Sri Lankan Adventure Is Answer To Prayer

Sri Lankan Adventure Is Answer To Prayer
  1. Sri Lankan Adventure Is Answer To Prayer
    "Jesus is a miracle worker," said Jacqui Anderson of Butler. "He took a little boy from somewhere I knew nothing about and changed my life. I never in a million years thought it would go this…
    Illinois (IL)

"Jesus is a miracle worker," said Jacqui Anderson of Butler. "He took a little boy from somewhere I knew nothing about and changed my life. I never in a million years thought it would go this far."

Her story starts more than 15 years ago, when she was a college student and attended an Avalon concert with some family and friends in Springfield. During the concert, members of the band talked about their support for an organization called World Vision, that helps children all over the world.

Anderson made her way to the foyer, where the World Vision booth was jam packed with people all the way around it. 

"I just happened to pick up a photo of the cutest little boy I'd ever seen," she said. "His mama was holding him, and the relationship just started from there."

Even though she was still in college, Anderson made the commitment to sponsor Supun, who was just three years old at the time, for $21 a month. 

"In the beginning, I just wrote one letter to him to introduce myself, because I was so busy in college," she said. 

"But sometimes I would send a little package with a T-shirt or a teddy bear. Then when I got older, I started to write more. His family has everything I have ever sent them, and I have everything they've sent to me."

She keeps all his letters in a file folder, where she can go through the notes and photos whenever she wants. Supun and his family both write and speak in Sinhala, a native language of Sri Lanka, but the letters are translated through World Vision.

Over the years, Anderson's support helped to pay for schooling, clothing, food, water and other supplies for Supun and his family. And Anderson considers them all part of her family.

"My son calls me mom, and everyone in his family calls me auntie," she said. "It melts my heart because I don't deserve any of it."

Several years ago, Anderson saw an article in the newspaper about Latter Rain Ministries and their new home at Sunshine Park in Litchfield. The photo with the article featured two men from Sri Lanka, and Anderson knew she had to meet them.

After work one night at St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, Anderson attended a revival at Latter Rain Ministries, where she had the chance to meet two missionaries named Asela and Pastor Costa.

"Asela thanked me for investing in the children of his country, and I told him it was my honor," she said. "I showed him a photo of Supun that I keep in my purse all the time. It was the very first photo I ever saw of him, even though Supun is 18 now."

Anderson asked the men if they would look through her letters, and together they went through nearly all the letters from several years of correspondence. She said they told her the letters did prove that Supun and his family had received the money she sent over the years, including extra at times for birthdays and other special occasions.

"This was proof for all the naysayers," Anderson said. "If you ever wanted to sponsor a child, this is a group that truly helps children. As a mother, I can't imagine watching your child die of hunger. I just can't."

She later found out that Supun was the longest sponsored child in his development project.

"I would never stop sponsoring a child," she said. "He's my kid."

Then one day, Anderson got a package in the mail from World Vision. She could hardly wait to open it, thinking it was a progress report with photos and other updates. Instead, it was a goodbye letter from Supun. His project had ended, and Anderson would no longer be able to support him through World Vision.

"I felt my heart break," she said. "In his goodbye letter, he thanked me for all I had done. He told me that he never had a birthday until me, and said he hoped I would always be able to help poor children like him. It made it worth all those years of support."

In her letter back to Supun, she told him that it was not goodbye, and that she would find him and that she loved him.

"And that's where my journey really began," she said.

A phone call to World Vision confirmed she would no longer be able to communicate with Supun or his family through their organization. Privacy laws meant they couldn't share his address with her or provide any other contact information to his family.

"I remember sitting down with Asela, and he told me he would find my son," she said. "So, we started the journey together."

It took three separate trips before Asela was able to locate the village where Supun lived, a remote spot outside Puttalam.

"I have every conversation recorded on my phone when we tried to find him," Anderson said.

Then, in November 2013, Asela was able to locate the village and eventually the home of Supun and his family. He drove more than four hours one way to the village for a 30-minute visit, but that short visit provided all Anderson needed to meet her son.

"I got to talk to him by Skype about a month after his visit, and it was the first time I had contact with Supun in more than three years," she said.

She decided she wanted to continue to help his family meet their needs, and began sponsoring them again, this ti…

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