what we have and what we want in this country, it may be fitting to read an update from Dr. Beyda and the Medical Mercy team currently serving the children in our projects in Swaziland. Please keep them in prayer!
We went to the very first project ever opened and where we had built out medical clinic over 5 years ago. 307 patients were seen after a late start. A few very sick children: one who was sent to a hospital, one child who was severely neurologically devastated from birth, and one who need her foot amputated due to progressive gangrene. All that in addition to 5 hours of lectures to the Health Care Workers, nutritional assessments, dental hygiene, VBS, spiritual counseling, pharmacy, all patients entered into our database using bar codes, reading glasses for the elderly and more.
The team didn't blink an eye. For now, everyone here sends hello to their loved ones. We were promised a working internet server tomorrow. We'll see. Tomorrow is another day, another test of our endurance and a test of faith.
A place far from the main city finds a small project with 150 children. A somewhat slow day leaves us moving through the patient load easily without stress and able to spend time with our patients.
The children are anxious for attention, going from one of us to another, looking for and receiving hugs. We look to their faces as they sing, seeing happiness despite the lack of comforts as we know them. I wonder if we should look at ourselves once in awhile and see if we truly need all that we have.
All is well. The team is cohesive and working in unison, the purpose evident.
Do you believe that one child matters? One sponsor shares what God taught her about His ministry among children, and the powerful experience that continues to impact her today.
Last week was eventful for two big reasons: we officially became One Child Matters, and we watched God raise up a powerful church to partner with us in Zimbabwe.
Bayside Community Church, which has campuses in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida, is going to help us change the lives of more than 500 children in Cowdry Park, a community in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Last April, Pastors Randy and Amy Bezet traveled to Zimbabwe to see the challenges that children in Bulawayo face, and they planned an event at Bayside so that their church members would have a chance to become personally involved in the fight against poverty.
The lives of more than 500 children will be changed because of the commitments made last Sunday. What an incredible witness to God's heart for children!
We can't wait to see what God will do with this amazing ministry. We are so thankful to partner with Bayside and with all of our partners who are chosing to bring hope, truth, life, love, and mercy to children all over the world!