Focus: Put your money where your passion is
In 2005, when I felt called to start Shaping Destiny, I was already sponsoring three children through another organization called Zion. I knew Zion from a distance but trusted the leadership. Even though I lived in another country and had no direct influence or knowledge of the daily activities of Zion, I had no reason to doubt that my sacrificial donation was being used well. And when I say sacrifice, sponsoring three children was a huge sacrifice for me then. I was in medical school and wasn’t working. In a sense, I was taking out a loan to sponsor those children. Not smart! Yet, I felt really strongly that I was called to start a Shaping Destiny(SD). For a few months after starting SD, I wasn’t able to sponsor a child through my own organization. I continued to give financially to Zion. I felt guilty at the thought of switching my financial support from Zion to SD. I was passionate about SD and poured my whole heart into it, working daily on it, asking people to join and support it, but my money was going to Zion.
Every time I would think about moving my financial support from Zion to SD, I would feel guilty and ask myself, “What will those orphans that I am supporting do? What if they lose the benefits they are getting because of my sponsorship? Even if they find another sponsor, would that switch not hurt them? They have already lost their biological parents, I don’t want them to lose me too.” I would go on and on with reasons why I should continue to live a divided life.
THE ERROR IN MY THINKING
“You are in error because you do not know the ‘word of truth’ or the power of God.” Jesus of Nazareth
Without me, God could still take care of those orphans
As in the quote from Jesus cited above, I too was in error because I didn’t know the word of truth, the reality of things, or the power of God. In my naivety, I somehow thought that without me, God couldn’t help those orphans. I’d never stopped to think, what if I died today, what would happen to those orphans? Would God be able to take care of them? Of course, he would!
Life operates in seasons
Another thing I failed to understand was that God operates in seasons. There is a season to serve in one ministry and then a season to move on to something else. Granted, the length of a season for somethings can be short or as long as an entire lifetime. Yet, there is a time for everything. There was a season for me to financially support zion. And I was faithful at doing it and did it sacrificially. Because I served well in little things, God decided to give me more to do. Because I had sacrificially given to support God’s work from a distance, God decided to promote me and give me an opportunity to support a ministry that I could be involved in both financially and with my volunteer time in a way that made a bigger and more significant difference.
“And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” Jesus of Nazareth
Child sponsorship is a yearly commitment, not a lifetime commitment
I also didn’t know that most wise and trusted organizations have child sponsorship rolling on a yearly basis. Adoption is a lifetime commitment but sponsoring a child is usually a yearly commitment that automatically renews. All reasonable organizations I know offer sponsorship on a yearly basis and it automatically renews but if a person’s circumstances change so that they are no longer able to provide, they may inform the organization in time to find other sources of revenue or other sponsors to continue to help the child. Inability to continue to give could come from a person no longer having money to give or from their circumstances changing so that they no longer believe giving to that organization is the best way for them to serve God. They could serve God better some other place. In that case, the reasonable thing is to let the organization know several months in advance of your intent to move on from financially supporting them, at least for a season.
All durable child sponsorship organizations expect sponsorship changes and are built in a way that those changes shouldn’t affect the kids. Even though some child sponsors and child sponsorship organizations create the wrong emotional bonds between the child and the sponsor, all a sponsor really is to a child is a friend. A sponsor is not a parent or family member. If you want that kind of relationship, adopt the child and bring the child into your home. Because the sponsor is a friend, it is not as emotionally tasking or even likely to hurt the child in a significant way when the sponsor moves on. It’s not the same thing as if a parent or family member stops communicating with them. If an organization or child sponsor gives the child those expectations, then they are setting the children up for harm. Such emotional instability lies first on the part of the sponsor and organization who are sentimentalizing the role of a sponsor and making it something it’s not supposed to be. Mature people don’t make a big deal of their giving. Simply because one gives $35/month to sponsor a child doesn’t mean they should hype up their emotions and promote themselves to a parental or savior role int he child’s life.
God speak’s through circumstances
Many times, God speaks through circumstances. Everyone who knows how to hear God well will know that. Yet, I must rush to say that circumstances must be viewed through a paradigm that understands the word of truth and the power of God fully. In my case described at the beginning, looking at the circumstances that have changed and everything else that was going on, it’s extremely probable that God was speaking through those circumstances and together with an understanding of truth as above to move on and be fully invested in his work in another place.
God works through relationships: Relationships really matter
It’s amazing how much control God exerts on how he wields our lives. Nothing happens without God’s permission and foreknowledge. And God always works through relationships of trust. Giving to God is making an investment. If you have the choice to make the investment in a place where you have a significant relationship with someone who is a key leader in an organization, it is usually wise to take that over making an investment in an organization you don’t have a relationship with even if the unknown organization is larger and more publicly known. God works through relationships and he puts certain people and organizations closer to the center of our circle of influence for a reason. The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. In fact, God has control over both the righteous and the unrighteous. It’s often wiser to support the local nonprofit you know well than the global one you only know from a distance. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of people go after brand names, not what is wise to do.
PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR HEART IS
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus of Nazareth
The lesson in the quote above is obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Now, what happens when because of naivety mixed with self-righteousness you do what I did at first and try to put your money in one place and your heart in another? There will be disharmony, you will be miserable. You will also be ineffective. Your testimony and passion will be diluted. I’ve seen many people who make the mistake I made. In one season, it was right for them to give their financial support to a particular organization, in my case, Zion, because they weren’t connected with another organization close to them that they could do the same thing. Now they meet an organization and are volunteering their time and asking others to support this new organization. The only problem is that they themselves aren’t giving financially to it. The question becomes, how can you honestly ask me to put my money where you aren’t putting yours. For me, I didn’t find it convincing. I couldn’t be a good salesman for a company whose product I haven’t bought and used myself. When I understand the truth explained in this article, I informed Zion of my intention, switched things over and my passion took off. I was able to tell people to support an organization I was putting my own money to. I began to use the three children I was now sponsoring through Shaping Destiny as a testimony to inspire, empower,and challenge others to do the same. And the organization took off and since then has helped thousands of orphans in Cameroon and impacted many orphan care workers around the world.
Focusing your efforts and financial resources in one place–especially if you don’t have much in terms of financial resources–is a great way to go. However, for people who have more financial resources, it is often good to use those resources to give significant financial support to a few trusted organizations. I will still recommend giving more to an organization with which you can build a strong relationship with.