Words Matter – Jim Barnett

We’re so happy to share this post from Jim Barnett, a CRF Advisory Board Member. Words truly matter, especially to sponsored children!

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In our fast paced, high-tech world, we have achieved the ability to communicate with more people using fewer words than ever before. In the process, sometimes we forget how powerful and important our words can be. We’ve certainly lost the art of letter-writing and opted for email, texting, voicemail and a dozen other communication applications where a few sentences here and there afford us the opportunity to keep in “constant conversation” without much meaningful dialogue.

A couple of years ago, my 15 year old daughter Kennedy and I were reminded of how important a hand-written letter can be.

Our family had traveled to Kisumu, Kenya to visit the Ring Road School. We had been there a few days and were well aware of the extreme poverty within the slum. We had observed how the kids loved to stay at the school so they could have good water and food to eat. We had witnessed the neighborhood kids drinking dirty water out of the potholes in the street. We had even been in some of their houses, most of which were no bigger than one bedroom of our own house. My daughter had seen the dirt floors that her African counter-parts slept on. We were overwhelmed by the difficulties these children have to overcome. Then it happened.

We were in the school courtyard, and I heard Kennedy call for me. I turned around to see her with a very shocked look and tears welling up in her eyes. She stood across from an African teenager about her own age and was holding a piece of paper. I walked over to her and she held the paper out for me to see. It was a letter…from my daughter to this young African girl named Brenda. What made it so moving was that it had been written 8 years earlier, when Kennedy was only 7. It was the only correspondence the two of them ever had prior to that moment.

When we first signed up to sponsor a child, we were assigned to Brenda. Kennedy wrote Brenda telling her about herself and asking about her life, and she had glued a picture of herself to the letter. Shortly thereafter, we learned that Brenda had left Ring Road, and we were assigned to another child. Our entire family moved on and never thought another thing about it. Kennedy even forgot she ever wrote the letter.

But now, almost a decade later, Kennedy was handed a letter with a picture of a 7 year old girl in glasses and asked “Is this you? Are you the same Kennedy?” The one asking was Brenda, the 5 year old girl whom Kennedy had written, now 13 and blessed enough to find her way back into the Ring Road School. The two of them had grown into young ladies – one of them had forgotten but the other had not.

There is no telling what this young girl had already lived through, where all she had been, how difficult her life was. Most likely, all of her earthly possessions would fit into a bag small enough to be considered a “carry on” by most airlines. However, a letter written by a 7 year old girl in America that contained misspelled words and some pretty basic conversation mattered enough to her that she kept it as if it were a treasure.

When reflecting upon it later, Kennedy and I wondered why she would keep something that seemed so insignificant to us. The only explanation we could think of is that words matter. That letter communicated to Brenda that there was someone on the other side of the world who cared about her and was interested in her life.

That piece of paper communicated to Brenda that she was not insignificant at all, but instead she was valued as a human and her life mattered!

It was a moment we will never forget, in a place we will always hold dear. The Ring Road School, Clinic and Church hold a special place in our heart, and we are forever grateful to Milton Jones and the Christian Relief Fund for the work they do and for allowing us to partner with them to bless children who are less fortunate than us but equally important in the eyes of our Lord.

So friends, I encourage you to sit down and write a letter to the child you sponsor. It may seem insignificant to you, but I assure you it is precious to them.

Write your child a letter today!

 

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