From a young age, I was taught the vast beauty and simple importance of sponsoring children. My Sunday school used to collect coins, and pray for ‘Elieth,’ a little girl in Ethiopia. I grew up and saw my family sponsor children. I saw their faces and photos, posted on the fridge with a magnet. As I grew, they grew. It was simple, beautiful, practical and a great and growing reminder of “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
When I grew up and began my own working life, it was a simple choice for me. For years now, I have grown to love my little girl, Sonali, in India. She calls herself my ‘beloved daughter,’ and draws sunflowers for me. She’s a gem.
I write to her and she writes to me. Both ways, it’s a treasure.
Writing letters may have been greatly replaced by email, text and social media in our highly digitalized world, but to a sponsor child who lives in poverty, it can truly be a gift. It brings joy and life.
No matter the length or content, the simple gesture says: I see you. I’m praying for you. You are loved and important.
Just as we do in every interaction of our lives, we have the chance with sponsorship letters to speak and write hope, truth, love and destiny. It allows us to know our children better, for them to know us better, and both to stay connected. We come to realize that this isn’t a ‘sponsor child,’ and a ‘sponsor.’ This is a child and an adult. Real people. With lives, hopes, hobbies, quirks and dreams.
BUT. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s odd to write a letter to any child, let alone one you have never met in person, who doesn’t speak your language, and who lives in a different country and cultural context.
And so, here are some general guidelines, some do’s and don’t’s, some sample questions, and templates to get you started!
- Consider the age of the child. It’s very different writing to a five or a fifteen year old. Write age appropriately, both in length and content.
- Keep it as simple as possible to make it easier for the translators.
- When talking about your own life, consider these conversation topics: Your family (how many people, what they look like, what they like to do, etc.) Your favorite hobbies (relatable things like reading or sports.) Talk about what Jesus has been teaching you. Include an inspiring Bible verse or what you have been praying about.
- Be encouraging and positive
- Express your care and love
- Share Bible verses, and spiritual encouragement
- Encourage prayer, education and Bible reading
- Respond to any questions they ask you
- Use the information you know about your sponsor child. Ask them about specific things in their country and culture.
- Be sensitive to your child’s living conditions. Ask questions about favorite colors, plants or animals instead of clothes, food, pets, tv or music preferences.
- Describe elements of your own life, and then ask the child to share about that same element.
- Include 2-3 questions for your sponsor child.
- Talk about things which your child may never have seen or experienced, like material possessions, or travelling to different places.
- Use slang words, contractions, puns, sarcasm or sayings. It may very well best lost in translation.
- Send negative personal news to your sponsor child, such as deaths in the family, etc.
- Ask too many questions, as it can be overwhelming.
How many people are in your family? Do you have any brothers and sisters?
What does it look like where you live?
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite animal?
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
What games and activities do you enjoy?
What are your favorite subjects at school?
Tell me all about your school friends!
What is the weather like at the moment?
How can I pray for you?
Here are two very basic templates for writing a letter to your sponsor child. The first as a point of initial contact, and the second as ongoing correspondence.
Hello (name of child)!
My name is (name), and I’m so excited to write to you and to be your sponsor! I can not wait to hear all about you and your life.
Let me tell you some things about me. I am (age) years old, I live in (place) and there are (number) people in my family. (Short description of family members). How many people are in your family? I would love to hear about them.
Right now it is (season) which means the weather is (describe). Where I live, (describe terrain, geography etc) and my home is very (adjective. Example: busy, quiet, isolated). What does it look like where you live?
I want to share with you my favorite verse from the Bible. It is (verse). It’s important to me because (explain. Then encourage the child based on the explanation. For example: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whomever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I love this verse because it reminds me of God’s love for the world and also the amazing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us. Did you know that God loves you very much? SO much that He sent His Son. That’s amazing!! I am very thankful to God. And very excited to be your sponsor).
I look forward to hearing from you!
Hello (name of child)!
Thank you very much for your letter. I really loved hearing about (positively comment on whatever your sponsor child shared with you, and add an encouragement and a further question. For example: I really loved hearing that you love to read! I also love to read, and would encourage you to keep reading every day. Do you have a favorite book?).
Please tell me about the other activities you like to do. Do you have a favorite sport or game you like to play with your friends? In my spare time, I really enjoy (name and short explanation of sport/ hobby).
This week from the Bible, I read (verse and word of encouragement for the child). How can I pray for you and your family?
I look forward to hearing from you again soon!
If you follow these simple guidelines, and prayerfully write to your child, I promise you are in for a treat!
There is no end to the life, happiness, joy, support and encouragement you can bring (and receive!) as you generously pour into the life of a little one around the world.
Thank you for sponsoring a child with CFCI!