Success Through God’s Eyes

A New Yorker pursuing “the American dream” sponsors two boys living in extreme poverty and discovers a new mission in life.
By Robyn Wilson, Videos by Levi Rodgers and Photos by Luis Sanchez and Ashlee Weaver

Achieving financial success. Owning a luxurious house. Driving a fancy car.

Those were the things Jo Lord, 30, thought he wanted in life. He was at the top of his game, thriving in the media industry, working for major networks and popular broadcasts like The Today Show.

“When you’re surrounded by skyscrapers and the New York hustle, it’s easy to forget other places in the world exist,” Jo explains. “I was focused on myself, my achievements and building my career. I knew about poverty, but when it came to suffering — out of sight, out of mind.”

But Jo started questioning his goals in the winter of 2016.

Jo’s sister, Abigail, called him while she was on a trip with OneChild in the Dominican Republic. “She told me, ‘There are kids at this Hope Center who need sponsors — you need to become a sponsor!’”

After hearing the passion in Abigail’s voice, Jo agreed to sponsor two boys: Yordani, who was 11 at the time, and Jeremy, who was 8.

For the next three years, Jo and his wife, Savannah, built a strong relationship with the boys by writing letters to them. Then in March 2019 they had the opportunity to visit them in La Vega, Dominican Republic.

 

 

“The boys recognized us instantly,” Jo says. “That moment of connection was filled with awe — our two worlds collided. Yordani hugged me and wouldn’t let go. In his world, he often feels unsafe. But when he held me, he felt safe. He told me I was his family. Because we’d been exchanging letters, the boys knew we believed in them and loved them.”

Although meeting the boys was an incredible experience, nothing could have prepared Jo and Savannah for what they witnessed next. As they visited communities that were filled with poverty, gangs and violence, their hearts were broken. “It wrecked us,” says Jo. “The area looked like a bomb had gone off. There were no real roads or infrastructure. Most buildings didn’t have roofs. One area was completely built around a sewer runoff that people used as a bathroom. Homes were built out of cardboard or metal — whatever families could find.”

Jo also saw the despair in children’s eyes. “They have to grow up so fast,” he says. “They’ve seen things no child should see, and they’re worn out from the trauma they’ve endured.”

Visiting Yordani’s home was a day Jo will never forget. “His two-room hut had no electricity or running water,” explains Jo. “The entire house was smaller than our kitchen.”

Hear from Jo Lord first hand in this touching video

 

Seeing poverty firsthand allowed Jo and Savannah to understand how much sponsorship truly means to Yordani and Jeremy. “It’s not just a Hope Center — it’s the center of their universe,” says Jo. “It’s where they go for everything, where they escape violence and feel safe. They receive education, food, water, medical attention, and they learn about God’s love.”

Jeremy’s mom also shared how vital sponsorship is to their family. “She told us that without sponsorship, Jeremy wouldn’t be able to go to school and pursue his dream of being a doctor,” says Jo. “I realized that my sponsorship, as simple and humble of a contribution as it is, makes a significant difference. What I pay for is nothing compared to what they’re receiving.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although it was difficult to leave the boys at the end of the trip, Jo felt a sense of peace. “I knew the boys were in good hands,” he explains. “The connections they have with the Child Champions are phenomenal. All the kids are so loved.”

As soon as Jo and Savannah returned home, they realized that their perspectives had completely changed. “Before, our definition of success was based on finances,” says Jo. “I was worried about getting a nicer car or a raise. None of that’s even on my radar. Now, I understand the depth of my giving — that my contributions each month can transform a life. My ‘extra’ is somebody’s everything. I’ve influenced the boys, but they’ve influenced me way more.”

Within eight months of the trip, Jo and Savannah moved from New York City to Burlington, Vermont, to pursue God’s calling on their lives. Jo is now the director of Revolution Youth, a nonprofit that provides helpful experiences and growth opportunities for young adults.

 

 

Today, Jo has a new mission. “I’m no longer pursuing the so-called American dream,” he explains. “Now, my dream is to bring hope to the hopeless and healing to broken lives. I want to see hundreds of thousands of kids sponsored through OneChild! Because sponsors give kids hope — something they never dreamed of having.”

Jo is also passionate about encouraging men to sponsor children. “So many kids don’t have a relationship with their father,” he says. “Sponsorship is an opportunity for godly men to courageously step up, mentor kids and fight injustice. We can be changemakers and help shape the next generation!”

Whenever Jo has an opportunity to speak up for children, he raises his voice boldly — and he invites all OneChild sponsors to do the same.

 

“We can’t afford not to educate people about the need,” says Jo. “Make it super simple for friends and family. I had a man recently tell me he wanted to sponsor but didn’t know how. I said, ‘Come over to my house right now. Let’s get this done!’ Because seeing my sponsored boys escape poverty and violence at their Hope Center and spend time with Child Champions who love them made me realize this program needs to be everywhere. Let’s do all we can to inspire others to change lives with us!”

 

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