COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado., October 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The exchange of letters is the primary way sponsors and sponsored children interact and build a relationship within Compassion International.
Sponsors are encouraged to write to their sponsored children, and children in the Compassion program write to their sponsors at least twice a year.
However, once the children graduate from the program and the sponsorship relationship ends, the letters stop.
This year, for the very first time, several Compassion alumni returned to write a final letter to their former sponsors in this inspiring video.
A letter featured in this video is from Kennedy.
Kennedy grew up in a well-known slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya called Mathare. According to Kennedy, Mathare is not a place people are proud to say they come from. And the literal term Mathare means “to fight” or “to fight for” because the people of Mathare have to fight for everything. For the boys of Mathare, drugs and crime were so rampant that reaching the age of 16 became a milestone because they had escaped prison or death.
Kennedy describes the typical Mathare home as having two parents and five children, all living in a 10-by-10-foot cabin. Kennedy’s family had 10 children, and they often joked that each member of the family had a square foot to live on. His family had no beds and slept on cardboard. The nearest bathroom was a 10-minute run from the house, and the nearest school her parents could afford was a 2-hour barefoot walk.
He was sponsored by Darrell and Denise when he was eight years old. They had no children when they sponsored him, and they told Kennedy he was their first son. They wrote Jeremiah 29:11 in their letters (which became his favorite verse) and told him that he was destined for greatness, that he was beautiful and that he was enough.
Today, 11 years after graduating from the Compassion program, Kennedy writes one last letter:
Dear Darrell and Denise,
Receive my sincere greetings. It has been 11 years since I graduated from the Compassion program. And I tell you, I have experienced complete freedom from poverty in the name of Jesus. I vividly remember the day I received that yellow letter informing me that you had chosen me to be your sponsored child. From that day I knew I had a chance to live and death was stopped and my life began.
When you sponsored me, I was just another malnourished child with brown hair, a big belly, and brittle bones. If I had survived the disease, I would have succumbed to the typical story of every young boy in these lands. Either I would have gotten into crime and drugs, which were always available around me. The [were] no positive people to look up to or recommend to me. My family was definitely at the heart of poverty. Sometimes we didn’t eat up to four days a week. I did not know love and Jesus. I was not free.
When you sponsored me, that all changed. In your first letter, you said to me the phrase “We love you”. It was the first time I heard that. My heart was filled with joy. Shortly after, I received my very first gift, which was my first pair of shoes. My family also got a mattress and we went from sleeping on dirt floors on boxes to a comfortable mattress.
My community celebrated my sponsorship because they thought I was a child rescued from the normal social scenario and my community was going to be great. There was a sense of life and hope.
As a family, we started eating at least three meals a day. If only you knew how much food was given to our family, you would understand what this means. I was enrolled in school. I knew someone was thinking of me and praying for me and that I was loved.
I liked going to the Compassion center regularly. It was the safest place. We sang, danced and ate a lot. I was looking forward to all your letters, because they were the only times I read the phrase “We love you”.
I wanted to say, thank you so much for helping us rebuild our house when we lost it in the flames. Thank you for helping with the medical bills when I nearly lost my sight. Thank you for giving me the chance to be introduced to Jesus. And for all the encouragement, prayers and support. If only you knew how much everything you have done has touched me, you would be so proud of who I have become.
I want you to know that everything you have done has made a difference and it was worth it. It was important, and it was enough. Today, I am a free man, married and father of two children, Gabriel and Malkia. I am alive and healthy, educated, independent and out of the slums. I want to let you know that I am also sponsoring a little girl from the same slum I grew up in.
Growing up, I looked up to you and wanted to be like you. You served in the military and loved God. I wanted to let you know that the day you retired, I walked into a recruiter’s office and enlisted in the United States Army as an engineer. I want you to know that not only have you given me a chance to be free, but you have inspired me to be a guardian of freedom.
You should be very proud of everything you have done. If you knew that one day I would become a soldier. If only you knew I would be the dad I am today. If only you knew that one day I would sponsor another child in my community and be a source of hope for others.
I want you to know that I am eternally grateful to you for freeing me from poverty in Jesus name.
Nearly 200,000 children and young people like Kennedy are waiting for a sponsor at Compassion. And 50,000 of those children have been waiting for over a year, a much higher number due to the pandemic.
God Father $38 a month connects a child living in poverty to a loving church-based program, medical screenings, nutritious food, health and hygiene training, educational assistance, access to services specials like surgeries or disaster relief, mentorship, and the opportunity to hear about Jesus.
And just like letters of encouragement from Darrell and Denise did for Kennedy, the love of a godfather brings hope to a child that will last a lifetime.
To learn more about sponsoring a child, visit compassion.com.
About Compassion International
International Compassion is a Christian child development organization working to free children from poverty in the name of Jesus. Founded in 1952, Compassion partners with over 8,000 local churches in 25 program countries to provide spiritual, economic, social and physical care to over two million babies, children and young adults in poverty . Ranked #8 in Forbes’ list of America’s Top Charities of 2020, Compassion is a founding member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and an accredited charity with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information, visit compassion.com or follow us on Facebook, instagramand Twitter.
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