On August 28, 2013, Randi Jo Rooks sat on the floor of her children’s playroom, overcome with emotion as she read about children in need in Uganda. Her three healthy kids were playing around her, safe and happy, and the contrast between her world and the one she was reading about caused Randi to break down in tears.
“It was as if I was hearing those mom’s voices and cries for help,” she says. “It felt so personal.”
In response, Randi cried out to God, “Lord, I know you’ve given me this passion for children in need. I know it’s from you. Won’t you use me? Won’t you use my skills and my gifts?”
The next day, she received a postcard inviting her to become a World Vision Child Ambassador, and in an instant, she knew this was God’s answer to her prayer. Randi signed up, overjoyed to imagine all of the ways she could apply her skills and marketing degree to her new ministry.
But as quickly as everything came together, it all began to unravel as her health mysteriously fell apart.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.—Psalm 62:5
Randi had always been self-reliant and comfortable using her talents, but suddenly she struggled with basic day-to-day tasks. Her mind was foggy; walking now took concentration. With every day that passed, Randi fought the depression and anxiety that wrapped around her with a tightening grip. She and her family longed for answers but had yet to receive a diagnosis.
As each day became a step of faith, Randi learned to rest in the Lord’s strength. She also found friendship and peace in joining the Child Ambassador prayer team, praying weekly for the team’s needs. Through this time, Randi began to see her life’s value much differently.
“Before the illness, I spent so much of my life trying hard to direct the Lord how best to use me — striving for purpose, striving to be successful in his eyes, trying to find my specific calling and passion,” Randi says. “I was always, my whole life, striving to be useful. But through my illness, I learned that using my gifts can’t be the focus. Christ is our focus. And resting in the truth that we are valuable to him simply because we are his — that’s where it all begins. When we rest in that truth, that it’s in Christ alone that we find our worth, that’s when, ironically, we truly become most useful in his hands.”
Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.—Isaiah 64:8
As Randi learned to rest in Christ and allow him to mold her life, she also began to slowly recover from her illness, now diagnosed as Lyme disease. But even as she shared with area churches about World Vision and the impact of child sponsorship, she relied on the Lord for strength, realizing now that “every single thing we can do — the ability to talk, think — it’s all thanks to him,” Randi says. “Every single thing that makes us us, that we think is ours, could be taken from us and yet we are still valuable and still his.”
Randi’s identity was no longer in what she could do, but in the One she belonged to.
Within another year, the Lord enabled Randi to find sponsors for 40 children around the world, and she was eligible to go on a Vision Trip with the Child Ambassador team. As they announced the location of the upcoming Vision Trip, Randi’s story came full circle. The Child Ambassador team would be traveling to Uganda, the country God had placed on her heart years earlier.
As Randi met her sponsored child Gidion in March of 2018, she arrived at a celebration of Gidion’s sponsorship. As she stepped out of the vehicle, Randi was greeted with joyful, trilling cheers, palm branches waving, and a feast. To her surprise and delight, Gidion and children from the community had prepared songs and dances in her honor. It was a beautiful, loving, and joyful display of the family’s gratitude to God for World Vision and Randi’s sponsorship.
“Never have I seen such generous, thankful, loving hearts,” she says. “These families have impacted me forever.”
But Randi knows there’s a joyful celebration in store for all child sponsors: “A huge reunion and celebration waiting in eternity — just like the one I had but so much better. We need to have faith to believe what Jesus is doing through our small acts of obedience as he links us across the globe. Our brothers and sisters need our resources so they can have opportunities that we take for granted every day, but we also need them. We need to learn from them — be inspired by their godly perseverance, dependence on God, strong faith, connection to Earth and each other, work ethic, and thankfulness.”
As Randi reflects on her experience as a World Vision child sponsor and Child Ambassador, she knows the journey was worth it. “I know the Lord Jesus is using my family and our small steps of obedience to eternally impact his kingdom for his glory and to serve others,” Randi says, “just like he promised me on August 28, 2013.”
But the story doesn’t stop there — Randi’s story is also an invitation. Is God calling you to become a Child Ambassador? In Randi’s words, “God doesn’t call the equipped — he equips the called! Simply saying yes to becoming a Child Ambassador can truly change your life! God is looking for people who are willing to be pieces of clay that will rest in his hands and let him mold them to use as he sees fit.”
You can also learn more about child sponsorship and choose a child to support today.