Sponsor a child

More departments are looking for alternatives to child sponsorship

Darwyn Sanchez teaches Honduran children that God loves everyone, but sometimes they question him. How could that be true, they ask, when only a few children receive gifts from Americans?

Those sponsored by the US-based Lifeline Christian Mission received letters, school supplies and toys. But other students from the same school — and sometimes even from the same family — weren’t “chosen,” said Sanchez, deputy country director for Lifeline in Honduras. And these children wondered what was wrong with them.

“There are good fruits from the sponsorship program…but we have to grow,” Sanchez said. “We have to give people dignity and we have to change the strategies.”

Lifeline ended its individual sponsorship of children in Latin America and Haiti and began a five-year transition to a new model of child care. The missionary organization now encourages group sponsorships, which allow groups of Christians to support classes of children or entire communities, rather than individuals.

It is always a challenge for ministries to let go of the models they have relied on, especially when, like sponsorships, they provide a solid financial foundation for the ministry.

Despite the risk, Lifeline decided to go ahead.

“Ultimately it was about doing what we thought was right,” said Joel Augustus, executive vice president of field ministries, “what God was leading us to do.”

Lifeline is one of many organizations ending or “massively restructuring” their child sponsorship programs over concerns that it is largely a fundraising tool, promotes savvy white and isn’t best for kids, says Phil Darke,…

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