What do you not know about child sponsorship?

November 8, 2009 at 10:06 pm 29 comments

First, I need to be honest about something:

I’m running around like a crazy person trying to pack for El Salvador. It’s 9 PM and I’m leaving at 3:30 AM. So…..

Abraham is ghostwriting this for me. Thanks, babe. //No problem. Happy to do it.//

*               *               *

One thing the folks from Compassion told us as we talked about this trip is that we can ask anything we want to. Nothing’s off limits.

I know there’s a lot I’ll want to find out, but I’m not entirely sure yet what I’m going to be curious about.

So I thought I’d ask you: What do you want to know about Compassion or child sponsorship in general that I can try to find out for you?

I imagine that some of you out there already sponsor kids and would love to know a little more about how it works. And there are others of you who don’t sponsor kids because you have unanswered questions—maybe even problems.

Leave a comment and I’ll see what I can find out for you!

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Entry filed under: Compassion.

Hurricane in El Salvador: Please pray! “This child deserves to know Jesus!” -Brother Guillermo

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Laura @ Texas in Africa  |  November 8, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    I sponsor a child in Kenya and wonder about the theology that she’s taught. How does Compassion choose which local churches to work with? Are they mostly theologically uniform, or is there some diversity of belief about what might be called “non-essentials” among the projects?

    Reply
    • 2. Chantel  |  November 9, 2009 at 12:24 pm

      Fantastic question!!! I am interested in this answer too! We sponsor children in India, Ethiopia, Honduras, and Indonesia, and it would be interesting to know the theology that they are being taught, and if it is different in different communities.

      Reply
      • 3. Emily  |  November 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm

        @Laura When I first saw your questions, I thought “Does the theology really matter? As long as the kids/families ae being saved, then isn’t that the only important part?” After reflecting more, it dawned on me, we’re not called to merely make “converts,” but rather, “disciples.” Since ultimately, we hope that the people whose lives are touched by Compassion (and other missionaries) go on to become passionate Christians themselves, sharing their faith as they move through their lives, then OF COURSE the theology they are taught matters. These future Christians are the ones who will be impacting their culture more than any of us sitting in the US ever could. Thanks for bringing up a great point @Laura!

    • 4. Pam  |  November 10, 2009 at 7:29 am

      This is a big question for us too.

      Reply
    • 5. Win  |  November 10, 2009 at 11:20 am

      Laura — having visiting El Salvador on a Compassion Sponsor tour two weeks ago, I can shed some light on this very good question.

      Compassion as an organization adheres to the statement of faith established by the National Association of Evangelicals. You can see the full statement on Compassion’s web site.
      http://www.compassion.com/about/statementoffaith.htm

      But Compassion as an organization doesn’t teach the children anything. The local church that operates the project is the one that teaches the children. Churches are selected to partner with Compassion based on a number of criteria including agreement with this general statement of faith. But within this statement there is room for diversity of believe about what can be called “non-essentials.”

      The Projects we visited and the people who worked there had an obvious love of Jesus and a desire to make sure that all of the children knew of God’s love for them through His Son Jesus. Workers are screened to be sure that they are involved with their local church and follow Christ in word and deed.

      Reply
  • 6. Erika  |  November 9, 2009 at 12:59 am

    i am curious to know how much of the donations given go directly to the sponsored child, how much to the community, and how much for “other expenses?”

    have a safe and wonderful trip!!!! i will be praying for you!

    -Erika

    http://www.funfinns.com/
    http://littletinyfootprints.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • 7. Erika  |  November 9, 2009 at 3:41 am

    i was also wondering if it is possible to sponsor twins? since our twin daughters were stillborn, i was wondering if it would be possible to sponsor twins in their name?

    Reply
    • 8. Win  |  November 10, 2009 at 8:31 am

      Erika — I just returned from El Salvador and have two packets of children needing sponsors who are twins. Their names are Daniel and Rafael and they are 10 years old. Let me know if you would like me to scan their photos so you can see them. I think it would be too cool if these twins were sponsored by other twins.

      Reply
      • 9. Juli Jarvis  |  November 11, 2009 at 10:33 am

        Oh! How cool is that?!!!??

    • 10. lalala  |  November 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

      I’m sorry about your daughters. I think it’s wonderful that you want to do this in their name.

      I was looking for a child to sponsor and found these twin girls, maybe you would like to sponsor them? It says they have been waiting for over 6 months. I’m sure you could sponsor both of them or look through the website to see if you find any other twins. Hope this helps! Here are the links:

      http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/waystosponsor/ChildBio.htm?Child=ES8690145

      http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/waystosponsor/ChildBio.htm?Child=ES8690141

      Reply
    • 11. Juli Jarvis  |  November 11, 2009 at 10:32 am

      Yes — I have known of people that sponsor twins or siblings through Compassion. In fact, I saw a set of twins with their sponsor in the Dominican Republic. Just contact the office and make a request and they will find some for you, maybe not quickly, but certainly when available. Or I would be glad to track some down for you —

      Reply
  • 12. Bernard Shuford  |  November 9, 2009 at 7:47 am

    Some missionaries that I personally correspond with have cautioned me about some effects of sponsorship that are negative. Sometimes the children are used by the parents to get money and the children themselves never benefit. As well, there’s the risk that people will perceive “the sponsorship” as the reward for accepting Christ, rather than as a love gift from someone who loves Christ. My question is – Does Compassion International take intentional steps to prevent children and families from either confusing the message or abusing the sponsorship?

    Thanks for what you are doing 🙂

    Reply
    • 13. Win  |  November 10, 2009 at 11:25 am

      During our visit with Brother Guillermo two weeks ago, he said that Compassion seeks to enroll unbelievers so that they can introduce children and their families to Christ. Enrollment is based on need not on whether someone attends church or accepts Christ.

      Money that is sent to a sponsored child (like a birthday gift for example) is not given directly to the child or parents but rather the project workers consult with the parents and child and then purchase appropriate items. In my 16 years of sponsorship the majority of our gift money has been spent on food, clothes, and necessity items like sheets and animals (chickens and goats). I can see that the money is spent wisely.

      When I met with my child two weeks ago, the Project Director for his project was there also and she showed me Bernardo’s file that they have kept for 8 years. It had a list of every gift we had ever sent to Bernardo and how each penny was spent.

      Reply
  • 14. Nancy from Birmingham, AL  |  November 9, 2009 at 8:04 am

    When shipping items in need to the children, how are we sure they receive them? I am praying about sponsoring with my family…I am about to mention to my husband for 2010. I read Kelly’s blog & Heather W’s blog & just added yours to my sidebar.
    You girls amaze me & you are doing God’s work. I’m praying for your safety from storms & safe travel. God Bless You!!!

    Reply
    • 15. Kim  |  November 11, 2009 at 5:25 pm

      You can only send small items (pictures, stickers, bookmarks) with your letters directly to your sponsored child. Compassion explains why in the “Give a Gift” section of their website.

      As far as the little stuff goes, my child in Uganda usually thanks me for whatever small thing I included with my letter. Recently, it was “thank you for the stickers. They made me very excited.”

      I hope your family decides to sponsor! Every letter I get makes it so worth it.

      Reply
  • 16. Kelly  |  November 9, 2009 at 11:16 am

    We sponsor a child in Uganda…my question is how does Compassion pick the Compassion project staff that runs that location? What kind of support and follow up does that staff get?

    Looking forward to hearing about your trip along the way.

    Kelly (a new blog reader of yours)

    Reply
  • 17. rachel  |  November 9, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    We had one child that we sponsored in India, and randomly got a letter that he was taken away from the program by either his parents or grandparents, and we had a new child put in his place. It was a little dis-heartening since we’d sponsored him for 3-4 years at that point. I wonder what happens in these circumstances, and do they still keep tabs on the kids or is it like a lost cause?

    Anyway – that being said, this is so exciting and I’ll be praying for you and what an awesome opportunity. You are going to be blessed and be a blessing.

    Reply
    • 18. Sara F.  |  November 10, 2009 at 11:17 am

      When I was growing up, my family sponsored a girl in Ethiopia. One day, we got a similar letter. Our girl had been taken out of the program because she got pregnant (don’t know if this is their policy in general or if it was her specific situation). My mom called Compassion and said that we wanted to continue sponsoring her, and that we wanted to communicate the love and forgiveness of Christ to her. Compassion agreed and talked to our girl, who accepted Christ as a result of the interaction! It was such a blessing to us, who had sponsored her and prayed for her for 10 years or so at that point.

      Reply
  • 19. JenR  |  November 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    1. If a child is sponsored, are all the children in that family sponsored? Are all the children in a village sponsored? If either is no, does this negatively impact family/community dynamics and relationships? If yes, how? If no, why not?
    2. What accountability systems are in place to make sure that a sponsor’s money is funding what the sponsor thinks it is funding?
    3. What is the rough percentage breakdown of how a sponsor’s money is used? Do the personnel in country count towards program overhead or “child sponsorship” cost figures?
    4. We all have heard the positives of child sponsorship-what are some of the negatives from Compassion’s experience?
    5. Do the parents/guardians of sponsored children give informed consent to having their child sponsored, pictures taken and distributed of their children to strangers, and approval to letters written to and from their children by strangers? If yes, is this consent filed somewhere? Can a sponsor see it? If no, is that ethical?

    Reply
    • 20. Claudia  |  November 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm

      Amen, JenR. Everything always looks so good on paper, but I too, am curious to know how negatives (in families and in communities)are dealt with. Part of the draw of supporting kids through Compassion is being able to focus on one individual child and not get overwhelmed with the severity of need. What would it look like to be one of the kids in the community who isn’t sponsored? Even though Compassion allows us to focus on a single child, that child is still a part of a community.

      Reply
      • 21. JenR  |  November 9, 2009 at 7:57 pm

        Thanks:). I was rather nervous that my questions would be seen as negative toward child sponsorship, which is not my intent. My opinion is that when children are the recipients of aid, it is more important than ever to find out what the effects of such aid are and to ask probing questions. Especially in regard to #5, (and I am no in any way accusing Compassion of anything), but if it were my kid and that protocol was not followed, I would be livid to find out that strangers had access to personal documents about my child withou my consent.

    • 22. Win  |  November 10, 2009 at 11:35 am

      During our visit to El Salvador two weeks ago, we learned that generally a maximum of two children in a family could be enrolled in the Compassion program. The reason for this is that Compassion children take the benefits of the program home with them — parent training, supplemental food, education support — and thus the entire family benefits. Limiting enrollment to 2 children therefore allows Compassion to impact more families and thus more of the community.

      Entire villages are not sponsored but rather the neediest of the community are enrolled. When we visited the homes of Compassion children the neighbor kids would come over as well and I did not see any negative interactions between children who were in the Compassion program and those that were not. Again, I think that there is a lot of sharing from those who are in the program.

      In the villages we visited there were some families that clearly had more resources — the mill owner’s family had much better income and thus living conditions than the family next door. So Compassion focuses on the most needy. But by increasing the situation of the neediest entire communities benefit. A strong church benefits the entire community.

      More than once we were told that through the Compassion project and the growth of the local church an entire community had been changed.

      Parents are the ones who enroll a child in the Compassion program and they are fully informed of what the program entails, involved in how gift money is spent, educated themselves through various parent classes, etc. Often the parents are as excited as the children to get and receive letters. One time Bernardo’s mother included a note to us thanking us for loving her son and being a source of blessings in their lives.

      Reply
      • 23. Juli Jarvis  |  November 11, 2009 at 10:39 am

        A former LDP student told us that when he was sponsored in Africa, his entire neighborhood came over to celebrate with him. They weren’t jealous, but happy for him. He also had a huge impact on his community as he grew and became a strong witness for Christ.

  • 24. Mike Elmore  |  November 10, 2009 at 6:09 am

    I sponsor an 8 year old boy in El Salvador. His letters to me are written by someone else. He should be in the third grade by now and able to write his own letters. How many of the children attend school and is it common for them not to be able to write at this age?

    Reply
    • 25. Ruth Neil  |  November 12, 2009 at 10:37 am

      I have the same question. The girl I sponsor in El Salvador is 10 years old.

      Reply
  • 26. Kari  |  November 10, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Thank you for your willingness to learn more and find answers! May the Lord bless your trip. Our family sponsors Darwin R. Avalos in El Salvador. He is now 16 and a compassionate, godly young man. I am so thankful for how Compassion has helped him to grow! We have grown close to him over the years through letters and we love him very much!!! In June, he wrote us that he had to quit school to work and we have not heard from him since. We would love to know how he is and what are his prospects for the future. I know Darwin loved learning carpentry. Does Compassion help graduating children find jobs to enable them to rise out of poverty?

    Trusting in the Lord for Darwin–Jer. 29:11

    Reply
  • 27. MamasBoy  |  November 10, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    As a corollary to the first question, many of these kids come from at least nominally Catholic homes. What do the project staff teach the kids regarding Catholic beliefs and practice? Do the staff consider Catholics to be Christians? Do they teach the kids that if they believe what the Catholic Church teaches then they are going to hell? Do they teach them that they can be both a faithful Catholic and a faithful Christian or that the two are mutually exclusive? How much variation is there among the different projects in El Salvador?

    I’ve asked this question of longtime Compassion US staff, and received only nebulous answers (e.g., Compassion doesn’t have a policy. We work closely with Catholics, but who knows what staff do in the individual countries?). I know that Compassion subscribes to the Statement of Belief formulated by the National Association of Evangelicals, however, there is much room for discourse in that statement. For instance, Francis Beckwith, former President of the Evangelical Theological Society, became Catholic and saw nothing inconsistent with holding to the statement of faith held by that association as a Catholic. The membership of the ETS was split on this issue with a vocal minority in strong opposition and a majority in favor of his continued membership, but I wonder what the view from El Salvador among Compassion staff would be?

    I hope that’s not too many questions for you. Given that they are all focused on a single topic, I figured it would be OK. The last paragraph is merely an example to flesh out what I’m getting at a little better, but the first paragraph contains my primary questions.

    Reply
  • 28. Bernard Shuford  |  November 10, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Wow. Molly’s married to a really smart guy who is the son of one of the smartest theologians of our time.

    It’s a good thing.

    I’m sure many of these questions have been asked before, but I bet old Shaun Groves is gonna enjoy all this….

    Reply
  • 29. Bernard Shuford  |  November 10, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    I never finished my statement, duh.

    “Molly’s married to a really smart guy who is the son of one of the smartest theologians of our time. ” I meant to go on to say “They both think she’s smarter than they are. It’s a good thing she’s smart, because this is tough stuff.”

    Whee. Screwing up my sentence constructions talking about a speech pathologist. That could be deadly.

    🙂

    Reply

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