My wife Amy Vanz is far more actively compassionate than I am. Before we married some 9 years ago I’m not sure I even knew how to express any compassion.
When we’d walk into a store my thoughts were always focused on what we need to get. Her thoughts would be about who’s birthdays were coming up, who was about to have a baby, or could somebody use something in their life that we could pick up. I thought she was crazy. (still do at times)
Over the years though, compassion won. Although still filled with enough selfishness to go around, I find myself thinking of others before myself. It’s safe to say, she pretty much screwed me up! HA!
When I met Amy she was one of the people that had a picture of a Compassion International child magnetized up on her fridge. I’ve heard people plenty of times pressure an audience to sponsor a child but it wasn’t until Amy’s story made me feel that it was more than just a guilt trip, it was about a real human being in need.
His name: Zebediyo. She began her sponsor-adoption in 1998. In 2000 she took a flight to Kenya to serve on a mission and it was there that the picture of the boy she had on her fridge met her face to face.
As she entered his home (a box of sheet metal) to see where he lived she looked up and noticed something awesome. Just as Amy had a photo of him on her Fridge back in America, he had a photo of Amy on HIS wall.
I can’t even imagine that moment.
This year, Zebediyo graduated. A letter was sent to Amy letting her know that Compassion International was no longer responsible for him and that her sponsor-adoption was over. Thanks to Amy, this boy was able to eat, drink and be educated. I can’t tell you how unbelievable that is.
Last night a Thank You Letter came from Zebediyo
(click to enlarge)
2 weeks ago the baton was handed over to our son, Ethan Vanz, who referred to Zebediyo as “His other brother who lives far away”. He got online at www.compassion.com and got to choose a brother. A new brother. His name is Novandio.
We call him Dio.
During Amy’s time with Mwaji, they shared letters back in forth. Some were written in crayon and sometimes even covered with stickers. It will be interesting to see how Ethan and Dio’s relationship will go.
Awesome story, Dave. Thanks for sharing it.
When Amy read his letter to me last night I had to share this. It’s a such a cool story to know that this boy could have died or gone down a failing path. The cards were stacked against him and with the kindness of another human being he got a chance.
My hope is that this blog will inspire people to recognize others who’s cards were stacked against them and without any reason (other than that they can) reach out and share love.
It doesn’t have to be Kenya. It can be right down the road.
I had to update the picture of Mwaji. I saved the photo without moving the arrow to the right person. Mwaji is the little boy with the Michigan cap on. (A cap that Amy gave him when she visited)
This is a wonderful story! We’ve only been involved with Compassion for 2 years, but it has been life changing for us. Talk about a change in perspective!
Last month, I met a young man from Kenya who was sponsored through Compassion. When we asked him how he pictured his life had he not been involved with Compassion, his answer was quick and to the point. “I would be dead.” It was no exaggeration. Every one of his friends from the slum, that wasn’t a part of Compassion, had already died by the time he reached his 20s.
Compassion does save lives.
(One small thing, I have read that we’re asked not to share whole names or child numbers online for security reasons. I usually crop or blur them out for this reason.)
Thanks for sharing your story. (I’ve also blacked out the numbers and full names) Knowing that my wife had sponsored him for his entire childhood it made me think about how many kids get sponsors and then lose them down the road. I wonder if it’s rare for kids to have one sponsor all the way through their life?
There have been plenty of times she could have said, “I just can’t do this anymore” but she never did. That’s the part that’s inspiring. Putting a human being first before any meaningless possessions.