"When she took my hand, it was like she reached into my heart."
Last fall the Rev. Peter Luckey, Senior Pastor of Plymouth UCC in Lawrence, Kan., spent five weeks on sabbatical in South India. A highlight of his trip was an opportunity to meet visit Saranya, a 15-year-old girl he had sponsored since she was three through the UCC's Child Sponsorship Program.
"On the train, I was so nervous I couldn't sleep," Luckey told a Saturday morning workshop at General Synod. "I had to get off the train at 4:30 in the morning, and I was afraid I'd miss my stop."
But once he arrived at Family Farm Village, an orphanage sponsored in part by Global Ministries, all fears fled. "A crowd of children came running to me, all asking at once, 'Are you Saranya's sponsor?' When they took me to her, I didn't know what to say, I was so overwhelmed."
Through the UCC's Child Sponsorship Program, 1,200 poor and destitute children in 15 centers around the world receive food, basic health care, clothing and in some cases housing, school fees, uniform, books and training. The donation per child is only $25-$30 per month, with 100 percent going to support the child.
"This is a hands-on program," says program administrator Linda Lawrence. "The sponsor receives at least two photos and letters a year and develops a long-term relationship with the child they sponsor."
"That sense of personal connection is overpowering," says Luckey, "and knowing that you are making it possible for one child to have a better life."
For more information, please contact Linda Lawrence, UCC Child Sponsorship Program, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115; 216-736-3222; toll free 866-822-8224 ext. 3222; Fax: 216-736-3203; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.