MNN's Ruth Kramer with the child her family has been sponsoring since 2005, Misac Ssekyondwa.
Uganda (MNN) ― Ruth Kramer files this report as she wraps up her vision trip to Uganda with Compassion International:
"High anticipation makes for a somewhat sleepless night, as any kid can tell you on December 24. I relived that all over again recently, as I stared at the clock all night.
"In 2005, after I was trying to help teach my son the bibical principles of tithing, sacrifice, grateful hearts and love, I decided that sponsoring a Compassion International child might be a good way to put a human face on poverty and define our responsibility as believers.
"My son, Matthew, and I eventually chose Misac Ssekyondwa who lives in Uganda. Misac shares the exact same birthday as my son. As I had hoped, my son's face showed excitement as we talked about what living the Gospel is and how we should answer needs. With each letter we get from Misac, my son remembers again why this is important.
"Meeting him seemed like something that was impractical. The American economy was starting to fall apart, and travel costs were skyrocketing. We prayed for the opportunity to meet Misac. The opportunity came with a Uganda Vision trip with our sister station, WCSG, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and media partner Compassion International.
"Our meeting was set up for Thursday afternoon. All week long, we have been seeing what a huge difference Compassion International is making in the lives of the sponsored kids and their community.
"Church partners are provided with a shot of encouragement for their ministry as they work in difficult conditions. The Gospel transforms whole regions. Every hour we were out in the bush, meeting the project staff, I thought about how God uses little to do so much and bring hope to the hopeless.
"Then, the reality of the global financial problems and food crisis made me wonder exactly how hard they would hurt the sponsorship programs.
"The project we visited Thursday morning was in the slums of Makerere Kivulu. Once a literal "den of thieves," the Delieverance Church and Compassion have used the Gospel to make a transformation in the areas they touch.
"There are 271 kids at the project, 266 of whom are sponsored. Project director Dorothy Mawanda says five children lost their U.S. sponsors at the end of 2008 because of the financial crisis in America.
"The loss of the support commitment is emotionally devastating to a child who has already experienced the worst in life. Many of them fear they will be abandoned back to the conditions they were lifted out of, and still others feel the rejection keenly or wonder if they've angered the sponsor. Project directors try to encourage the children who've lost sponsors to keep trusting in God as their Provider.
"Other Compassion staff remind us that sponsorship is a commitment, and often a sacrifice of worship. For now, the five remain in the program, hoping daily for a new sponsor.
"When I finally got to meet Misac, all of this was running through my mind. As we met, there was a moment of shyness on both the part of the sponsor and the child. A greeting, a handshake, and then the smiles.
"Here was a real child whom God was transforming daily, and my support was one tool in the tool belt. There was a lot of prayer and expectation going into this meeting. It was everything I could have hoped for, and Misac, you're not the only one who will never forget it."