By Dietrich Gruen
It was a father-son bonding moment. When Josue first sighted and tugged at me, I gazed into his big, brown, irresistible eyes. I said to myself, We could be related. My friend, Casey, took his picture, capturing this “please-love-me” moment for all time.
Josue is just what Sue (my wife) and I were looking for—a 5-year-old, fatherless child to sponsor. It was hard to pick one from among the hundreds of young kids crowding our team members in the poor barrio of Santo Domingo. Much easier if one particular kid picks me, I thought. That’s just how our connection came together for Josue and me.
However, over half of our child sponsors do not go on mission trips to our partner community, El Amirante, in the Dominican Republic (DR). But while you may not be able to go, you can still impact a child’s life through child sponsorship.
On Sunday, March 5, Hands of Hope-DR will again host the annual Pancake Breakfast in the High Point Church Micah Center, where you will have the opportunity to sign up to sponsor a child. Need more time to think it over after the breakfast? You can visit the Hands Of Hope-DR website to check out the ministry and the communities it serves. Under the Child Sponsorship tab, choose the community of El Almirante to view the 50 children available for sponsorship in our partner community. Browse the profiles, then take the step to start a relationship of encouragement and hope.
Wait—is this kind of charity helpful and effective?
Your sponsorship gift of $32/month provides a child (and siblings) with school uniforms and supplies; annual medical, dental, hearing and vision checkups; birthday and Christmas parties; and food boxes twice a year. Plus, the healthcare can result in a child receiving additional benefits, such as hearing aids or asthma medication. To hear more about child sponsorship and community development in the El Amirante community, listen to the Dominican Republic Partnership interview posted on Tuesday, February 28 on the High Point Church Engage & Equip podcast.
As a child sponsor, you will see God work and have a story to tell.
The sponsoring churches in Madison (High Point Church and Crossroads Church) have formed many relationships in the Dominican Republic over the years. Here is evidence of these connections that I’ve witnessed. May these stories “spur you on to more love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
I’ve seen Doug, Brennen and Rick try to master spinning tops as several kids in the Dominican Republic taught them how to play. And I’ve seen Rick teach Kiever to throw and catch a baseball, just as I’ve taught Josue football.
I’ve seen Codi and Marisa laugh and hug their sponsored boy for the first time. And at a band concert held in the town square one night, I’ve seen kids and their sponsors dance the night away together.
I’ve seen Brennen get kids to chase him so that Lynn Rawhouser could personally visit her sponsored kids and family members without other onlookers crowding in.
I’ve seen kids line up in front of the church to be lifted in the air by Doug and Femi, and kids in the library cram side-by-side on the couch to look at donated books as a sponsor parent Rhonda pointed out things of interest.
I’ve seen child sponsors provide kids with what they need. Jeff and Rhonda once gathered under the tree outside the shed that serves as their sponsor boy’s house, supplying him with physical care. With the boy’s father long gone and his mother disappearing with boyfriends, his grandmother and grandfather are the only ones who regularly care for him. Jeff and Rhonda get to support the family and supply clothes and shoes for the boy.
Like in other relationships, I’ve seen child sponsors share heartaches with their sponsor children and intercede in prayer on behalf of their families during adversity. Vicki learned that her sponsor children’s father, an alcoholic and spendthrift, also suffers from Lyme disease. Similarly, I learned that Josue’s father abused and abandoned the family, leaving the family to survive on $2/day.
Child sponsorship inspires initiative and hope that spreads to the community. I’ve seen Casey visit Kiever’s house, ask him about his favorite things to do, and learn that the boy likes to read. And when she didn’t see any books in his house (or in any Dominican Republic house that year), Casey was inspired to start a library—benefiting all the kids and adults in the community. Now dozens are learning their ABCs and numbers. Can you image a 10-year-old not knowing those basic skills? Child sponsors are doing something about that.
Reaching the world through cross-cultural connections
These connections form into strong bonds as sponsors share life with their sponsor children through written letters. If you have children of your own, they can learn to pray for their sponsored child as one of their siblings. As a sponsor, you will also get Hands of Hope’s quarterly newsletter that brings you up-to-date on what’s happening in the El Amirante community.