Monday, 3 November 2014

Why should I care?

I've heard a lot of arguments for why people don't believe in sponsoring a child from a developing country, and usually they all center around one thing; the inability to see how one person can truly make a difference. Aren't you just creating a generation that is reliant on hand-outs? What difference does it make by helping one under-privileged child out of millions? Isn't that their country's problem anyway? Or the most common of all, why should I care? Recently, after 13 years of my wife and I sponsoring a young boy in Uganda, I received an amazing phone call from the staff at Compassion Australia. It seemed that young boy had become a man, thanks largely to someone believing that one person can make a difference.

Compassion Australia is a child sponsorship organization that is Faith-orientated, Church-based and supported by many individuals who believe they are called to make a difference on this earth. Together it's supporters believe that it is simply not enough to feed a starving child, there is a greater need to also nurture and support the hope that exists in each and every one of God's children to impact their lives for eternity. Man, that is one big task! And how does it all work? By getting one person, family, school or Church to believe that they are capable of making a difference in the life of just one person.

13 years after sponsoring an 8 year-old boy called Mark, that phone call put our decision into perspective. Mark had graduated from the Compassion program. Having lived with his brother and Uncle in a village in Kyamakanda since his mother passed away, Mark had recently graduated year 12. At 21 years of age, he now plans to study to become an accountant. More importantly, the Compassion officer on the other end of the phone wanted to share the thoughts of the Compassion workers in Kyamakanda, Uganda who had worked closely with Mark's development. Mark was a lovely child who always got along well with the other children. Not just those his age, but the younger ones who loved him teaching Sunday School. Not surprisingly, Mark was a devoted Christian who loved God. He often spoke of God's love and shared his testimony of how his sponsor family had supported him with his schooling and prayers. He shared this testimony at his Church, at other Churches and even at conferences. He always dressed smartly. He took great pride in the trousers, shoes and shirts that he would be given as Christmas and birthday gifts from us. He wanted to thank us personally, which he did every time he wrote us a letter, and hoped to still keep in touch. He is very actively involved in his Church and wants to make a difference to others in his community. And his brother, who is now working in Kampala, is going to support his studies to become an accountant.

That's how God's love works. Through one person, many are reached. My wife and I feel honored to have answered that call all those years ago. Even when there were times during that 13 year period that our budget didn't allow for the $44 a month we had pledged in sponsorship, we made do. Now as I finish writing this entry, I feel that we have made a difference. Mark feels like a son that I've never met, only corresponded with through letters and photographs in the mail. But it's also sad to think that where I live in Australia, there are fathers and sons that have less of a relationship than that.

Good grief, if we all took the line why should I care, then nothing would ever get done. No matter what your thoughts still are on child sponsorship programs, simply acknowledging a problem is never enough. There are many children facing a life of poverty, hunger, despair and prostitution that need to be provided with real hope for the future. While something as simple as sponsoring a child is not going to change the course of the world, you have to start somewhere. Just think of how different the world could be if everyone sponsored just one child in their lifetime. One person does make a difference.

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