Some years ago I visited Cambodia. On the flight from Bangkok to Phnom Penh I sat next to an American lady. She told me she was going to visit a Cambodian child whom she was sponsoring. Each month she sent money to an aid agency to help provide food, clothing and school fees for this child. More than 9 million children around the world have sponsors like this lady. The total value of the sponsorship is £2 billion pounds each year. The aim of sponsorship is to give children living in the poorest countries of the world the opportunity to overcome deprivation and achieve their potential.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) “children living in poverty are those who experience deprivation of the material, spiritual and emotional resources needed to survive, develop and thrive, leaving them unable to enjoy their rights, achieve their full potential or participate as full and equal members of society” A recent study assessed the effectiveness of sponsorship in 6 developing countries across the world. The results showed that sponsored children stayed in school longer, were more likely to have white collar jobs and were more likely to be leaders in their communities and churches.
The study also showed that the spiritual aspect of sponsorship plays a vital part in transforming children’s lives. Sponsorship builds children’s self-esteem and aspirations. It makes them happier and more hopeful. In Uganda the impact on education was particularly striking. Sponsored children were 42% more likely to finish secondary education and 83% more likely to complete university. The leader of one aid agency said, “There’s a huge psychological benefit for a child to know that someone on the other side of the world really loves and cares about them.”
Knowing there is someone who really loves and cares about us is a need we all have, whether we are children or adults or live in a poor or prosperous country. Loves gives, not takes; it does not seek its own interests, but seeks to enrich the lives of others. The Christian message declares the amazing love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul, whose life was transformed by an encounter with the risen Jesus, said, “I live my life by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Experiencing the love of Jesus, who really cares about us, transforms our lives and gives us hope!