This was one of the activities I was most excited to start. Meet Hope Remembered’s sponsored kids. The sweet families who sponsor the children sent letters, pictures, and small gifts to their students. I (Grace) took our 4 children shopping and we picked out bookbags, small trinkets, and lots of candy to gift the students. I could not wait to hug these students and share a few minutes with them.
Meeting them was not at all what I expected! The initial meeting went pretty normally. The kids were quiet and didn’t have a lot to say. I of course was peppering them with questions about hobbies, favorite subjects, hopes and dreams for their future, likes and dislikes. You name it. I don’t think they knew quite what to make of me.
I introduced them to their sponsor family through pictures and letters. They were VERY interested in their sponsors. The students just could not get over the fact that someone half way around the world was interested in them, truly cared about them, and was praying and thinking about them. Each student was MUCH more excited about the picture and letter they received and the gift was barely noticed.
I really thought they would be so excited about their gifts. They basically have the clothes on their backs and maybe one more outfit. They walk and ride tuk tuks (bus taxis) to school. The all have siblings and most of their siblings sit at home unable to afford tuition for more than one child. They are hungry, raised by one parent because of death or raised by aunts or grandparents because of death. They have mud brick homes with dirt floors. No electricity or running water. But they really didn’t care about the gifts.
Why? Because we are made for relationship. God declares in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone. Scripture is full of God drawing us into relationship with him and in turn we can show His love to others, through relationships! In John 15:12-17 Jesus commands us to “love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you….These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
C.S. Lewis said that “friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…..it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
God used these students to teach me a beautiful lesson. All of the things the world can offer, all of the stuff I fill my days with…..that’s never what satisfies. A cool bookbag and chocolate is fun, but it doesn’t satisfy. What satisfies is being loved well. Being loved by a Father in heaven who sees us, knows every hair of our head, catches every tear, walks our every step, and pursues us with a holy passion, that is what satisfies. When the students were holding tangible evidence in their hands that someone cared for them, they were reminded of HIS love for them. And there was joy.
We ended the meeting with hugs and promises to meet again next year. And that was it. Or so I thought.
Several days later before I flew home, each one came back to see me. On their own. With gifts in hand. I cried at every meeting.
Each child walked those dusty roads back to the orphanage where I was staying. Each with something in their hands. Out of their extreme poverty they emptied their hands to fill mine. I wanted to turn down their generosity. It was overwhelming, extravagant, convicting.
So many times we give out of our surplus, left overs, purging of things we no longer want or need. We give what won’t hurt, but rarely to the point of great sacrifice. Has my giving ever really cost me?
My hands were filled with handwritten notes, trinkets, African clothing. Promises of more African clothing once the father can work several more months to purchase two more outfits that he wants to give.
This father lost his wife in childbirth. He lost a son the same day. He lives in a one room mud brick house with dirt floors. He works sun up to sun down and they still go hungry. In this area people don’t own land because it’s in the city. You don’t have a yard really. You have a hut and then the street. When a loved one dies, you dig up your dirt floor and bury them in your living room. HOW CAN THIS BE? Every single sponsored family gave more sacrificially than I could process. It was too much. It reminded me of the story of the widow in Mark 12:44.
“For they (me) gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, as poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (New Living Translation)
I will end on the promises that one student wrote to me in her letter. May I be as bold and generous in my love for others as this precious student.
“I know Jesus Christ that He cares deeply for me and yours. My promise to you is to live these verses:
I John 3:17 If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction
Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
To learn more about student sponsorship or to sponsor a child, simply click on the SPONSOR tab on our homepage.