When an opportunity is rejected

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Over 10 years ago, before Jacob and I got married and before we lived together, we decided to go on a mission trip to Africa. You can read about our experiences here and here.

Before we went on our trip, we chose to sponsor two children through Compassion Australia. I chose a boy in Tanzania and Jacob chose a boy in Uganda. I’m not really sure why we chose boys at that time, but we did.

The boys were aged around 6 when we sponsored them. Jacob and I were both on full time wages and when we got married, we still chose to support out sponsor children because we could afford to.

It felt good knowing part of our wage was helping educate someone in the third world.

I would send letters to my sponsor child quite frequently and receive letters back with enthusiasm about his studies and if I knew certain bible verses. Often the verses were encouraging to whatever I was facing at the time.

Jacob was often envious of the school reports and photos I would receive from my sponsor child as he posed with his Christmas and Birthday gifts. I was sent a photo of my sponsor child posing next to corrugated iron for his house or his goat. I sponsored my child for just over 11 years.

And then I got a letter a couple of months ago, advising my sponsor child had graduated from the program and would no longer need my funds, but within 3 weeks, I would be given a new sponsor child to support.

I was saddened to receive the letter, but excited to think my sponsor child had finished school and could go on to do further study.

But a subsequent letter from his educators shared a different story.

My sponsor child had ‘negatively’ left the Compassion program and all attempts at getting my sponsor child to return back to his studies had failed.

The letter asked me to continue to pray for my sponsor child, and to thank me for my sponsorship.

I felt a range of emotions when I received that letter.

Firstly I felt concern. What had caused my sponsor child to run away from finishing his education? I felt sad because I had developed a friendship with this child over the 11 years I had sponsored him and it abruptly came to an end.

And then I felt disappointment. I was disappointed that my sponsor child had rejected an opportunity that would help him have a better future. Compassion saw his need, offered him a helping hand to support him in his studies, I offered financial assistance and 1 year out of graduating he had packed it in.

While I could draw any number of conclusions on why my sponsor child decided to leave his sponsorship, I really wished he hadn’t given up. Not because it felt like a waste, although I have been wisely told any education is not a waste, but simply because he obviously forgotten that other kids in his village would have swapped his place to get the support he was receiving.

When we’re given a good opportunity, it doesn’t mean the road will be less easy, but it does mean if we accept, we should follow through with the investment.

My plumbing apprenticeship was an opportunity. I took a risk and despite the road leading me to a different outcome, giving up was not part of my strategy even if I felt like doing it many times.

An American Journalist once said opportunities are usually disguised as hard work so most people don’t recognize them.

I don’t know if the work was getting too much for my sponsor child. I will continue to pray for my him and hope that he will get some sense to finish his studies. In the meantime, I want to make the most of opportunities that come my way. I don’t want to live with regrets.

Have you ever offered someone an opportunity, only to have them reject it? How did you feel? Do you have any regrets over missed opportunities?

I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.