Mark Ernesto credits his sponsor for enabling him to participate in Compassion's Leadership Development Program (LDP) and attend college.
Mark Ernesto has been sponsored by Compassion since he was seven years old, first through the Child Sponsorship Program (CDSP), and now through the Leadership Development Program (LDP). He is currently studying medicine at the local university. Mark assists his church with the children's Bible school and with the program for teens; he is also part of the church's theater group. Mark has applied everything he has learned during the LDP workshops to help his church improve the performance and quality of its programs.
Mark has participated with several important music groups in Guatemala that have changed the history of music for teenagers and young adults. He also helps to promote and organize medical journeys for program participants' annual community service. Many of the LDP participants greatly admire Mark because of his character, perseverance, and commitment to giving something back.
Mark states he greatly enjoyed Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program - in particular participating in performances and receiving Bible teachings. Additionally, he remembers always being excited about receiving his sponsor's letters. Eventually, he started giving classes for the younger students.
Mark's favorite Bible character was Gideon because God told him that through His great strength, Gideon would rescue Israel from the Midianites. Mark learned that even though he considered himself weak in some areas, God called him and has a purpose for his life.
The Child Sponsorship Program showed Mark opportunities he had not seen before and revealed to him that, while many Bible characters like Gideon went through difficulties, they always succeeded with God's help. Mark, too, discovered that he is able to influence other children's lives. Mark states his sponsor always motivated him to continue studying, and knowing that his sponsor was praying for him caused Mark to really pray for his sponsor as well. Even Mark's family constantly prayed for him. Mark wishes he could meet his sponsor one day and thank him personally.
Mark believes he was chosen to be a part of the LDP because God willed it. Mark also thinks he was selected because of his service to his church and the community and his dedication to his studies. He states he is multi-task oriented, and has constantly tried to apply what he learns for the benefit of himself and others.
Once he graduates from medical school, Mark would like to go on a mission trip to India to serve as a doctor; however, he may also start helping in Guatemalan communities. Eventually, Mark would like to marry, have children, and work at a hospital.
Without his sponsor's monetary assistance, Mark wouldn't be able to attend college. He emphasizes that knowing his sponsor is praying for him helps tremendously. But Mark especially enjoys receiving letters from his LDP sponsor, who shares Mark's interest in gardening and always sends him book markers shaped like leaves. Mark's sponsor encourages him to continue school and improve his life, words that seem to Mark like hearing God's voice.
Mark received a great deal of encouragement while growing up, and his family was always united despite difficult situations. His entire family is greatly involved in the church. While there are many needs in Mark's community, at least they get water every other day. There are many gangs and shootings, but thanks to the work churches have done, many people are turning to God. Mark's relationship with God has grown a lot since he became part of Compassion's program - particularly the LDP. Now that he is an adult, he sees what can happen when people don't follow God's guidance, and as well as how God has delivered him from many dangers.
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