The Child You Never Knew I Had
If you know me well, then you know that I speak often of my four children: Jayden, Madelyn, Zachary, and Tyrian. They bring me great joy and being their father is one of the things I’m most proud of.
But I have another child. One who I have kept hidden and neglected for far too long.
I’m talking about my Compassion Sponsor Child, Mirian. While she may not be my child by birth, she has come to cared for by our family.
That wasn’t always the case though. For years we sponsored numerous children through Compassion. Practically speaking this meant that we sent our money in monthly, put their pictures on our refrigerator, and read their letters when they came in occasionally. My wife always took more interest in communicating with them than I ever did.
For many years, it was similar with Mirian too. But that all changed for me in 2012, when I met Mirian. Actually, it was the second time I met her. But I should go back to the beginning.
In 2007, my wife and I were preparing to lead a youth mission team to Honduras. We had recently received word that our previous Compassion sponsor child had moved out of the sponsorship area. So we decided to sponsor another child, one from Honduras, in hopes that we might have a chance of meeting her. Compassion set everything up for us, and in March of that year, while in Honduras, we met Mirian, a shy 9 year old little girl.
The Compassion worker in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, took us by jeep, 2 hours west to Danli, so we could meet Mirian. We met the pastor of the local church, who ran the sponsorship program. We visited Mirian and her grandmother in the small, adobe brick house they lived in (her mother worked in Tegucigalpa to provide for the family, while her grandmother raised her). I remember taking her to a local park so that she could play and taking her out for ice cream (she’d never had that before).
We shared with the local pastor (through the Compassion worker, who acted as translator) how exciting it was for us to see where our monthly support went . We explained that sometimes, we in North America, have doubts that the money we send is actually getting to the child in the picture…that it’s actually making a difference.
That’s when he shocked us with his response. He told us that the children have similar doubts. They wonder whether there really is someone who sends them money. “All of the children will hear that Mirian’s sponsors came to visit her.” He said. “You are the first sponsors to come, and now Mirian and the others will know that there really is someone who cares for them.”
I wish I could say the experienced changed me, but it didn’t really. We continued to have Mirian’s picture on our fridge, and continued to send our money. But she really wasn’t part of our family, at least not to me.
In 2012, I led another youth mission team, and again arranged through Compassion to meet Mirian again. This time they brought her and her grandmother to Tegucigalpa to meet me at a local mall for the afternoon. With me were my son, Jayden and my father. It wasn’t a shy little girl I met that day though. She had grown into a beautiful young lady of 14. She proudly shared that she had been working on her English (“Hello, my name is Mirian”), that she was doing well in school, and that she wanted to be a doctor. Through the Compassion worker, I asked about her faith. She smiled and responded that yes, she had trusted Jesus.
There was something different about Mirian. Gone was the shy little girl, and here was a confident, radiant young lady with big plans for her future. It was humbling and rewarding to see the difference, knowing that we had helped in a small way in her life.
I believe seeing the growth in her life is what made the change in me. We still send our money and read her letters, but now I take an interest in her life. We correspond regularly with her, and, most importantly, I find myself praying for her regularly. She went from being a picture on my fridge to being a child I care about.
So allow me to introduce Mirian, our Compassion sponsor child. She’s a beautiful young lady that our family cares about…that I care about. I’ve written this blog as a confessional, hoping that others may experience this joy of caring for a sponsor child.
For The Record:
-For those who are critical, yes, child sponsorship makes a difference: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/march/does-international-child-sponsorship-work-study-claims.html?paging=off
-If you’re interested in “rescuing children from poverty in Jesus’ name” I highly recommend Compassion Int’l. You can sponsor a child here: https://www.compassion.ca/