By: Nico Benalcazar, Compassion Ecuador Photojournalist   |   Posted: June 23, 2022

The day began just like any other for little Lizeth, but it would end as one her most memorable! It was the day one of her prayers would be answered. The day she would hear a few special words of hope.

The Day Lizeth Learned She Was Sponsored

The day began just like any other for little Lizeth, but it would end as one her most memorable! It was the day one of her prayers would be answered. The day she would hear a few special words of hope.

Written by Nico Benalcazar, Compassion Ecuador Photojournalist
Lizeth holds a sign that reads "I have a sponsor"

Just like every morning at dawn, 7-year-old Lizeth slips out of her room quietly, trying not to wake up her sister who sleeps in the same bed. She puts on her brown cloak, collects her work tools and walks alone toward the mountain where she gathers grass to feed her sheep. Despite the cold, Lizeth rolls the grass with her small, experienced hands and cuts it with a knife. She then piles it into small heaps for the sheep to eat. And although Lizeth works to the rhythms of her ordinary routine, today will turn out to be one of the most memorable days of her life.

Heartache on the Hillside

Maria, Lizeth’s mom, later arrives to the mountain with breakfast in hand — a cup of porridge and bread. They sit on the grass and eat together before continuing to feed the hungry sheep. As Lizeth’s tiny fingers wrap around her cup of porridge, she stares into her cup and thinks of her father. “I miss my dad a lot,” says Lizeth. Remembering him causes tears to sting her eyes. One day, he set off for another country looking for work but never returned. Lizeth often climbs this same mountain to see if he is coming back over the hillside. But the truth is, she doesn’t know where he is or if he will ever return.

Despite this family’s tragedy, they haven’t been alone. Their local church has been a comforting presence since January 2020, when Lizeth was registered in the church’s sponsorship program. Pastor Segundo encouraged Lizeth to pray and ask God to fulfill the desires of her heart, maintaining a constant faith and trust in Jesus Christ. One of those desires was for a sponsor of her own.

Hope on the Horizon

After breakfast, Lizeth returns to her work in the cold morning air. Busy with her tasks, she doesn’t see Pastor Segundo as he ascends the hill and smiles at the girl and her mother.

“I bring excellent news!” exclaims the pastor. Lizeth drops a bundle of grass and runs to meet him. Her eyes scan for his hands hidden behind his back, and she spots the edge of a yellow folder.

“What is that, Pastor? What did you bring for me?” Lizeth smiles as she interrogates her pastor friend.

Pastor Segundo bends to his knees until his eyes meet Lizeth’s. “Do you remember that we prayed together and asked Jesus to send you someone special to be your friend and pray for you?” he asks.

Lizeth smiles at the camera
Lizeth gives the sign for love

Excited, Lizeth nods her head, affirming the pastor’s words. Her eyes fill with tears for the second time this morning. But now, they brim with hope. Lizeth has been praying for a sponsor for two years, ever since she was registered.

That’s when Pastor Segundo utters the words she’ll never forget: “Lizeth! You finally have a sponsor. Jesus heard your prayers!” Lizeth beams and runs into her mother’s arms. Maria is overwhelmed with gratitude. She asks Pastor Segundo if she can send vegetables and grains to her daughter’s sponsors as a token of appreciation. But he explains that Lizeth’s sponsors live very far away. “God is good,” Maria whispers with tears in her eyes.

A Happy Heart

When Lizeth arrives at her center, she begs to know more about her sponsors. What are their names? Where are they from? Do they have children? What about pets? She must know everything about the couple Jesus sent to be her sponsors. Lizeth is overjoyed and wastes no time writing her first letter:

“Thank you for choosing me and for thinking of me. Please pray a lot for my dad and me. If you can come to my community, my mom will cook food for you.”

Several weeks later, Lizeth receives her first letter from her sponsors and reads it over and over again. Lizeth clutches the paper and runs to her room to find a safe place to store it. “It has to be a special place where it won’t get damaged or dirty,” she says as she searches her entire room. She finally locates a dusty drawer, cleans it with a rag and carefully places the first of many letters inside.

Like Lizeth, hundreds of children’s lives are transformed by attending a child development center. For many, their most memorable day is when they discover that someone, somewhere in this big, beautiful world chose them to sponsor.

Sponsor a Child Today

As you exchange letters, send photos and offer encouragement in Jesus' name, your love will bring hope to a child that will last a lifetime. Sponsor a child today for only $43 per month!