Entries in What Sponsorship Means (111)
If it feels like you gave toward the Christmas Gift Fund a long time ago, rest assured that the Christmas festivities are fresh in your sponsored child's mind!
We receive photos from the Christmas celebrations every year and thought you might like a glimpse into the festivities:
The Christmas Gift Fund allows our projects to put on special Christmas programs. Children receive a special meal to celebrate Christ's birth, and they really enjoy it!
The projects also tell the story of Christ's birth in nativity plays put on by the children for the children, their parents, and community members. The children take this quite seriously, as you can tell from the photos below.
The Christmas Gift Fund also allows our project staff to purchase gifts for the children -- and what your sponsored child receives is presented as a gift from you! These gifts point to the greatest gift we ever received in Jesus Christ, and just like your celebrations at home, the gifts are treasured.
Many of our programs use these festivities as an opportunity to throw a birthday party for Jesus! Some years there is cake, and there are always games and party favors.
Thank you for helping us throw great parties in Jesus' honor for children who may not otherwise get to celebrate His great gift!
Does sponsorship make a difference?
You may wonder about that when you pray over the photo of a child you've put on your fridge, or when you get communications from us in the mail. This commitment I've made, does it matter?
A few months ago, two staff from One Child Matters headquarters in Colorado Springs traveled through Ethiopia and Kenya on their way to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
As always, God directed their steps, bringing two children to the projects just so they could meet. Our friends had other meetings on their schedule, but when they met these two, it was obvious that God had something to say to us through them.
First: Antony. He attends a One Child Matters project in Kenya which helps him succeed in the nearby government school. Antony was eager to tell us all about his sponsors, even begging us to go to his house so he could show us their picture.
Antony's home is a simple mud structure, and when our friends stepped inside the dark hut, they were astonished to see a shelf built into the mud wall. Antony's mother had ensured her son would have a place to study by candelight. It is that little mud shelf you see at the beginning of this video:
Antony's love for his sponsor is so clear, so profound. His prayers are sincere, and their photo cherished.
We wanted to share Antony's story with you because sometimes it's hard to see the difference you are making on this side of eternity. But oh, just imagine the reunion in heaven when Antony will finally meet those who invested in him!
We pray that as you seek ways to make a difference in the life a child today, you recognize that sponsoring a child is effective and important. Which is why we've been talking so much about Hiwot, a young woman in Ethiopia who was sponsored from age 8 until she graduated.
Hiwot's gratitude was so evident, we asked her to share her story with all of our sponsors. Today, Hiwot has a bright future, and her heart for God continues to grow. Take a few moments and learn more about how sponsorship continues to shape Hiwot's life.
We love how sponsorship reflects the love of God into the heart of a child in need. And we are so grateful for your partnership in transforming the lives of children all over the world. Thank you for standing up, for proving that one child matters to you!
With your help, One Child Matters ministers to 40,000 children in 16 countries. Each year, equipped by your encouragement and prayers, more than one thousand children graduate from our programs and move on to what God has for them. For some it's university, while others find work in their community or a nearby city. But each child has had the opportunity to learn and grow in a place that emphasizes their worth in God's eyes and ours. Each child graduates knowing that he or she matters.
That's why we love what Hiwot is about to share with you. Hiwot attended one of our projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She met some of our staff this summer and was quick to share her heartfelt thanks with them. And we are so glad we can share it with you, too! Hiwot wanted every sponsor to understand the difference their sponsorship makes in the life a child. Watch her story below:
We hope you treasure Hiwot's encouragement as much as we have. May you see the same fruit in the life of your sponsored child!
That's why we say change the world for one child, change the world forever. The benefits of sponsorship go beyond the child you minister to -- you are praying for and writing to a world changer! Sponsorship opens doors that allow children to flourish and grow into their God-given potential. How have you seen the fruit of sponsorship in your sponsored child?
The question was simple, yet the young boy’s answer shocked us.
“I’m not smart,” he said.
The Medical Mercy volunteer had asked Melvin if he felt okay, if he had anything wrong with him – a common question for older children to help the teams identify potential issues during checkups. Most kids reveal stomach aches or coughs. Not Melvin.
We wondered if we heard him correctly but when asked again, Melvin repeated his answer.
“I’m not smart.”
Melvin is 10 years old and lives with his mother and two younger sisters in a simple home near the project. His father had abandoned the family years ago.
Dee and I had sponsored Melvin for several months before I went down to the Dominican Republic. Our staff brought him from his project to the Mission Valiente Child Development Center (also known as The Baseball Project) so we could meet him. The baseball field was a flurry of activity, and Melvin and I were both hanging back, so I gestured toward the basketball court.
We connected that day as I taught him to dribble and pass, and sports became our language. First basketball, then soccer. His face lit up as he picked up new skills.
I kept hearing his response in my head. “I’m not smart.” We had consulted with the school counselor, and she relayed that one of his sisters is two years younger, but she and Melvin are in the same grade. “Melvin struggles in his studies,” she said, “but everything seems to come easily for his sister.”
Knowing more of Melvin's story helped me realize that I had a unique opportunity to speak into his life that day, as a sponsor and a father figure. I knew God was prompting me to reframe Melvin’s idea of himself.
Dee and I sat with the project director and Melvin’s mother as I revealed all I had learned from him that day. You ARE smart, I said again and again, reminding him how quickly he picked up new skills on the court and on the field. That's not easy to do. It takes real intelligence, and he had it.
I tried to encourage him to ask for help in school, and reiterated how important he was to God and to Dee and me. The project director and I discussed the tutoring options available for Melvin, and we made sure he could get the help he needed to grow in confidence.
It would take practice and determination for Melvin to succeed, but we needed him to know that we believed in him and would pray for him.
Sometimes all it takes is encouragement from somebody on the outside to let a child know that they are okay, that they are greatly loved, and that they can do it. By the end of that day, we had a special bond.
Soon it was time to say goodbye. Melvin and his mother were walking away when suddenly Melvin turned back and ran to me, throwing his arms around me in a long hug.
Once again I was shocked – in the best way – and so glad. I can only pray Melvin is learning as much as I have learned from him.
How many of us grew up on a playground, chasing friends and competing to see how high we could swing?
Should children growing up in poverty be denied that opportunity?
Get a glimpse at what one devoted group of generous donors did for thousands of kids in Swaziland!
We know it from our own lives -- one of the most powerful, formative figures in our lives is our mother. This is true of your sponsored child, as well.
A mother does all she can for her child, but she knows when a child needs more than she can provide. When the opportunity for a better life presents itself -- through education or support -- a mother recognizes it. Her gratitude it seems, knows no bounds.
A mother can be a rock for a family, an encourager and nurturer, the one who pushes a child to be more. A mother sees potential.
We've linked the the stories above because sometimes it's hard to imagine raising a child in such poverty. And sometimes, the parents aren't present or aren't positive role models. But for many of the children we serve, their parents and especially their mothers will do anything to improve their lives and break the cycle of poverty.
And so today, as we honor the mothers and nurturing figures in our own lives, we pray for those who love and live in the underserved regions of this world.
How do One Child Matters’ programs meet the needs of children in the developing world? How can sponsorship make a difference in a child’s life? Let’s ask Brandon, an 11-year-old boy who lives with his aunt in the dusty suburb of QueensPark in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.
Brandon’s mother passed away when he was still very young, and he barely remembers her. After his mother died, Brandon’s father left him in the rural area with his grandmother, who toiled very hard each day just to eke out a living. Brandon never knew his father. One of the things that he regrets is growing up without knowing the love of his father or mother.
Life in the village was very hard and difficult for Brandon. “Looking back,” he said, "I realize that I had started to see myself as someone who would never amount to anything.” This was especially true when his grandmother fell sick; it was now proving very difficult for him to concentrate on his studies. He always had to rush home to do the chores and help his grandmother. “I was slowly resigning myself to a fate of a life of herding cows.”
Two years ago his granny became too sick to take care of him. She brought him to town to live with his aunt, a widow with children of her own and no job. The aunt has two grown up children who are living in neighboring South Africa who occasionally send her a few groceries to feed the children. Most of the time, however, she has to sell vegetables to support the kids.
Just over a year ago, Brandon was registered in the new child development center that opened in his community. He gets to have a hot meal served by loving volunteers that tell him about the love of God and remind him that he has a Father in Heaven who loves him. He has started attending church with his aunty.
Brandon is now one of the young leaders at the Child Development Center who help the facilitators and volunteers when they serve porridge and do other activities. Serving at the Child Development Center is important to him. Brandon shares, “God loves people that serve others. This is just the beginning!”
The center’s director is very proud of the progress that Brandon has made. “Brandon can’t wait to serve others during break time,” she says. “He is always the first to volunteer. In fact, he is the only leader that is not a prefect [an older student leader]. We asked him to be one of the leaders after recognizing his servant heart.”
With the help of the center, Brandon now enjoys going to school again. “I am learning so hard” he says, “because I know I am an orphan. But I know God will help me with my studies especially if I work hard.” He now believes that one day he will achieve something and make his aunty and grandmother proud.
Thank you for providing new opportunities for children like Brandon. We praise God for the staff He has raised up to love on children and encourage them to become strong young adults and role models for younger children. We can’t wait to see how Brandon continues to serve at his center and in his community, and we pray that he and other children in the program become the leaders Zimbabwe and other countries need to break the cycle of poverty forever!
"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!
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!
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!
These are only two of the amazing events God arranged on the recent trip to Ethiopia. We trust you will be as blessed by reading them as we were!
On my recent trip to Ethiopia, Africa, a dream came true. I got to meet Winta, the little 5 year old girl I sponsor through One Child Matters. This was the biggest thing I was looking forward to on the trip. I knew I would instantly be drawn to her, but I didn’t realize the instant love that would overtake both of us!
I got to introduce myself to her and her Aunt. I gave her a present with all kinds of toys, play dough, hair things, etc. As we were opening it, I was told Winta means “Gift”!
I talked with her about school, her church, her family and what she likes to do. She asked me about my family and my job, too. She seemed shy at first and the translator told me she wanted to look at my face but was too shy to do so. I told her she could stare at me and it would be ok!
I got to color with her, dance, sing and play with her for a couple hours before they had to leave. We took lots of pictures and gave lots of hugs, then turned to go. Her Aunt came back and through a translator said, “I have to tell you something before we go.” She said, “Winta is an only child and her Mom is a single Mom. She was a prostitute to take care of Winta. Because you sponsor Winta, her Mom no longer lives that lifestyle.”
That’s where I lost it.
I just cried and hugged her and said, “It’s because of Jesus!” I had faith that each month when I send money that I’m helping a child halfway around the world. On this trip and through that conversation, I got a heart-knowledge that God is actively working through the little that I give every month. It’s changing this child’s present, future and changing her family, too!
We never know the full extent of what God will do when we’re willing. All the long flights, few hours of sleep, and culture shock was worth it. Seeing firsthand what God is doing through Mission of Mercy, and choosing to do through me, is still blessing me today.
Another trip participant had a powerful confirmation of her own impact in Ethiopia:
I have come away from Africa with a concrete sense of self. Although I went to serve – and I did – I came away with so much more than that. I wasn't sure what I could offer any of those children, but she chose me.
Out of 28 people on my team, she chose me and ran up and held my hand. Only later did I find out that she was the child I had sponsored before I went on the trip! What a gift that we bonded before we had a reason to.
Once we did learn our connection, I didn't have much to say, but neither did she. She was so much like me – not much for communication or expressing our feelings. All I had to do was hold her hand every day. That was what I knew how to do.
I didn’t think that I would have changed her life one bit, but when I saw those goodbye tears I realized that I didn’t have to be anybody but me. Me, with my oh-so-controlled and shelled emotions, touched her life. She felt my heart even though I refuse to wear it on my sleeve. And as she hid her tears I knew that feeling.
That seven year old little girl taught me it is ok to be who I am. That I am enough just the way I am. She still saw the light I thought you couldn't see and it made a difference. My God knew she was for me and I for her. I miss her face and that smile that I got to watch come out slowly. She broke down my walls. She showed me so much more than I can even express. Missing Ethiopia.
We love to hear the stories of mission trip participants because God moves in such unique ways to connect the hearts of his people.
For some, the desire to go to Africa started in childhood. One woman shares her experience of the first few days:
When I was young, I saw a television program with African people dancing. I remember it striking a chord with me and I believe the desire to go to Africa was born at that time. When we first arrived in Emarti, the ladies were lined up in front of us in their beautiful colors--clothes, jewelry, headdresses. They began singing and making short jumps toward us, a traditional dance of greeting and celebration. When they got to us, they kissed us on both cheeks. They completely enveloped us with their bodies and with love. They then turned around and we all sang as best we could and jumped (danced) our way to the church! It was absolutely incredible--an experience I'll never forget.
We found out later that they had come together for two nights to pray for us, meaning they walked there and back each night. I asked my sponsored child how long it took her to get there. The answer: 2 hours.
One of the traditions of Women’s Circle of Caring is painting the Maasai ladies’ nails. It’s a simple way to pamper them. We gave two ladies 20 bottles of nail polish along with cotton balls, remover, and nail stickers which were donated so they could each start a business. The lady to whom I gave my kit gave me a necklace.
Guess what God did with that? I signed up to sponsor another child right there in Emarti, and I was able to meet her later in the week. I wanted to give my sponsored girl bottles of nail polish as a gift. Guess who her mother was -- it was the lady I'd given the nail polish to the other day! Now she has even more that may help her with her business.
Isn't God so good? He honors even the smallest of gifts. We've posted more photos from the Emarti trip here. When the teams first visited Emarti four years ago, the children were meeting under a tree. Now thanks to the women who served with the mission teams and several generous donors, they have a wonderful building that serves as a community center and church when the project isn't using it. They also started a community garden that has provided abundant harvests. Even though this was the final trip to Emarti, the impact will continue for years to come!