Entries in child sponsorship (154)
When a child joins a One Child Matters program, do his parents notice a change?
Six-year-old Marielsy’s mother did. In a letter to her sponsor, a project worker relayed a sweet scene:
“Marielsy says that when her family is having lunch she prays for the food and her mother cry of joy for having her praying.”
It could be the smallest little change, but what an encouragement to a parent’s heart!
Hibraimo’s mother had a similar experience. Her son was a shy little boy who was often scared of others. And yet after a year of attending one of One Child Matters' child development centers in Mozambique, her son was confident enough to correct her before dinner.
“I used to always eat without praying over my food,” his mother said, “but one day Hibraimo corrected me and told me that we needed to pray before we ate.” Where would her son have learned such a thing?
The child development center Hibraimo attends is like many of One Child Matters' programs around the world: it provides a space to minister to children physically, socially, educationally, and spiritually.
The last two areas were especially important for Hibraimo. Entrance into the Mozambican school system is difficult for two reasons: schools are overcrowded and places are limited for new students.
To make matters worse, there is no national preparatory kindergarten to help children learn how to learn. Mozambican schools start at first grade, but many young students do not have a solid foundation to begin learning and quickly flounder.
One Child Matters' programs, however, allow children to grow socially as they learn the basic educational skills needed to succeed in school. Hibraimo was enrolled before his 4th birthday but did not have much self-confidence. “When he started here he did not want to learn and participate,” his teacher says, “but now he has learned letters and numbers and is asking a lot of questions.”
After a year of attending the program, Hibraimo's reading and writing skills have progressed. Self-assured and quite helpful in the classroom, Hibraimo is well behaved and a great example to the other children.
No longer the shyest child in class, he is the first to befriend visitors and is always bringing new friends to Sunday school. Hibraimo also takes the Bible stories he hears to heart, remembering every detail. His teachers can only smile at his precociousness. “Every time I tell a Bible story and I say something that is not as he learned, he speaks up and corrects me and explains how it’s supposed to be,” she says.
Because of his mother’s proactive efforts, Hibraimo stands a much better chance of succeeding in school. The child development center he attends has a partnership with a local preschool, which helps ensure that Hibraimo will have a spot in the public school. When he starts first grade, he will do so with a solid moral compass and strong educational skills.
Have you noticed a change in your sponsored child’s confidence? Sometimes it is reflected in the child’s letters, but you can also see the difference in their pictures. Hibraimo has a wide smile, an eager heart, and a bright future because of your faithful giving. May you see such growth in the children you sponsor as well!
Less than a thousand miles from Cambodia, which we highlighted last week, lies a country with what would seem like many similarities -- Bangladesh has a colorful culture and a tumultuous history.
Considering that the region was settled as many as 4,000 years ago, the last 70 years have been nothing short of turbulent. Modern-day Bangladesh was created after the British Empire withdrew and partitioned two countries -- India and Pakistan -- based on religious distinctions in 1947.
Originally designated "East Bengal," the region we now know as Bangladesh was part of Pakistan; from the time of partition, however, clashes grew between the eastern, Bengali-speaking region and the more wealthy Urdu-speaking west. The next two decades were filled with repression and violent unrest, even after Bangladesh's independence was declared in 1971.
In the midst of such upheaval, the people of Bangladesh continued to live and work in one of the most unique regions of the world. Situated on the delta of three major rivers (the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna) as well as countless tributaries, Bangladesh has some of the most fertile soil in the world.
We'll explore more of Bangladesh this week, but before we do, take a look at some of the areas we serve and learn more about this fascinating country!
Bangladesh is a very small country (about the size of the state of Iowa) but it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. There are 156 million people who live in Bangladesh. Can you imagine that many people living in Iowa? That’s over 50 times more people in the same amount of land!
Not only is the population dense, but the landscape is too! This makes it so much harder to travel anywhere or build and maintain roads, bridges, and power lines. For example, one of our projects is a mere 50 miles from the capital city of Dhaka, and yet it takes several hours driving in a truck and an hour boat ride to get there from the capital.
Bangladesh is a low-lying country and very wet as you can see from most of these photos. Cyclones and monsoons are so frequent that a large amount of the country is flooded six months out of the year.
Farming is a main source of income for many of our children’s families but their fields are also flooded half of the year. During that time these farmers have to find another way to feed their families and earn an income.
And because water is everywhere, so are bridges.
Does your sponsored child walk to school? Chances are that he walks over several bridges just to get to school. Can you imagine using a bridge like the one above everyday?
Speaking of water… does your sponsored child have the responsibility of getting water for the family? In Bangladesh indoor plumbing is very rare and children usually get their water from nearby wells or rivers and carry it home.
Or maybe your sponsored child helps the family by washing clothes, fishing, or gathering firewood?
Have the letters you received from you child given you an inside look at what life is like in Bangladesh? Let us know! We'd love to hear what you've learned!
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!
What will you do with the moments you are given? How can you make a greater difference for the kingdom of God? We want to challenge you to change the world by Monday!
We were privileged to share this vision with thousands of pastors and church staff at the Association of Related Churches (ARC) All Access Conference today. Moments before the video played, Pastor Rick Warren shared his heart with the conference, and among the many encouraging and wise thoughts he shared with us, he said this:
Having a small church is not a sin -- having a small vision is.
It's so true, but it goes beyond churches. Sometimes we -- ministries, churches, individuals -- don't dream big enough. J.B. Phillips wrote an entire book on it: Your God Is Too Small.
But we know -- we are realizing, again and again in His graciousness -- that God isn't small at all. He is the biggest God with the biggest dreams for His kingdom on this earth, and He wants to use us. His concern is for the least of these, and always has been. And He is equipping us, His church, His Body, to do something about it.
We at One Child Matters are taking God at His promise and dreaming big dreams. We believe that together we can change the world by Monday. Will you join us?
"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!
The origin of the word valentine goes back centuries and stems from the Latin valentia, meaning “strength, capacity.” That this term came to be associated both with your chosen sweetheart and the letter or card you send to express your love for that person is a great reminder for us today.
You chose your sponsored child to receive your love and support out of the strength or capacity for love that God gave you. We want to express our thanks and joy to you for making such an important decision and building a personal ministry to a child halfway across the world.
If you have time this week or weekend, please stop and write a short valentine of sorts to your sponsored child. Just as we enjoy receiving cards and expressions of love from those close to us, it is a special thrill to receive a note that emphasizes how much you are cared for and prayed over by someone geographically distant yet so close to your heart.
It doesn’t have to be a long note, and if you can’t find a sheet of stationery feel free to use a card or postcard of your own. (Just be sure to leave half the space for translation.) Send it to One Child Matters at P.O. Box 62600, Colorado Springs, CO, 80962.
Your decision to sponsor a child communicated much love and care, but taking a few moments to further emphasize that will mean so much! May you have a sweet time with your valentines near and far!
Did you know you are a fighter in the battle against HIV/AIDS? Here's how we -- because of your help -- are moving to address the needs of children in countries devastated by this disease.
Here's an update from the mission team in Honduras. After a Sabbath day where they worshipped in a local church, the team began construction. Janelle writes of the experience:
Today was a serious workday. We had floors to pour, walls to build, bathrooms to finish, and sponsor kids to visit. The team of 35 divided and conquered.
The teams mixed bags of concrete, water, and rock then sweat together to make a kitchen floor, a cinder block shower, some bathroom walls and walls for some classrooms.
This team in which most of us didn't know each other three days ago worked together like a well-oiled machine to make the living conditions of families better. Even though we loaded up with our best tools and muscles, we know that God made the projects possible but also worked through each pair of hands and each pair of feet. I love it when a plan comes together. God made much out of our little. There is more work projects planned for the next two days.
So another treat for some of the team members was meeting our sponsored kids. Although I don't have a child in Honduras (yet, insert smiley face here), I had the privilege of meeting Christian, a friend's sponsored child. It was very encouraging to meet this little boy, and then also see his home and meet his family.
Here's what God did...we walked in and the grandfather was holding his well-worn Bible. We met the entire family living there, including the great-grandmother of 84. Christian was very proud to show off his family. He showed us a letter from his sponsor. They keep the letters too! So I took the opportunity to ask the grandfather his favorite verse. He shared Hebrews 12:5. I shared Proverbs 3:5-6 with them and told them why. It was a blessing to exchange our thoughts about God's word. We filled the room with some English translated prayers and I felt God's presence in that small tin-roofed home. That was a great opportunity to encourage hearts and share faith. I like it when God's plans come together.
Tammy, one of the team members, met her sponsored child too. It was life-changing for her to be able to meet her child's family. In fact, she was out of descriptive words about how it affected her. To glimpse into a child's life after being connected by prayer is incredible. Consider sponsorship today then maybe God will take you to their home and you can see how important and life-changing your $34 a month can be.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13
It’s a word we use regularly at Mission of Mercy. We encourage you to write your child, to fill your letters with encouraging words because your sponsored child may receive little encouragement in their daily life.
The apostle Paul’s letters to his churches were filled with encouragement – he understood the challenges they were facing, pressed on every side by their culture or society. He knew the life of faith would be difficult, that the church needed each other.
The same is true for your sponsored child. Looking at the verse from Hebrews, Paul warns against the deceitfulness of sin. For the children registered in our programs, however, poverty is the deceiver.
Poverty removes hope for change and opportunity from a child’s life. Poverty overwhelms parents and steals joy from daily life.
Poverty disrupts a child’s focus on school work. It distorts a child’s vision for the future, making everything seem out of reach.
Poverty tells a child over and over that they don’t matter, that nothing will change for them.
That’s why we put One Child Matters at the center of our ministry, because we know we must counteract the message that permeates a child’s mind and heart.
That’s also why sponsorship is so powerful. When you step up for a child in need, you contradict that incessant drag on life.
It goes beyond what your financial support provides – it’s your prayers and attention – your sponsored child has irrefutable evidence that someone saw them and their needs and found them worthy of investment.
Perhaps that’s why we like the word encourage so much. Its very root seems to capture the heart of sponsorship. Look at this breakdown from Dictionary.com:
En is a prefix that when paired with verbs forms the sense "to cause (a person or thing) to be in" the place, condition, or state named by the verb stem.
So when you encourage your sponsored child, you cause them to be in courage. Your child can stand up and pursue a dream, knowing there is worth and value to their life. Your child can face the inevitable difficulties of poverty with the assurance that someone (you) and especially God Himself sees them, knows them, and loves them.
We hope this encourages YOU today, as well. You are answering the call Paul mentions in Hebrews, building up others to resist the hopelessness and emptiness found in sin and embodied in poverty. Thank you for what you do.
Dr. Beyda and a Medical Mercy team of 18 are in Kenya, serving alongside 18 Kenyan Health Care Workers (HCWs). Internet is sparse, but he provided a short update:
It's the rainy season here. Therefore it rains. Rivers flood and washes overflow. You'd think we'd know better....wouldn't you. Not us. We forged ahead. The internet is sporadic so I can send only one picture, but it will give you an idea of what we went through.
We walked across and took all our med over in a small truck, making it across okay. Coming back we didn't. The truck got stuck in the middle of the wash. No 4-wheel drive but a lot of pulling and pushing the truck worked. We spent just 4 hours in the village before we had to leave since the clouds were gathering and we were afraid to get stuck there overnight.
The children sang and danced for us and we then worked with the healthcare workers examining them. We go back there today. Hopefully it will be better. We are well and thankful for being able to do His work.
50 kilometers from Kajiado is a small village called Kiburro. It took us 2 hours to go the distance. 30 miles. It gives you a sense of how deep into the bush we were. This is Masai territory, traditional in dress and culture. Beaded jewelry on the women, rhythmic dancing, leaping men with long sticks, and machetes. We were greeted with that and blessed with it when we left.
I looked out from where we were holding clinic and could see for miles, the valleys of the Masai territory. Umbrella trees giving shade to acres of bush and then open plains. We saw gazelle roaming freely and small herds of goats roaming under the watchful eyes of young Masai boys. I grew up in Somalia and being here in Kenya brings back so many memories of my years there. I feel at home. I'm back fulfilling a dream of being a doctor and practicing in east Africa. I was 6 years old when I made that my goal. God is amazing.
We saw all of the Mission of Mercy children and then some. The Health Care Workers shined as they examined the children, their skills becoming fine tuned under the guidance of the US team. We are a total team of 36, Kenyans and US. We have one purpose: to care for the children where no one else wants to go. And that is Kiburro. The Mission of Mercy children were so much healthier than the children in the village who are not Mission of Mercy children. A testimony to a HCW program and sponsorship which ensures food, clothing, education, and love. Perhaps one day we will have all of the children of Kiburro under our wing.
The US team is powered by a spirit of love and grace. We move to another village tomorrow, distant as well. We are not weary. We are privileged and blessed.
In all things give thanks,
The care your sponsored child receives can impact so many areas of life. Dr. Beyda traveled to Ethiopia to look at the Medical Mercy's Health Care Worker program and what it means for children there:
Fruits of our labour. Plant a seed. Teach them to fish. All are familiar phrases that address doing something for someone in order to make them self sufficient and show their success, to give them an opportunity to succeed, and to put in place a plan that will grow. It is what we strive to do for those who are less fortunate than most, and who are willing, dedicated, motivated, and driven to make the best of what they have been given.
The Healthcare Worker (HCW) program I developed 7 years ago, is that seed, that teaching to "fish," that opportunity, to give those lay persons who are responsible for the welfare of our Mission of Mercy children, the knowledge and the tools to ensure that our children are healthy.
The intent of the HCW program is to ensure sustainability of healthcare needs of the children after our medical teams leave. The HCW becomes the one source for healthcare needs in their projects. There are now trained HCWs in Cambodia, Swaziland, Ethiopia and Kenya.
The question is, has the HCW program been successful? That's why I'm here in Ethiopia, to see if it has made a difference. I spent several hours the first day reviewing their knowledge base, given them some advanced lectures and quizzing them. No need for worries there. They were sharp, inquisitive, and motivated. I then went to the projects and did a medical standards assessment on the healthcare of the children. Here is a summary:
We have 11 projects in Ethiopia with about 3000 children that we care for. There are 9 HCWs here, having completed their training just over a year ago when we came here to do clinics. They worked with us for 5 days and were seeing patients on their own most of the time, making the right diagnosis and starting the right treatment.
In one year since they have been on their own, here's what I've found:
- Referrals to outside clinics are down by 55%
- Healthcare costs for the projects are also down by 50%
- The HCW is seeing on average 10 children a month
- 32 children were identified with potentially life threatening illness, treated and never hospitalized
- Children with chronic illness such as TB, malnutrition and anemia have been identified and are followed on a regular schedule of physical exams and treatment by the HCW
- Medical records for all children are now in the child's respective folder
Outcome measures that are positive, fruitful and successful. There is more that I've found in addition to what I've listed above, but I hope you see the effect of this HCW program. The Mission of Mercy are well cared for.
I leave for Kenya tomorrow to do the same there, except this time, I'll have my medical team with me. 18 US team members. We will have 5 days of clinics and the HCWs will work with us. Fruits of our labour. Planting a seed. Teaching them to fish. The children are better for it.
In all things give thanks,
As we reflect today on the actions of Jesus in his last hours, we consider the way we approach our own lives. Can Jesus' sacrifice also affect the way we approach sponsorship?
One sponsor shares how meeting even the simplest need during a mission trip to Kenya gave everything new meaning.
Today is World Water Day – do you know what your commitment to changing the life of a child allows Mission of Mercy to do?
Because of your sponsorship, we can ensure your sponsored child has access to clean water sources at the project they attend.
Because of your faithfulness, our project staff can reinforce common hygiene practices with the children, who then go home and teach their families and communities, improving the health of all.
Most importantly, because of your prayers and support, we can introduce children to the source of living water, Jesus Christ, and give them access to the abundant life Jesus promises us throughout scripture.
Your contribution is so much larger than those three items reflect. But we want to take a moment to say THANK YOU for what you do on behalf of a child overlooked by many and overwhelmed by the lack he or she faces.
Thank you for providing the means (in more ways than one) to change the health, outlook, and spiritual life of a child.
To learn more about how water affects the daily life of children in our programs, read this story. You can also click here for a reflection on how God uses water to minister to us.
Mission of Mercy has several mission trips still waiting for your application. If you're wondering if you can make a difference -- if the work that a team takes on can change the heart of a child -- please read this post.
The writer, Lois, just returned from the women's Cambodia trip. She will be the first to tell you that she's a photographer, not a painter, and that she was not excited for the service portion of the trip.
So how did God change her mind about the power of paint?