This past December, I was reminded of how a small investment can pay big dividends. No, I’m not talking about picking right stocks or starting a new business. On a December evening in a Roma village in western Romania, we met a girl who had just been a picture on our refrigerator.
Having experienced Roma village life in Romania for the past few years, we became convinced that sponsoring a child would be one small way we might make a difference. We observed over the years that when a church started in a village, there was a noticeable difference in the welfare of the community. Children seemed to benefit the most. Parents were more likely to encourage school attendance and participation. The overall community climate seemed more accepting and trusting. This could not have happened without a long-term faithful investment from our ministry partners in Romania and trusting relationships between Remember the Children and those partners. So, we decided to sponsor a child and were matched with nine-year-old Nadia (not her real name).
As we neared the village late that afternoon, we were anxious to know how she might respond. Did she understand that we were her sponsors? How would that first meeting go? Would we recognize her?
When we got out of the van into the gathering crowd of curious adults and excited children, we tried to find her in the chaos. One of our ministry partners helped us locate her. She was not hesitant at all. In fact, the entire time we were in the village, she stuck next to us, sometimes even holding our hands. The first thing Nadia wanted to do was to take us to her home and have us meet her mother. So, with our translator in tow, we walked down the muddy street to the home. It was a simple two-room structure, but clean and warm. Nadia’s mother was so excited that we came to visit their home.
After introductions, we went back into the street to the village chief’s home where those of us who sponsored children gave Christmas gifts to our children. Everything we gave was small in comparison to what a nine-year old in the US might receive. In fact, the practical nature of some of the gifts would probably not be welcome!
As soon as we could, Nadia wanted to go back to her home and show her gifts to her mother and brothers. Of all the things we enclosed in the gift box, they seemed most interested in our family picture and the letter I had written. Nadia immediately wanted it translated and listened intently as our translator read it to her. Such small things made an impression on her and us. When we went out for the larger distributions of Christmas boxes, Nadia stayed right with us the entire time, right up to the moment we had to get back on the van for our next stop. Her last words to us were, “when are you coming back?”
I am not telling this story because of anything great we did. In fact, it was a small investment. We did see the results of it, however. Nadia has school supplies and a backpack for school. She now has a warm coat. Our funds are being used to help make life a little better for Nadia and give a little hope that her future could be brighter.
Meeting Nadia and seeing how she is progressing was the highlight of our trip. She isn’t just a picture on the refrigerator now. She is a sweet little girl who has potential. Just a few dollars a month helped make that happen. Remember the Children works directly with our local ministry partners to make sure the sponsored children get the resources they need and the connection to spiritual influence that makes the most difference.
Would you consider investing in someone like Nadia? Just a little investment pays big dividends.
Dr. Roger Clark is president of the board of Remember the Children. He and his wife, Wanda, have been to Romania with Remember the Children for the past nine years.