We decided to sponsor a child through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries before we even had a child of our own. It seems like a lifetime ago now. We were young pastors attending one of our first District Assemblies when the video about child sponsorship popped up on the screen. We didn’t have to think twice and signed up that day.
Little did we know that within the next several years God would ask us to make far greater financial sacrifices than the $30 per month for sponsorship. And yet, God never asked us to stop sponsoring. It was never even a question.
In fact, over the years, the child we sponsor has become a part of our extended family. “J”, who lives in Thailand and is the son of a Nazarene pastor, sends us letters a couple of times a year. His letters are written with meticulous penmanship in Thai and transcribed into English. They often come with sweet art or a detailed Christmas card that he has made himself. His early letters were something like, “I am 11 years old. I live in Thailand. My mother is a farmer and my father is a pastor. At home, I like to help with chores. At church, I like to go to Sunday school. I also like playing soccer with my brother and friends.”
But this most recent letter included something new—an invitation to join J, who will turn 14 in July, in celebrating his accomplishments. No longer needing someone to transcribe his letters for him, J wrote in both Thai and English:
“Hello! … Now I graduation Grade 6. The new semester starts, I will study in Grade 7. I am very happy for graduation Grade 6, and I attend to learn more. This semester end, I will go back stay with my parents at my house. I help my parents for household work, feed the chickens and dog, clean the house. I would like you come to travel at my home. My house is on the mountain and has woodland. It is near Myanmar and good atmosphere in the winter. Now is summer. It is very hot. Once in a lifetime, I want to go to travel at the sea, but not have opportunity to go. At last, I like to request for you to have strong health. John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
We’re celebrating with J, knowing that our $30 a month plays some small role in making his success possible. We are humbled by the opportunity for God to use as a part of J’s story, and can’t wait to see what God has in store for him as he (unlike many kids in his situation) will get to continue his education through secondary school and beyond.
Now that our own son, Q (6), is old enough, he writes letters and makes art for J as well. He has told J about our family, our move from the United States to New Zealand, what it is like to start school in New Zealand, and that he loves baseball. Every time we get a letter, we locate where J lives on a map or globe.
We talk about the different geographical and cultural aspects of J’s life. We have a pretty good idea that it is much warmer in Thailand (especially since it’s winter in New Zealand right now) and the food is probably different. Our son relates to J in small ways saying, “My dad is a pastor too. So is my mom!” And in other ways, he’s reminded that his life is very different, “I am glad my mom is not a farmer. We’d starve!”
Child sponsorship assists pastors’ children like J with their primary and secondary education costs, uniforms, school supplies, and food and transportation when it’s needed. In this way, we are linking arms with our brothers and sisters in Christ—people we may never meet this side of heaven—to further the work of God in the world. It is one tangible way we’re intentionally modeling generosity for our son and allows him to participate in both the responsibility and blessing. We’re grateful that Nazarene Compassionate Ministries has given us the opportunity to directly partner with the work God is doing in Thailand through J and his family—whether we get to go there eventually or not.
Jaron and Elizabeth Graham and their son, “Q”, are Nazarene missionaries serving in New Zealand. Jaron and Elizabeth, both ordained elders, serve as co-pastors of Crossroads Church, and are respectively the director and academic dean of Nazarene Theological College-Auckland. They love family adventures of all kinds including relational ministry, NZ bush hikes, family bike rides, and exploring new places. They chronicle their adventures here.