Gaining a Grandchild

An interview with Lionel’s sponsor, Wanda.

Wanda was sitting in her usual Sunday morning service at Celebration Church with a burdened heart. She longed to minister and share God’s love with someone in need, but had yet to decide how, where, and with whom to share it. When she heard the presentation about children in need in Zimbabwe, Wanda knew instantly that she had received her long-awaited answer. She felt confirmation that the Lord was aware of exactly what was on her heart, and He already handpicked the child that needed her love.

When she heard the presentation about children in need in Zimbabwe, Wanda knew instantly that she had received her long-awaited answer.

It was not until Wanda returned home later that day that she truly looked into the face of the boy that she had picked up off the sponsorship table. As she browsed through his biography, she was caught by a unique detail: This little boy had the exact birthday of her sweet four-year-old granddaughter, Ava. Wanda couldn’t wait to call Ava and let her know that she had found her “twin brother”, Lionel, across the world in Zimbabwe, and Wanda knew that day she had gained a new grandson.

She was caught by a unique detail: This little boy had the exact birthday of her sweet four-year-old granddaughter, Ava.

Wanda allowed OneChild to interview her based on her experience as a dedicated sponsor for the past 5 years. The following answers may have been slightly edited or paraphrased for length.

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How has your relationship with Lionel grown during your sponsorship journey?

Lionel was the age of four when I began sponsoring him, and he is now nine. It has been a joy to watch him grow and see his achievements. When we first began exchanging letters, he was not old enough to write on his own, so I received pictures and letters from his classroom facilitator. But over the course of five years, I have had the privilege of seeing Lionel learn to write and become a wonderful communicator. He has overcome much of his shyness and is continually asking about his “sister” Ava and the other grandchildren. He loves me and calls me “Gramp”, just as I love him and consider him to be another one of my “grands”.

How have you continued to stay committed to Lionel during the waiting period between your communications?

Lionel is family, and I am totally committed to him. I include him and his mother in my daily prayers, as well as keep his most recent picture and letter on my refrigerator. I always enjoy looking at his beautiful smile and rereading his letters until his next letter arrives.

How do you involve your family in your sponsorship of Lionel?

My grandchildren are all involved in Lionel’s sponsorship. They love to write letters, draw pictures for him, pray for him, and help me pick out gifts to send to him. Very importantly, they have learned that not all children in this world are raised in the same context as themselves; they eat what is on their dinner plates and cherish what they have because not all children have the same luxuries.

In what ways has Lionel ministered to your heart during your sponsorship?

Lionel’s original biography stated that he wanted to be a pilot, and to this day he still wants to be a pilot. I truly am inspired by this little boy in knowing that despite his life’s circumstances, he does not let it define him. He knows his worth and identity in Christ, loves God, and has a heart full of faith and gratitude. I believe that Lionel has blessed me beyond measure, and it is an honor for me to be part of his life.

What are some practical ways that sponsors can stay invested and committed to their sponsored child?

True sponsorship means to be completely committed. Treat your sponsored child like your own child.

Go beyond the monthly commitment and make a true heart connection. Write the child a letter, give them encouragement, and let them know how much God and their sponsor cares for them.

Surprise your child and use a #10 envelope to enclose your letter and a few special gifts (that stay within the OneChild gift giving specifications)! It will make their day, and will also make yours when you visualize the smile on their face when they receive it.

How would you encourage other sponsors who are just beginning their sponsorship journey?

Hang on, because the best journey of their life has just begun.

Wanda’s Prayer for Lionel

Lord, thank you for Lionel and precious gift that he is in my life. I pray that you build a hedge of protection around him and his family. I pray for your divine wisdom to radiate from within him and to pour out of him daily. I pray that his thoughts are always your thoughts, and that your face will continually shine upon him. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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