Guest / Limited Access /
Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child
Courtesy of Compassion / Chuck Bigger

What can an ordinary person like me do to help the poor?" When people find out at parties and social gatherings that I am a development economist (and yes, we economists do attend such events), often they ask me this question. For a long time my response was the same: "Perhaps sponsor a child?"

I suppose I gave this answer because I myself sponsored a child, and if I was supposed to know something about helping the poor, I should encourage people to do what I was doing. After all, child sponsorship makes sense: By focusing on youth instead of adults, it aims to nip poverty in the bud, providing children in the developing world access to education, health services, and, in some programs, spiritual guidance. But over time my autopilot response started to annoy me. The truth was that I hadn't the slightest clue about the effect child-sponsorship programs had on children.

Dissatisfaction with my pat answer began to inform conversations with my graduate students. "Have you considered researching the impact of child sponsorship?" I would ask. One student was interested, and she followed the topic long enough to find out that no one had ever investigated the topic, despite 9 million children sponsored worldwide, and the more than $5 billion per year being channeled into sponsorship programs from ordinary people wanting to help. But we were having trouble finding a sponsorship organization willing to work with us. What if the research discovered that sponsorship didn't work? This was the risk that some organization out there had to take.

A couple years later, another graduate student, Joanna Chu, became interested in the topic, in part because she was sponsoring a child with Compassion International. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueLove the Lord with All Your Voice
Subscriber Access Only
Love the Lord with All Your Voice
Singing is a forgotten—but essential—spiritual discipline.
Current IssueManny Pacquiao, Championship Boxer, Has a New Opponent: Philippine Poverty
Subscriber Access Only
Manny Pacquiao, Championship Boxer, Has a New Opponent: Philippine Poverty
Why the prize fighter is entering politics in his home country.
RecommendedWhy Married Sex Is Social Justice
Subscriber Access Only
Why Married Sex Is Social Justice
It’s not only a solid biblical model—it’s also good for human flourishing.
TrendingMy Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
My Encounter with Ken Ham's Giant Ark
A four-hour visit to the massive replica of Noah's boat left me with a flood of questions.
Editor's PickJerry B. Jenkins: The Tim LaHaye I Knew
Jerry B. Jenkins: The Tim LaHaye I Knew
I saw the softer side of a man famous for strong opinions.
Christianity Today
Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2013

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.