Welcome back to our four-part blog series talking about how sponsorship impacts a child’s mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical development. This time, we’re looking at how sponsorship helps a child to develop spiritually in the Christian faith and understand their worth.  

Scripture tells us that poverty first entered our world as a result of Adam and Eve rebelling against their Creator. They set in motion events that would turn God’s good creation, one in which poverty could not exist, into one where it currently affects the majority of people in the world. (Gen. 3:16-19). 

The issues that prevent a child from thriving, such as undernutrition, illness and emotional and relational instability, are symptoms of poverty. This is what it looks like from the outside. That means that addressing just one of these areas of development, while temporarily helpful, won’t do what we as the Church are ultimately called to do: release God’s children from poverty in Jesus’ name. 

That’s why Tearfund and Compassion International help support children spiritually, as well as with education, health care and nutrition. Every child is taught from a Bible-based curriculum and loving members of their community also mentor the children as they grow. However, children do not have to be Christian to enrol or become a Christian to stay in the programme. Instead, our church partners focus on helping children understand their value. In the context of a caring local church, children have the opportunity to hear that they have been intricately designed by a God who loves them, has given them a purpose and offers the gift of salvation. This is a freedom that not even poverty can deny them. 

 Lucas is an example of Compassion’s sponsorship approach. Lucas’ sister left home to join a gang, and it didn’t take long for him to follow. For youths like Lucas who live in poverty, joining a gang can seem like a better option. Gang members lure young boys with the promise of food, protection and a type of family. This is attractive to children from broken families or who have absent parents. 

To address this growing issue, Lucas’ Compassion centre holds regular soccer workshops, engaging boys in a safe space and giving them an alternative to gang activities. Each soccer practice begins with prayer and a devotion where staff reinforce God’s love and purpose for each child. Staff encouraged Lucas to join the workshop, and he thrived. Soon, he chose to give his life to Christ and leave the gang life behind him. This was a liberating, yet dangerous decision. 

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Compassion's soccer programme engages young boys in a safe space.

“Once you’re in, you can’t get out unless you prove to them that you’re leaving them is because of Jesus,” says Alexis Coto, Lucas’ tutor. “Otherwise, they would have killed him and his family as well.” But Lucas’ actions were evidence of a transformed spirit. He returned to school and became a fixture at his Compassion centre and church. He also chose to be baptised, and as a result, his mum, sister and her husband also came to Christ! 

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Mothe (right) and Mueni (left).

Another example is Monthe from Kenya. Monthe had adult responsibilities from a very young age. Her mum was the family’s sole breadwinner, but her meagre income often fed her husband’s alcohol addiction instead of her hungry daughters. Monthe looked after her sister, Mueni, and the home while their mum found casual work. 

But when their mum died suddenly from an undiagnosed illness, Monthe fell apart. She and her sister were placed in their grandmother’s loving care. But Monthe’s tutor, Evelyn, watched the little girl she knew transform from a positive, engaging child to one full of anger and resentment. She nursed a deep hatred for her father, blaming him for her mother’s death. 

Evelyn counselled Monthe and eventually, her words of encouragement and truth worked their way through the hardened shell around Monthe’s heart. At the age of 10, she accepted Christ and chose to forgive her father. 

How-does-sponsorship-help-a-child-spiritually4.jpgMothe choose to forgive her father.

“For a long time, I struggled with letting go,” says Monthe. “But as I shared with Evelyn and learned about God’s love and forgiveness at the church, I knew I would have to let go of my bitterness to enjoy life.” No longer blinded by hatred for her father, Monthe is now focusing on building friendships and figuring out what she’ll do when she grows up. She has an exuberance for life and prays constantly that her father will choose to experience the same freedom she has. 

There are thousands of stories of how the children we serve are discovering God’s love and purpose for them. When young people discover that they matter to God and that He has a plan for their lives, they find a new purpose and hope for life. 

 

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