Reason #1 – Celebrate milestones and their uniqueness

Today is Kalkidan’s 12th birthday, and he was assigned as my correspondent child last year.  He lives in Ethiopia with his mother and father who are daily laborers. Typically, children in this area don’t go to school because their parents make less than $15 a month. Kalkidan is able to go to school and is now in the 1st grade. Yes, you did read that right. But, have peace – he is in school! He is doing well and really likes to be able to go.

Children like Kalkidan need encouragement to go to school and have hope for a future. They need to know that they are valued. Sending a gift or a card on their special day can help show them that they are valued, even in a world that often seems difficult.

Reason #2 – Help Influence a Young Adult

Three years ago when I sponsored Nery – he was 14 at the time, he didn’t have a lot of interest in school and seemed pretty distant. All that has changed since we started sharing our lives. I shared that I had graduated from school with my Master’s degree and he said he was really proud. What touched me was that he now has a deeper interest in going on with his schooling – he graduates high school this year. I got the chance to meet him in May, 2011 and his mom shared how much he had changed. Think about the influence you could have on a young person who doesn’t see that there are opportunities for them. You can inspire them – and not just to go on with schooling, but to make a difference in their communities in the ways that they are able and gifted.

Reason #3 –  Encourage a Person in a Tough Spot

Ronaldho, age 15, from Mexico wasn’t in school when I sponsored him this last fall. He had so many surgeries and was really very shy because he was being made fun of. Because of Compassion, he started going to an elementary school geared for young adults. Compassion social workers in his project taught him how to read and to write. They worked with his situation, his family, and for his benefit.  He faces two more surgeries later this  year to correct a cleft lip and palate. I had been born with a cleft lip, and so we’ve talked about that and I’ve tried to encourage him and let him know how I care. Mostly though, we talk about his love of music – he plays keyboard and would love to learn to play the violin. You might be surprised to find out how much you share in common with a young person and God will help you to encourage them at just the right moments.

Reason #4 – Be a friend

Sakwa is 21 and from Kenya. He’s recently graduated high school and is finishing up a trade school. One of the things that he said was that he wanted to thank me for always being a friend. He hoped that we could continue to be friends when he graduates from Compassion’s program this September. Our letters have been a source of growing friendship – oftentimes, his letters are 4 pages long. Young adults often have an ability to express themselves in a way that small children do not. It’s always wonderful to get a long letter from a friend!

Reason #5 – Develop new understanding of a country

Both Kawira, age 17, and Sakwa, age 21, have talked about Kenya’s political process and their countries. I learned that the drought was causing a famine in the north and while they were not immediately impacted, they were very concerned for their country. An older child has an easier time of expressing issues that give you a new perspective of what a country is like. You will also start to learn listen for news about his or her country and learn more about the culture.

Reason #6- Share Your Faith in Christ Jesus

One of my girls calls God “Papito Dios” which means Daddy God! Another of my children discusses going to church and how they worship. Sharing Jesus Christ is a way to sharpen your own faith and minister to your spirit. Sponsors often embody what it means to be a Christ-follower and older children often ask poignant questions or have incredible insights.

The communities that most of these children live in are not largely Christian. Rather, the local church reaches out to the families and Compassion partners with these churches to reach the neediest families – families that are starving for food, medical care, education, and for hope for an opportunity to escape poverty. Parents sign consent forms that they know their child will receive a Christian education along with receiving benefits like medical care, food, funds to go to the local school. Sakwa accepted Christ when he was 14 years old. His community has witchdoctors and a variety of beliefs.  So together – Sakwa and I have discussed a variety of topics about what it means to be a Christ-follower.

I know of others sponsors whose children come from families that practice other religions, and while they are tolerant of Christian education, some children do not come to believe in Christ. Compassion does not impose this – children are loved regardless of their family’s religious background.  They are still accepted. And, it gives you an opportunity to pray for your child and show deep love and respect no matter the religious differences.

Reason #7 – Prayer is Effective 

Having a sponsor who believes in Christ ministers to your sponsored young adult. Your prayers are meaningful.  And, I must add that their prayers are very effective. A few months after my mom’s death, I began getting letter after letter expressing sorrow for the loss and giving me comfort. I also learned more about their sorrows – and that opened a window to form closer relationships and a deeper prayer life.

God is wonderful! He will use your relationship with a Compassion sponsored child in amazing ways. If you are considering making a difference in the life of a young person, consider sponsoring an older child – click here to view young adults who have lost a sponsor and are waiting for your love, prayers and support. More importantly, they await your letters and to know you.

If you are a sponsor of an older child, why do you sponsor?

What were  your reasons to sponsor an older child?