To Love Them Where They Are

Jun 16, 2016

Steph Duff

I remember the first time I received a letter from from the child I sponsor in Hyderabad, India through Back2Back Ministries; I tore open the envelope, carefully removed the letter with his beautiful penmanship, and read and reread the words over and over again.

I couldn’t wait to soak in his news about school and playing with his friends; I loved his attempt to explain cricket to me in comparison to baseball. It was a joy to feel his confidence seeping through each word he penned in blue ink.

Before I met him, I would’ve never guessed I could learn so much from a 14-year-old child. Who would’ve known I could glean encouragement, knowledge, and wisdom from a little boy living halfway across the world from me?

As someone traveling to a developing country, it is quite easy to slip into an assumption we have more to offer than those we’re going to serve. Perhaps some of you, like I did, assume we will be the ones bringing value to the table; we get to play the role of hero, rescuer, supporter.

With this in mind, I constantly challenge myself to be open to learning from the child I sponsor with fresh eyes and an open heart.

Instead of approaching my relationship with the child I sponsor as one where I can rescue him or provide for him, I have learned to consider what I may glean from building a relationship with him. Back2Back provides the unique opportunity for sponsors to visit their sponsor child in his or her home country. What an incredible way to continually build into, and see first-hand, how he or she is growing and what they are experiencing.

As sponsors, our frame of thinking should not ever be “I’m helping them, I’m providing for them, I am the hero in their story.” Rather, our posture should be one of learning alongside, advocating within their lives, and empowering. As sponsors, we will make a much larger impact in the life of the child we sponsor by actively helping them become the hero of their own story.

Sponsors are not the central character in a child’s narrative, but rather, their role is to empower the child to be their own champion of the story.

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Here are a few ways you can empower and equip your sponsor child to find and use their own voice to impact, not just their own world, but the one around them:

  1. Ask them about their passions. Does he or she want to be a teacher? An engineer? A police officer? Does he or she want to paint or write or sing? There are dreams within each child that make their heart beat faster; ask the child you sponsor about them. Help them chase after what they’re excited about.
  2. Talk to them about school. Their education is invaluable. Ask him or her what they’re studying currently. Encourage him or her to continue to learn and grow.
  3. Encourage them in their dreams. What can he or she be doing now to reach personal goals? Talk to her about what she desires to accomplish. Help the sponsored child see they are completely capable of achieving it.
  4. Remind them Whose they are. Help the child you sponsor understand he or she was designed by a loving Father, created with purpose and for a purpose; He has big and beautiful plans custom designed for each child..
  5. Pray on their behalf. Ask the Lord to guide their steps, to plant their desires firmly in Him, and that He would fully cultivate your sponsor child into who he or she was designed to be.

There is no space for hero-complexes within child sponsorship, only room to point each child to the Savior who holds their dreams and His plans for them in the palm of His hand.

Steph Duff is a writer, daughter, sister, and really loud laugher. By day she lends her voice on behalf of orphaned and vulnerable children with Back2Back Ministries. By night she is readily found with her nose in a book and spending time with her dog, Telulah. At all hours, she can be found consuming copious amounts of coffee. She feels most herself in the heat of India and prefers her mugs big, her books long, and her words intentional.

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