The Power of a Letter

Who would imagine the power of a written letter? When I was preparing to move a few months back, I remember digging out my memory box. I uncovered all the letters from my childhood received from my father, mother, and friends. They were so special to me. I had stored them all in a manila folder for years. I had kept these cards for a reason. Why? Here is a glimpse into their contents:

“I’m so proud of you.”
“I love to see how you are growing in virtue.”
“Thank you for being so reliable. We count on you. You are a huge help to our family.”

Such sweet encouragement that I am so loved. They inspire me to this day.

On Day 4 in the Philippines, Mrya sits across from us at the lunch table, a sweet young lady of 19, a member of the Leadership Development Program of Compassion International, and shares about her greatest struggle:

“My struggle is that my sponsor is not replying on my letters. It’s really hard. I want to know them more and more. I want to share our journey and what happens in our lives.”

Her face aches with longing. She wants to know about her sponsored family. She wants to hear about their lives, their dreams, their home, their family. Myra graduated from the Child Sponsorship Program and was selected to be in the Leadership Development Program, which is in an aggressive, advanced academic, and leadership training course. She has overcome incredible odds and needs the support and encouragement to thrive in this challenging stage.

Out of 57,000 sponsored children in the Philippines, only 7,000 receive a letter from their sponsor in a month’s time.

Meann (pictured above), on the other hand, had a satchel full of letters and photos and she beamed from ear to ear as she displayed them to us. Each one she had treasured and kept secure in her memory box to review for years to come. She proudly told us about each of her past sponsors and identified them by name.

The financial aspect of sponsorship is obviously essential, but the written letter goes beyond the physical and offers that emotional affirmation that encourages a child to persevere, to dream, to press on towards completing their goals, to know they are loved by you and by the truly Important One, King Jesus.

A letter offers hope, encouragement, affirmation, spiritual inspiration, and friendship. All of which are instrumental to the holistic healthy development of a child.

A study in Ethiopia revealed an improvement academically of 20-30% growth from children who received just two letters a year over those who received none.

How long does it take to write a letter? In our day and age of technology, we have lost touch with the beauty of the written word.

Verbal affirmation is valuable, but the written word is a keepsake. It is something that can be reviewed again and again. When they are discouraged they can look back upon your words to lift them up again. When they are scared they can see that you are praying for them and they are loved from afar.

What Can You Do?

If you sponsor a child through Compassion, I want to thank you for your commitment to this child. It does make a world of difference as we have witnessed first hand. But would you stop and take a moment today and write your child a letter? Include your children in the process. Let them write a letter. Let them experience the impact of corresponding with a child in a foreign country. What a sweet way to expand your child’s worldview, culture, geography and heart for others.

It only requires a piece of paper, pen, a stamp, envelope, and thirty minutes of your time. Include verses, tell about your family, ask about their life, cheer them on. Compassion even makes it easier for those who prefer email. You can write online and it will be forwarded on to your child.

If you don’t sponsor a child, may I encourage you to do so today. Start building a relationship that could impact a child for a lifetime. Or consider the opportunity of being a child correspondent. You can sign up to be a friend to a child around the world.

Lastly, who might appreciate a written card or note of encouragement in your life right now?

Take a moment and write a note and drop it in the mail. Write a gift of grace to another. You never know the long term impact your encouraging words can have. Write to your children. Even if they are too young to read. These will be such a gift to your children when they are grown and gone.

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 13:3

For further help on writing letters to your sponsored child, visit the FAQ page. You can write online and/or print stationary from the Compassion website.

Hear more stories of our adventures in the Philippines on the Compassion Bloggers site. You don’t want to miss it!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

29 Responses to The Power of a Letter

  1. Anjanette Felux October 15, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Great Work

  2. Vicky July 12, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Your entries about traveling to the Philippines have touched me a lot. I dont quite have the words right now, but I wanted to say thank you for your trip here and thank you for blogging about your experience.

    I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now but I dont think I ever really commented. I’m filipino american, and live in Manila (the capital of the Philippines). It’s a small developing country with a large population. I saw the photos and thought hmmm they look Filipino, i didn’t realize until I read the entries that you actually went here. It’s kind of surreal to see home mentioned in one of the blogs I frequent. I’m glad you and your family were able to do good things here. God bless you.

  3. Stephanie June 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Thanks for writing this post, Lindsay. We’ve sponsored a boy in Zimbabwe for the past 4 years, but have only written him a handful of times {blush}…in part because I don’t quite know what to say. Care to share some pointers?

  4. Will'sWife June 8, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I just wrote to our sponsored child via the Compassion website – I didn’t know i could do that until today. Thank you!

  5. charis June 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    this is a great post. i love the old fashioned snail mail, but i must admit that even i have gotten away from it with raising 4 boys and living in the fast pace of our current life. thanks for the encouragement to slow down and take the few moments, for it is only really takes a few moments.

  6. Lorilee June 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    Hey, thanks for all your writing. I sponsor 2 kids. We have been busy the last couple months but I will need to write them this week!


  7. Meghan @ Spicy Magnolia June 4, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    In the last couple of years since following the Compassion Bloggers’ trips, the posts written about letter writing have moved me to action more than any other. It pains me to know how many kiddos don’t receive correspondance, and I’ve asked the Lord to help us be more faithful. In turn, it has brought such great joy writing to them! Thank you for the encouragement to spur us on in writing.

  8. Lorna June 4, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Thank you. I stopped partway through reading your post and finally wrote to the boy we sponsor in Guatemala. Once the letter was written, addressed and stamped, I came back to read the rest. To my utter shame, I’ve never written before. I’ve put it on the calendar for the first of each month and will be more faithful in the future.
    Thank you again!

  9. Kim Kauffman June 2, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    This really convicted me. I have been finding it so hard to write to our little sponsored boy. I have a million excuses, many of them valid, but I just need to make it a priority. I’m going to do it right now. THANK YOU!

  10. Bethany June 2, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    Thank you for this! It is the kick I needed to send our Francis a letter this month. Because I am proud of him and I forget how much he needs to hear it! And I also love getting his letters- he is just as much a blessing to our family as we are to him.

  11. Roberta June 2, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Yes I am such a slacker when it comes to my letter writing to my sponsored children and I use these trips to push me to get back into the habit of writing at least once a month. Thanks again for the swift kick that I really needed. I want my children to feel loved and validated and hopeful for their futures. Fondly, Roberta

  12. Megan June 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    I have sponsored a child in Guatemala for 10 years now and have only sent him one letter until recently. Now that I have an online tool to send physical greeting cards, I’m able to send him cards with photos from New Zealand to Guatemala without ever leaving my house. I always felt bad about not writing to him, and now this makes it easier for me to do that regularly. And not only to him, but to anyone I feel prompted to send a card to! Our words are so powerful, and we are commanded to encourage one another. While technology has taken much away from relationships, it can also offer some great tools to help us serve people as well, removing all of our excuses (time, money, inconvenience, forgetting).

  13. Janey Backer June 2, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Thank you for piercing my heart. We sponsor through World Vision and have never sent letters other than the cards organized by WV. I am usually nervous to not offend and how to be real without flaunting our comfortable life. Soooo, I really need to make this more of a priority.

  14. Steve Jones June 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Lindsay, thank you so much for sharing this truth. The study in Ethiopia you quote is staggering when you really think about it. Oh the power of our words. Thank you, thank you.

  15. Rebecca June 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Such a strong reminder of the power of our words. And to think of how I hestitated to write my last sponsor letter. I am challenged. Thank you!

  16. Linda June 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Good words are so powerful. That’s for sure. Thanks for the reminder.
    I found an old note from my Grandma in a box of silverware today. :)

  17. Cheri June 2, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    I have sponsored since 2003 and must admit that I was not a very good letter writer in the first two years of sponsorship even though I knew the importance of building the relationship. Something always competed for my attention. Then the girl I sponsor who is from Ethiopia sent me her report card which indicated that she had failed her grade in school! I cried knowing that I did nothing to encourage her up until this point. It was as if the gift that God had presented me with meant nothing. I am happy to say I kicked it up into high gear not only letter writing bu also prayer! I sponosor several children now and try to write to them every month and none of them have failed in school since! I praise the Lord for watching over them!

  18. Lisa June 2, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Oh, how this stirred me! As I have been following all the posts from this trip, I have been stirred to make a difference in a child’s life. I started thinking about ways to save and/or earn the extra $38 a month to sponsor a child. As I read this post, I thought, “Hm, is there a way to write to a child before we are able to sponsor one?” So I was very excited about the link you provided to being a child correspondent! Thank you for being there and for sharing what you see, and including practical ways to help. You, your husband, and the whole team are in my prayers. (I am also praying for your children and those caring for them while you are away!)

  19. Daniella Peterka June 2, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Thank you for this inspiring post!!! Oh, how many times have I passed up an opportunity (an inspiration- perhaps from the Holy Spirit!) to write to somebody I love. May we all take the time to send encouragement and grace and love to the people in our lives, young and old! Thank you for this post!
    ( this evening my husband and I are going to discuss sponsoring a child!!! I’m very excited, not only to be able to financially support a child, but to love and grow with them through letter-writing with my children over the years! what a great thing to teach our children from a young age, the art of a penned letter of love to someone!)

  20. Tsh @ Simple Mom June 2, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    I’m so glad you wrote about this, Lindsey! I was hoping one of us would. :) This message REALLY needs to get out there, doesn’t it? I’ve been blown away by how important sponsor’s letters are to these kids. Such a small, simple thing we are privileged to do for these kids.

    I can’t wait to write Denise as soon as we get back.

  21. emily freeman June 2, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    I love this: “Write a gift of grace to another.” Because that’s what it is. A gift of grace. I have saved letters over the years as well, and I only realized it when you said it here. If letters of encouragement mean something to me, how much more must they mean to Maann and so many others like her!

    Great reminders here, girl. I’m so pleased to be on this trip with you and your husband. Gifts, both of you.

  22. Nova June 2, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    I don’t sponsor any children and just recently stumbled across this blog and I find it incredibly encouraging every time I read it. I just wanted to say that I also strongly believe in the power of letters. I have a box of them that is filled with notes, cards, and letters mostly from my grandmother and I always get them out when I am feeling down and need uplifting. I’m going to look into this organization in Michelle’s blog, but in the mean time, I will continue my letter writing because I know how powerful they are to the spirit.

  23. steph June 2, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    Love love love this!!! I have really been trying to be alot more intentional about writing my kids especially the last few months and so this really stirs my heart. Thank you.

  24. Jill Foley June 2, 2011 at 6:48 am #

    Great reminder for all your readers. Sponsorship IS about relationship – that’s the beauty of it. Yes…Compassion needs money to make their ministry work, but that’s not sponsorship. Sponsorship is a one-on-one relationship, developed through letters and prayers.

  25. Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies June 2, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    I am so glad to see this post! My passion is Compassion and my fire is to inspire sponsors to write to their sponsored children. I’d like to invite your readers to my blog, Blogging from the Boonies, where I share letter writing tips and topics, ideas for goodies to send with letters and lots more.

    I have heard the stories of how much the letters mean to the children and also those of children broken by not receiving words from their sponsors. Some children who do not get letters eventually decide to leave the program because they never truly felt wanted.

    Just ten to fifteen minutes a month, it means the WORLD to these children. The lies of poverty whisper into those little ears, “You’re not worth anything.” As sponsors, we have the opportunity to do battle with those lies and lift these children up.

    If I can be of help to any sponsor who struggles with letter-writing, I would be very happy to do so!

    • Jill Foley June 2, 2011 at 6:46 am #

      I’ve got to chime in here and say that Michelle’s blog is very inspiring. I’ve been sponsoring for 16 years and have always been pretty good at letter writing, still her blog and ideas continue to inspire me! Thanks for all you do, Michelle.

  26. FaithHopeLoveAndJesus June 2, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Thank you for the reminder. We need to sit down and write our sponsored children. We aim to send them each a letter once a month, but we didn’t get to it last month. :-(