Why I No Longer Pity My Sponsored Child
Kirstie writes about the day she found herself challenged by what it means to be truly rich.
13 Jun, 2017
I've had the privilege of being a Compassion sponsor since 2010. After an excited, impulsive hand raise at a conference, I landed myself a pen pal and friend from another continent that I would journey with over years to come.
Uganda, Africa. It felt hard to imagine my child's life. There he was, sweet and standing on red dirt. Dan was in early primary school and looked shy and stiff-lipped. I wondered if he was a shy boy who would nervously make eye contact. Maybe standing in front of a camera hoping for a stranger on the other side of the world to sponsor you was an overwhelming thought.
Dan in 2017.
I became it, the sponsor on the other side of the photograph. A young, young adult chewing over what Micah 6.8's instruction to "Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God" meant. This was a step in the right direction, I thought. Injustice is ripe in poverty. It robs people of dignity, of life, of prospects, of joy. If we love justice, we must be able to look poverty in the eye.
Then the letters came. What a joy it is to open the letterbox and see a Compassion envelope waiting. Dan has patiently drawn artworks for me over the past seven years. He has told me about the games he plays at school, the subjects he is studying, his family and the foods he enjoys eating. Mangoes are a shared enthusiasm. Like any good relationship, there is back and forth, interest and questions, and finding commonalities.
The big commonality we have is our faith. Dan and I have heard the good news of Jesus Christ and responded to that call. If all other characteristics were blotted out, we would be two people dearly and fiercely loved by a wonderful God and redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
We send bible verses back and forth. We offer prayer points and things to be thankful for. He is thankful for passing a term of school. I am grateful for a new job. In one of my recent letters, I shared Psalm 144 verse 15 (paraphrased) "Happy are the people whose God is the Lord."
Dan has taught me a lot. Dan says that he prays for me and thanks God for me. That is beautiful and humbling. If I could adjust Dan's prayer list, I would put myself at the bottom. But it's me who has it wrong. I should be praising God for a boy's transformed heart.
Late last year, I received a letter from Dan. I sat on my bed and pried open the seal. Dan was excited to be progressing in school, he was enjoying games and friends. Then it hit me, that pang of self-righteous pity. Poor Dan.
The thoughts felt logical. Poor Dan, what a place to born! He has so little! What if he was born in the West? What will his future be like?
God was there in that moment. I felt in my heart a voice so distinct, "Don't feel sorry for Dan. Dan knows me, he is rich. He has everything he needs."
Woah! There it was. I was blinded to the truth by a love of money. "Feel sorry for those who are surrounded by wealth and don't have me."
Wealth. Riches. How wrongly do we define these.
My prayers for Dan are different now. God loves and sees Dan right where he is. God has plans and purposes for Dan that are wonderful. I can rejoice and praise God that Dan knows his creator. No wealth, no opportunities, no earthly justice can measure up against that.
I pray that Dan would become a man of God and a leader in his community. I pray that he would be filled with joy at what Jesus has done.
It is me that has to battle spiritual poverty in a materially rich city. I love that the faith of a transformed boy's heart can prompt me to truly see.
Words by Kirstie Le Lievre; Photo of Kirstie by Joshua Mikhaiel
Kirstie Le Lievre is a lawyer who lives in Sydney with her husband, Jason. She loves her local church, a good conversation and reading. Kirstie has been a Compassion sponsor since 2010.
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