Scott Folkens (center) sits surrounded by 13 children from the Estrellas de Jesus (Stars of Jesus) Student Center (NI-108) in Managua, Nicaragua. The children are sporting T-shirts given to them by their sponsors 1,000 students from Bloomington Christian School in California where Scott teaches.
It was just a T-shirt, gray with green writing, remarkably ordinary. But the little girl from Nicaragua hugged the shirt tightly because it represented something extraordinary. It was a conduit for the love and prayers of 1,000 children in Southern California, some no older than she, who had sacrificed to sponsor 13 children at the Estrellitas de Jesus (Stars of Jesus) Student Center (NI-108) in Managua, Nicaragua.
Each grade, kindergarten through tenth, at Bloomington Christian School sponsors their own child in Nicaragua, said Scott Folkens, a teacher at the school who attended the inaugural sponsor tour to Nicaragua in June.
"Every year, the sponsored child 'moves' with the class as they are promoted," Scott said. "Our goal is that as our students grow with their sponsored children, they will develop a special bond and learn about lives filled with compassion."
Each of the 13 children sponsored by Bloomington received a T-shirt imprinted with the school's moniker, logo and the child's name on the back. Scott took the shirts to give as a tangible token of friendship.
"The shirts are our way of reminding the kids that they are loved and prayed for regularly by their friends at Bloomington," Scott said.
Three years ago, already a Compassion sponsor, Scott had the idea to get his school involved with the organization. Bloomington's administrator gave the go-ahead and the high school sponsored one child. A few months later, the junior high sponsored another, until the entire school was involved.
As a sponsor, Scott jumped at the chance to take the first sponsor tour to Nicaragua. He was pleased that he and the children seemed to create an instant bond. Taking boat rides, eating at restaurants and playing on a playground slide were just some of the experiences that allowed Scott to build that bond with the children.
"The kids were fantastic and were so open," he said. "Our time at the lake was wonderful and our playtime at the restaurant was fantastic. Kids will be kids; we had a blast! And it was an awesome experience to minister to the children at the other projects we visited."