Sometimes children leave Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program before they were expected to graduate. After building a special relationship, this can often come as a shock. How do you say goodbye in this situation? These tips will hopefully make your final letter a little easier.

Your child has unexpectedly left Compassion’s program, and you’d love to say goodbye. You want to write something that will encourage them and be a source of strength for years to come. But what, exactly? If you’re not sure where to start with your final letter, why not include the five things sponsored children say they treasure most?

1. Offer words of encouragement

A little bit of encouragement can go a really long way.

Tell your sponsored child that you’re proud of them, that you believe in them, and that God has a plan for their future. We encourage you to let them know that you’ll still be thinking of them and praying for them. This comfort will mean more than you know.

How To Say Goodbye If Your Sponsored Child Leaves The Program

We asked children registered in the Compassion program how your letters encourage them. May their words inspire you:

“In the saddest moments or when I felt very lonely, there was always a letter from [my sponsors] to encourage me; they were my strength. They always showed me that they trust me and encouraged me to go on,” says Orlando.

“My sponsor believes in me. He says that I am very smart and I can do great things.

His exact words were, ‘I always pray that all your dreams may come true.’

Those words made me want to become a teacher to help all the children in the streets who do not know how to read or write,” says Mariela.

“My sponsor's words became my shelter and because my mother never learned how to read or write, when we were both feeling down, I read my sponsors’ letters out loud so she and I could both be comforted by their loving words,” says Elza.

With children often treasuring your letters for years, you never know how much your kind and encouraging words can speak life into a future situation!

2. Quote your favourite Bible verse

We encourage you to choose a verse to pray over their future.

God’s Word is powerful—it speaks to us in all circumstances, in all walks of life. You may be worlds apart from this child, but the Word of God will always remain true and relevant. Perhaps you can encourage your sponsored child with some verses that you take comfort in and explain why they mean so much to you.

“In [their] letters, my sponsors … sent me verses saying that everything turns out for good to those who love God; they encouraged me to do my best,” says Rosa.

How To Say Goodbye If Your Sponsored Child Leaves The Program

3. Share your love

Time and time again, children share how their sponsor’s love made them feel valued. Put your feelings onto paper (don’t be afraid to be vulnerable) and let them know they’re loved. They’ll cherish your last letter.

“The nicest thing that my sponsor has ever told me was that she loves me so much that she has a big family and I am included in it so I should never feel alone,” says Fatima.

4. Tell them you’re praying

There’s always a sense of relief and peace when you know that someone is covering you in prayer.

Your prayers not only make a difference: they help give children hope for the future. “That was the very first time that someone was praying for my needs. It felt great to know that someone was helping me in a tough situation,” says Josea.

“I did not feel as lonely because someone was praying for me.”

Take this opportunity to pray for your sponsored child’s future and their family and write out the prayer in your last letter. Why don’t you continue to keep their child profile on your fridge or a prayer journal, to remind you to cover them in prayer?

How To Say Goodbye If Your Sponsored Child Leaves The Program

Through your prayers, you may even encourage your sponsored child to trust and pray to God in all situations.

“Through their [my sponsors] letters, they have taught me many things; for example, I didn’t pray [before] as I pray now. My sponsors always pray for me, and I have learned to pray for my dad as well. I prayed that my father will come to Jesus, and my dad is changing. He has repented and I love him,” says Maria.

5. Write as much as you need

Just because this is your last letter, doesn’t mean you have to keep it short. Make sure you say everything you want to (and then some more!).

“I have a favourite letter; it is three pages long,” says Nuria.

“The part that I like the most is where they say that there is a place in their hearts that I occupy and they say that I stole their hearts. They also tell me that I am their Bolivian daughter and I feel happy because I am like a daughter for them and they are like my parents.”

It’s never easy to say goodbye, and we’re sorry you haven’t been able to see your sponsored child through to their Compassion graduation. Know that the letters you sent, the time spent investing in this relationship, and your financial support has greatly impacted the child.

You cheered on a child living in poverty.

You helped a child to be known, loved and protected.

You shared the love of Jesus and assisted the local church in making this happen.

Thank you so much.

Photos by Ben Adams, Sharon Tincher, Sean Sheridan