Fellow (right) and his dad, Edoh, are grateful for the Child Sponsorship Program and the opportunity Fellow will have to succeed in life, despite his circumstances.
Fellow is a shy, serious 8-year-old. His little brow furrows as he does his daily chores, sweeping out the 12-by-12-foot concrete room he shares with his father, two sisters and brother in Lomé¬ Togo.
At the Compassion student center Fellow attends on Saturdays, the other children shout and shove and clap their hands as they march around in a circle singing worship songs. But Fellow hangs back and watches, laughing quietly at his friends' antics.
Only the most joyous of news cracks Fellow's reserved demeanor. On the day he learned he was Compassion International's 1 millionth sponsored child, a broad grin stretched across his face. He clapped his hands. But it wasn't that grand number 1 million that excited him.
It was the word "sponsored."
The Offering of Hope
Fellow knew from that moment on he would be able to go to school every day and get help with his studies. He knew he would always hear about Jesus' love for him. And he knew that there was indeed a special person in the world, someone he'd never even met, who would be there for him who would believe in him.
Fellow's sponsor, Jang Mi-Ran, knows full well the importance of having someone believe in you. Following years of hard training and with steadfast support from her family and friends, Jang won the gold medal in weightlifting for her country, South Korea, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Jang, dubbed "The Strongest Woman in the World" after the Olympics, is not just a hero in South Korea she is a symbol of hope for the once poverty-stricken country where Compassion began its ministry in 1952.
Fellow and his father, Edoh, however, have a different title for Jang Mi-Ran.
"She is his guardian," says Edoh. Fellow's mother died in a car accident when the boy was just 3, and for the past five years Edoh has raised his family alone. He earns just $2 a day as a driver, and admits that for at least half of the month he has to buy his family's food with credit.
"It was very painful, losing my wife," he says, sighing deeply. "Life is a big struggle for us. I can't afford to buy the things to make my children joyful." Fellow was often sent home from school because Edoh could not pay the yearly school fees. He could rarely afford to buy his children new clothes or shoes.
Equipped to Undo the Lies of Poverty
Fellow and Edoh are grateful for Fellow's new "guardian" and the hope that Compassion sponsorship brings to their lives. Ultimately, sponsorship will help equip Fellow with the tools he needs to rise from poverty, tools such as nourishment, education, life skills and encouragement from his sponsor.
"If she was here today," Edoh says of Jang Mi-Ran, "I would ask God to bring her health and prosperity. She has already done so much for our family."
Fellow and Edoh may not grasp the symbolism of his sponsor being from South Korea, or that the strongest woman in the world is helping one of the most vulnerable persons in the world. They don't understand how Jang Mi-Ran is, in a way, completing a cycle that began nearly 60 years ago when Compassion's founder, Everett Swanson, felt a calling to protect and serve Korean orphans.
For Fellow and Edoh, sponsorship doesn't represent a completed cycle. For them, it is just the beginning.
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