Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Power of the Written Word

Typical day in North America:

It’s 6a.m. You hear the alarm go off, it’s another work day. After hitting the snooze button a few times, you get up and shower, grab yourself a coffee, and while you wait until you’re awake enough for breakfast, you log onto your computer to check emails, Facebook, blogs or even Twitter.

While you’re checking your inbox, you receive a text from a co-worker, last minute details about a meeting later today. You text back.

Back to your inbox. You had a few new emails since the night before, so you quickly respond to them before heading to Facebook. Your mom is on Facebook too, so you chat with her for a few minutes while checking through statuses and responding to comments and notes.

You read a few of your favourite blogs, leaving comments in response to the posts.

Someone comments on your blog, you respond via email.

A tweet or two, and your well connected morning has been off to a great start.

The pattern repeats itself throughout the day. The phone rings, you answer it. It rings while you’re on the phone, the caller leaves a voicemail, you call them back.

Typical Day in Honduras:

Your name is Wilson, you’re 15 years old, and you live with your mother and your sister in a little seaside village where poverty permeates the neighbourhood. You get up and head to school, looking forward to your favourite classes... Math, and Bible Studies. Something special is happening today at the Compassion center after school – it’s letter writing day.

You see, Wilson is part of the Compassion program at his local church, and a minimum of three times a year, he has the privilege of writing to his sponsor.

Wilson stares at the stationery in front of him, and reflects as to what to write.

It hits him all over again.

He has never received a response to any of his letters.

There are so many things he’d love to know about his sponsor, but none of his letters have received a response, therefore all his questions remain unanswered.

Foremost in his mind are the biggest questions:

“Does my sponsor love me?”

“Will my prayer to receive a letter ever be answered?”

“Why doesn’t he/she write?”

“Do I matter?”

You see, one of the most crucial aspects of sponsorship is relationship. The relationship that is built through communication with the sponsor is a lifeline, if you will. It sends a clear message to the child that he/she is loved, is significant, and it encourages them to know that someone halfway across the world, someone they’ve never met loves them and cares about their wellbeing. That’s a powerful opportunity to change a life. It has been documented that children who regularly exchange letters with their sponsors see a marked improvement in their schoolwork.

There is a story of a sponsored child who told his sponsor that he was sorry that he wasn’t good in school, and his sponsor wrote to him to tell him that he had other gifts, that God would show him that he was very special in other ways. The next letter, the child told his sponsor that he realized that he was good at running. He was the fastest in his class! The response from his sponsor was that God had answered the boy’s prayer, He had shown him how special he was... the boy responded that he was not only the fastest in his school, but in his village too. The letters were exchanged back and forth for months and years... and finally, years later, they met.... as the young man flew to the sponsor’s home country to give her the silver medal he had won at the Olympics. I am not sure I have all the right details, but stories like this are everywhere throughout the Compassion program.

All because of the power of a letter.

Someone believed in this boy, and cared enough to write to him to let him know.

Imagine if your emails, blog posts, phone calls, Facebook messages, and texts were met with absolute silence? Day in, day out, months upon months, years upon years?

How would that make you feel?

That’s the reality for too many Compassion children. The message they hear in this powerful silence is : “You don’t matter. You are insignificant.”

I met Wilson on Sunday. He’s a humble, gentle hearted, very intelligent boy with so much love to give...

When I asked him what was the one thing he wanted his sponsor, and ALL the sponsors to know, his response was:

“I’d love to get at least one letter...”

My heart broke.

I made a promise to Wilson that I take very, very seriously. I told him that I would tell his story to the world and have his experience be the catalyst for change, and that I would ask people to pray for his relationship with his sponsor, and for his prayer to be answered. At least one letter.

If you are a sponsor and you have struggled with writing, or you haven’t written yet... grab the closest piece of paper right now, and write. Simply write “I just want you to know that you are loved and that I am praying for you.” It doesn’t have to be elaborate or eloquent, just something to let him know you’re thinking of him. Those words will mean the world to a child like Wilson. Those words could change his life.

If you find writing traditional letters awkward and inconvenient, here’s a suggestion you may not have considered... Compassion’s website gives you the option of sending your sponsored child a message electronically through their network. Think of it in the same sense as writing an email. The Compassion office will translate it and deliver it to the child.

Last but not least, if you are a sponsor and you struggle to write, have you considered continuing to sponsor the child financially, but assigning a correspondent sponsor for your child through Compassion? Our family writes to two little boys whose sponsor asked for assistance in writing the letters. If this is something you’d be willing to consider, there is a waiting list of sponsors eager to write to children on your behalf. Call Compassion today to discuss this option.

Imagine sitting there, month after month, year after year, when all those children around you are receiving letters from their sponsors, and although you’re sponsored, you receive nothing, time and time again?

Imagine the day when Wilson receives his first letter?


Anonymous said...

I read about Wilson yesterday. This morning, when the Compassion office was open, I called and asked if I could be a correspondence sponsor. I'm on the list. :o)

Michelle in Memphis

JD said...

Michelle -- that is GREAT news! It didn't take me long to receive a correspondence child (I actually got two!), it's been fantastic... good for you (and great for that child!!!)

Let me know when you receive a correspondence child!

Shebecomes said...

JD- Have you thought about asking the Honduras Compassion staff if you (and possibly the teamates who went on the house visit with you) could write him a note of encouragement to leave with him before you go? I know it wouldn't be from his sponsor, but it might be nice for him to have something to hold on to and read over when he needs some encouragement! I know they've got strict rules about writing to the kids...but it seems like it would be a reasonable request :)

JD said...

I am going to try to send some of the family photos to him through Compassion, along with a card. I pray they'll be able to send the photos to him. That may be easier to accomplish than to write to him directly... please pray this will be possible!

Docile said...

When you get home, we will discuss how we are going to go about finding correspondant sponsors in our community for those children. With much love, Mom

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