The Blessing of Sponsorship

Photo credit: Nikki Denholm for World Vision

I had heard about Helena* before.  A new Women of Vision chapter was starting and the chair, Laurie*, was very excited to bring her on board.  I had heard that Helena was smart, resourceful and passionate about advocacy and Laurie knew that she would be invaluable to the fledgling Women of Vision chapter.  The hope was that on March 6th Helena would take her first big step into advocacy by attending the Women of Vision lobby day.  Unfortunately, Helena was not able to be there.

Helena is experiencing what so many other Americans are.  She is out of work, living with her sons, without a vehicle and just working very hard to make ends meet.  She does not complain, look for charity or pity.  In fact, she shared with me a prayer she prays daily. “I hunger to see the hungry fed, I thirst to see the thirsty refreshed, I long to see the naked clothed and the voiceless heard; Lord, Feed my hunger, Quench my thirst, Fulfill my longing, or Relieve my burden.”  This prayer was inspired after reading Man of Vision by Marilee Pierce Dunker. Helena shares: “Sometime after that prayer I became unemployed and I know, as strange as this may sound, somehow I thought that my prayers were being answered; I would be given the opportunity to pray for what I hoped to do.”

Helena came up in conversation when I was talking with Laurie about her new chapter and I asked about sponsorship.  She shrugged her shoulders and said, “well…” and then her face lit up. “Well, you know, actually, one of the few people who sponsored a child at our event was this woman Helena.” She continued to share, “I told her she didn’t really need to do that right now, not with everything she was going through.  Helena said to me, Laurie, I have a confession to make. I go to Starbucks each morning and spend $1.60 on a cup of coffee.  I do not need that coffee.”

I realize that I often think of child sponsorship as so easy – World Vision just withdraws the money from you checking account and you don’t even notice. I take for granted the wonderful gift I have been given to be able to sponsor children.

Helena has not let this blessing go unnoticed: “Truly, I have been the one who has been blessed by the opportunity to sponsor Bakary.  He is a beautiful boy and God has filled my heart with love for him.  It is, honestly, I who have received the gift in sponsoring Bakary.”

As we know, every woman has a story that forms her life.  Helena has a story as well. Here it is in her own words:

“The first little girl I sponsored through World Vision was named Aichata Agoudie; she lived in Yirimadio, about 7 miles from Bamako, Mali. Aichata had not long turned 10 years old when I became her sponsor.  In her very first letter to me she wrote, ‘I’m very glad to be your God child!’  There, she had won my heart.  I enjoyed writing to Aichata and receiving her letters and drawings and placed her picture in a frame next to the pictures of my other children.  I imagined my going to Mali to meet her and her one day growing up and coming to visit me.

However, just around her 11th birthday I received a call from World Vision. I thought it was about help with her birthday celebration, or school supplies, or something (I know now that World Vision wouldn’t have been
calling for anything like that), but the voice on the other end told me that Aichata had been struck by a car and killed while crossing the road alone.  As kind and as gentle the voice on the other end of the phone was in breaking the news to me, it took me completely by surprise and I could not control my tears.  I loved Aichata.  I couldn’t understand how it had happened in such a short time, but I loved Aichata and thought of her as my own daughter from another mother in a different country, that’s all.  I think it came from calling her name out in prayer, everyday, along with the rest of my children.  How could my love for her not grow?  I thought, if I grieved so deeply for a child that I knew for less than a year and never met, how her own mother must be grieving.  This helped me to think less of my own sadness and loss and more of the poor grieving mother in Yirimadio. Aichata’s picture is still in its place next to my other children; I know I
will see her in heaven and I want to recognize her when we meet for the first time.”

I am now realizing what a blessing child sponsorship is, not just for the child and the family, but for the sponsor as well.  To be welcomed into someone’s life and be able to give is a privilege and an honor that should be cherished. 

*names have been changed

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