Most of my close friends here in Sicily understand that I work for a faith-based, non-profit organization and that my monthly support is provided by “sponsorizzati” or financial supporters.
With a few of these friends in particular, I have had multiple conversations regarding sponsorship and how it works. This is a very foreign concept in this culture making it a difficult one to explain (for some more context: most pastors here in Italy are bi-vocational and very few churches have even a single staff member whose salary is paid for by the congregation. I once had a conversation with a Sicilian friend about how beneficial it is for churches to have a youth pastor but my friend was unable to get past the concept that the people in the church would pay someone so they could work in full-time ministry).
A few months ago was my favorite of these conversations about sponsorship. It went something like this:
(the letter “H” is silent in Italian),
“where can I find some sponsors like you have?”
I smile and laugh and tell him that he only needs one sponsor and he already has Him.
He stared at me with a very quizzical look on his face.
I laugh some more.
“Sure! I really only have one Sponsor and yours and mine are one and the same. He who provides for my needs is the same One who provides you with all that you need. He is the richest person in the world and His heart is immensely generous towards us all…”
(still giving me a quizzical look)
“…His name is Jesus!”
Click! I had not thought of this analogy until it fell into my lap that afternoon.
As best I could in Italian, I explained:
“Every good gift comes from God,” He is the true Giver behind every thing we receive. Even the things we buy with money we’ve earned from our jobs, comes from Jesus since He is the One who gives us the ability to work and the jobs we have.
Our Heavenly Sponsor is not only the One that gives us all that we have but…
…He is also the One who gives us the desire to give to others out of what He has given to us.
Now when the subject comes up, if my friends are joking about needing sponsors for a true, practical need, I ask them:
“Have you talked with your Sponsor about this need?”
and when they are talking in jest about wanting sponsors to buy them something outrageous or absurd (like a Ferrari!), I’ll say:
“You know, our Sponsor promises to provide for the needs of all who trust in Him but I’m not so sure what you’re asking for classifies as a need…”
…then again, our Sponsor is the epitome of generous… if you ask… you just never know…!
Don’t believe me?
Read these stories for starters:
And of course… Ripe Bananas
Have a story of your own? Please feel free to share in the comments below!
This story goes out to all my “human sponsors.” It is because of your prayers, generosity and investment into God’s kingdom here in Italy that conversations like these are happening every day.