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Entries in letters (65)

"You Are Loved!" Prayer Card Ideas

The prayer cards you are sending for your sponsored children are wonderful! We thought we'd share a few we've received so you can see what other sponsors have written or how they sent their photos along with the card.

Laura, who writes the Heavenly Homemaker's blog, shared pictures of their card and said that "praying for our little girl is better than any other gift we can send her." We couldn't agree more! To see Laura's post and how she and her family are praying for Gladis, their sponsored child, click here.

Perhaps you don't have a hard copy of a photo you can send. This sponsor family sent their prayer card through their printer to include a photo, and we love it!

We also love the prayer they included because it uses Scripture throughout:

Our prayer for you Nourah is that you would understand the height, depth, and width of God's love for you! Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him. Stay close to Him and He will stay close to you. Your sponsor, Jan.

Other sponsors sent in this wonderful prayer for their child in Kenya:

May the Lord have his hand on you always. May He bless all of your efforts. I pray for you to be given a strong relationship with the Holy Spirit. God bless your education and may He protect you always. In Jesus Christ's name!

What have you written to your child? If you have pictures you'd like to share, post them to our Facebook page! You can also send us a tweet or tag us on Instagram, @onechildmatters.

How To Use Scripture In Letters To Your Child

Yesterday we shared some of young Hiwot's story and the letter her sponsor family wrote that meant so much to her.

We loved the letter, too, because we could see Scripture woven through every line. Although they were not direct quotations of Bible passages, the hope and encouragement echoed in these phrases is eternal:

Dear Hiwot,

We pray for you and your family that our Lord will keep you safe, healthy, and provide for all of your needs. (Psalm 16, Numbers 6:24-26)

Pray to our Lord for everything so that He will know your heart, and His sweet Spirit will live inside you. (Romans 5:5, Acts 15:8, Romans 15:13, Ephesians 3:17)

Remember that Jesus loved each of us so much that He gave His life for us so that we who believe in Him can live life through Him. (Galatians 2:20, John 3:16, 1 John 4:9)

He knows your heart, Hiwot, so always speak to Him through prayer. (Psalm 139, Romans 8:26-27, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

We hope your studies are going well, and thank you always for your prayers.

In God’s love, Your Sponsors

The love Hiwot's sponsors have for her is clear, and it is infused with Scripture. When we spoke with Hiwot's sponsors, they made it clear that they felt the Holy Spirit had guided them in how they responded to Hiwot -- which is why we see so many biblical truths throughout each line.

Just imagine the confirmation Hiwot would feel as she read her sponsors' words and how they echo what she is learning about God. As she reads the Bible, she could pick up on these themes. God's words are sprinkled throughout her heart and life, reinforced by her sponsor's letter!

The book of Isaiah tells us that God's Word does not return empty -- it will always accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). The power of God's word in your letters is clear, but what is the best way to use Scripture in your letters?

For the new You Are Loved! postcard, consider including one particular verse for your sponsored child. If you're not sure what to include, pray and ask God to give you a specific verse!

Click on this link to download a great resource you can use to find verses to pray over your sponsored child in your letters and in your prayer times.

Or, if you'd like some sample prayers, read what other sponsors sent in the first time we asked them to write out prayers for their sponsored children!

Sample Prayers

Different Ways To Write Out Prayers

We hope these resources help as you write a short, encouraging note on the postcard. If you want to write more, you can attach your own stationery to the card. Just be sure to leave half the space for translation, and to write your child's name and ID on your letter along with your own.

As always, THANK YOU for all you are doing for your sponsored child. You are investing in their life and heart, and it is a tremendous gift. Thank you!

Hiwot's Story: Letters Bring Hope

She must have known exactly where it was.

That’s all our staff could think when young Hiwot ran back out of her house, clutching a letter from her sponsor. The home Hiwot shared with her mother and sister was tiny, but her quick return made them realize – she knew exactly where her sponsor’s letters were.

What’s more, the letter was two years old. It was a prayer card from her sponsors, and the words it contained were powerful, speaking right to her heart.

Our staff had asked Hiwot if she could share a letter from her sponsor because the workers at Hiwot’s project had shared about Hiwot’s transformation since being sponsored. As she walked with the staff toward her house, they learned more about her.

Hiwot’s name is quite common for little girls in Ethiopia. In Amharic, Hiwot means LIFE.

But life as Hiwot knew it was tremendously difficult.

Her father had left the family years earlier, forcing Hiwot’s mother to work odd jobs in her struggle to provide for Hiwot and her sister. Still, they had very little hope for the future.

When Hiwot’s mother learned that One Child Matters was opening a child development center in their community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capitol, she ran to get her daughters registered.

“That was the day that everything changed in my life,” Hiwot says.

In the years since, Hiwot’s life has improved dramatically, but there were times of difficulty – something Hiwot’s sponsors noticed in her letters to them. Dean and his wife Maria remember receiving a letter from Hiwot where she seemed troubled, and they wanted to write in response to that: 

It was quite a while ago, but Maria remembers that what she wrote was influenced by a letter Hiwot had written to us. She wanted to encourage Hiwot because she sensed that Hiwot needed it. The Holy Spirit prompted her to write what she did.

Thus it made sense that Hiwot quickly ran inside her house and came back with that letter her sponsors had so carefully written to speak to her heart two years earlier:

Dear Hiwot,

We pray for you and your family that our Lord will keep you safe, healthy, and provide for all of your needs. Pray to our Lord for everything so that He will know your heart, and His sweet Spirit will live inside you. Remember that Jesus loved each of us so much that He gave His life for us so that we who believe in Him can live life through Him. He knows your heart, Hiwot, so always speak to Him through prayer. We hope your studies are going well, and thank you always for your prayers.

In God’s love, Your Sponsors

Later this week we’ll dive into why we think the letter Hiwot’s sponsor family wrote her is so powerful – as well as their advice for writing your child and our best tips for making these prayer postcards count.

In the meantime, in case you haven't seen it, here's more of Hiwot's story.

To read more tips for writing your sponsored child, click here!

Reading And Writing Can Right Your Child's World

September 8th is International Literacy Day, designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1965 to focus on the development of a crucial life skill for people all over the world. 

Literacy is traditionally defined as the ability to read and write, and to gain further knowledge through those skills.

In the United States, it’s the building block of all education, and for many, a basic right. The U.S. literacy rate is estimated at 99%.

If we look at the countries we serve, a few countries can come close to that. The Philippines, Jordan, and Zimbabwe have literacy rates above 92%. The Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Kenya, and Swaziland are all in the high 80s, and if we were listing these by highest rates, Honduras wouldn’t be far behind with just over 84% literacy rate.

And then for the second half of the countries where we minister, literacy rates plummet. Cambodia hovers around 74%, still recovering from the devastation of the Khmer Rouge era in the late 1970s that specifically targeted the educated classes and wiped out their education system.

India has 62% literacy; although barely half of all women over the age of 15 know how to read, 3 out of 4 men do, highlighting a disparity in educational opportunity based on gender. Nepal boasts just over 60% literacy with a similar breakdown along gender lines.

Bangladesh and Mozambique both struggle with a 56% literacy rate. Haiti’s rate in the most recent figures before the 2010 earthquake devastated its capital, found less than half (48%) of Haitians could read. And Ethiopia comes in last for our countries with an astonishing 39% literacy rate.

If those statistics didn’t make your eyes glaze over, we’re glad. Because you are making a tremendous difference in the lives of children who may be the first in their families to learn to read. Because of your sponsorship, your child can continue to receive an education and the support he or she needs to succeed. Because of sponsorship, we will see those country statistics change -- for the better.

Studies show that the gift of literacy continues to give – women with higher rates of education have healthier children and make more money. Older children who can read can encourage their younger siblings, ensuring more children stay in school.

We’ve shared before how your letters are mini-literacy lessons, giving your child (and possibly other family members) a chance to practice both reading and writing.

Your letters also break through the isolation of poverty and shatter the messages children hear through their circumstances – that no one cares, that they are the only ones who struggle, that they’ll never amount to more than this.

That’s why we’re focusing on education this year, because as a sponsor you can play a major role in encouraging your child’s schooling. Over the years, your sponsorship ensures your child can get the help they need to succeed while gaining confidence as they discover that the God who created them in His image also loves them dearly. We think that’s the best foundation for the future growth of any child, and we are so grateful for you for helping us build it!

If you haven’t sent in your “What I Learned” letter, please do so! We’ve received thousands of them, and they are incredible pieces of encouragement and strength for the children. Thank you for partnering with us. 

Your Letters Are Amazing!

For weeks now, we’ve received mail bin after mail bin of your “When I was in school” letters.

And just to be clear, they are so wonderful! So many of you have gone above and beyond what we imagined with these letters.

We asked you to include photos or to draw pictures of your own time in school to help emphasize that you understand the importance of school, and that you experienced the challenges and joys of this unique time of life yourself.

That’s been our favorite part – you all are so creative and so generous with your photos! We know that the children and their families truly treasure photos of you, and these will be no exception!

Check out a few of your letters that really moved us! Thank you for including your sponsored children in your lives in such a creative way!

We loved how this sponsor highlighted specific phrases in the background for encouragement!

This sponsor included a drawing by her daughter -- we LOVED this! We know that many of you don't have copies of your old school pictures, but your sponsored child would love to see any sort of picture from you, we promise!

Yet so many of you chose to send your own personal photos. If you would prefer to make a copy and use that to send on, your sponsored child will still love it. But we thoroughly enjoyed these blasts from the past! We highlighted a few more of these photos below so you can see the detail.

We also really appreciate that you took the time to include captions. Noting your age in the photo is a great point of reference for your child. What a neat photo!

Here's another great one. Some team sports shots never change, do they?

Here's a wonderful class photo. We are so glad the sponsor pointed out where she was in the photo. In some regions, especially India, similar class photos still occur.

If you haven't sent in your letter, there's still time! And if you couldn't seem to find a photo for this activity, please send more photos when you get the chance. They don't have to be school photos, but your child will treasure any glimpse of you.

Thank you for all you do for the children, for sacrificing your own personal mementos and photos to encourage a child halfway across the world.


Letters From All Over!

Have you sent in your letter yet? We’ve been thrilled with your response as the letters have poured in from all over the country!

We've got so many bins, filled with your heartfelt messages and fun school memories. Going through them has been so enjoyable!

If you haven’t sent your letter in, take heart and take a moment to fill out the letter for your child. Perhaps your own children are getting ready to start school – maybe you can take a photo of them with their backpacks, ready for their first day!

Schooling is such a huge part of your sponsored child's life. Thanks for carving some time out of your own day to share memories and advice from your own school days!

And tell us -- what was your favorite part of the letter to do?

The Essential Third Question

As we shared yesterday, receiving a letter can be a great encouragement – and a wonderful educational opportunity for your sponsored child.

Of all the questions we included on the “When I Was In School” letter, we agreed that one of the most significant answers your sponsored child will read is the third one:

I had a difficult time learning about _______________________.

Why did we include this question? We want our letters to be uplifting and inspiring, so how can listing our academic struggles encourage a child?

Do you remember your most difficult subject in school? I had several – mostly in math and science. I was a voracious reader, and I relished my history and English classes. Yet one particular teacher shook my confidence in math in late elementary school… and it seems like (looking at my grades after that point) I never quite recovered.

The further I went in school, the more complex the classes became, and the more my misery grew. It was so hard to ask for help, but I had many resources at my disposal -- friends who were more than happy to sit with me as I pushed through, teachers to meet with after school, and most importantly parents who supported me and made sure I could get the help I needed.

Now put yourself in your sponsored child’s shoes. Perhaps they are the first in their family to go to school – maybe their parents aren’t literate and can’t offer help. Many teachers in the developing world work second or third jobs and aren’t available to help. Classrooms are crowded and competitive.

A child’s academic confidence – even in the best of environments – is fragile. Education isn’t an expectation or a right for a child in poverty, and small struggles may quickly build into seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Your sponsorship provides incredible educational support – and we will share more about that in coming weeks. Before we get there, however, I really want you to focus on that third question. Imagine learning that your sponsor – the person you so admire, the person you know prays for
you – also struggled with a subject in school.

Maybe you can share with your child how you were able to overcome it, or what you learned from those struggles. The best metaphor I’ve seen yet is from a sponsor who knew her sponsored boy loved soccer, and shared how practicing math problems helped her strengthen her skills. She compared it to the need to learn to juggle a ball with your weak foot to make sure you could be a strong, well-rounded soccer player. What a powerful way to share some helpful hints!

That’s why the second side of the letter has space for a message for your sponsored child – consider it an opportunity to share encouragement from your own seasons of struggle.

We’d love to hear from you – how did you answer the third question, and what advice would you have for your sponsored child?

Kate is a regular writer for the One Child Matters blog, and continues to be amazed that God saw fit to find a position that uses her passion for writing and general geopolitical nerdness to help others see how sponsorship furthers His kingdom!

The Lesson Of A Letter

Each summer, we send you a special mailing to help you bless your sponsored child. When we first did this in 2010, you sent postcards that said You Are Loved! In 2011, you wrote out prayers for your child’s well-being and future. Last year, you focused your prayers on your child’s health.

We have been so encouraged by your heartfelt messages and prayers, and we know the sponsored children in our programs are even more blessed by it!

With that in mind, we are asking you to write another letter – this time focused on your own education along with a special message for your child. Why are we focusing on education?

Education is so vitally important to breaking the cycle of poverty that we try and make every activity an opportunity to learn and grow.

Did you know that receiving a letter from you helps your sponsored child learn?

We've written before that a letter from you is a tangible reminder that they are loved. The encouragement they receive cannot be underestimated.

Yet letters can be more than that! Reading a letter is an interactive literacy lesson, and one loaded with joy and delight because each note is a gift, something wholly devoted to them.

Receiving a letter is also a chance to exercise reasoning. As they read through what you wrote, your child can connect the dots from previous questions they may have asked and formulate new ones. They get to practice their penmanship, too!

All of these are new skills rarely if ever taught (let alone practiced) in a traditional classroom in their country, yet each is an incredibly valuable skill to have later in life.

And what if your child is young and doesn’t know how to read yet? Can you imagine how much more eager to learn so they can read your letters again and again? Just look at how Miguel responded to a letter:

“Miguel says hello. Child is 7 years old now. He also says he likes school. He also says he wants to learn writing for writing his letters by himself. – Miguel, Dominican Republic

Tomorrow we’ll share why it’s important to share about your own school experience. In the meantime, take a moment to read over these snippets from other child letters.

"Thank you for loving me so much and sent me a nice message, and soon learn it by heart and use it in my life. I love you very much." – Damarais, Dominican Republic

“I have received your sweet letter thank you so much for the lovely letter. I can feel your love through every line of your letter that you loves me so much. Now I am in class III and I am doing hard work in my study. My favorite subject is Bengali. I do pray to my Lord Jesus Christ for your wellbeing. I am fine here. Please take my love." – Your sponsored child Pratik, India

“I forgive you for take so long to reply to my lovely letter. I know education is very important because will save me all the rest of my life. I like you so much. My God bless you garden and the vegetables. Did you enjoy soccer? I enjoy it.” – Tebesutfu, Swaziland

"Your letter is in my hand, I have read it so many times. I like to read it again and again, thank you so much for your nice letter and help. You have written that God is wonderful and he forgives us again and again, but I want to know is it necessary to ask forgiveness if we say lies for something good? Thank you for praying for me to be a doctor." – Sangeeta, India

“Thank you for spending your time to wrote me a letter. Even if it’s just a letter it was valuable because it shows your love and care for me. I am so lucky that God loves and cares for us. And I also have you as my sponsor. You know what I feel when you sent me a letter? I am so happy that I almost reach the stars in the sky… – Ivan, the Philippines

How has your sponsored child expressed their thanks for your letters?

Why Not Spread The Love?

Looking for some new letter writing topics? Kate, who works in One Child Matters' communications department and writes most of the stories on this blog, shares this interesting angle after receiving yet another letter where one of the girls she sponsored thanked her for her help and sponsorship.

Take a look at that drawing above -- Sovanna drew the famous Ankor Wat temple in Siem Reap and included it with one of her letters. I am so thankful I hung it just over my computer monitor at work, because when the day grows long, it's always within my sight. That intricate pen-and-ink drawing reminds me to pray for Sovanna and Munni, the other girl I sponsor in Bangladesh.

I've sponsored them for almost three years now, and sometimes it's hard to figure out what to say in my letters to them. So when I received Sovanna's letter, her sweet "thank you for all you continue to do for me" at the end inspired me.

Why not write a thank you note back to her and to Munni? There are so many reasons I am grateful for them, why not tell them directly?

Munni and Sovanna have opened my eyes to a different part of the world, and not just through their fantastic drawings. With each letter or prayer for them, I discover more of God's heart for justice and mercy. His redemption knows no bounds, and it is exciting to be a part of that.

As my heart for them grows, I want them to see themselves as God does: beloved daughters of the King. Yet in trying to emphasize that, my self-perception has changed. They are as fearfully and wonderfully made as I am, but do I live out of that identity?

Since sponsoring my girls, my habits have changed. I love to shop, but I increasingly find myself wondering, "Do I need that? Could this money be put to better use?" (And almost always, the answer is yes.) I am more conscious of each dollar I spend and what I am supporting by those choices. In the end, the money isn't mine -- it's God's -- and my choices either glorify Him or glorify myself.

I'm thankful that my sponsorship gives my girls access to a solid education, a nutritious meal, and interaction with adults who will love and encourage them. My girls are so worthwhile.

I am thankful that although sponsorship started as something sacrificial, it has become joyful. What I hoped was life-giving for them has brought me life, as well.

So my tip is to think about how or if sponsorship has changed your heart. And if it has, write that down. Send it to your sponsored child. One of our goals at One Child Matters is that a sponsored child will learn that he or she can change the world. Wouldn't it be cool for them to know -- to know -- that the first person they changed was you?


Attitudes of Gratitude

The approach of Thanksgiving makes us consider all that we are grateful for -- so it may be worth hearing why our sponsored children are thankful:

I thank God for your life and for picking me to sponsor me and letting me come to the center. I feel happy to know that someone is worried for my own good. Without knowing you, I feel that I know you, but I know you love me too…” – Helen, age 12, Honduras

“I am very fine here by the grace of God and by the blessing of yours. I am still trying to do much better and work hard from before days. Thanks for making me confident to do my work well. I also want to see your picture. I am very prosperous and happy to receive your letter. Myself also feels very lucky that you are my sponsor. I love you all.” – Shirpa, age 13, India

“My family and I thank you for all the love you have toward me. I ask God to take care of you and of all your family. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to be in this project and because he made us to be together. I love you a lot and I carry you inside my heart and mind. I thank you for helping me to reach my dream …I don’t find a way to thank your kindness. I say bye with lots of love and appreciation and wishing that God bless you.” – Maycol, age 9, Honduras

“Hello, how are you? I am good and happy because you love me and want me and I love you a lot, too. And I pray for you so God will care for you and give you peace.” – Darwin, age 12, Dominican Republic

“Thank you very much for your support for my education. May the Lord Father bless your profession. I have secured good grades in the final exam. Your support is the main cause for my success. May the Lord bless all your activities enabling to help poor children like me. I will never forget you.” – Anushan, age 12, Sri Lanka

“I am very happy when I accept your letter. I thought as if we met face to face your word of love and advice forces me to read your letter again and again. Thank you very much! I am very lucky of getting your love. I love you and also pray for you.” – Wasyihun, age 6, Ethiopia

Your sponsored child is so grateful for you. We hope you know how thankful we are for you, too!

Sending Christmas Cheer

If our recent post about the Christmas Gift Fund got you thinking about sending a Christmas gift on your own, we have two words for you: please don't.

Okay, two more: here's why...

Click to read more ...

The Story Behind Her Name

The Bible shows us that a person's name has a lot of symbolism. So what does it mean when your sponsored child's name changes?

Click to read more ...

When Will He Write On His Own?

How should you respond if your child is not yet able to write? When should you expect them to write on their own?

One sponsor found some surprising answers...

How Can I Be Sure My Child Gets My Letters?

It may seem like a simple question, and the answer is hugely important. It involves your prayers and perseverance... and to help, we've included lots of tips.

Click to read more ...

Four Great Letter-Writing Topics

When you think about writing to your sponsored child, do you struggle to come up with something to write about? The inspiration for four letters may be right outside your window...

One sponsor shares an idea of a simple way to share about God's great love for us while allowing your sponsored child to learn more about your life. Click here to read more!

Is My Child Truly Poor If He Mentions TV?

How do you measure poverty? If a child has access to a television, is he truly poor? If your sponsored child has mentioned watching cartoons or movies, this may provide some perspective.

Click to read more ...

How Do You Write To A Muslim Child?

One sponsor shares how committing to help a young Muslim girl changed the way she wrote letters... click here to read more.

A Sponsor's Journal: An Embarrassed Confession

Have you struggled to write out your prayers for your sponsored child? One sponsor reveals her hesitations, and what a project worker in Ethiopia said to change her mind.

A Sponsor's Journal: Make It Personal

How have you responded to the prayers of others? What will it be like for your sponsored child to receive a written prayer? A Sponsor's Journal explores her own child's requests...

We Are Sponsors, Too

What inspired the Hope Uplifted, Hearts United campaign?

Click to read more ...