I sponsor three children, all in Africa—two boys and a girl. Twoare regular sponsorships, and one—Tereza—is a HOPE child. That means that they have been deeply affected by the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Most of the HOPE kids have no adults left in their lives—almost all have died. It leaves them especially vulnerable. People come and seize their dwellings, which are often just a lean-to made of mud, and they have no one to feed them, protect them, care for them. It is beyond the words that I can access. It is devastating.

Tereza’s at a turning point in her life because in her culture, women are not valued. It gives young girls very few options, and very little hope.

But Tereza is going to school—something she could not do without the help of World Vision. She is learning how Christ feels about her. She is responding to that message by drawing nearer to Him and upholding His wishes for her life.

And World Vision has proven in Africa that if young kids are given a healthy self-identity—in this case, through the message of Jesus and His plan for their lives—that they will make choices that prolong their lives, like the choice to abstain from sexual relationships, which in turn prevents HIV/AIDS from spreading to a new generation. They also apply themselves better to their studies, bettering their chances of decent work and better villages. All of this comes through the support that World Vision allows me to send.

Tereza and I have exchanged several letters. She sends her love, and tells me she’s praying for me. That just floors me—she’s praying for me? It just shows you the love in these kids.

My People Are Happy in Jesus

The outreach that World Vision starts with individuals, but affects whole cultures. Margaret has seen it in the trips she’s made with the organization, witnessing how World Vision touches the lives of both infants and kings.

I’ve seen all the stages that World Vision takes a culture through, from the initial intervention to the successful extrication after the culture rights itself, and finds it’s own unique balance.

What I love about World Vision is that they help the culture within it’s own context. They don’t “Westernize” anyone. They present practical, hands-on help that would be out of the reach of these people otherwise—and they do it with the clear message that Jesus would do this if He were walking here on earth.

One of my most poignant memories of this being lived out was in Ghana. We visited the King over an entire region there. Through the interpreter (out there in the jungle!) he relayed his belief in Jesus, and why. He said that before World Vision introduced them to Jesus, his “babies” were dying. He said that their deaths were because of the tribal superstitions that did not allow for simple things like fresh water. In his case, over 50% of the newborns perished.

He went on to say that now, his children are healthy (meaning all the regions), and that their agriculture was flourishing. And with tears in his eyes, he said, “My people are happy, in Jesus. Jesus has brought us happiness.”

It was moving, seeing this regal man in tribal garb tearing up over Christ, with his well-worn Bible in one hand.

The entire experience has changed me. I ask people everywhere I go to donate, sponsor and get involved with World Vision.

Early in my career, I told myself that I would never ask someone something that I was not willing to do myself. So when I ask, I know I am asking some people to be “uncomfortable” financially in their giving. That’s why I push myself in that area as well. Not only do I sponsor three kids, but I have given to many other aspects of World Vision and their work, so I can feel like I am doing something that really costs me something.

If it came right down to it, I would have to say that there is not a check that I write out that does more or makes me feel better.

Can You Make A Difference?

It’s a simple answer to what seems an overwhelming question. Yes, you can make a difference.

World Vision is committed to continuing to strengthen its partnership with churches so that World Vision and the Church can serve as more effective ambassadors of God’s love among the poor. That means partnering with you, your family, your worship team, your church, or even a group of churches in your area.

For more information on how your congregation can join in the critical work among communities, people and children in need, please call 1-800-270-5629. Find out more about World Vision, including how to sponsor a child, at www.WorldVision.org.

[Source: World Vision eNews: “World Vision Serving the Church”]