Imagine that your stomach is growling and you desperately want some food but there is only one way to get it. You have to go looking for glass bottles along the road or in trash cans and exchange them for a little bit of money to buy food.
This sounds horrible and foreign compared to our lives of drive throughs and trips to the fridge, but it’s been a reality for Jeremiah.
As a child in the Dominican Republic, if he could not find any bottles to exchange then he did not eat that day. He said that once he went to his father and said, “I am hungry. I need some food.” But his father just responded, “I am hungry too.” He said he remembered that they only had one bed for his whole family and he slept in it with his 3 siblings. There was a hole in the middle so he had to sleep at a weird angle at the bottom edge of the bed against the wall.
Finally one day, Jeremiah’s family heard about a Compassion International project at a church nearby and got the children registered. At 5 years old Jeremiah was so excited for a chance to receive a sponsor. His sister could not wait for a sponsor because she had a major health issue with her blood and needed lots of medical attention so the church decided to sponsor her immediately on their own. Jeremiah simply waited, and waited…
His friends at the project started to receive a sponsor one by one. He continued to wait for his turn.
When it came time to write letters, Jeremiah would sit and help his friends write letters to their sponsors but he never got to write one to his own.
Soon the months became years and Jeremiah saw child after child be chosen, but never him.
Jeremiah NEVER received a sponsor.
This is rare with Compassion programs but it does happen.
Jeremiah said he felt alone. He wondered what was wrong with him. He loved coming to the project to get help on his homework with the tutors and learning about Jesus but it made him sad to see other kids with sponsors. His sister received a Christmas gift from her sponsor every Christmas and would share with Jeremiah since he got nothing. He simply says this was VERY VERY DIFFICULT for him.
He started thinking, “Am I a bad kid? Why does no one want to sponsor me?” Thankfully the Compassion staff members at his project encouraged him and loved him reminding him that he had value and was loved by God.
But there was a crucial turning point in Jeremiah’s story, he said that in the midst of wrestling over whether he should leave the Compassion project for good or not, someone said to him,
“Even if you have never received help, you can help someone else.”
That’s when everything changed for Jeremiah. He decided to do all he could to make sure other children never experienced the hurt he did by not receiving a sponsor. He started volunteering his time to encourage the younger kids waiting from sponsors at his Compassion project. He started learning English and now as a 20 year old young man he is a translator for Compassion teams who come to the Dominican like us!
Jeremiah completely changed his attitude and now he is helping so many kids! I watched him sing and dance with the children at each Compassion project. But my heart breaks for what he went through.
Will you help a child like Jeremiah right now that has waited too long for a sponsor to choose them?
Will you love and invest in a child who needs to know that they are loved and that they matter?