Jade Choe spent the day with five of her sponsored children in Colombia on a recent sponsor tour. "When I was young I dreamed of running an orphanage or doing foster care. Through Compassion, God is helping me fulfill those dreams."
On a humid summer afternoon, Jade Choe sits in a bright yellow boat with five smiling children. There is Angie, a quiet girl who likes to read and sends Jade beautiful pictures. Next are Edwin and his new friend Marlon, playfully splashing the girls and giggling when they squeal. And then there is Tiny Camila, her eyes wide at the excitement as she shyly watches the other children. Finally, quiet Vanessa, the oldest of the group, helps Jade keep the younger ones from leaning too eagerly over the side of their boat.
As the group paddles away from the shore, the boat becomes all arms and legs and laughter. Jade grins at the excited Spanish chatter of her sponsored children. She can't understand all of the words, but the smiles tell her the one thing she needs to know - sponsorship changes lives.
Promises and Blessings
More than 10 years ago, Jade Choe made a promise. Born in Korea, Jade moved to the United States and dreamed of being an engineer. However, college was expensive, and the competition for acceptance was fierce. When Jade won a scholarship, she prayed, not only a prayer of thanksgiving, but also a prayer of commitment.
"I promised the Lord that as He blessed me, I was going to bless as many children as I could," says Jade. "And that's what I'm doing."
A few years after praying that prayer, Jade discovered the ministry of Compassion International, and she knew that God had shown her a way to fulfill her promise. So she began sponsoring children. First there were children in Colombia, Rwanda, Thailand and Indonesia. Then her gifts spread to Africa, throughout South America and Asia. Today, Jade cares for 70 children in 24 countries.
"I Can Serve Children All Over the World."
"Through Compassion, I am outsourcing my spiritual devotion to God," explains Jade. "I can serve children all over the world." Many of the children Jade sponsors are orphaned or have special needs.
In June of 2006, Jade traveled to Colombia on a Compassion sponsor tour. It was there that she was finally able to meet Vanessa, her very first sponsored child. Vanessa was only 4 years old when Jade began sponsoring her. Growing up near Bogota with her single mother, little Vanessa has dealt daily with the desperation that envelopes the city.
Because of Jade's sponsorship, Vanessa attends school and is now in the fourth grade. Nearly 80 percent of Vanessa's peers have dropped out of school, unable to afford the fees. These children must now take on the adult task of supporting their families. Vanessa's letters to Jade spill over with her thanks, and Jade's responses are the tender words of a woman responding to God's call.
"I Prayed That They Would Never Feel Unwanted."
Jade eventually sponsored four more children in Colombia, and she was able to meet each of them on the sponsor tour. As she spent time in their homes and toured their projects, she saw over and over how God had answered her prayers for each of those precious children.
"I prayed that through Compassion, my children would discover and learn their own human dignity given by God," says Jade. "I prayed that they would never feel unwanted. And when I met my children, I knew that God had answered my prayers."
God had one more surprise in store for Jade. One afternoon, as she sat talking with a group of children at the Siloe Child Center, she met Luis. A small boy with bright brown eyes and a quick smile, Luis boldly asked Jade if she would be his sponsor. When Jade agreed, little Luis explained to his friends that Jade had come all the way to Colombia to choose him. And perhaps she had.
"I determined long ago that I would serve the suffering, the weak, and the defenseless," says Jade. "The poor are God's great people, and He has called us to help them. It may not make sense financially, but it makes sense to Him."
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