Dieu Grand looked up at me from the stack of photographs. Him facing the camera with a skeptical smile and dirty t-shirt, and me smiling back knowing that I wanted more than anything to see him reach his full potential.
My sponsorship journey began when I joined the World Help staff in 2011. Our Vice President and Africa Chief Strategist Cyrus Mad-Bondo was updating us on the newly completed Irene’s Home of Hope in the Central African Republic—built in memory of his beautiful daughter Irene.
The home had brought in 10 children in need of sponsors, and our staff was invited to help. I had never sponsored a child, and was excited for the chance.
The children of Irene’s Home of Hope
A friend set several sponsorship profiles on a table and told me to let her know which child I wanted to sponsor. I still remember passing the biographies through my hands, studying the faces staring back at me. Some smiling, some somber. I wanted so badly to be with them in that moment, hug them, speak to them in their language, tell them that everything would be okay—that they were loved.
Dieu Grand means “God is great” in French. For the past three years I have prayed that he embraces the magnitude of his namesake. I didn’t know three years ago that the Central African Republic would explode into civil war and sectarian violence, meaning I would have little contact with this precious boy because militant groups had seized many government services, making the postal system highly vulnerable to pillaging.
Though I have had minimal communication with Dieu-Grand, he has always been prayed for and talked about at home. In the months following my sponsorship, I asked my twin sister, Chloe, to pray for him. She saw his picture on my dresser, and listened intently when I spoke about the crisis developing in the Central African Republic.
I didn’t realize her heart was also being drawn toward sponsorship.
“Where are sponsors needed the most?” I can still hear the concern in her voice even two years later. After hosting two Ugandan girls, Mary and Praise, from the Children of the World choir in our home that summer, she made her decision.
One night I came home from work to see Chloe beaming with a picture of a 5-year-old Ugandan girl. “Her name is Claire, like you,” she said. Tears stung my eyes knowing that I had even a small connection with this new relationship.
As I reflected on the influence my sponsorship had in her decision, my mind began piecing together emails and testimonies from child sponsors I have encountered over the last several years. “My friend sponsors a child in Guatemala and I want to help” . . . “my mother is a child sponsor and told me about your program” . . . “I heard about the children in Nepal through a colleague who supports a child there.”
Sponsors, whether you know it or not—YOU are the best advocates for sponsorship. The connection between you and your sponsored child sparks an interest in others that may just impact a life.
I encourage you to talk about your sponsored children—their interests, hobbies, favorite subject in school, etc. Tell others about the needs of your sponsored child’s country, and the difficulties children face there. Ask your loved ones to join you in prayer. And talk about the difference being made through child sponsorship.
I truly believe that sponsors are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between unsponsored children and compassionate individuals around the world. We play an influential role! Consider taking the step from child sponsor to child sponsorship advocate. You never know who may be waiting to jump in and begin building a life-changing relationship with a child in need.