Sponsorship spotlights: Erica Johnson & Wanda McDowell

Erica Johnson
(Erica on left with her friend Esther Hong)

Young adult Erica Johnson has been a sponsorship contributor since her family was stationed overseas. Erica sponsors the El Redil Boys Home in Arzobispo, Chile.

Tell me about yourself.

I live in Chicago, Ill., on the north side of the city and work at The Salvation Army's Metropolitan Divisional Headquarters as the assistant divisional director of music and gospel arts. I studied elementary education and music at North Park, Ill., University. I grew up in The Salvation Army and currently attend the Chicago Mayfair, Ill., Corps.  

What inspired you to support children through the central's sponsorship program?

I lived for six years in Chile, and I remember receiving donations from a women's group from a corps in the U.S. who had sponsored our family as missionaries. Although it wasn't through the territorial sponsorship program, it was such a joy to know someone cared enough to give of themselves so that we could be taken care of. I felt amazed that people I'd never met would send us care packages.

I support children now through the Central sponsorship program partially because of those women. It's one of the easiest things I can do to say thank you. A few dollars can help in a big way, and getting to be part of that is a blessing.

What's most rewarding about it?

The most rewarding thing about sponsorship is hearing about and seeing the positive changes that are happening in people's lives. Centers are able to offer more services, students are able to buy books and uniforms, workers are paid fair wages, and families are provided with food.

Tell me about the home you sponsor. What is heartwarming about it?

The home I sponsor is in Chile, and it provides boys with a safe place to live, schooling, meals, etc. I used to sponsor a specific boy, Jairo Ignacio, and getting regular updates from him reminds me of how important this ministry is. I sponsor the home so it can continue to provide other children the same opportunities as it did for Jairo.

What would you say to someone else who is considering supporting this ministry? 

This is one of the easiest ways to support the ministry of The Salvation Army overseas. Have your deeds accompany your faith and provide for our brothers and sisters in a real, tangible way.


WandaWanda has sponsored children for over 10 years and is the missionary sergeant at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa, Corps. She sponsors the Howard School and Hospital in Zimbabwe.

Tell me about yourself.

I grew up down by Decatur and Champaign, Illinois. I'd never heard of The Salvation Army. I completed nursing school and got married; we had seven kids. Our family moved around the Central Territory, and at one point my husband met Major David Havens at a social services meeting. They started talking and found they were kindred spirits. The major gave my husband the book "The General Next to God" by Richard Collier. My husband was impressed with The Salvation Army at that point. Soon our children got involved, so we decided it was time to visit. The first Sunday we were there a large African-American woman stood up and sang a solo and couldn't hold a tune. I thought, "This is the church for me!" We joined in 1974.

What inspired you to support children through the central's sponsorship program?

At one point my husband and I were seriously considering being missionaries in Africa. We were all set with arrangements, passports and uniforms. Then I got a blood clot, and we couldn't go anywhere. So, that's how we chose the Howard Hospital and Home in Zimbabwe; instead of serving there we decided to send financial support.

What's most rewarding about it?

Of our children two of them, Jim and Tom, are currently Salvation Army officers. They were in Kenya for three years. We saw lots of pictures. I just remember how edifying it was to see photos of the people The Salvation Army was helping.

Tell me about the home you sponsor.

The home I sponsor is actually a hospital with grounds. Once in a while I get a picture of the kids who live there. It's often then I remember that my husband and I were going to serve there, he as the business administrator and I as a nurse.

What would you say to someone else who is considering supporting this ministry?                                                                                                                                                                      

I regularly ask people to consider supporting sponsorship as the missionary sergeant for the Waterloo Corps. I tell them how satisfying it is; I show them photos of the children. Right now our corps has four people who donate regularly.

 


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