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The Power of Relationship in Sponsorship (#BeTheONE)
by Ronne Rock
Posted on Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Jennifer King of Westport Church has been an Orphan Outreach sponsor since 2008. When their church was introduced to Gan Sabra HIV Home in Aizawl, India, Jennifer and the global missions team  knew it was time to get others involved in the power of sponsorship. They rallied the congregation, with the goal of sponsoring every child before their first mission trip to the home tucked away in the hills of Northeast India. Jennifer shares what it means to “Be the ONE” – when an entire church chooses to say “yes” to caring for orphans and vulnerable children.




Since Westport Church first began working with Orphan Outreach, our goal has been to make sure every child has the financial resources needed to provide physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual support. We received a message from Lucy, the founder and director of Gan Sabra, that there was one element missing from our list – one she believed was most important. That was RELATIONSHIP. Lucy was appreciative of our money, but she wanted our time. For our church, the response was an easy “YES!” Lucy with notes from Shane and others

My husband Dave and I chose to sponsor Steven (since we have a grown son-Stephen). His sister, Ruthi, was my pick for PORT KIDS (our children’s ministry) to sponsor as a group, using funds collected from our weekly “offering.” When we trained our first two mission teams for back-to-back travel, we learned more about Aizawl and the Gan Sabra kids simultaneously.  As the Director of Port Kids, I shared as much as I could in advance with our own church kids, and as the trip grew closer we gathered letters, written from Port Kids, to deliver to their new friend, Ruthi.  We were excited to meet all the kids, and were thrilled to specifically love and communicate acceptance to Steven and Ruthi, “our two new Wesport family members”. Since the concept of sponsorship alone was a challenge to express, we brought photos of our family and let them know we would always be praying for both of them. Explaining that more than 30 kids from the US were supporting Ruthi was a unique experience, and bringing letters (from kids her age) was a treasure to her. I became the face of these kids at first, and a bonus relationship left her with our family photos too!  She made bracelets for all the kids (with pipe cleaners) and wrote a card for me to share with her new family members back in the US. We’ve saved every letter and card from Ruthi – PORT KIDs has quite a collection now! Ruthi, the girls and me Mar 2015

After the return, I was excited to frame photos in my home and keep them in our daily prayers… I was also blessed to bring video and songs from Gan Sabra to show our PORT KIDS.  We worshipped together with songs that both sets of kids had learned. Several were attached to Ruthi, but also began sponsoring other Gan Sabra kids too. Her photo hangs in our classrooms as a prayer reminder - a thank you for their “offering” and a bright light. And it serves as encouragement for every letter yet to be written. As we planned for our return trips, the trust and blessings were exponentially reproducing.  The Gan Sabra kids remembered everything we had done the trip before, loved receiving pictures and notes, but were astounded to know that our mission trip participants were friends/family with their sponsors, new team members etc. Gan Sabra 2017 158

Kids from PORT were travelling with their families, and some grew to become independent team members. In fact, nearly every trip member now has a sponsorship connection with the kids from Gan Sabra.  The mission to India is the thread woven in each of our church families, both through our ministry teams and extending beyond our walls to people in our community.  Donors for trips become sponsors, sponsors become team members, team members return and share and we get more sponsors, team members - the ripples expand exponentially and are so clearly a picture of the gospel spreading to (and from) the ends of the earth. In 2014, my daughter, Grace and her best friend Rebekah (and our pastor’s oldest) both turned 18 and traveled together for post-high school adventures. She represented our family that trip and the Gan Sabra kids were overjoyed to meet more of our family face-to-face. While there, the team was part of an AIDS symposium, and the power of our presence in the community opened eyes to the need to treat/care differently for ALL who have HIV/AIDS.  The Gan Sabra Community Program began to take shape shortly thereafter…and my teenager became an even more compassionate young adult. We were blessed with both a family mission and church expression to which we could all now relate.  My mom also became a sponsor of a boy in the Gan Sabra Community Program and soon after we added Zela to our sponsor family.

Blythe and her girls

More than 100 Westport Church members have traveled to Gan Sabra, and more than 50 have returned several times. First-time team members report that they have never felt such “immediate love” from anyone as from Lucy and the kids.  They transfer relational trust form one team to the next and know that the “Westport family” extends their own.  The staff at Gan Sabra often ask our return travelers, “When will you be coming ‘home’”? The response is always, “if the Lord wills it – we’ll be back!”

 



 

It's time for you to be the ONE in a child's life. Join us as a sponsor now. Meet your child and register here. If your church would like to know more about ministry partnership with Orphan Outreach, contact our Executive Director, Rey Diaz, at rdiaz@orphanoutreach.org.


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