For years, World Vision’s sponsorship model has seen families and individuals choose a child to sponsor but that is all changing this month.
The Christian development agency is launching the ‘Chosen’ programme across UK churches in a groundbreaking new approach to child sponsorship.
Instead of sponsors choosing the child they would like to support, Chosen gives children living in extreme poverty the opportunity to choose the person they want from a selection of photos of potential sponsors.
The switch should ease the long wait – sometimes of years – experienced by some children to be selected for sponsorship.
The new scheme is rolling out first to church congregations this month. Individuals will be able to sign up to be considered as a Chosen sponsor from the start of April.
Tim Pilkington, CEO of World Vision UK, said: “Chosen turns child sponsorship on its head. It is a simple and powerful switch which respects the dignity and value of children. It expresses our belief that these children have the power to change their lives and their communities and to touch the lives of their sponsors.
“Some children have waited years to be chosen by a sponsor. Now it’s their turn to choose. Chosen gives children the power to make their own choices and lets them know their choices are valued and important.
“The experience acknowledges that we’ve all been chosen by God and that we can live into our purpose when we empower these children to create lasting change. We are excited to see all that God will do through Chosen.”
After an individual or congregation has signed up to Chosen, their photo is sent to a community that World Vision works in. If they are chosen by a child in that community, they receive a picture of them holding their photo and a letter explaining why they chose them.
Chosen was piloted in December 2019 at St Paul’s and St George’s Church in Edinburgh, with pictures of the congregation sent to Pajule in Uganda.
Minister Dave Richards had the opportunity to see the selection process firsthand in a visit to Pajule and said it was one of the most moving experiences of his life.
“It was an incredible experience witnessing these children being told they would get to choose a sponsor,” he said.
“Their expressions immediately changed and their faces lit up. It’s been one of the most amazing, moving and humbling days – never mind in my ministry – but of my life.
“Knowing that through being chosen we have been part of empowering children to learn that they are loved and valued has transformed our congregation. We’re so excited to see what happens now these children are empowered with choices that can create change in their families and communities.
“My encouragement to any church leaders who are considering taking part in Chosen is this: Not only will God bring about change in the community that you help to sponsor, but God will change you, and God will change your church.”
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