Darwyn Sanchez teaches Honduran children that God loves everyone, but sometimes they question him. How could that be true, they ask, when only some children receive gifts from the Americans?

Those sponsored through the US-based Lifeline Christian Mission received letters, school supplies, and toys. But other students at the same school—and sometimes even in the same family—weren’t “chosen,” said Sanchez, Lifeline’s Honduran assistant country director. And those kids wondered what was wrong with them.

“There is good fruit from the sponsorship program … but we need to grow,” Sanchez said. “We need to give dignity to the people, and we need to change the strategies.”

Lifeline has ended its one-to-one child sponsorship in Latin America and Haiti and has started a five-year transition to a new model of caring for children. The mission organization now promotes group sponsorships, which allow groups of Christians to support classrooms of children or entire communities, instead of individuals.

It is always a challenge for ministries to give up models they have relied on—more so when, like sponsorships, they provide a solid financial foundation for the ministry.

Despite the risk, Lifeline has decided to go ahead.

“Ultimately, it became a question of doing what we thought was right,” said Joel Augustus, executive vice president of field ministries, “what God was leading us to do.”

Lifeline is one of many organizations that are ending or “massively restructuring” their child sponsorship programs due to concerns that it’s largely just a fundraising tool, promotes white saviorism, and isn’t best for children, said Phil Darke, ...

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