Does Student Sponsorship really make a difference?
This question comes to mind as I’ve been busy translating approximately 350 letters written in Kreyol and French into English, the language of the majority of our sponsors. In an effort to keep our donors connected with the kids their gifts are helping, each year I gather all the kids and we take annual photos, gather grade reports and send thank you messages to the 300 plus donors who help to keep our village school functioning. The kids know what to do once they are in the scholarship program for a few years. They fill out the requisite thank you forms and smile for photos. I’ve taken to bribe them with candy for smiles as initially they weren’t too keen on smiling for the strange lady taking their pictures. Now the older kids, those graduating after a decade or more of support laugh and still ask for candy. We carefully explain to the students that it is about building a relationship with their sponsors who remember and support them.
Now after coordinating this program for decades the older students have a grasp of what that means. Their thank you messages to their sponsors usually relate as to “how they can’t find enough words to thank them but they are praying for them.” Or “I am eternally grateful to you because without your help it would be impossible for me to attend school.” Pretty powerful sentiments from children growing up in an impoverished, troubled area.
Approximately fifty five years ago there was a farmer/pastor from Pignon who decided to send his children to a Christian school in Cap Haitien. This meant moving his entire family during the school year about 40 miles away. The sacrifice meant that first year he could only send his two oldest children to school. As he went to register his oldest son and daughter, the school principal asked him if he had other children of school age. The pastor nodded his head “yes” but said he didn’t have enough for him this year. The school principal told him, “Oh, no, if you leave that child behind he’ll think he’s not as important as the others. Go get him and I’ll find a place to squeeze him in and find a sponsor for him.” Gratefully, the pastor enrolled his younger son in first grade and the family gratefully received support for the next dozen years for him to advance through school, easing the financial strain on this ministry family.
Periodically, the boy would write thank you letters and communiques to a family that he only knew by name, “Bostwick” sharing his thanks and news of his family as well as his grades, etc. He prayed for them and asked God to bless them. Sadly, he never received a response to his messages and as he finished high school, the sponsorship connection ended. God continued to open doors for this young man to attend college and eventually transfer to the U.S. with a scholarship to attend Bible College near Washington D.C. You may have guessed by now that this student was no other than: Caleb Lucien, Founder of Hosean International Ministries. During his time stateside, completing three college degrees in Maryland and Texas, he continued to pray for and thank God for his original supporters. He prayed that he could thank them for their investment and let them know it wasn’t wasted. In those years before social media the connection never occurred despite occasional searches online.
Suddenly, in a way that you know it’s the right time, Caleb received a message on social media asking if he was Caleb Lucien from Haiti who’d been sponsored through an organization as a child. Caleb felt chills go down his spine as he realized his prayer was being answered. The year was 2021, decades since he had received this family’s help. He learned that the Bostwick family also never forgot him. They kept his photos on their refrigerator and prayed for him. Caleb learned that the family parents who had sacrifically given for his needs as a student had passed away but his adult “siblings” were excited to meet him! Over the next year, Caleb got a chance to meet Kim & Debbie, daughters in the family who supported him! What an incredible blessing for all concerned and to see how God had multiplied exponentially the investment this one family had made in a student in Haiti!
We can happily report that sponsorship not only blesses the students in need but also provides huge rewards to the donors as well. We don’t always get to see returns on our investment in His kingdom, but sometimes God lifts a veil to encourage us.
Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right if you don’t give up. (Galations 6:9)
Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)
Caleb meeting in person family who’ve prayed for each other for years!