It is better to give than receive

When USA Today asked me about my favorite Christmas gifts given and received, I couldn’t help but reflect on the gifts I have received through World Vision. As a donor to World Vision U.S. for 25 years -- and as its president for 13 years -- I've found that the best gifts I’ve received come as a result of generous giving.

Rich Stearns visits with Asteria and her daughters, Aracely, 5, and Nathaly, 3, in Bolivia, who are both sponsored children.

One Christmas, my wife Reneé and I decided to send a special $100 gift to each of our World Vision sponsored children. We have sponsored quite a few children over the years, so this wasn’t an inexpensive endeavor. Yet we received tremendous joy over the following months as we heard back from those children.

Each time a "thank you" arrived in the mailbox from one of our sponsored children, it was like receiving another present. One boy wrote that he used the gift to buy his first mattress to sleep on. Another boy sent us a picture of himself wearing plaid shorts, a plaid sports coat, a new hat, and new sneakers. He was standing next to a large cow, and he wore an enormous grin. In the letter accompanying the photo, he wrote about his new clothes and “this fine bull.”

Rich Stearns talks and prays with Ruth and her son, Moses, at a World Vision center for children with disabilities in Bolivia.

The joyful letters we received that year were an illustration of Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”

One of the best gifts we have received is to watch our own children embrace these values of generous giving. One year, the whole family received a note saying that a present had been given in our name through the World Vision Gift Catalog. The greatest pleasure for Reneé and I was to know that one our own children was discovering the joy of generous giving.

As a donor and as president of World Vision U.S., I’ve seen how true Scripture is in our lives when it says, “Give, and it will be given unto you.”


    My family sponsored a child in Guatemala and it was so nice to receive letters from him and his family. His name was Luis and he would draw us pictures. It was an easy way to really make a difference in one child's life.

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. I didn't know it was possible to send gifts specifically for a sponsored child. I had thought the monies just went into a general fund.
    I like this much better.

    Wonderful you were able to share like this.

    For the past few years, my husband and I have given an extra money gift to our sponsored children in Africa. They have bought cows, goats, food and clothing. I'm more excited about receiving a picture from them with their purchases (and big smiles) than I would be about another gift under our tree. This is what I always ask for for my present!

    Give to your sponsored child and to other World Vision projects! Also, if you become aware of local refugees, give again! I met violated Karen Christian refugees here in Milwaukee...just 55 miles away! Plus, the woman who tutors the children is a former World Vision sponsored child!!!

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