Change Makers

Becoming ‘God-sufficient’: Child sponsors expand their hearts for the poor

Child sponsorship is at the heart of a couple’s desire to care for children well into the future. But since Tom and Jill Demske couldn’t sponsor a thousand children, they found other ways to multiply their impact.

When Tom and Jill Demske felt God asking them to act on their faith a decade ago, the Michigan couple visited World Vision’s website and chose to sponsor Leonardo from Chile, whose birthday fell on their anniversary. After that first step of sponsoring Leonardo in 2007, the Demskes wanted to do more to help children living in poverty.

Little did they know that their journey to help more children would take them into neighbors’ homes, to their church’s small groups, and across the globe. Along the way, they have had their own transformation.

“Most of the change that World Vision has done in us is in our hearts,” says Tom. “It’s how we see the world, how we see materialism, how we see the poor.”

Most of the change that World Vision has done in us is in our hearts. It’s how we see the world, how we see materialism, how we see the poor.—Tom Demske

Tom and Jill, now 66 and 59, currently sponsor five children, although they say they wish they could sponsor a thousand. And though their hearts center around child sponsorship, says Tom, they’ve found a variety of ways to help more children: naming World Vision as one of the beneficiaries of their will, donating through the Gift Catalog, supporting Team World Vision, and becoming Child Ambassadors to share the joy of sponsorship with their church and community.

“One of the most impacting experiences I have had with World Vision was seeing other people experience the joy of giving and helping others,” says Tom. “Specifically in my role as a Child Ambassador, God has equipped me to help share his message of care and compassion for the poor. I receive a special joy in my heart when I see others experience the true joy of helping others.”

About the same time that Tom became a Child Ambassador in 2010, he also read The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns. The premise — asking what God expects of us — struck a chord with Tom, so he used it in his men’s Bible study group at Northridge Church, where the couple were members.

Then, in his volunteer role as Child Ambassador, Tom connected Northridge with World Vision. Soon the whole church began discussing The Hole in Our Gospel in their small groups. Through Northridge, Tom’s dream of sponsoring a thousand children was realized: In one weekend, church attendees sponsored 2,600 children.

“Seeing what God can do in people through churches by being educated and informed about what the Bible says about giving and helping widows, orphans, and children was very powerful,” says Tom.

What continually draws the couple to World Vision is its community development model — that the work isn’t a handout, says Tom. It’s a hand up for people to become self-sufficient.

“World Vision has a deeper understanding of the complexity of poverty and addresses it better than any organization I’ve come across,” says Jill. That’s one reason she and Tom decided to leave a gift to the organization in their will.

The couple got a firsthand look at World Vision’s model on trips to communities where the organization is working. Tom went to the Dominican Republic, and both traveled to Zambia. They left each place with an even greater desire to help children living in poverty.

“Even though you are aware” of the poverty, says Jill, “once you see it, it really touches your heart in a way you don’t expect — the dirty water, watching them carry the water. Your heart just breaks over and over again.”

And when it came time to leave Zambia, Jill wanted to stay. She says that even though there was so much less materially, there was so much more spiritually.

“We’re self-sufficient,” says Jill. “They’re God-sufficient.”

Tom couldn’t agree more. “For both of us, these experiences have changed the way we view money and our wealth,” says Tom. “God is taking away our desires for more comforts and things that aren’t necessities and given us even a greater heart for the poor.”

Looking for ways to multiply your impact?

Explore a variety of giving options that can allow you to help more children than you ever thought possible. Some options may help you reach other personal goals, as well. Opportunities include:

  1. Plan a significant future gift that costs you nothing now when you include World Vision in your will along with your loved ones.
  2. Update the beneficiary designation form for your IRA, 401(k), or life insurance policy and help future generations by simply adding World Vision as another beneficiary.
  3. Donate stock and make taxes evaporate — turn your appreciated stock into a lifetransforming gift.
  4. Give a gift and receive income for life. You can supplement your retirement income now and help more children later.
  5. Help change the world without writing a check. Donate a vacation home, rental, or commercial (or other) property.

Looking for ways to make your resources do more for you and the people and causes you care about? To learn more and explore your
options, call 1.800.426.5753 or email plannedgiving@worldvision.org.

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