I know I just promised to not falsely portray myself as an expert on sermons or saints, but some astonishing coincidences (aka: God-incidences) have lead me to believe that God wants me to write this post. And I’m not about to thumb my nose to The Almighty. Allow me to explain.
Yesterday we had a guest priest at church who works as an advocate for Unbound, a sponsor-a-child organization operated by Catholic lay-people. He used his homily as a touching plea to make a difference for a struggling child. The man was an excellent speaker. Women around the church rustled through purses for tissues to dab their eyes. Even the children came to attention as he told fascinating stories of lives changed through kind strangers. After church, Nate, feigning indifference, turned to me and said, “You’re doing that, right?”
So Louisa and I picked out a child while he strapped the boys into the car. After church, I filled-in a lunch-hour waitressing shift at the brewery which God-incidentally earned me exactly enough in tips to cover one month of sponsorship. (Thanks, Pigeon River patrons!) Some folks from church stopped in for lunch and happily reported that all of the children’s folders that the priest had brought had been taken to be sponsored!
I know there are a lot of sponsor-a-child type organizations out there, and I don’t doubt that all of them have their benefits, but Unbound really seems to be doing something right. They focus on a personal connection with the individual child, encouraging sponsors to send photos and letters (they’ll even translate) and even going so far as to arrange mission-trips to visit the actual children. According to their website, they’ve also received several distinctions from various charity-rating organizations:
Louisa and I chose one of the only remaining girls, a 10-year-old named Agnes who lives in Uganda with her widowed mother and three brothers. Later last night, Nate and I looked up more about Uganda, wondering what Agnes had done with her Sunday. (She probably doesn’t even know that the Packers won! What a shame!) I wondered how she got the name Agnes as I thought it was a European name and thought there might have been a Saint Agnes somewhere along the line.
Here’s where the weird part comes in. As I went about my day today, (planning not to write this post lest I appear to be patting myself on the back) I logged onto CatholicMom.com, and staring me in the face was this feature article:
As it turns out, there was a Saint Agnes, and she was martyred at just 13-years-old after refusing to marry. As the only daughter who attends school irregularly, I pray our Agnes has the fortitude to stand up for herself. (Click here to read this father's blog post about his daughter Agnes and more God-incidences.) Saint Agnes’s Feast Day is January 21st. Hopefully our Agnes will receive her first sponsorship money by then.
A little later, I checked out the Green Bay Diocese’s Facebook page to share my blog with any interested members of the diocese. Another God-incidence, the last woman who had posted was named Agnes!
So, I acquiesce. I’ll share our experience not as self-promotion but as an appeal to search your own conscience and budget to see if the Lord might be asking you to sponsor a child. If so, we highly recommend Unbound.
This personal connection was a key factor for our family, not so much for the “feel-good” factor, but for the opportunity to teach our children about helping others with dignity and without imperialistic overtones. Today, Louisa and I sat down and looked through Agnes’s folder, which gave enough detail to make her accessible to a three-year-old. (She likes math, she helps her mom with laundry, green is her favorite color.)
A somewhat relevant sidenote: I’m considering it an “MLK-Day Win” that the only “different” thing she noticed about Agnes is that she has short hair. Before Christmas we had been worried that she was a budding Aryan Supremacist when she requested only dolls with light skin and blonde hair (more likely just wanting dolls that looked like her). Upon opening her slightly darker Baby Alive on Christmas morning, we witnessed an impressive act of self-control as she quietly whispered to herself, “I’m still going to say ‘thank-you’ even though it’s not the one I wanted.” Not to worry, her and baby Tiana are now firmly bonded! And we’ll keep working on getting more diversity in our whitewashed, small-town lives!
Please pray for Agnes to thrive and prayerfully consider sponsoring a child through Unbound.