A Gift, A Godsend

A sponsor’s gift allows one struggling family to open a new business and set up an education fund.
Benedicta spends some free time at her family’s grocery shop.

Think of your annual salary. Now triple it. And imagine getting a check for that amount in the mail one day. A check from someone you’ve never met. With a note that simply says, “This is for you and your family.”

What would you say? Think? Feel?

Joseph Boni, a carpenter living in a Ghanaian fishing village, never dreamed of a gift like that. When you’re living in poverty, you don’t imagine benefactors or extravagant gifts. You just try to get by. But a gift from his daughter’s sponsor would change their family’s life and leave Joseph overwhelmed with gratitude.

But before the gift, there was simply survival. Many of Joseph’s customers are fishermen, and when they come home with full nets, they pay Joseph to repair their roofs and build doors and tables for their homes. But when their nets are empty, furniture is no longer a priority. 

“If there’s no money in their pockets, there is no money for me,” says Joseph.

Sometimes Joseph traveled to neighboring villages to find work, but he hated leaving his wife and four children at home. His oldest daughter, Benedicta, was registered at a nearby Compassion center, and knowing the staff members there were looking out for his family brought Joseph a bit of peace, even as he struggled to provide for their most basic needs.

One thing that brought Joseph and his family joy was Benedicta’s sponsors, Chris and Meg Van Heerden. Joseph still marvels over the idea of Chris and Meg, these strangers, wanting to help take care of his little girl.

“The relationship the sponsors have with Benedicta is overwhelming,” says Joseph. “When we think about it we are so surprised, because somebody who doesn’t know Benedicta just picked her and is taking care of her. We can only ask God to bless them. We are very grateful.”

But things were becoming increasingly hard for Joseph and his family. His wife was pregnant with the couple’s fifth child, and complications meant an expensive, lifesaving surgery. Customers rarely came to his home anymore, and the medical bills, combined with the cost of caring for another child, made it almost impossible for Joseph to even feed his family.

“It was truly a difficult time,” says Joseph. “Day in and day out we just sat down and prayed. My wife encouraged me. She told me that it will be well. God will open a way.”

 

Benedicta’s father, Joseph, makes furniture for people in his community but never knows when he’ll get customers.
“If there’s no money in their pockets, there is no money for me,” says Joseph.

The day Joseph found out that his family had received a gift from Chris and Meg, he knew that God had heard their prayers. That He had opened a way.

The gift of $1,000 would have taken Joseph three years to earn on his own. He had never had such a large sum at once — much less been given that much!

Compassion staff worked with Joseph to plan how to best invest the money. The first thing he did was start a savings account for Benedicta’s education. 

“She’s growing and very soon she will be going to secondary school,” says Joseph. “I put that aside so we can make sure she can continue her education.”

The family invested the remainder of the money in a small grocery storefront. Since they live near a school, Joseph knew the food and snacks he sold would be popular among the children. And the long lines every morning prove he was right.

With the store’s profits, Joseph no longer has to rely solely on his carpentry business. He now knows he will be able to provide food, shelter and clothing for his five children. He’s even been able to build a bathroom beside the family’s home.

Sometimes Joseph still marvels over the enormous gift from the sponsors he’s never met. From people who care about Joseph’s family so deeply that they would give such a sacrificial gift. But when words escape him, Joseph simply looks at Benedicta, standing under the wooden sign proclaiming the store’s name as she sells treats to the neighborhood children.

Ewuradze Na Jaye. It’s a phrase that means “the work of God” in Joseph’s language of Twi. And everything he sees is a testimony.

The shop that Benedicta's family opened with a gift from her sponsor provides a steady income.

God worked through the Van Heerdens who felt that tug to sponsor, to give. He worked in the life of Joseph, desperate to help his family but just needing a boost. A surprise gift. 

And He works still through Benedicta. A shy 11-year-old who has seen God’s gifts up close and will never forget His work in her family. Her gratitude is wide — she is just as thankful for her letters from Chris and Meg as her family is for their store and the security it brings. One day she’ll understand more, but for today, her message for Chris and Meg is simple.

“Thank you for taking care of my family.”

More from this Issue

April 2018

A sponsor’s gift allows one struggling family to open a new business and set up an education fund.

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