This week, our blogger team is in Sri Lanka to see firsthand how World Vision's work helps transform the lives of children, families, and communities through sponsorship. Matthew Paul Turner, one of the eight bloggers, shares why he's along for the trip.
The post below originally appeared on Matthew's blog.
* * *
I’m in Sri Lanka. After 36 hours of travel, we’re finally here. It’s early in the morning. The sun is just coming up over the horizon.
The other day, during a conversation with a gentleman I know at the gym I belong to, the subject of my trip to Sri Lanka came up. Somewhere in the middle of that short engagement, the man asked, “Why in the world are you going to Sri Lanka?”
I’ve gotten that question a lot in the last few weeks, more so than the past trips I’ve taken to Uganda, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic -- all with World Vision.
Maybe that’s because many people are unfamiliar with Sri Lanka -- or if they do know of Sri Lanka, they don’t know where it is on a map or don’t know anybody who’s been there.
Either way, I have enjoyed being asked this question. It’s given me the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite topics, a topic that I believe in: child sponsorship through World Vision.
So here are five reasons why I’m going to Sri Lanka with World Vision. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. But perhaps it will offer you an idea as to why I keep doing this over and over again.
I trust World Vision.
And I don’t say that lightly. Like many people, I’m often skeptical of non-profits.
Six years ago when I was approached by World Vision to become a speaker for the organization, even though I’d heard a lot of good things about World Vision, I was still skeptical.
Prior to becoming involved, I asked a lot of questions: What happens to my money? Do sponsored kids have to go to a church or attend a Bible school or become a Christian in order to receive support? What percentage of my sponsorship dollars will actually go toward helping improve the life and circumstances of the child I sponsor?
I received answers -- good answers -- to all of my questions. Still, pat answers are one thing; to see the answers lived out is quite another.
But that is why I trust World Vision. While it’s hardly a perfect organization, it does so many things right. It doesn’t simply talk about those things, as I’ve witnessed over and over again. Those answers being embraced and lived out in different countries.
World Vision does not proselytize.
While World Vision is unashamedly a Christian organization, it also respects, values, and seeks to help cultures that aren’t Christian. One of its core values is to be the hands and feet of God, to engage and help a culture in need, because it’s the right thing to do.
There are no secret agendas. World Vision seeks to live out God’s love without expectations -- to offer love, help, aid, and hope to whoever needs it, regardless of their creed, religion, or lifestyle.
In every country I’ve visited, the people who work for World Vision live this value out. They take it seriously. It’s not simply words. It’s a passion.
World Vision’s mission isn’t simply to help kids exist in the present.
The true goal for any area where World Vision sets up a development project is to create and execute a 13-18-year plan toward sustainability.
“Sustainability” looks different depending on the country, region, culture, climate, and challenges, but that’s one of the reasons why child sponsorship through World Vision is so effective. World Vision isn’t a one-size-fits all kind of help; it’s not one simple program that gets funded and copied the world over.
In each country where World Vision is present, the needs of the children in each of those regions or areas are assessed, and then plans and programs are created to remedy those specific needs.
Jessica and I sponsor five children through World Vision. We love hearing from the kids we help. A few times throughout the year, we receive notes, drawings, and pictures of our sponsored children. Most of the letters we receive hang on our fridge.
Elias, our four-year-old, loves looking at the pictures. And when Jessica and I decided to sponsor Vidharshan, we invited Elias to be a part of the story. (Read more about that here.) What a wonderful gift to give Elias -- to offer him an awareness of the world he lives in, to open his eyes to giving to good causes.
I’d love to see as many people as possible sponsor Sri Lankan children through World Vision.
Because it works. Because I’ve seen how it works in three different locations (and I’ll see this week how it works in Sri Lanka).
I’ve met people -- hosts of people -- who have been positively affected by the work of World Vision. And for that reason, it’s an honor to talk about World Vision. It’s my honor to get to tell you about World Vision.
And it’s my honor to invite you to sponsor a child through World Vision.
Child sponsorship changes people’s lives. And what a joy it is to get to play a role in bringing hope into the life of a child.
* * *
Follow the Sri Lanka blogger team this week as they gather firsthand stories of the children, families, and communities whose circumstances have been changed for the better by World Vision's sponsorship programs.
Still have questions about how World Vision child sponsorship works? Ask them as comments below!