By Hanna Luong as referenced in Winter 2011

It has been said many times that man is not an island to himself. It has been said, perhaps less often, that one never sins in isolation. In other words, the decisions that we make affect us and those around us. Sometimes the consequences are minimal, resulting in nothing more than a ripple. Sometimes the consequences are catastrophic. This principle is as true in North America as it is elsewhere, but it is a point very keenly demonstrated in the biography data forms we receive pertaining to the children in our sponsorship program.

If you read the notes about the children available for sponsorship in this issue, or in past issues, you will see how these children have been catastrophically affected by the decisions that their parents have made. They are living in broken homes, apart from their parents, in poverty, fear and danger, with little direction as to how they can avoid the same mistakes their parents made.

This reality affects the way the Word & Deed sponsorship program operates. “Holistic” describes it well, meaning that we treat families as a whole, rather than as a collection of individual “parts”. Providing a child with food, medical and dental care, education and Sunday School are all necessary, but do not offer a complete solution. We know that children are not islands, and that as long as the family unit is hurting, the child will suffer.

This means that, in addition to meeting the individual needs of children as listed above, families of children in the Sponsorship Program are also given much needed attention.

In Ecuador, instruction (including Biblical instruction) and assessment are provided to the care-takers and parents of children in the sponsorship program twice a week. In a recent report from Ecuador, the Jonkmans reported that as a result of these workshops and the biblical teaching the children receive at the school many families are now praying in their homes. The parents have become more interested in the things of the Lord and several of the parents now confess a saving faith. They are now attending church.

In Colombia, workshops are provided for the parents of children in the Sponsorship Program several times a year. These workshops cover a variety of different topics: how to prevent sexual abuse of children in preschool and primary school, how to strengthen the identity of high school children, or a biblical view of sexuality which naturally prevents HIV/AIDS. In addition, through these workshops parents are encouraged to help with their child(ren)’s homework and receive extra guidance if they have a child with learning disabilities. They are also encouraged to be involved in volunteer work at the school and have the opportunity to be linked to entrepreneurship courses and vocational or business development workshops.

It’s our hope and prayer that by treating entire families as a single unit in need of care our Sponsorship Program will effect lasting change. We hope that the positive decisions that are made as a result of knowledge gained and love shown will have more than just a ripple effect on the families and communities of the developing world, but that they will be the beginning of large scale transformation. The $35 CDN ($32 USD) that you, dear sponsors, pay each month goes further than you think.

Hanna Luong is the Administrative Assistant for Word & Deed Canada.

 Testimony: Virginia

Virginia is 27 years old. Her son Kevin is in the Sponsorship Program in Cesar Proano, Ecuador. When the program began she did not understand why the teachers were so intent on teaching the Bible to the children, but as her child has come home and shared stories, and as she has learned more and more from the Bible studies for the parents she now sees that the Word of God is the foundation of all change. In fact it is Christ the living Word who transforms lives. She shares with us how her son has been instrumental in so many changes in the home. He never goes to sleep at night without praying. He never eats food without praying. His behavior and attitude has completely changed. His school marks have gone up and he is continually sharing with the family the lessons learned from the Bible lessons at the project. Virginia has recently asked that Kevin's younger sister be accepted into the project also.

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