Early on in our first year of marriage, Matt and I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International. We chose Edwin because he was from Kenya. I had spent my high school years in Kenya and wanted to stay connected to that country. Edwin was 5 years old.
Each month we sent our sponsorship money; writing letters and sending photos. Throughout the years Edwin walked with us through our lives; the birth of Caroline and Tobin and the adoption of Desta. Through letters we shared and photos sent, we shared our lives. We learned about his dreams and heard about his grades.
The connection was real, the money sent each month. Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, children’s drawings and photos…back and forth for 15 years.
Two days ago Matt met Edwin, in person, in Kenya for the first time. A five year old boy now a 21 year old man.
As I looked through the photos Matt sent of the visit and read his words, my eyes flooded with tears. A little boy, now a man, has a transformed life because of our simple giving.
Let me share some of Matt’s thoughts with you.
“I thought about Kelly Williams saying ‘We overestimate what we can do in one year, and underestimate what we can do it 5.’ This proved amazingly true today.
I told him I have had the ring for many years, and that the inscription says, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.’
But I placed it in his hand and told him the prayer it represented, and to wear it to remember our family and Jesus. I will remember it by the lack of a ring on my finger, and the groove it was worn into my hand.
It will be strange to live without the ring, just as I am sure it will be strange for Edwin to not be in the child sponsorship program. I pray that having that ring will remind him of God’s faithfulness to provide, and that he will remind me that by giving we receive. ”
Small gifts, over many years, make up a big life. Our life is forever connected to Edwin’s because we filled out a simple envelope one day in church. Every time I think about Edwin now, I picture him in his life and am so thankful that we made that commitment 15 years ago.
I needed this reminder this holiday season. This year I’ve been dwelling on God’s goodness. Right now there are some things that don’t feel too good. There are worries that flood my mind and make me wonder many things. Yet when I look at the picture of Edwin and read the words Matt shared, I am reminded that good does exist. That my simple, small gifts added together have made a difference in our lives; Edwin’s and our families.
If you don’t sponsor a child, think about it this season. It’s really simple and really inexpensive. There are a lot of great places that do it well. Compassion International and Children’s HopeChest are two that are close to our hearts.