It was 1999 and I was a thirteen year old kid who loved Jesus. I had a rocky childhood and I knew so much pain. I also knew joy–joy incomparable at the same depth I knew pain. That joy was found through the knowledge that God loved me and treasured me. More than anything my thirteen year old self wanted to share that love with others.
I was at Acquire the Fire–a gathering of teenagers worshiping God–when I heard about Compassion International. Compassion International pairs you up one to one with a hurting kid in poverty so you can help them with basic necessities–including a mentor relationship. I looked at the table of ALL the MASSES of kids who needs sponsors and love. I just kept thinking “HOW IN THE WORLD can I pay for this? I’m just a kid!” But, I knew I had saved up a decent chunk of money from my myriad of babysitting/pet walking/house sitting experiences. At the time my parents were not supportive of my faith. I knew they would be appalled that I wanted to sponsor a kid across the world. I talked to God and told him that I would LOVE to mentor a young girl. If He thought it was a good idea, my parents would agree to let me sponsor one. I called my parents, and to my genuine surprise, they thought sponsorship was an excellent idea.
The next day I picked out Linda Kristiyani from IO968 in Indonesia. Actually, God picked her out for me. Little did I know we would grow up together! Linda was 7 years younger than me. Her first picture is on the left. The picture on the right is the last picture I received fro Linda, my guess is that she was about 17 in that photo. I have no idea what drew me to her. Over the years, I came to consider her a sister. We signed out letters with “I love you” and we meant it. God provided money in crazy ways throughout my sponsorship. I got a “real” job at 15 and paid for her with only my own money the entirety of the time I sponsored her. I would have loved to sponsor her forever.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. When I was 22, in college, I became very, very sick with an autoimmune disease and was practically paralyzed for many months. I had to drop out of school, quit work, and ended up living back with my parents while I was ill. My savings ran out and although Compassion worked with me on payments, I eventually had no more money to give them. I had to stop sponsoring her. It was heartbreaking. At the time I was told I could not even write her a goodbye letter (this was not true and I would have been allowed to write a goodbye letter–if only I had known)
I was heartsick over losing my friend and not being able to follow through on my commitment until she graduated the program. Linda had been a part of my life for over a decade. I LOVED her. I prayed for her every single day. I still do. However, my heart HURT because of my failure to provide for her as I wanted to, and I withdrew from sponsorship for many years. This very blog is my journey back into sponsorship, of God redeeming hurt and turning my mourning into dancing.