You Might Not Finish Reading This
I couldn’t ask for a better team in sponsorship. They are examples to students who don’t have examples and they want something better for their community. We had a parent say to us recently that her daughter wants to be like Gabriela. This little girl wants to wait to have kids and wait to have a boyfriend. She wants to be a leader and accomplish her goals.
There are bright sparks of hope in those stories. The reality is, though, our students have to face so much to succeed. If you have sponsored a student that left our program before graduating, know that there is so much against them. I have said before that the few that make it are my heroes. And they are few. Many times, we look only at the numbers. How many students graduated? What is their grade average? How many students are in the sponsorship program? Why don’t we have more? How many kids “got saved” this year? We tend to be “results oriented.” I am not sure that’s how ministry works.
Our students are incredible, but they are also stubborn, infuriating, and make poor choices a lot. Honestly, we probably have more “poor choices” stories than we do “good choices” stories. We have to look for the few bright sparks of hope in the midst of so much hurt. Walking alongside people means that you believe in them, support them, and call them to more. That’s what we work to do in sponsorship. This might mean loving the student who is failing out of school or coming alongside the girl who just got pregnant.*
It seems to be an easy fix. Students don’t have backpacks or school supplies? Provide them and they will succeed. Still have low grades? Offer tutoring. Want students to know God? Sunday school! We lament all the time that it is just not that easy. The deep patterns of a lack of education, teenage pregnancy, machismo, spiritual legalism, and children working to provide for their families in our communities goes back generations and that cycle is not easily fixed with a new pencil.
As a sponsor, you can believe in your student. You can let them know you are thinking about them and have hope for them. You might share in our own grief and deep disappointment when poor choices are made. My encouragement for you, as sponsors, is the same I tell my team and the same that I have to tell myself everyday: There are bright sparks of hope. Sometimes it’s a student graduating and other times it is simply a moment in a profound, meaningful conversation.
The funny thing about this blog post is that I started writing with the intent to say we need some new sponsors for our students. I have probably scared off half of you before you got to this point. I will not promise you that you will have a success story in your student.
Are you willing to hope in a student that might not have ever had someone hope in them before? Are you open to walk alongside a student if they make poor choices? If they leave the sponsorship program, will they remember that one time someone believed in them?
If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Nicaragua has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Latin America. These rates go up even more in the rural communities that we work in.