Did you hear about the comprehensive study featured in Christianity Today and the Stanford Social Innovation Review asking whether sponsorship programs actually work? The result was overwhelming – sponsorships are among the most effective tools available for combating poverty.
Do you know what I believe is the main reason why sponsorship works? Hope.
A student with a sponsorship has hope for the future, giving her reason to work harder and think about the future. A student with a sponsorship sees herself as having value. She has reason to believe the future will be better. This is why PathLight’s tag line is “hope through faith and learning.”
There is Biblical insight that expresses this well. Romans 5:3-4 reads, “….we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
Let’s look at the passage in the context of PathLight’s work.
“… our sufferings …”
Few suffer the way the poor suffer. An overlooked child in an overlooked village of an overlooked region of an overlooked country produces people who can easily give up. That’s why PathLight works in a country too small for the bigger organizations to bother with, in a region even the government mostly ignores, in a village too remote to matter.
“… suffering produces endurance …”
People who have endured poverty know what it means to be on the short end of selfish decisions. That’s why the hardship of living in such a place can produce endurance. I am always amazed at the strength expressed by the students, teachers and communities where PathLight works. Teachers overcome overcrowded classrooms, villages overcome dry wells and a complete lack of infrastructure, and students overcome a whole host of obstacles. Endurance becomes a hallmark of living in poverty. It has to be.
“… endurance produces character …”
Having modeled endurance, character can blossom. Character is not just knowing right from wrong; it is also doing the right thing despite the consequences. Character is holding truth tightly and acting on those convictions.
“… and character produces hope.”
The pinnacle of the passage is when character produces hope. A person of character knows there is more to life than what is seen. Character provides the confidence necessary to have hope for the future.
And hope in the future is what the poor desperately need. I am convinced hope is the single most powerful tool to breaking the cycle of poverty. Of course, each step in the process is fraught with difficulties. And that’s where PathLight steps in.
Through the powerful combination of faith and learning, PathLight provides the support system necessary to help each student, each teacher, and each community to step forward in the process. From suffering to endurance, from endurance to character, from character to hope – PathLight stands alongside and offers guidance, encouragement and support.