Troubling Facebook friend request from sponsored child

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One of my sponsored children (who will be 18 in a few days) sent my husband and me both friend requests on Facebook. We have seen Compassion's social media policy and have no intention on responding to her request. However, my concern is that I did view her profile pictures and the comments (all public and translated from Spanish). The profile pictures are bordering on pornographic and lewd and the comments are not much better. I am greatly disturbed by this! Plus in many of the pictures she is taking selfies with an iphone. How is it that a child in poverty has a cell phone like this? My husband (who has not seen the pictures) and I are greatly upset. All of her letters have led us to have a very different view of this young lady. But her pictures and comments on Facebook lead us to a different image. How do we address this? I don't know that it is appropriate for me to address it in my letters to her. Should the center handle it? Please advise. Thank you.
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Amy Redmond

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  • frustrated and concerned

Posted 3 years ago

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William Blair

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Hi Amy.  I'm a sponsor too. I've never had this happen to me and I hope it never does. The staff will look into it for you. For now what you and your husband can do is pray in agreement for God to speak into her and convict her of this revealing to her the dangers of what can happen to her because of this. We all know there are predators all over social media and these kids need to know all about that. They need to meet others who have fallen victim to these people. This is the main reason why children come up missing.
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Debbie Skacel Tovar

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Not sure what to advise you as far as what you saw, other than to say I guess this happens all over.  Kids in youth groups might act one way at church, and yet be totally different.  You already know you can't friend her.  As far as kids with cell phones, almost all kids in developing countries have them.  Compassion did a blog about it, so you might want to search the blogs from the main Compassion page.  Look under social media or cell phones.  Cell phones are very very cheap in most countries, and they are paid for by the minute, not expensive cell phones plans like we have here.  Other than Africa, I think most of the older kids are on fb.  I tend to check up on my kids and see the 'real' kid, instead of like you say, the kid behind the letters written.  Hopefully, Compassion will have some more advice on this one.
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Debbie Skacel Tovar

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Here is the article that Compassion wrote about social media and cell phones: http://blog.compassion.com/technology-in-developing-countries/
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anna

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Something similiar happened to me and so I wrote my girl just a "random" letter about my testimony and how I used to be like that and how dangerous it was before God saved me. I did not have to say what I saw, or even that I thought what she posted was wrong. I just shared my testimony with her because of what I saw. I do not know if it helped, but I pray that it might help her a little. It is heart breaking to see this from a sponsored child and sadly I have seen a lot of it from my girls :(
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Teresa Dawn

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Almost all my kids have cellphones/smartphones too.  One of my girl's has a smartphone but she couldn't afford her school fees this year so can't even go to school...  She could be in a country where phones cost pennies, or maybe someone gave it to her as a gift, I don't know and I don't worry about it as it's very common.  One of my kids bought a cellphone when I sent him a financial gift. 
As for the fb thing, it sadly isn't uncommon for teens to fall to peer pressure like that, here and in their countries. They are kids, not saints, but it tells me that they may need our love, prayers, and encouragement more than ever and makes me even more thankful Compassion is working with them. 
One of my girls I saw similar photos on her fb (Not friends with her but she had them public) and soon after I found out that she was pregnant. She had her baby at age 14.  It's gonna be very hard for her, but I'm thankful that she has Compassion's help or it could be a lot worse! 
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Sandy

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A teenage boy I've sponsored for many years sent me a FB request a couple years ago. He sent me a private msg and from what he wrote, I knew it was legitimately him, but in keeping with Compassion guidelines I did not respond and I deleted the FB friend request. But - I did look at his page - and was dismayed to see that he declared himself "interested in men." :( I did not believe it appropriate to in any way acknowledge that information in future letters, but it led me to pray fervently for him and to work even harder to share my life, my testimony, and scripture with him. Our kids live in a fallen world and we only see a small glimpse of them through their letters, and it is filtered through the lens of a church project so we only read and see what they want us to. I am so thankful he is at a Compassion project and I pray the teaching he receives will get to his heart.


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Steve

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I read your post hours ago and concluded I had nothing to add.  However, after thinking about it, my response is as a dad, not a sponsor.  My daughter got with a "bad boyfriend".  Besides some unacceptable pictures, she went through a very dark period.  (I actually feared for my life.)  If this hadn't been a minute or two before Facebook, the pics would have been posted.

Neither you, your sponsored child's parents, the student center, her church, nor Compassion are to blame.  If I can let my denominational up-bringing show, it's the devil, the world, and our flesh.  Your sponsored child, maybe more than ever, needs your prayers and your love.  She might feel betrayed, embarrassed, rejected, or just unloved.  But nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Compassion has undoubtedly dealt with this situation before.  I'm sure they will have excellent guidance.

(Edited)
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William Blair

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One more thing I want to add. I was able to visit my sponsor kids in Bolivia last year. I shared with them my testimony what my life was like when I turned away from God when I was young. It must have gotten through to them. When it was time to say goodbye at the end of the day there were many hugs from each of them and the ones with cell phones took some pictures of me with them so they will be looking through them and see me there with them. Always share your testimonies with them. It will make a difference.
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Sarah, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Thank you to everyone who helped answer Amy's question while we were unavailable this weekend! Amy, these fellow sponsors had such encouraging, life-giving answers, which I hope you are able to take to heart and continue encouraging Lizeth with. I am so sorry that you and your husband were contacted by Lizeth and saw photos that must have truly been heartbreaking for you. I am having the staff speak with Lizeth about contacting you and I did mention her Facebook photos to them as well. My hope is that the staff at her center will take her by the hand and really encourage her to not engage in activity like that, but rather engage in activities that honor the Lord. I don't know her story or where she is in her relationship with Jesus, but the staff know her better than most people. I will be praying that she listens to them as they mentor her and is helped in changing her actions. I love what some of these awesome sponsors mentioned about sharing your own testimony. Even if your testimony isn't anything like hers, it can make a huge difference in her life to know of struggles you have been through. Please do keep praying for her; for God to speak into her life and her heart and remind her that her worth is not in her body but in Christ and who he has made her to be. Remind her of that often! Tell her to speak truths about who she is in Christ over herself on a daily basis. Don't give up on her. Fight for this precious, darling girl.

Also, Debbie graciously provided you with the link to our blog post on cell phones in developing countries. I would absolutely encourage you to read that! Having lived in several of the countries we work in, I can tell you that cell phones sell for very cheap and plans work much differently there than they do here. They are pay as you go and a decent amount of minutes usually cost less than a dollar.
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Amy Redmond

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Sarah--Thank you! I am thankful that the staff at her center will be notified. We will definitely be praying that she will take their counsel to heart and that the Lord will be at work in her life bringing conviction upon her and keeping her safe.

I do have a suggestion. I do not follow the Compassion blog regularly and this is the first time I have been on the support part of the Compassion website. To be honest, I did not know it existed. I had this issue and I went to the Compassion website to get help. It was very difficult to find answers. Perhaps the social media policy should be on the main part of the Compassion website in the FAQ's area. Just a thought! :)
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Hi Amy! Thanks for the suggestion! We're really not trying to make it difficult to find things! A link to this support page is located in the "Contact Us" section of our website. We also have information about our social media policy in the letter writing FAQ section. It is titled: "Can I connect with my child through Facebook, Twitter, email, Skype, etc.?" 
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Amy Redmond

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Thank you to everyone who took the time to write replies. I appreciate each and every one of your comments.
(Edited)
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William Blair

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One more thing I want to share. I had two sponsor kids get pregnant. One in Nicaragua who was abandoned by the child's dad. One in Colombia who is with the baby's father. Both were supported by the partner church. The one in Nicaragua stayed in the program and graduated. I was able to visit her and her family twice. She was pregnant when I was there the first time and now obvious to me she was afraid to tell me because she may have thought I would drop my sponsorship. I wouldn't have and may God convict any sponsor who would. I received a letter from her about a year after that asking me to pray for her baby. I thought a second sponsor child pregnant? The only thing I got angry about was that the baby's father abandoned them.

The one in Colombia left the program and even though she did that the members of the partner church took up a collection and bought her all the things she needed for her and her baby. The pastor on his own time provided counseling to her and the baby's father. I never did get a chance to meet this sponsor child like the other one. Obviously God is grace and mercy and this ministry  is too.

Funny how before I found out my sponsor child in Colombia was pregnant I made a donation to the birth attendant fund just before I receive her letter telling me she is pregnant. Both girls have sons. Neither one abandoned by family or the church.

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