How To Be a Modern-Day Superhero

September 1, 2010 | 16 comments

I tack up another photo, third in a series of the girl we love but have never met.

She is stretching tall with years, like the bamboo trees behind her. Her hair now trails long and black below her shoulders. Her eyes — like coffee — daily drink deep witness to a village where poverty and heartache are the norm.

You’d think her eyes would wear the sorrow. But I see Light in those eyes. She knows Jesus.

And we know Jesus more than we could have known Him before a Brazilian girl stole our hearts. Because of her. Her life story weaves into the threads of our own story, and we’re a three-stranded cord now. That’s the strongest kind of all.

Kind friends,

Wave hello to Vitoria, daughter of a bricklayer and a mama named Karine.

We first loved her on a winter evening during the intermission of a concert. Sara Groves sang a song about being like the moon. Because a moon can’t shine on its own. And I wanted to shine like that, for someone else.

The husband and I looked for a Brazilian girl. Searched the rows to find one just about the age of our girls. That way, they could grow up together. Three sisters, separated by hemispheres and water and an equator — but spinning the same path around the same sun. Same light blazing down on all of us — so we can all shine like little moons.

This Light knows no currency.

I picked her card up, knew right away that she was the one.

Our filha.


We stuffed the envelopes with inked prayers and scrawled Scriptures and shiny stickers and coloring pages. We told her about our snow and our farm and a place called Iowa up over the curve of the Earth.

Her teacher at the mission wrote back; little Vitoria illustrated with colored-pencil drawings of houses and flowers and Christmas elves.

“She loved the dress that was bought with the birthday money,” the teacher wrote. “And the birthday card the children sent, and the letter. She has saved them all in a briefcase she bought especially for it.”

We began to pray for her, too. We link hands around this wooden rectangle where food heaps in bowls, all steamy.

“Dear God, thank you for the food and drinks,” Anna says. “Please be with our aunts and uncles and our cats and all the people we know. And please be with Vitoria, too.”

A Brazilian bricklayer and a mama pray for us, too.

“They present your names to God everyday in their prayers,” the teacher wrote.


We walk to the end of the gravel driveway, and find words from the child tucked in the mailbox. This time, the words are written in her own hand.

Padrinhos, she writes in cursive. (She learned how to write like that in second-grade, just like her big sister Lydia Lee!)

And I look at the word again: Padrinhos.

That’s Portuguese for Godparents.

Not just a sponsor. Not just a stranger who sends $38 a month to an office in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

She calls us Padrinhos.

“I like to ride and at school I have friends and I like to play with them. Hugs to you, Vitoria.”

And the teacher adds more words at the bottom of the letter. She writes that our afilhada — Goddaughter — is doing well. But could we please pray for the others? Vitoria’s mother, Karine, came to the mission and asked if the padrinhos from Iowa could pray to God about the children in the villages — the ones who still suffer.

These are the children with empty bellies and dry tongues who need little moons to shine up the darkness for them.

And there are thousands more like them all over the world. They are in need of light and love, brought by the grace of someone’s small sacrifice: $38 a month and daily prayers. (The Schwans man stood at my door 20 minutes ago. I spent $54.24 without blinking.)

We can be modern-day superheroes, you and I. We can save the world like this: One + one + one.

Would you consider sponsoring a child through Compassion International? Find out more by clicking here.

When you sponsor a child, you’ll receive your child’s photo, personal story and a child sponsorship packet by mail in about 15 days.

Then hold on tight. For your super-hero heart will soar.

holy experience

I write today as part of Ann Voskamp’s Walk With Him Wednesday series:
“How Do You Care for the Least of These.” Check out her beautiful story over at her place. (She’s heading to Guatemala next week as a part of a Compassion International Bloggers project. Superhero Ann, we pray for you!)

Friends, many of you already have sponsored children. Would you share your experience in the comment box? Feel free to share your thoughts on how we can save the world, one + one + one.

by | September 1, 2010 | 16 comments


  1. Runner Mom

    Oh, Jennifer, she is beautiful! We sponsor a little boy my Jacob's age–14–in Rwanda(spelling?)named Mani. He has a much LONGER name, but Mani is found within it, and we can pronounce it! We've been his sponsor for a few years now. We pray for him and his mother, but we have never received a letter from him. That's awesome that y'all have! I know the boys would like to hear how he is doing.

    Will hop over to Ann's blog to hear your story.

  2. Graceful

    Love your story, Jennifer, and your little girl. We sponsor two teenage girls in Tanzania through our church's mission work — both have lost their parents to AIDS. When they write us letters they address them, "To my dear parents," and my heart just breaks into a million pieces. The boys call them their "Africa sisters." So sweet.

  3. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    That's terrific, Susan.

    The letter exchange has been an incredible blessing. I think this particular mission in Brazil is really good about correspondence.

    How about others? Do you have regular contact with your child? Has anyone ever visited his/her sponsored child?

  4. Rosario

    Yes, I have sponsored a child from Compassion in the past. It was great to receive letter from her an I pray daily for her. I still do. Unfortunately, there was a problem with Compassion and the agency in Mexico and that child was not longer in the project. I was very sad to loose contanct with her. I did not continue sponsoring on my own. Perhaps I might considered doing this again.

  5. jasons

    Wow, Jennifer. Thank you for all you do and for challenging all of us as well. There is so much to be done and we can each play a part. Blessings…

  6. Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience

    You are my superhero!

    I love your heart, story, words — life.

    All's grace,

  7. Linda

    Such a little and so much blessing Jennifer. We sponsor two children through World Vision. We have "watched" Pelumb grow from a little boy in Albania to a handsome teenager. It took a bit of time, but in one letter he told us he thinks of himself as one of our grandchildren. Oh how it touched my heart. Multiplied blessing.

  8. katdish

    So often we give wanting to bless others, and then God has this wonderful way of multiplying those blessings and pouring them back onto us. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Jennifer

    Comment about the Schwans man at the door–convicting. Going over to click right now. You + Ann–yeah, I hear God talking.

  10. Laura

    This makes me cry, Jennifer. Their hearts just radiate joy, don't they? Our first sponsored child, Romedan, once wrote that he carries our picture in his pocket–close to my heart, he said. How blessed we are to be given the gift of helping them…and they help us in so many ways.

  11. Lyla Lindquist

    As best we can, we keep watch over a little baby named Abdel. Can't mention here where he lives. He's alone with his mama and grandma; his papa lives a world away.

    His odds of knowing Jesus one day are pretty slim given where he's growing up. And I don't figure we'll ever be in touch.

    But we like to think of him sort of like Moses: somehow, some way preserved from destruction because God's got big plans for him.

    I'm thinking one day he'll be a preacher like his daddy used to be.

    We have to look out for these kids. Thanks for what you're doing for Vitoria, and what others here are doing for other kids.

  12. contented sparrow

    Oh, so pleased to meet your daughter a continent away. Chosen by you…by GOD…to love over the miles. What a blessing!

    We sponsor Maryline in Kenya through Compassion. Praying for our Kenyan sister is a joy to us. The kids love to color her pictures and creatively pick out things that will fit in that flat envelope. (I keep trying to send fun things through like socks and bandanas but, no, it HAS to be paper.)

    We sent a small gift of money (around Christmas time and when we received a letter from Maryline's teacher?, we were absolutely humbled to read that they bought a mattress, a big blanket, school shoes, and sugar . SUGAR! A mattress! School shoes! A big blanket! Maryline had drawn little pictures of them on our letter. All bought with what to us is a paltry sum of money. Oh to be able to supply a need! But it breaks my heart that we can't do more for her and her family (which is a grandma and two siblings). We all pray that we would be able to meet her someday, look into her eyes and tell her we love her, Jesus loves her.

    Whoa, sorry to be so long winded! I really just wanted to say thanks for being Christ's hands and feet to His precious Vitoria.

  13. Megan Willome

    This is so good, Jennifer. We've been with Compassion/Ethiopia since before our kids were born. The first boy we sponsored is now grown and has left the mission. Now a new little boy takes his place. Sometimes my kids have helped with the correspondence, although it's usually me.

  14. Amy Sullivan

    I love your pictures! We love Compassion and have had the same sweet girl decorating our fridge for years!

  15. Elizabeth

    I adopted Peace from Uganda about 7 years ago and have been blessed to watch her grow from a little 6 year old girl to a beautiful 13-year old young woman. She has asked several times when I am coming to visit her. "Take a day and come see me."

    In the meantime I've adopted several others, and currently am also sponsoring Bryan, Marlon, and Nathanelly. All so young, but now cared for in Jesus' Name, and now each have a fair shot at taking the world by storm for the Kingdom. I hope your post inspires others to do the same!

  16. Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus

    Oh, how you all inspire me. … I have read, and re-read your stories here.

    Look at all these children loved and cared for, in Jesus' name!

    Grab a cape. Put on some red tights. You're all superheroes!


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