Archive for the ‘Child Sponsorship’ Category

I woke up this morning just in time to hear my wife start her car as she headed off to work. I had slept in a bit longer than intended, but I guess I needed it, because I woke up more refreshed, energized, and excited about whatever great things God had in store for me today than I had in weeks. As I showered and got dressed, I made a mental list: There are a couple of clients I need to tend to. Business has been slow, so I really should follow up on some folks I haven’t heard from in a while. Those notes I promised my class I’d have on my Bible study blog really needs to be done today. And I gotta leave some time to read another chapter or two in that book about Calvin. This is going to be a good day! And it’ll start with a big mug of coffee! As I headed downstairs to start the brew, I grabbed my phone and opened my email. Halfway down, I saw the newest one: “Your overdraft protection has been activated.”

WHAT? I knew I was operating close to the line, but I was sure that there were at least a few bucks left in there. Once the coffee was started, I trotted back up to my laptop so I could get a better look. OK. There were a couple of purchases from Target from early last week. (I love that 5% discount I get with my Red Card, but – seriously – do they really have to take a week to clear?) And then those few small purchases I was expecting. But still, there was enough left. Then I looked closer and found the culprit. The last debit, the one that put me over the line, was my automatic payment to Zoe International for Tui, the little girl we help to support.

In the next 60 seconds, I went through the stages of grief. Denial: “This can’t be right!” Anger: “Who can I blame?” Bargaining: “If I agree to take the blame, can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?” Depression: “Face it. It will happen again. You’re just an idiot. Your coffee’s ready.” By the time I got to my waiting pot, I was getting close to acceptance when the thought popped into my head: “You know, that’s just part of having kids. The other ones always cost you money you weren’t planning on. She’s just like your other children.”

She’s just like … my … other … children. We’ve been supporting Tui for – what – over 2 years now? And this is the first time that thought entered my mind. Just like my other children. But what I do for her is so little – just a few bucks a month, automatically deducted from my checking account. Oh, and her picture hangs on my fridge. And ten months ago, I actually got to meet her and spend a little time with her. That was really special, but is it really enough that I should think of her as one of my kids?

Cherie and I have sponsored numerous children over the past 35 years, and we’ve been happy to do our little part. But I can’t say that I ever really thought of any of them as part of my family. Oh, there were some that we sponsored for a number of years, and I do remember them fondly and wonder where they are and how they’re doing today. But did I ever hear that little voice say, “She’s one of your kids. She’s part of your family”? I don’t think so. To my loss, I guess.

Child sponsorship can be a wonderful thing. You get pictures of your child to hang on your fridge, and you get periodic updates. You hear about the things she likes, and you learn of the things she needs and the ways you are helping to meet these needs. You help make sure that she is getting enough to eat, she’s going to school, and that she’s learning about Jesus. You write letters to her, and sometimes you get letters from her. In short, you get to change a kid’s life – all from the comfort of your living room, and at very little cost to you.

OK. That last part sounded a little crass, but here’s the point. It’s what I learned this morning: Child sponsorship is an opportunity for great joy, and it’s also an opportunity to become neglectful. When God hands these little ones to us and says, “Here – you get to take care of her,” it’s really, really easy to think that if we set up automatic payments and stick her photograph in a place where we’ll see it from time to time, we have fulfilled our duty. And when He goes so far as to send us half way around the world to meet her, we can keep our guard up so much that the most we come away with is, “She’s really a cute and complex kid. It was fun meeting her,” and even then not let our heart become affected too much.

Sponsoring a child does bring with it some duty, but it’s more than payments and pictures and an occasional prayer. It is the greatest and most joyful duty given to us as followers of Jesus: It’s the duty to open our hearts and let them in, love them and let them become part of our family. And when we meet them, to let down our guard enough that coming back home without them breaks our hearts. When that happens, she becomes part of our daily routine: We think of her, pray for her and recognize our wonderful responsibility to care for her. And when we do, that auto-payment we set up won’t sneak up on us.

But something else might, like maybe a little tear. Because, after all, this little runt who just overdrafted my checking account and generated an additional service charge – yeah – she is my kid. And I love her, and I miss her, and wish I could give her a big hug. And I’m glad she cost me a few extra bucks today, because maybe now I’ll remember to think of her, pray for her, care about her and miss her a little more often. Just like my other children.