when your heart isn’t in sponsoring a child anymore

In years past I have sponsored 3 different children in 3 different countries thru the same company. The photos of them in dirty clothes and sad faces tugged so deeply on my mama heart, I jumped to sign up and give.

After two years of sending money, Christmas money, and birthday money … we received little communication. One child continued to send the same information. He liked soccer and mangos, what was our favorite fruit?

My boys – thinking this would be a great experience – no longer cared when a letter was in the mail. They started saying “your sponsored child wrote you.”  I even stopped posting social media updates when we received mail, because it just didn’t feel like real correspondence.  I realize the correspondence is a bonus, but it was marketed to sound like more.

Finally, last summer one of my sponsored boys sent a “friend request” on Facebook.

I was totally unaware of what I should do. Besides, where does a poor hungry little dirty boy get access to the internet? I contacted the company I had been sending my money.

I mean – we’re sponsoring the boy and I suddenly felt bad he’d see us eating out, vacationing, Christmas presents, etc. when we were told early on only “generic photos” could be sent.

But aren’t we supposed to feel like family? Maybe this was the road to when they visit the states and have those beautiful tearful reunions and he shows me all my letters that were kept under his pillow! <~ because that’s what happens, right?

The company agreed there is to be NO contact with the child outside of our writing letters they receive and view first. So naturally, I became curious.

Without accepting the friend request, I clicked on the boy’s Facebook profile.  I have to be really honest and share I was shocked looking at the photos in his account. Photos of healthy family members (they were tagged & had same last name), clean clothes, and all of them had iphones. Dad didn’t look like he was “working in the fields”.

Suddenly I became very uncomfortable with the entire situation.

when your heart isn't in sponsoring a child anymore

Does this mean sponsoring a child is bad? I don’t believe so, and I would never discourage anyone from doing it. I have some friends who have had an amazing experience.

However, supporting this particular company no longer felt like the best means for my family to “give”. I’ve met people who work for this company and they are genuinely sincere. I respect their efforts and what they believe in I’m not going to link and say -> don’t support this company!  My experience is not a blanket for every experience!!  But I still was not comfortable about the situation.

So what do you do when your heart isn’t in sponsoring a child anymore??

I ended all sponsoring with that company, because I never felt right about it again.

But I didn’t stop.  I found another place to give. Something that fit our whole family much better. Can I say, I think that’s the big thing lately in the news and another sponsor-a-kid company. (not the one I supported)

Because of a marriage stance – supposedly 10,000 sponsorships are gone.  Finished.  Vanished.  Gone.

I’m not going to sit here and cry about the children, or point fingers at the company, nor am I going to trash talk the ones who stopped supporting … but I am going to SHOUT – don’t you stop helping those in need!

If you’re uncomfortable with the overseas poverty and hunger – find the hungry in your town. They are there – we just have to find the smaller organizations to help.

Or …

  • Serve a meal to a “real person” in need – shelter, sick neighbor, or a new mom.
  • Pack food bags.
  • Clean up a playground for underprivileged children.
  • Bring flowers to hospital patients.
  • Offer to babysit for the single moms you know.
  • Put on a magic show at the nursing home.
  • Stop by the local police station or fire station and leave some snacks and a thank you.

Please don’t stop being “the hands and feet”.  Please do not stop being generous with your blessings because of some bad press, one bad experience, or even a Facebook friend request.

Keep finding unique ways to help. Don’t let the enemy win by keeping us cynical and stopping the generosity! Because the fight is really with him!!

‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
Matthew 25:37-40 nasb emphasis mine

  • http://reallifeblog.net Sarah Pinnix

    Stef, I just love your heart. The most important thing is that each one of us give and serve where God has called us. He won’t call everyone to the same ministry because the needs are so diverse. You’ve also highlighted the need to listen to the wisdom from the Lord when giving, and not to just give to a certain place because others are, or you feel obligated. You are awesome, and I’m so sad I can’t make it to Chicago next weekend!

    • Stef

      Love YOU friend – thanks for all you do w/ SP!! I am SO bummed I’m not going to see you!

  • http://mrsrooster.blogspot.com Amy

    I always felt weird about sponsoring a child. So I use my time and resources on things close to home. There is so much you can do near home that most people don’t think of. Giving money to a local school for a needy child’s “lunch account” or purchasing books for your school or library. Give money so a student can buy or rent an instrument that they would love to play but can’t afford. School supplies, gently used dresses for prom, or slip some money to a teacher to help with a school trip.

    I think missions are a great thing. But people over look the mission fields of their own neighborhood or city. Senior citizens that need some help with yard work or some one just to pop in and make sure that they are ok. Animal shelters that need people just to give animals some time and love. Teen Mother shelters that need items for the babies and love for scared young Moms. Prisons on visiting day to help families of inmates cope with their loved ones long incarcerations. Stop into a cancer care treatment place with flowers, books, or something to share with people waiting for treatment or those who are waiting with them.

    There is always a place for our time, talents, and love that God gave us. God made you a beautiful giving person. You are a light for others. Find a new place for your light to shine.

    God Bless you and your family.

  • http://homeschooljournal-bergblog.blogspot.com/ Phyllis at All Things Beautiful

    I had a friend who sponsored a child because she felt the child was in a similar situation as you felt your sponsored child was in, and it turned out that she was actually helping this child go through college, even after the sponsored child got married (at 16). It just seemed a lot different than it actually turned out to be. After that, I too, began looking for places to help close to home, even if it means anonymously slipping some money in a mailbox.

  • http://grtlyblesd.blogspot.com/ Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

    Interesting! We began sponsoring while we were waiting to adopt in 2009.

  • http://www.dottodotconnections.weebly.com Missy @ Dot-to-Dot Connections

    This is good information to know! Thanks for sharing! I don’t know which company you were supporting, but we have had a good experience with our sponsor child from Gospel for Asia. Our sponsor child writes to us far more than I write to her! We love receiving those letters! I don’t write back as often as I should, because I have no idea what to say to her! I feel so bad about how we have so much and I’m not sure what to say in letters to her without making her feel bad. What kinds of things do you write in letters to your sponsor children? Thanks!

    • Stef

      Thanks for asking Missy! I used to write how much God loved them, what my favorite bible stories are, how we’re praying for them.

      • http://www.dottodotconnections.weebly.com Missy @ Dot-to-Dot Connections

        Thanks for replying, Stef! I should work on that today, and get my daughter to write a letter too ;)

  • http://everydayeo.blogspot.com Janene

    I have been feeling this way for awhile. We sponsor two kids from two different organizations. The experience between the two is very different. This post gave me the courage to pick up the phone and cancel one sponsorship and help out another with the organization we are pleased with. Can’t believe I waited this long!

  • Connie

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience on this. People need this kind of information to make wise decisions about how to best help the poor in truly effective ways. It may have been a sad moment for your family to have this realization, but it is helpful in educating others who want to sponsor wisely. May God bless all you do with a pure heart to serve His lambs.