The Children’s HopeChest Friendship Model is an exciting and creative way to promote and celebrate the dignity that God has granted to our children. The Guatemalan team has had the unique opportunity to see first-hand how dignifying it is for a child to have a voice and choice while choosing their new HopeChest Friend. As a team we have been so blessed to witness how HopeChest is rethinking the traditional child sponsorship model. The Friendship Model has been used by God in strengthening our efforts to ignite dignity and hope to the children and communities where we work.
The excitement and happiness on each child’s face when they come to Friendship Day is priceless. This is a day of celebration for the gift of friendship and relationships that God has given us. Each child is so excited to choose their new HopeChest Friend.
I will never forget their faces when they see all the pictures hanging, and especially when they know that they get to choose one of them and take it home. Some of them know right away which friend they are choosing. Some of them take a long time going between pictures as they know the importance of the decision they are making.
Finally, when they have made a choice, they have the opportunity to share why they have chosen their new friend. This is the emotional part of the day as you can hear different Godly stories of connection. Some of them share that families look happy and united in the picture and because they do not have that at home, they have chosen that family. Some of them do not have a father in the family, and they chose a picture where a father is present. Some children have chosen their friend because they look friendly and happy, and they are eager to have a friend who can love them. I have seen how some children reflect what they do not have at home when they choose their new friend. This creates such a unique opportunity for the new friends to invest in and build up the life of the child, and their families as well.
I like to call this opportunity John 15:16, which says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last —and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
I believe the Friendship Model’s goal of giving a child the opportunity to choose is founded on God’s attribute of choosing with a purpose, as it is described in this verse. I love how God has chosen us to go and bear fruit. I believe that through the Friendship Model, by giving the child the opportunity to choose, we are planting seeds in their lives that will bear fruit. Dignity is one of the seeds we are planting. By letting them choose a friend, we are sending them the message that they are valued to make such an important decision. We are telling them that we believe they can make this choice. Also, each child is receiving the message that they are empowered to choose what they want to do in their lives despite the odds stuck against them. Hope is also a seed we plant when they come to Friendship Day, as we present to the children and their parents the opportunities they can have in life if they are responsible and diligent.
All of this comes together when we share about God’s love. Love is the ultimate seed we can plant in the hearts of the children and their parents. When they see all the pictures of people interested in starting a friendship with them, they feel loved and special.
The HopeChest Friendship Model is a special and unique way God is using to share His love and hope to the children and communities. God is calling us to rethink what we are doing, so we can bear fruit, fruit that will last. God is calling us to share this fruit of hope, dignity, and love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carolina Cardona, Children’s HopeChest’s Guatemala Country Director, grew up in a small village in Guatemala. When she was a young girl, God placed big dreams and ambitions in her heart, and after graduating from college in the United States she returned to Guatemala and joined the HopeChest team. She has been advocating for and serving vulnerable children in Guatemala for over five years as Country Director.
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