Gracious words, sweet to the soul
Proverbs 16:24 says, "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
The power of kindness and encouragement at just the right time can echo through the years, becoming the reminder we all need to continue when times are difficult. Our words matter. Not only do they reveal what's in our hearts, but they can be used to build up one another.
For one young woman in Indonesia, words of encouragement came in the form of letters from someone she has never met – her sponsor, Gail.
Gail and Ani’s story
Ani's been receiving letters from Gail since she was a child. Now 21-years-old, she's about to graduate the Compassion programme and the exchange of letters facilitated through Compassion is about to officially end.
It’s a bittersweet moment. These letters that have travelled across oceans and decades have been such an encouragement. As Ani sits at her kitchen table, she reflects that these words from Gail have been a great blessing.
"It feels like a match from heaven that I could know this person, my own sponsor," says Ani.
Gail's a journalist and sometimes her handwritten letter can span four pages.
"She tells her stories in a beautiful way, it’s like reading a fairy tale. I admire how she sees the world and writes about it in words," says Ani.
"Just reading how she tells me about seasons changing in her country has taught me her way of seeing the beauty of this world."
Sometimes Gail sends origami creations, much to Ani’s delight.
"It really cheers me up when she sends them," Ani laughs
More than words
These letters are more than just beautiful words on paper. They're an opportunity to care for our neighbour and be cared for in return. Ani and Gail have shared their challenges and encouraged each other through them.
"We also share our moments of grief,” says Ani. “I remember when my father passed away three years ago. I shared it with her, and she also … asked me for my prayer so her grandchildren would learn about Jesus."
"I used to think of my sponsor as a parent figure, but now it's more like a close friend. She lets me open up about myself and allowed me to express anything I want. She opens up just the same. We can talk about anything."
Gracious words are indeed as sweet as honey to the soul and can bring healing in unexpected ways.
With modern technology making communication instant, Ani says the patience and time required to write letters makes them all the more special.
"When we have these modern tools nowadays for communication such as social media, writing a letter and waiting for the reply really feels special and makes this relationship so real," she says.
Impact of letters
Not all sponsors will have the same relationship with their sponsored child, especially if they are quite young. But sending letters of encouragement does make a difference.
Studies have shown it only takes one letter every six months to improve a child's self-esteem. Through regular contact, sponsors can play a vital role in reinforcing the message that their sponsored child is indeed loved and valued.
Ani's relationship with Gail has had a profound impact on her life. As a result, Ani often shares letters with her mother, who is excited to see them.
Jenty, Ani's Compassion mentor, has also seen their value and the difference these letters made.
"Those letters are like spiritual food for Ani," she says. "The other children would think a lot about what to write, but she's really looking forward to it."
Could you send a short message to your sponsored child today?
Whether we’ve just started our sponsorship journey or have been sponsoring for a while, we can delight our sponsored child by writing a short message today. It can take as little as three minutes, but will be treasured by your sponsored child for years to come.
Here are three simple suggestions to help you on your writing journey:
- Share a little about yourself.
- Tell your sponsored child you’re praying for them and ask if they’d like to share any prayer requests.
- Write your favourite Bible verse and ask if they have a favourite part of scripture.
Thanks to our Compassion UK App, sending messages and photos couldn’t be easier, or feel free to log onto MyCompassion and write something to your sponsored child today.
GET THE APP
Almost graduation day
Ani's currently writing her thesis in English literature at University. She’s come a long way from the girl living her life in extreme poverty. But, as her Compassion graduation date draws near, Ani's determined to make her final letter the most special one yet.
"It won’t be the same not getting letters from Gail," says Ani.
"I hope people around her could see what I see: that God works and blesses her life abundantly, and people could feel her warmth like I do."
"If I could only wish to meet her face to face, only once, that would be enough. I would be very happy."
A beautiful investment
No matter where we are on our sponsorship journey, it’s important to realise the impact we’re having on a young life.
Like Gail, our sponsored child may be close to graduating too. We may have invested countless letters and offered years of financial support. Watched our sponsored child grow over time into someone who's now fulfilling the promise that was shown so long ago.
And while it may feel like we’ve done our bit, there are more children in need waiting for sponsors to help them achieve their dreams. So, can you make another beautiful investment and sponsor a child to help empower another life?
SPONSOR A CHILD TODAY
If you've been inspired to write, you can find encouraging Bible verses and letter writing tips here.
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