Owen, pictured above, once said that “the worst thing about poverty is the hopelessness.” Poverty tells children they can’t dream, there is no way out and there is nothing besides poverty. Often, poverty feels like darkness — stifling, deep and absolute.
Hope is light. Hope is the strength to keep going. So in your letters, share the hope you have, a hope that ultimately finds its root in God. That is the greatest hope we can offer.
It’s easy to forget that positivity has power. The Bible often commands believers to build each other up. Children especially need this. And they need it over and over. Consistency is crucial.
Growing up is hard and can be discouraging. It’s a journey of figuring out who you are. Words shape that experience.
Experts say people need to hear five positive statements to cancel out the power of one negative word. We have the chance to be those positive voices in a child’s life. A great place to start is with, “You are …” That sentence can end with all kinds of positive words: “capable,” “smart,” “hardworking,” “loved” (OK, we already used that one. But still!). Use letters to encourage. A child won’t forget it.
One of the most meaningful things I have ever heard is the phrase “I am proud of you.” Especially as I was growing up, hearing these words meant the world. Why? Because I, like all children, wanted to know that I was approved of and that someone else thought I was worth being proud of.
That means it’s so important to tell the child you sponsor about their qualities you’re proud of! It could be a drawing they sent, something in a story they told, moving up a grade or receiving a good test score. Or lots of other things!
Whatever it is, knowing that someone else is proud of them is going to give your sponsored child confidence and courage.
The word “present” captures the heart of what children need to know. They need to know someone is there for them.
You can let them know you’re there for them by listening. It’s hard to listen in a letter, but there are ways you can do it! Ask for updates on things they told you in their last letter. Mention what they wrote, telling them their feelings are valid and focusing on writing the truth in love. This helps the child you sponsor know you care and are “listening” to their letters.
But one of the greatest things you can do is remind them that God is present with them. You may not be right there next to your sponsored child, but God is. This is one of the most powerful and healing truths of the gospel. And we have the opportunity to shower that truth into the lives of the children we write to.
This word goes hand in hand with the concept of dignity, which is another thing that poverty tries to rob children of. Like a lot of the words on this list, “worthy” is an identity word, and it has an opposite. Poverty tells children they are unworthy — unworthy of love, hope, people who care or even a future (does this sound familiar?).
Dignity allows a child to fight these lies and believe they are worthy and deserving of all the things God has for them. Dignity is where the journey into freedom from poverty begins.
Finally, children need to know they are special — special in your eyes and special in God’s. They need to know God wants them and he created them on purpose. That means he has a specific purpose and a plan for their life.
Jesus spoke often about all the lessons adults could learn from children. Kids teach us how to trust, how to look at the world with wonder, how to have faith. Tell your sponsored child how you are learning from them, how they are an example to you and how you see beautiful purpose in their lives.
When you do this, your sponsored child will start to see themselves as God sees them: created special and worthy of all the fullness of the riches of God.