One of the most common objections towards child sponsorship is how it has the potential to cause divisions between family members. Concerns over how unsponsored siblings may feel or how the authority of the parents might be undermined have been the focus of many anti-sponsorship articles.

But at Compassion Canada, we still stand behind the child sponsorship model because we have seen time and time again how it unites and strengthens families—not divides them.

Family: a strong foundation

A Sri-Lankan family made up of the mom, dad and daughter standing together smiling

Our mission is to set children free from poverty in Jesus’ name and we know first-hand that we can’t achieve that goal holistically without the daily support and love that a family provides.

Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.”

Whether the sponsored child comes from a two-parent household or lives with a single mother or father, we believe in the inherent value and power of the child-parent bond. We believe it is God’s design for children to learn and grow in a loving home with their parents as their primary caregivers whenever possible.

A mother and father holding their little girls hand as she walks

A sponsor or staff member is a beautiful addition to the community surrounding a sponsored child but is never a replacement for the relationship shared between the child and their parents.

When a child is sponsored, their parents also greatly benefit from the resources available at the Compassion centre. This has been the experience of many families with sponsored children, such as the family of twelve-year-old Sansan, who is enrolled in our program.

Sansan’s story

Sansan, a young boy from Burkina Faso stands smiling, arms crossed

Sansan is a young boy living in Burkina Faso with his older brother and parents who are farmers. Unfortunately, his parents had a rough season and what they managed to harvest wasn’t enough to help them put food on the table for a few nights. After Sanasan was enrolled at the Compassion centre, Michael, the centre director was able to step in and help.

“I shed tears of joy the day Michael brought a bag of 25 kilograms full of rice, a 100-kilogram bag full of maize, plus five litres of cooking oil and a box of spaghetti for our family consumption. There is no greater love than what the church has done. May God bless all the donors because their support has taken away my worries about food,” says Handjeneba, Sansan’s mom, with a big smile.

Supporting the entire family

A mother and daughter hold a large white bag filled with food supplies

Across the 27 countries we serve in, families of sponsored children have not only received food and supplies when they are in dire situations, but they also benefit from health screenings, nutritional advice, parenting workshops and church activities that provide a place for community and even more resources. Sponsoring one child has always benefited the entire family.

While there are a plethora of benefits that a family receives when one child is sponsored, our desire would be to provide sponsorship for every single child in need, including the siblings of each sponsored child. Yet, the reality is that in villages or towns where there are thousands of families needing help and only enough spaces for a few hundred children to be enrolled at the Compassion centre, the local staff may limit sponsorship to one child per family in an effort to provide help to as many families as possible. But in cases where a family is in great need, then the local centre has the ability to enroll up to three children per family so each child can get the urgent care they need.

Even if only one child is sponsored in a family, the tangible impact that can’t be quantifiably measured can never be underestimated.

So many sponsored children share what they have learned at their Compassion centre with their siblings, and in some cases, one child leads their entire family to Christ because of the love of Jesus that they’ve encountered at their Compassion centre.

A little boy prays while sitting in a chair

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:2-3)

Children like Sansan from Burkina Faso, have big dreams for not only themselves but for their families and entire communities.

“I want to be a great man with plenty of resources to improve the living conditions of my parents. I will do well in my studies, find a well-paid job, and build a big house for my parents,” says Sansan with hope and confidence.

A parent’s sacrifice

Our mission here at Compassion Canada of setting children free from poverty in Jesus’ name is only made possible through the critical partnership with parents and caregivers. The hard work and tremendous sacrifices that they and their extended family members make to help their children thrive, are invaluable to our mission. As we partner with them to empower the next generation, our prayer is that they will go farther than we have and become all that God has intended for them to become.

A young African mother holds her newborn baby in her arms and looks down at her

Interested in learning more about how Compassion supports families outside of child sponsorship this #InternationalDayofFamilies? Check out Mary’s story of unbearable loss and how we were able to support her small family during her darkest moments through our Survival program.


Nothing could ever prepare a mother to bury her own child. Mary was walking a road that seemed dark and unbearable.

Yet, something inside of her told her: it’s not over.

However, when the third, fourth, fifth and sixth miscarriages followed, Mary’s heart could hardly take any more.

“Every time it happened, I would wonder why. I wanted answers but there were none. The doctors told me that it was just bad luck. The miscarriages strained our marriage; I became withdrawn and would always tell him to find someone who could give him a baby…”

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Written by: Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St. John is a Content Specialist at Compassion Canada. She's passionate about crafting stories that shine a light on God's redemptive power in a broken world. When she's not fitting words together, she's either cooking her favourite foods or watching movies with her husband.