Child sponsors from around the world share their stories

by Church Resource Team on November 28, 2017
Families all over the United States are changing lives of children around the world, and their own families are changing as a result. Hear some of their stories of being called by God to be sponsors and the impact of sponsorship on their families.

‘Birthday buddies’ bring sponsorship to life for California siblings

“Getting our kids involved has made [sponsorship] even more meaningful,” says Heather Nickell

The Nickell siblings — Evan, Natalie, and Micah — with photos of their sponsored “birthday buddies.” (Photo courtesy of Heather Nickell)
Name: Heather Nickell
Hometown: Visalia, California
Sponsored children: Joel, Uganda; Ivan, Dominican Republic; Daniela, Romania
Published Oct. 13, 2014

My husband, Isaac, and I have been privileged to sponsor children through World Vision for more than 10 years, but getting our own kids involved has made it even more meaningful.

In the past few years we’ve added three children to our World Vision family, each one of them sharing a birthday with one of our own children. First we added Joel from Uganda and Ivan from the Dominican Republic, paired with my sons Evan, 9, and Micah, 8. Most recently, Daniela from Romania joined us in 2013 on the birthday she shares with our daughter, Natalie, 6.

We call these three kids our birthday buddies. Our children are pen pals with them, and they love learning about the various countries and cultures in which our sponsored children live. I feel like this has helped open their eyes to the reality of poverty around the world and made it more personal to them.

I love being a child sponsor and showing our kids how giving to others is part of what God has called our family to do to share his love with the world.

Sponsorship adds to a ‘global family’

 Bruce and Karen Barnes
Hometown: Mequon, Wisconsin
Sponsored child: Flora, Mozambique
Published May 15, 2015 (Photo courtesy of the Barnes Family)

A few years ago, our church was sponsoring children. We saw Flora’s picture, and she has the same birthday as Karen. She lives in Mozambique, where our son was living. We just felt connected to her.

Today, we have her picture on the refrigerator with our other children. We’ve hosted exchange students, and we have their pictures up, too. So we consider Flora part of our global family.

One night, we were at dinner with other couples who all had sponsored children, and someone asked, “What if something happens to us before our [sponsored] child comes of age?” and we didn’t know. We contacted World Vision and have named World Vision in our will.

People say, “I can’t make a difference,” but we can. We can each do something. Hopefully by the time we die, Flora will be aged out of sponsorship, but it’s important to leave an international legacy in addition to the local legacy.

Faithful to provide

God brought an Ethiopian boy into my life and enabled me to continue sponsoring him.
Name: Mandy Hamilton
Sponsored child: Abiyu, Ethiopia
Published Dec. 15, 2015 (Photo courtesy of Mandy Hamilton)

I’ll never forget a sermon my pastor shared on giving all that we have back to God because it is his in the first place. Since then, my view on money and possessions has never been the same. I have seen time and time again that when I give God is always faithful to provide.

This has never been truer than in my sponsorship of Abiyu Siyum, an Ethiopian boy who was 8 years old when I began sponsoring him.

At that time, I was 20 and still a college student with just a part-time job. But that didn’t stop God from bringing Abiyu into my life. God has always provided a way for me to continue giving. Even through times where I had no job and was spending most of my savings on books and college fees, God provided the exact amount every month.

One month I didn’t know how I was going to send the money so I prayed. I was selling back a used textbook and I received the same amount that I needed for that month’s sponsorship. God is faithful and he will provide for the “least of these” because they mean so much to him.

As God has continued to use me to sponsor Abiyu for more than six years, he has been reminding me over and over again, like my pastor taught, that all I have is his. My husband and I hope to one day visit Abiyu in Ethiopia and see how God has been working in this now 14-year-old boy’s life.

Sponsorship ‘completes’ Washington family

For a couple in Fircrest, Washington, sponsorship brought peace and joy after unimaginable heartbreak.
Name: Dennis and Susan McClung
Hometown: Fircrest, Washington.
Sponsored child: Gugulethu Gladys Dube, Zimbabwe
Published March 15, 2015 (Photo Courtesy of the McClung Family)

I love being a child sponsor because it completes my family and brings me joy.

I chose to become a World Vision sponsor in 2006 after our fourth child died just a few weeks before she was to be born. I saw Gugulethu’s photo at a World Vision event and noticed her birthday was the same as my baby’s. God showed me how being part of this child’s life would soothe my hurting heart and bring joy to our family. He was right and it did.

What joy it brings me as I see Gugulethu’s photos take her from a smiling little girl to a grown up young lady. Something I never got to see with my own girl I get to experience through another precious life a world away.

Since then we’ve added more sponsored children to our lives and even added a little miracle baby to our family. God is so good!

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