The Faces of Sponsorship
Honduras is a gorgeous place, and my past journey to Danli took me through some of the prettiest parts of it—a region full of majestic mountains covered with evergreen trees.
Driving into Danli was just breathtaking. It was one of those quaint little towns with a beautiful park in the center of the city, backed by a huge white cathedral. It is what you dream that you will see in Central America. It is the stuff of postcards. And the church building where CRF operates is just down the street.
Our Danli work is run by Wilma Ester with much help from her four precious daughters. I have a feeling that she told all the children to wear orange there because there was a sea of it. And every child was also given an orange nametag to wear with a name and a big smiley face on it.
As I was giving a challenge to the children about the hope that was before them, I looked and read for the first time what was on the nametag of the little girl in the orange shirt who was seated on the front row. It said “Shahrzad Zarkoob.” Then I saw what Wilma had done. She had not put “Josefa” on her name tag. No, she had put her sponsor’s name. I thought about Shahrzad. I remembered a 19 year old Iranian student who made a dramatic conversion in our campus ministry at the University of Washington and had to seek religious asylum to stay in the United States. I remembered Shahrzad becoming an American citizen. I remembered Shahrzad getting her Ph.D. in Physics. I remembered her becoming an executive for NBC at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City. I remembered her moving to Napa Valley. So in the middle of my talk I told little Josefa about her sponsor and the great things that she had done. And I told her that she could do great things too. I had hope for her. She may be in poverty and without many breaks, but her sponsor had gone through tough times too and came out doing great things. The little girl hugged me about a million times before we left.
Then the other children lined up. “Tell me about my sponsor,” they cried. And so I looked on the next nametag, and it said “Dr. David Jackson and Karen.” And I remembered when I met David at the University of Washington decades ago just like I had with Shahrzad. He was the drum major in the band. He was the smartest guy I had ever met. And he dramatically gave his life to the Lord. He became a doctor. He became my doctor. I remember Karen, and her coming to Jesus. I recall the way she gave her life to becoming an exceptional teacher. So I told little Gladis that she could be like her sponsors. I told her that she could be a doctor. She could be a teacher. I had hopes that, like Karen and David, she would also do great things.
And I just had to smile and thank God. It was like being in a time warp. What had happened decades ago was living dynamically in the present. What happened thousands of miles away in a different country had transcended into Central America for God’s glory and to change the lives of children.
If you don’t know what I do, let me tell you a little about it. I speak at churches anywhere that I can and ask people to sponsor orphans through CRF. I have a table with pictures of children from all over the world. They are real children. They are needy children. And every place I go, the greatest people on earth sign up and start sponsoring children. I do this now as president of CRF. But I started doing it decades ago as a volunteer. And as these little kids of Honduras lined up asking me to tell them about their sponsors, I couldn’t believe how many of them I knew. One was from a church in Oregon. Another from a campus ministry in Oklahoma. Another from a seminar in Washington. The next one was from a good friend in California.
I could remember so many of the faces of the sponsors on the days that they had signed up. But now I was seeing the other side. I was seeing the children that they had saved. I so wished that the sponsors could have seen their faces. The children loved them so much. I wish I had known every story to tell them. (If you have a child, let them know who you are and what you look like. They love you so much, and you are so important to them.) And it was one of those great moments in a lifetime—faces on both sides of sponsorship were being connected in my mind. I love all of you who are sponsors. I’m thanking God for you right now. I wish you could meet your child to see how important you are. You are the difference.
About Christian Relief Fund
CRF is a non-profit relief organization based in Amarillo, Texas with a focus on holistic programs to rescue orphans and vulnerable children from poverty.
CRF operates child sponsorship programs in over 25 countries and is dedicated to providing food, clean water, healthcare and disaster relief to the glory of God worldwide.