Gina Willams says her family has been blessed to sponsor children in Moldova since 2013. She has also been on mission trips with JMI to both the Amazon and Moldova, where she got to meet her sponsored child in “one of the most touching and emotional experiences.” Listen to an excerpt below, and read on for more of her personal account.
Q: How did you become a sponsor?
A: Since I was a teenager, God has called me to be involved in cross-cultural missions. At a young age, I learned that God can use anyone, regardless of age, skill, or personal circumstances to reach His people in His big world. When we started attending Rolling Hills Community Church, we were introduced to JMI and I was immediately intrigued with their mission to make a difference to the poor, needy, and forgotten people of the world. I was also inspired by how their ministry was set up as a long-term relationship with the country and the people in it. It was evident that JMI had made it one of their top priorities to build up in-country staff, to ensure their ministry could continue when Americans were not there. In addition, the thought of being able to sponsor a child financially, but also with the hope of one day meeting them on a trip, made it very personal and fulfilling to me.
Q: With child sponsorships, you write letters back and forth each month. Is there a particular letter that has stuck with you?
A: We sponsor a girl who has significant health issues that require regular surgeries and recoveries. It has been a blessing to be able to receive updates from her and the staff about her health and condition. Her positive attitude amidst such physical hardship is hugely inspirational. We have also enjoyed hearing from another girl we sponsor who is being trained in the Transitional Living program. It has been a gift to watch her learn and grow as a young adult, learning to cook and gain other life skills, as well as get updates as she pursues her chosen profession. Her letters are informative and descriptive and we can follow along with her as she is experiencing so many life adventures for the first time.
Q: What impact have you seen in the lives of your sponsored children and their families?
A: For these kids and their families to know that there are people who care about them all the way across the world is not only meaningful but helps them to have the strength to continue in difficult circumstances. We have been sponsors through some very challenging times for Moldovans–from the isolation from Covid lockdowns, extremely challenging financial times with inflation, and the destruction and hardships from the war between Russia and Ukraine. Thankfully, sponsorship has meant our kids get monthly gifts of things they might desperately need like winter coats, shoes, hygiene products, and school supplies. We have also been blessed to be able to help pay for the surgeries and the care our sponsored child requires that her family cannot afford.
Q: What has God taught you through sponsorship?
A: It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness and distractions of our lives, and so hard sometimes to truly connect with and understand what life is like in other parts of the world. Sponsorship has reminded us that God is involved everywhere, in all parts of the world. It has taught us that although our lives may look different from the poor and needy in the world on the outside, we are all God’s children experiencing Him in the same ways. Learning about other cultures is something that is so enriching to our lives and helps to get our eyes off of ourselves. Sometimes it is hard to personalize a name or picture on a screen, but being able to communicate with our sponsored kids on a regular basis and even go to visit them makes our giving much more personal. It is also so helpful that there are staff from JMI who live and work there, who check on our kids, give us updates, and send pictures. We feel very blessed and thankful to God to be able to be a part of what God is doing in Moldova.
Sponsorship has reminded us that God is involved everywhere, in all parts of the world.
Q: What do you think is the greatest benefit that your sponsored children receive through this program?
A: Besides meeting some of their physical needs through financial donations, I think one of the greatest benefits they receive is knowing a family in America is praying for them and cares about them. Some of them live very difficult lives and to be able to have regular communication with a sponsor family is such a huge blessing for them. They feel seen and known, and like an extension of our family, which is extremely meaningful for orphans and kids who have hard family lives. We have also seen how sponsoring older kids through the Transitional Living program has encouraged and helped them make wise decisions about their futures, in effect putting them on the right path once they graduate from the program.
Q: What has the experience been like to see them in person over the years?
A: It was one of the most touching and emotional experiences of my life. We had sponsored Elena for a few years by that point, and I did not know if I would get to see her when I was in Moldova as our team was not going to her area during that trip. She wanted to meet me so badly that she traveled all day through various bus routes to get there in time before I had to leave. It was such a huge blessing for both of us to be able to meet (pictured above). There were hugs and tears, and communication through a translator. It was also extremely heartbreaking as her family and living situation was not an easy one, but I was able to pray for her and her family before she had to leave.
Q: If there is someone considering sponsoring a child, what would you tell them?
A: You will never regret giving of yourself in any way God leads you to, both through financial sponsorship and going on a mission trip. What can seem so small to us can have a huge impact on someone across the world. Not only having their financial needs met but for their spirit to know someone from America knows them and cares about them could be enough to steer their life path toward God and choices for a better future.