David Henriksen has been a child sponsor with World Vision since 2003 and is the CEO of iDisciple.
Today, he writes about what is most powerful about seeing the faces of his sponsored children and ponders how Jesus sees the faces of the people in our world.
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In late October of 2016, I had the privilege and opportunity to speak at World Vision’s weekly chapel. I have spoken hundreds of times in front of large crowds, but I was unusually nervous for this one. I have been a child sponsor with World Vision since 2003 and now work for iDisciple, a corporate partner to World Vision.
Knowing World Vision well, and with many friends there — including Rich Stearns, Steve Haas, and more — I just didn’t think I could offer much insight to these global giants of fighting poverty and injustice. Hence the unusual heightened level of stress! But my good friend Steve Haas introduced me, and away I went.
I will share here what I shared there and talk about my family’s personal engagement with World Vision and how it has shaped both my worldview and my spiritual walk. I hope after you read this you will share the appreciation I have for this incredible organization that is willing to tackle the world’s darkest challenges.
I was raised by a single mom and originally got connected to World Vision as a family sponsor. This was a program that cost a little more each month than a regular child sponsorship, but served the entire family. Those programs were significant in El Salvador and Ghana at the time and have since been converted to the 27 children my wife Rhonda and I sponsor.
We have also contributed to the For Every Child Campaign for child protection, ordered lots of farm animals from the Gift Catalog at Christmas, and my company contributes to the water campaign, which helps provide clean water to tens of thousands around the world. I plan to join Dr. Greg Allgood on a trip to Honduras in March to see some water projects live. Safe to say I am “all in” with World Vision.
Any hour of any day, I can log into My World Vision and see the faces of the children that Rhonda and I sponsor. They are from El Salvador, Ghana, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. My World Vision helps me to truly “see” our sponsored children. We can better understand the community and the country. We can research the World Vision initiatives and progress made in that country. Best of all, we can pray for our children and their respective countries or send them an email or package. All from one single site. As a sponsor, this helps me stay connected with the lives of our sponsored children.
What is most powerful about seeing their faces is that it causes me to ponder how Jesus sees the faces of the people in our world. He knows every single face and story without needing a digital portal! He sees the faces of the homeless, the marginalized, the neglected, the handicapped, and those who are victims of prejudice and cruelty. We, too, need to see these faces.
In my early 20s, I was a Young Life leader in Cabrini Green, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago. When I engaged with those kids at LaSalle Street Church during the week, they were amazing. Despite what they experienced on a daily basis with drugs, gangs, and crime, they were bright and energetic and full of hope. Those are the faces I saw.
One of my good friends here in Atlanta is the pastor of a multi-ethnic church north of the city. We recently recorded a podcast together about the issues of racism in the Church, which he has been fighting for years. He came under fire for inviting the police chief of his community to meet with him and his congregation. He is a persistent voice of reason and reconciliation — that is the face that I see.
I could provide many other examples of people that God has put in my path that had a story. A story that needed to be known and a face that needed to be truly seen. Most of them don’t fit the traditional boundaries of a denomination or political party or economic status.
In Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT), we read Jesus’ words:
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”
Take the time to see, for it is Christ you are encountering.
David Henriksen is the CEO of iDisciple, the world’s leading provider of Christian content, focused on connecting you with the life-changing Word of God. Every month a portion of each iDisciple subscription is donated to World Vision to help bring clean water to children, families, and communities.
See the face of a child and start a relationship! Choose a child to sponsor today.