What a blessing it was to visit with Childcare Worldwide staff and sponsored children in Sri Lanka and Thailand!
It’s funny how expectations change when we experience something new. This was my first visit to Sri Lanka, and I thought I knew what I was going to see there. Within the first few weeks of becoming President of CCW, I browsed pictures from past visits to our field sites and programs by other individuals. I saw familiar images; kids in classrooms, life center photos, snack time, etc. Being prepped by these historical visits, I was ready.
The experience was so much more than I could imagine.
CCW has had a partnership with Community Concern Sri Lanka for over two decades, so it was great to meet the founders and staff of this amazing ministry. I was so impressed by their work. They serve many locations on the island.
During our visit they shared inspirational stories of their ministry work, including their efforts to help local residents after the great Tsunami of 2004. So many people lost their homes, which were nothing more than shacks built on the sand along the coast. In fact, I met many people who were displaced by that disaster, and their stories, while terrifying, all ended with praise to God who brought help through the support of Community Concern. I’m very proud to partner with this great group of servants.
Later that afternoon I got to do something I like very much – visit with kids! I had a fun time talking to them while they were having lunch. It’s so great knowing that children from struggling families can get good nutritious food each day.
After lunch I met and listened to very inspiring stories from teenagers who have been sponsored by CCW for many years. First thing I noticed was how grateful they were. Through sponsorship, they’ve come to know Jesus. They’ve received food and clean water. They have gained valuable skills through education paid for by sponsorship dollars. Now they have hope. They have an amazing future in front of them. I was emotionally moved by these great young people!
We got in a car and traveled out to visit a home for children who come from broken families. Many of them have experienced divorce, or have never had a mom and dad. As a result of their home-life, they have gotten into trouble and been sent to this place by the court system. Yet despite their circumstances, they have smiles on their faces and they are learning that God is BIG! He can change their life and give them opportunities to move beyond their brokenness.
It was a privilege to meet the young couple who take care of these kids. Barely into their 30’s, these two people love the Lord and the children. They struggle with a lack of resources, and meager facilities, yet they get up every day and serve selflessly. What a testimony to Christian service!
Did I mention it was hot in Sri Lanka? While we were touring the grounds, the temperature was reaching 100 degrees, and with humidity, it felt like 115! There is no air conditioning at this facility.
On my last day in Sri Lanka, I got to visit with families of children who are sponsored by CCW. Again, the gratitude was flowing! Through sponsorship, their kids have a chance at a new life, and that has improved the lives of everyone in the family.
Still, these people need our prayers. Buddhism is the predominant religion in Sri Lanka. There are temples and idols everywhere. I even saw them in some of the homes I visited. While I was so happy to know that their children were meeting Jesus through CCW programs, the temptation to adhere to alternate religions practiced by their ancestors is very strong. Please pray that the power of the Holy Spirit will fill these homes!
I feel like I got on so many airplanes during this trip. I boarded yet another plane to travel to Khon Kaen, Thailand where CCW partners with a school there. It was a pleasure seeing the kids and observing a time of praise and worship.
Although I couldn’t understand the language, I could feel the love and adoration for Jesus in that classroom. Once again, I got to visit with young people who have spent many years in sponsorship. Their accomplishments were so impressive. This one young man taught himself the English language and to play guitar by watching YouTube videos! Now he plays that guitar in the worship team at his church. While we were visiting, he must have thanked me two dozen times! He wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for generous sponsors who have given him so much opportunity!
While I was meeting with this young man, his friend walked up. He’s also a sponsored kid. He couldn’t speak English, but his friend translated for me. This young man comes from a family of unbelievers who pressure him every day to follow the Buddha. They ridicule him often. He said he has been threatened many times with banishment. I could see the hurt in his eyes, yet, he stands today for Jesus! His friend calls him every Sunday and takes him to church. He looked at me and said he can’t wait to meet his Lord and Savior some day. I was overcome with emotion by this guy. Such a strong commitment to Christ. Such an example for us all!
Later that day we visited the homes of some of the kids who benefit from CCW support. The humble shelters barely stand on their foundations! I was sure they would topple in a strong wind. Nonetheless, this was their home, and they were so proud to have a place to call their own.
I really loved visiting these kids in Thailand. They didn’t want me to forget to thank their sponsors in the USA for helping them. I could see the genuineness in them, and I promised I would tell many people about my visit.
I can’t wait to visit Sri Lanka and Thailand again so I can follow up with the children in CCW programs in these countries to see how they are being blessed by the graciousness of our sponsors. More importantly, Jesus is being proclaimed in these places. Hallelujah!