By Carl Stagner
Every child is a treasure in God’s sight. Of this assertion, there is no discrepancy in the Church of God. As Jesus welcomed the children into his presence, congregations and individuals offer open arms to children all over the world, most of the time without even crossing an ocean. Through the child sponsorship ministry of the Church of God, individual and congregational reach is extended to parts of the world where hope for a brighter future is often only a dream. In this twenty-fifth year of ministry for Children of Promise, there is one Jewel that glistens especially bright, shining the light of Christ in church, community, and government. She’s living proof that dreams do come true.
Jewel Leodones was five years old when she enrolled in the Grace Family Helper Project, a local program of Children of Promise based at a Church of God in the Philippines. Growing up in a fatherless household forced her mother to provide for the four children alone. But Jewel’s mother really wasn’t alone. The presence of a loving heavenly Father was made tangible through the ministry of Children of Promise and the Church of God. As a result of the thorough provision synonymous with Children of Promise, Jewel would be given food, school supplies and uniform, medical checkups, and even special birthday gifts from her sponsor. Jewel made a special visit to the Church of God Convention in Wichita this year, at which she made an important distinction about all these material provisions.
“Little did I know that those dresses, pairs of shoes, etc., were not the most important thing I acquired because of the program,” she reflects. “It is the effect of the people around me and the personal growth and development of each sponsored child…” Financial support is critical to the ministry of Children of Promise, but it’s only a vehicle for the hope of Jesus Christ.
Church was, at first, a chore for Jewel. As a child, she recalls her mother giving a Sunday morning wake-up call that would put the most discordant alarm clock to shame. But a showing of the Passion of the Christ put life—and church—in a new light. It wasn’t long before Jewel would rise before her mother’s voice rang out. The relationships and support of her sponsor and Children of Promise gave her a sense of self-reliance, productivity, and responsibility. Ultimately, Jewel would lead the worship team at church, teach Sunday school, and serve for a season as the national director for the Church of God youth fellowship in the Philippines.
Sure, the Children of Promise program took care of Jewel’s basic needs as a child. Sure, the Children of Promise program offered opportunities that otherwise would have been unattainable. Indeed, the Children of Promise program helped Jewel receive a scholarship to attend college and graduate with a bachelor of arts in consular and diplomatic affairs. Thus, because of her aptitude and credentials, Jewel has now worked in the office of the President of the Philippines since 2015. But, when Jewel looks back, these experiences aren’t what really changed her life. “I was not aware God was already molding me to be the person who I am today,” she reflected as she shared her stories with Children of Promise supporters in North America. “I want everyone to know that the reason I have the confidence to stand and speak in front of all of you today is because I was molded and shaped like this by God and our church. It was the people around me, the Children of Promise-Philippines…”
When considering how God has blessed her journey, Jewel takes it all in stride. “It’s such a blessing to work in that office,” she explains. “I really have no words to explain how I feel.” The truth is, Jewel is more concerned that children like her have the chance to know that they can dream dreams, too—that there’s hope for them, as well—that they truly are children of promise. “As a former sponsored child, I wondered why,” she reflects. “Why is this person supporting and helping me? Why me? What have I done to deserve this kindness and love? Little by little, I was able to answer my own questions. I saw God’s grace.”
Today, the ministry of Children of Promise makes possible the sponsorship of nearly six hundred children in the Philippines. In fact, Children of Promise sponsorship covers 4,430 children in 29 countries today. There are so many more children, however, that need your love and support. Perhaps your sponsored child will be the next Jewel in the Philippines.
Learn more about Children of Promise at www.echildrenofpromise.org.