Sometimes, a few scattered letters that are formed into words, strung together in a sentence, and spoken in anger can destroy someone’s life. Our words have power.

However, they also have the power to build someone up and help them accomplish even more than they thought was possible. This is the story of one boy and the two people speaking words into his life. One spoke words of hurt, but the other chose to use her words to heal.

Words that Hurt

Johnathon was the child of a single mother and grew up in the ghetto, surrounded by drugs and gangs. Johnathon had very little contact with his dad, but when he did, it was never a “world’s best dad” coffee mug moment.

When Johnathon was 15, his dad actually showed up to pick him up, but his dad had no intention of taking him anywhere. Instead, he chose to say one of the most hurtful things you could ever say to a child:

“Johnathon, you were a mistake for me.”

Those words rocked the soul of this young man and almost caused him to give up on not only his earthly father, but also his heavenly father.

Words that Heal

Jamie was a 27-year-old who decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International. She had written small notes of encouragement to Johnathon before, but on one particular day, her words would carry more weight than ever.

Jamie wrote that she and her family were celebrating Thanksgiving, and that she wanted Johnathon to know that she was thankful for him.

Johnathon thought, “Nobody thinks about me, but Jamie from Michigan thought of me.” She showed him more love and concern than his own father. She showed him that he was not a mistake and that someone actually loved him and was thinking of him.

Jamie’s words breathed life back into Johnathon’s soul. That’s why writing letters to our Compassion kids is so important.

Jamie had no idea that this boy, whom she poured her life into, would sit with the president of his country, work with the United Nations, and dedicate his life to serving others. Her words of kindness reverberated in Johnathon’s heart louder than the words of hate spoken to him by his father.

Words that Change Lives

The best part of this story is that there was another word being poured into Johnathon’s life: the Word of God. He heard and began to understand the verse in the Bible that says, “Honor your father and mother.” It was not easy, but he chose to speak love into the life of the many who had only shown him hate, and today, he and his father have a great relationship.

So to quote Hawk Nelson:

Words can build us up, words can break us down

Start a fire in our hearts, or put it out

What words will you speak today?

You tell a child they matter when you choose to do what Jamie did and sponsor a child through Compassion International.

Sponsor a Child


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