Letter writing brings up all sorts of nostalgia for most of us.

When we think letters, we may think of a feather quill and a bottle of ink, or typing on a clunky typewriter by the light of a candle. Maybe we think of that box of letters we keep in our attic—the one that holds the letters grandpa wrote grandma overseas when they were young.

 Tea stained paper.

 Letters to Santa.

 Pride and Prejudice.

If most memories of letter writing live in the past, then why does Compassion Canada still invite you write letters online and on paper to your sponsor child? Haven’t we found more innovative ways to connect? Are we just stuck in the past dreaming of better days?

With social media allowing us to have more connectivity than ever, it’s a good question. If there was ever a time to ditch letter-writing prompts and templates now would be the time in the age of instant messaging.

While quick and snappy communication might be better for our schedules, slow and steady is likely better for our souls.

What letter-writing has to teach us about God’s Kingdom

In the Gospels, Jesus uses parables to talk about how the coming of His Kingdom is anything but quick. It is slow but sure, like yeast and mustard seeds. Building Jesus’ Kingdom takes time and intentionality.

“When we write letters to children around the globe, we’re not just growing Christ’s kingdom through relationship with our global neighbours. We are growing deep spiritual fruit within our own lives.”

The more intentional we are about our efforts to make Christ known on the earth, the more our efforts will sprout both within ourselves and in the world around us.

When we write letters to children around the globe, we’re not just growing Christ’s kingdom through relationship with our global neighbours. We are growing deep spiritual fruit within our own lives. By taking the time to commit ourselves to what seems like a practice of the past, we remind our hearts of the spiritual fruit we are called to bear throughout scripture.

1. Patience

(Galatians 5:22-23)

One of the first words that comes to mind when I think of writing someone a letter is patience. The patience it takes to sit quietly with my thoughts until I think of something to write down. The patience it takes to know my letter got to its destination. The patience it takes to wait for a response! It’s a whole lot of waiting.

In a culture that is accustomed to instant responses and quick quips, we lose the virtue of patience. Did you know that the word “wait” is listed at least 140 times in the bible? If this is the case, there has to be something to this waiting stuff! There is some deep spiritual work that happens within our hearts when we practice patience.

2. Intentionality 

 (Ephesians 5:15-17)

This has become bit of a buzzword in our Christian culture. But, what does it really mean? Intentionality means to go out of your way for something. To be deliberate. To carefully and attentively pursue something or someone. Doesn’t this sound just like Jesus?

When we sit down to write or type a letter, we force ourselves to think carefully about what we are saying and how we want to say it. We are required to avoid distraction and have laser focus on the task at hand. To be present. To think about our beloved global friend, and what their life is like right now, in this moment. The more we put intentionality into practice, the more we are able to live lives with purpose, direction and passion. We begin to not settle for the shallow in conversations or in pursuits. We start to crave depth and meaning.

What a gift this is!

3. Empathy

(Romans 12:15)

A bonus character trait that starts blooming when we practice intentionality in letter writing is empathy. Giving undistracted and purposeful time reading the words of our sponsor children and figuring out how to respond allows us to tap into a piece of ourselves that feels empathy.

 Heavy when they are heavy.

 Happy when they are happy.

 Heartbroken when they are heartbroken

Putting ourselves in this position means we are not just watching their life from afar, sending our regards. Instead, we are close with them in heart, praying with and advocating for them.

Girl smiles and looks at the camera as she reads a letter from her sponsor. She's wearing a toque.

The power of your written (and typed) words

At Compassion, we know some things are not worth losing. We hear about the joy that bursts through a child in Uganda when they receive one of your letters. We have seen for ourselves how much your words are treasured.

We also hear about the growth that happens in your spiritual life when you commit to building relationship with a child in a completely different context. When you share tidbits of your life with them, and they with you.

So, we choose to keep our letter writing model.

We continue to advocate for thoughtful words, homemade cards and sticker sheets. For using up your 2800 characters and attaching current family photos. We continue to advocate for your words and for theirs, because we know it is an aspect of sponsorship, that especially in these “instant” times, is enduring and completely life-changing.

Want to delve into the slow but fruitful work of letter writing? Check out My Compassion to help you more effectively make letter writing a regular rhythm!

Write a Letter


Laura Phillips

Laura Phillips

Laura Phillips is a Content Specialist at Compassion Canada. She is passionate about pursuing justice and mercy through writing, crafting, music, and sharing stories over a cup of strong coffee.