It’s been more than a decade since Liz from Peru last wrote to Rebecca. Their friendship, built on pen and paper, began when Liz was six. Today, she is 27 and has one final message to share with her former sponsor: “If only you knew how the future of this child could change.”

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Liz, a sponsored child alumni from Peru.

Growing up in one of Lima’s most dangerous neighbourhoods, violence and robberies were common. Most days, Liz had to walk down a street dubbed ‘Smoke Alley’ by the locals for its grey, eye-watering haze. Gangs congregated there to sell and use drugs. Liz would walk past quickly, eyes averted. “It was extremely dangerous,” she says.

Liz’s parents worked long hours to provide for their four daughters—Liz, her twin, and their two older sisters. Her mother was a factory worker, her dad a driver. He struggled with alcoholism and the family lived in desperate poverty. With their parents often arriving home after nightfall, the sisters spent a lot of time alone. “We did not have much money. I remember the roof of my house was made of corrugated iron sheets and the walls were not finished,” she says. They found ways to brighten their days. Sometimes, the sisters tied colourful balloons around the bare room to pretend they were having a party.

When an aunt mentioned her church was partnering with Compassion to launch the Child Sponsorship Programme, Liz was registered. Her family hoped it might give their daughter opportunities poverty had denied her. She began attending weekly activities. When she heard a woman named Rebecca had sponsored her, Liz told everyone she met. Rebecca’s prayers and letters brought her comfort and peace. “You do not know how happy a child is when receiving letters from a person they do not even know but feel close to,” Liz explains. “But most important was knowing Jesus and what He has done for me. Thanks to my sponsor and the opportunities I received, I know Jesus Christ as my Saviour.”

When she graduated from Compassion’s programme in 2011, Liz knew she was ready to put into practice all she had learned from leaders in the programme. “My sponsor did not know me, but she loved me, and that love paid off.” Liz is the first in her family to graduate from university. “I never imagined I could be a university student.” She began working as an academic coach at an English language institute in Lima. Today, she also leads a group of teenagers at her church.

When she thinks back, Liz can only smile and shake her head at how far God has brought her. “If it were not for Him and for the people He put into my path, I do not know where I would be now,” she says. “I know that was God talking and showing His love through my sponsor and the centre’s staff.” Liz only wishes her sponsor knew how her life has been transformed—so she wrote one final letter to tell her.

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Liz holding a photo of herself as a child from when she was first sponsored by Rebecca. 

Dear Rebecca,

I was thinking how my entire life has changed because of a decision you made all those years ago. I am not sure if you really knew how much it meant to me, my family.

I was six when I found out my sponsor had chosen me. I remember telling everyone!’ Something that brings beautiful memories is when I received my first letter. You told me that you saw something special in my face. I felt loved. That is something I will keep for the rest of my life.

Being sponsored so young was meaningful. At that time, my family was facing poverty and my dad was struggling with alcoholism. So, receiving your letters mattered. But most important was knowing Jesus and what He has done for me. We knew that we would have access to food and school supplies so I could go to school. We also had access to clothing and blankets. But there were some things we did not expect. Like how much your letters and the verses you shared would change my perspective and strengthen my identity in Jesus Christ.

So, I wanted to tell you: if only you knew your prayers made a difference. The verses you shared in every letter gave me hope. They brought happiness when I was sad. If only you knew how these words changed my life; how I shared my birthday gift from you with my family. How I shared the stickers and envelopes you sent with my friends. If only you knew how Jesus saved us and saved my dad. Your sponsorship was worthwhile: the experiences you shared with me, all the pictures you sent. If only you knew I wanted to be like you—to praise Jesus like you and to honour Him with my life as you did. If only you knew you were a role model for me. I want you to know it made a difference. Sponsorship changed who I am today.

I lead a group of teens in my church. I want to inspire them and share God’s Word with them as you did with me. I want them to feel and see that there is someone for them—to hear them, to see them, to protect them, to love them—in Jesus. That is how I can repay all that was once done for me.

Thank you!

 

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