Today's mail brought a letter from Nakalisa, in Uganda. Nakalisa is 8 years old, already writing her own letters (at least, she wrote part of this one), and in English.
The point of this letter seemed to be to thank us for her birthday gift, with which she bought a school uniform--required in many of the countries in which Compassion works--a school sweater, shoes, and a snack (try buying all of that in the U.S. on $25). A couple of lines later (added by a staff member at the project, when Nakalisa had written all she could) that "she also gave her life to Jesus, she loves Jesus and you, too."
Can you guess the point at which my smile broke out?
The point of Compassion's program, after all, is to release children from their spiritual, physical, economic and social poverty, in Jesus' Name. Every single area of a child's life is addressed, once she or he is registered in a Compassion-assisted project. Does she need supplemental nutrition? Does he need special medical attention, beyond a yearly check-up? Does she suffer under a burden of bitterness, because a parent has abandoned the family by moving away or through divorce? Is the child abused at home? Does he struggle with academics? Whatever the need, it is met. Our sponsorship fees help, and sometimes a child or family gift meets some of those needs, directly.
When the child reaches the age of around 11, 12 or 13, he begins to learn a life skill at or through the project, a skill which will generate some income, to help his family. Many students prepare to open their own business, after they have graduated from the program, and we read stories of how those businesses have grown. All of these stories warm our hearts and reaffirm what we have seen and heard through the lives of our own sponsored children: The program works!
What makes the program work is that all that Compassion does is Christ-centered, child-focused and church-based. All is motivated by love for Jesus Christ and a full commitment to follow His teachings; a love for children and others who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9); and a firm belief that the Church is God's "Plan A" to redeem the world--and that there is no "Plan B." All the benefits that come to every child registered in a Compassion program flow through the local church that staffs and runs the Compassion program. Those whose sponsors write to them give and receive the love of a person they might never meet, and that blows the kids' minds.
But what really makes us break out in big smiles is when our sponsored children receive Jesus in their hearts and give their lives to Him, as Nakalisa has now done. That's what does it. That is why we do what we do. If you have any questions about Compassion or about sponsorship, just ask me!