I stepped off the plane on Moldovan soil for the first time in July 2011. Little did I know that I’d be back to this small European country, the poorest in Europe, a total of four times in the next 11 months.
Many times over I’d heard JMI’s Executive Director, Steve Davis, express his belief that sending letters to children that you sponsor is, to quote him, “like gold currency.” I knew that writing a child was important, so I did write, but I had no clue as to the power of Davis’ prophecy. Once a month we would send emails through the JMI web portal to our two girls, Mihaela Croitor and Alina Sadounic. We also send communications to a few other girls who have no one to write to them, or who’s sponsors have dropped off the grid.
The truth of the matter is, I have seen Steve Davis’ words bear life as I have now been to Moldova several times and experienced the breath of life that words can bring to the heart. As an American, we have virtually little, if any, frame of reference as to what it means to have nobody … no not one … who loves you. Truly loves you. We have little understanding of feeling as if hardly anyone outside your orphanage teachers even knows you exist at all. We have little understanding of what it means to feel so completely vulnerable due to having nobody who has your best interests in mind. When you have no family, or when your family has left the country, and left you behind, the feeling must be overwhelmingly destitute.
Just before arriving to Moldova on my most recent trip, I received an email from Alina, one of our girls. She told me she would like to “go to Holland on a trip with a group.” She asked me for money to help her go, and this was very much unlike her, for she’d never asked for anything. Knowing that empirical data indicates that 7 out of 10 orphan girls in Moldova are sold into sex slavery, my protective nature as a father of two boys kicked in and I began to ask her many questions about this “group” she’d met at a camp. I then had a much longer, and extremely blunt, conversation with her through email about trafficking and how it happens.
To be honest, after investigating it, I think this trip actually was legitimate. Alina decided not to go, and didn’t seem to bothered by turning down the travel opportunity. The bigger question looming in my mind was, “What if she didn’t have a sponsor who kept up with her? What if she was, like most orphans, on her own, to make her own decisions, at the age of 14?” Yes, these kids have some guidance with directors and teachers, but not anything close what we have in America.
Alina came to me to ask what I thought about this trip, but if Alina had not had anyone to ask for wisdom, then this beautiful little girl would have left the country, with a 70% chance of never being seen again as she would have become another man’s sex slave had this situation been deceptive. Just like that, in the quietness of an empty inbox, the letters would have stopped coming from her because she’d be gone.
The power of sponsorship is critical. Writing to your child is not only a currency of love, it’s the currency of love that protects. Love protects because love, as the Scriptures tell us, “never fails.”
In that line of thinking, let me beg of you to consider doing your very best to bring your sponsored child the best gift you can bring … the love of your consistent presence in their lives. Here’s a few creative steps you can take to make sure you remember to write once a month:
Put A Recurring Reminder On Your Phone’s Calendar.
My iPhone has alerts. I use this feature all the time for business reminders and appointments. Install a reminder to alert you once a month to write your child.
When They Write You, Write Back Immediately.
Nothing kills momentum like procrastination, and often, I’m the king of inventing new methods for delaying the inevitable! Don’t open the letter from the child until you are able to take 5 mintues to respond. JMI’s portal is incredibly fast and user friendly. Take advantage of that.
Involve Your Family.
It makes everyone mindful of communication. My oldest son, Cole, has written to our girls on occasion. He prays for them often. Bringing your family into the loop not only strengthens your bond with the child, it gives your kids a global perspective of the Kingdom of God. Every one of the girls we write ask me how Michelle is doing, how is life for Cole and Tucker, and their questions are very specific because they know us well and, by their own admission, consider us their family.
Commit To Honor.
The bottom line is, you told a child you’d love them and that you’d care for them. Don’t fail them. Honor your commitment.
– Jason Cruise