Sponsorship is more than just money.

The first time I sponsored a child, it was through World Vision.  Her name is Ruvimbo and she lives in Zimbabwe.  If I’m being entirely honest, my initial motivation was guilt.  I had been asked to sponsor a child and I felt bad saying no.  I have not always been the best sponsor to this young lady.  I have not written regulary, I have not prayed for her regularly, and there have been times I’ve forgotten to send in the activities World Vision sends me to forward to her.  I am far from being a perfect sponsor.

Last January, when I returned from Ethiopia for the second time, I decided to sponsor another child, this time through Compassion.  My motives were different this time.  I had met my friend Howie, and suddenly realized that sponsorship involved a real child.  I resolved to be a better sponsor (I’m still far from perfect), and knowing I’d return to Ethiopia again, I decided to sponsor a little girl in Ethiopia.  I chose Tigist for a few reasons: 1. She was 3 and I love the idea of being with her as a sponsor from such a young age through the time she graduates; and 2. she lives in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and I knew that would make it an even greater possibility for me to visit someday.

I knew the basics of sponsorship.  I sent pictures and letters.  I received the same in return.  My monthly contributions were automatically withdrawn from my bank account.  It was wonderful to sponsor two girls in Africa and I loved receiving letters from both of them.

Then, last week, I met Tigist and the reality of sponsorship deepened even more than when I’d gotten to know my friend Howie.  Standing in front of me was a sweet little 4-year-old girl who knew exactly who I was.  When we got to her house, my picture was hanging on the mud wall above her bed.  Her mom told us she hadn’t slept the night before, she was so excited.  She had gone around to her neighbors with my photo the day before, declaring that Brittany was coming to visit.

At first, this made me feel like kind of a rockstar.  But now, I’m humbled by the responsibility of sponsorship.  The responsibility I have to love and support and encourage this child that God has entrusted to me through sponsorship.  A responsibility to pray for her and her family, and to point her to Christ in the words that I write.

Can I encourage each of you to consider sponsorship?  There are kids all over the world living in poverty and you can be a part of changing their lives.  But before I romanticize it too much, let me also ask that you consider the weight of sponsorship.  As I told you, I didn’t in the beginning.  I entered in for the wrong reasons and I did not support Ruvimbo as I should have.  Sponsorship is much, much more than the money coming out of your bank account.  The child you sponsor is real, and you are so very real to them.  Sponsorship is a commitment– of your finances, your time, and your prayers.

Sponsorship is weighty, but it’s beautiful.  And it once again reminds me that it is truly better to give than receive.  Except I have to say, I often feel like I get so much more than I give.

I’ve learned that I’m not some distant figure through whom money is channeled.  I am real in Tigist’s life.  And she, more than ever, is real in mine.  Once again, I’m compelled to be a better sponsor.  To love, encourage, and pray for Tigist and Ruvimbo and share with them the love that God has lavished on me in Christ.  They are listening.

“Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”

Mark 9:37

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

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