Yesterday, Lisa-Jo from the Gypsy Mama blog published a great post called Lame Sponsors of the World - Unite! which really brings home the importance of writing letters to your sponsored child. Between the comments left on that post and those on the Compassion Facebook page, it is clear that many sponsors really struggle coming up with topics to write about. I hope that my blog can provide ideas. I have links on my sidebar that may help as well!
The Compassion website also has this page full of ideas.
Here is an excerpt:
“What should I write about? Is there anything I shouldn't write about?
Compassion children regularly pray for their sponsors. You are investing in their lives, and they consider you family. Write as if you are.
Be encouraging! And please be sensitive to the child's economic situation. Avoid discussing the material aspects of your life.
- Describe your family (e.g., where they live, what they look like, their interests, type of work they do, pets, etc.).
- Include a small paper gift — photos, postcards, bookmarks, greeting cards, etc. Learn more about what items can and can't be sent.
- Explain special holiday and family customs.
- Talk about important events — weddings, graduation, trips, new jobs, holidays, etc.
- Mark your calendar and send a card to celebrate a holiday or festival that is important to your child.
- Share your dreams and the daily activities of your life.
- Write about the terrain/climate/people where you live.
- Reminisce about your childhood.
- Discuss a person who influenced you.
- Talk about an important life lesson you learned, something you learned in school, or something you're learning now.
- Describe how you overcame a challenge or met a goal.
- Share your favorite Bible stories and verses.
- Elaborate on your church and the various ways you serve Christ. See also, Is it all right to ask if my child is a Christian?
- Remind your child that you pray for him or her regularly. Mention specific items your child has mentioned in his or her letters.
- Explain how your family includes your sponsored child in daily life (e.g., praying for him or her or displaying his or her photo in your home).
- Share your prayer requests and praise reports.
- Express what a privilege it is to be your child's sponsor.
- Affirm that God loves him or her and has a great plan for his or her life.
- Include a verse:
- about God's provision for the future (Jeremiah 29:11)
- about God's love for us (John 3:16), the value of each child (Psalm 139:13-14), or loving one another (1 John 4:7)
- about the power of prayer (Matthew 21:22)
- about the importance of learning (Proverbs 4:13)
- Encourage your child to write back and/or draw pictures for you.
And ASK QUESTIONS.
What topics should I avoid?
- Discussing the material aspects of your life (e.g., the size of your home or the kind of car you drive).
- Sending photos that show your possessions.
- Sharing your home address, e-mail address or telephone numbers.
- Using colloquialisms and slang.
- Including bulky items, or items other than paper, in your letters.
- Suggesting your child come for a visit or that you'll send a particular gift.
Can I ask if my child believes in Christ or is a Christian?
In our Child Sponsorship Program, each child has the opportunity to hear the gospel in an age-appropriate and culturally relevant way. But neither the children nor their families are obligated to become Christians.
Your letters and questions offer another opportunity for your child to hear the gospel and demonstrate faith in action.
How do I convey personal issues like death and divorce to my sponsored child?
Honesty and openness invite a child to a deeper, more personal relationship with you. Euphemisms, such as "passed away" in reference to a death, don't always convey the message you intend.
When discussing personal issues such as death and divorce, the best approach is to state the fact — "My mother died" or "Susan and I are getting divorced" — rather than explaining the details or using indirect expressions.
Because your child's perspective is different from yours, based on his or her culture, age and personal experiences, the child might not ask additional questions.
How do I ask personal or sensitive questions, like those related to health, without offending the child or his or her family?
Discussing personal issues requires great sensitivity, particularly when communicating through letters and across cultures, particularly when the questions deal with health matters, which can often carry strong cultural stigmas.
Whether or not you should ask a particular question depends on your relationship with the child and the nature of the question. If you are uncertain, please consider delaying the question until you have built a stronger relationship with the child or have a better understanding of the culture.
Invite your child into a deeply personal relationship by modeling trust and honesty. Share with your child first. Allow him or her to see your courage and to take the first step.
Remember you are a mentor. Show your child you care by being patient, open, inviting and, most important, involved.”
The Compassion International website is full of great information. Take a few minutes to look around and I am sure you’ll find out more about this amazing organization!