January 18, 2012

Saying Good-bye

Let go.

That's what I had to do recently. Let go of a cherished relationship, and certainly not by my choice.

The phone rang. My heart beat a little faster when I saw the number on my caller ID. The Compassion Sponsor Relations office calls when there is important news they need to communicate about your sponsored child. Still, as I answered I told myself it was probably just a New Year’s courtesy call.

Gakii.2011-1She was calling about Gakii. The thud in the pit of my stomach almost drowned out my inner monologue. Not my Pretty-In-Her-New-Pink-Dress-Gakii! Didn’t I just get her updated photo? Please let this be a mistake.

My mind raced ahead, guessing correctly her very next words, and scrambling to strategize how I could possibly keep from losing this precious little Kenyan girl – a child I’ve prayed for and corresponded with for a year-and-a-half on behalf of an unknown financial sponsor – a child I’ve grown to love so dearly.
Her financial sponsor had to discontinue the  sponsorship.  Would you like to take on Gakii’s financial commitment?
The words hung heavy. Everything inside me screamed, “YES!!!!” – but deep down I knew I was not supposed to make this commitment at this time.

What happens to a correspondence child in this situation? What happens to Gakii?
Positive #1: Every child enrolled in the Compassion program receives all of the program benefits whether they have a financial sponsor or not. They attend all project activities, receive the same food supplements, educational assistance, medical care, and most important the pastoral care and oversight of the project and local church. This does not change because of a change in sponsorship status.
Positive #2: When a sponsorship discontinues, or a child leaves the Compassion program, the sponsor has the opportunity to write a final letter. If a correspondent sponsor has been assigned, this privilege falls to them. The child receives one final letter from the person they have been corresponding with all along.
The final letter is a wonderful way to remind your child what a treasure they are to God’s heart. It fosters closure, provides explanation for why your letters are ceasing, and if done right can really help the child transition positively to their new sponsor.


This wasn’t the first time I’ve lost a sponsored child, but it felt a more complicated than before. After all, I didn’t choose to discontinue. The privilege to function in this role had been rescinded and quite unexpectedly. My feelings of disappointment deepened as I thought of how Gakii must feel about losing her sponsor. These relationships are very important to the children. They’re very important to me!

As a correspondent sponsor, I know that any one of my children’s financial sponsorships could cease at any time leaving me with the tough decision of whether or not to let them go or to absorb the financial commitment myself.

I entered the role of a correspondent with a heart to pray for and to love the children I am assigned as God loves them, to encourage them to look to God -- not me -- as their source and provider, and to help them grow in their awareness of Him and the beauty of His word. I knew going in that my ability to take over the financial sponsorship of every child I correspond with was not a realistic option.


Today the right moment came to draft Gakii’s last letter. The words were simple, straightforward and sincere. I told her how sad I was that I would not be able to continue as her “writing sponsor.”  There. Though I had never differentiated myself to her as a correspondent sponsor, those words – writing sponsor – helped me release myself in this situation. Words of encouragement flowed easily, reminding her once more that God knows what is best for her… and for me… and that we can ALWAYS trust Him.


Yes, fully trust.

Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV) -- the perfect message to summarize my heart for this sweet child in our last link of communication. I wrote it out for her not caring if the translation was a little over her eight-year-old head. I believe children thrive when challenged spiritually far beyond their present level of understanding. I trust God to help her understand...
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe."
His Word ... what a great way to say good-bye when you really don't want to.


You might also like today’s Compassion Blog post

What would you say in a final letter to a sponsored child?


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