For Jerrod and Melissa Adair, meeting their sponsored child in Mongolia was not just a blessing. It was a dream come true.
Jerrod and Melissa Adair stood on a street corner in front of a large shopping mall in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. They had traveled nearly 6,500 miles from their home in Oklahoma, and now waited in anticipation with toys in their arms. When they turned the corner, they recognized them immediately.
“One was dressed in a beautiful red dress, and as I turned the corner, I saw they’re twins,” Jerrod says. “A double blessing!”
Each holding onto their mom’s hand, the twin sisters walked toward them in matching frilly red dresses, striped tights and white sandals. For over a year, Jerrod and Melissa had read about, and prayed for, these girls and their family. But in that time, they had developed a special connection with one girl in particular — Narantuya, their sponsored child.
“In 2017, we took our youth group to Winter Jam in Tulsa and upon entering we saw the displays for sponsoring children,” says Jerrod, describing the moment he first learned about Holt’s child sponsorship program. “We got our children settled, and I felt the Holy Spirit say, ‘Go look at that table.’”
There, Jerrod saw a little girl looking back at him. He immediately zeroed in on one detail on her sponsorship card. Narantuya, it said, lived with her family in Mongolia — a country both Jerrod and Melissa had felt called to help for more than 20 years.
For the Adairs, their connection to Mongolia is both spiritual and cultural.
“The Mongolian culture is very similar to Native American culture,” explains Jerrod, whose family is of Wichita, Pawnee and Cherokee heritage. “They’re matrilineal, live out in the countryside, the horse culture … Even being greeted with food and something to drink even though you’re a stranger, that’s something that Native Americans do.”
Over the years, the Adairs also felt called to Mongolia by the work of Christian ministries in the region. “Their vision for ministry, it’s something that we feel like God wants us to partner with,” he says.
When they saw that Holt has a sponsorship program in Mongolia, they decided to take their first step in that partnership — by committing to helping one child in need. But by sponsoring 3-year-old Narantuya, they quickly learned that they would be helping not just one child, but her whole family.
“Her mother is raising several kids on her own and has to work multiple jobs to try to make ends meet,” Jerrod says of Narantuya. “This mother needed help.”
Through their monthly sponsorship gifts, Jerrod and Melissa would help provide nourishing food, clothing and school supplies for Narantuya. While another sponsor supported Narantuya’s twin sister, their gifts would go directly to help Narantuya grow and thrive. Most of all, they would help make sure Narantuya could stay in the loving care of her mom and grandma. They would help keep this family together.
“For a mother, not having to abandon her kids, it’s life changing.”
Jerrod recognized that seemed like quite a big outcome for a commitment of just $34 per month.
“When you walk by a sponsorship table or you hear in a church service, you think, this is a small amount of money, will it really make a difference?” Jerrod says.
But over the next year and a half, as Jerrod and Melissa received updates on Narantuya, they saw the impact of their gifts. They saw Narantuya grow healthier and start school because of their support. And then, they got to do something that not many sponsors get to do — something that would reaffirm their decision to sponsor, and show them just how big a difference they had made in Narantuya’s life.
“We started planning a trip for 2018, and contacted the staff at Holt to see if we could meet our sponsored child,” Jerrod says.
Months later, they found themselves standing on a corner in Ulaanbaatar — holding in their arms the little girl whose face they first saw on a sponsorship card.
Moments after they met, the rain started to pour, and Jerrod carried Narantuya as they ran to the restaurant where they would eat lunch together. For Jerrod, this brought the whole sponsorship experience to a dramatic peak.
“The girl you’ve been praying about for a year and a half, to get to run through the rain with her and take her to eat was amazing,” he says. “We got to pray for the staff and the girls and offer a blessing. It’s a dream come true.”
Narantuya’s mom knows how much Jerrod and Melissa have helped her family. She made that abundantly clear — hugging them and looking in their eyes with warmth as she held their hands. “As we met them, immediately their mother wanted to hug us and take pictures with us and wanted us to hold the girls,” Jerrod remembers.
“For a mother, not having to abandon her kids, it’s life changing,” he adds. “Her gratitude was just overwhelming.”
Moved by their experience traveling in Mongolia and meeting Narantuya and her family, Jerrod and Melissa are now planning another, longer trip to Mongolia — as part of a mission with a local church. They’re not sure how long they’ll stay, but they know that no matter what, they’ll “feel a connection to Mongolia for the rest of their lives.” They’ll also feel a connection to the little girl they helped stay with her family.
“I don’t think people realize the potential a child has … Is she the next president of Mongolia in 30 years? Who will she be?” Jerrod asks. “A lot of these opportunities will disappear if she doesn’t get help. We want to give her every opportunity to be the best Narantuya she can be.”
Two years have now passed since Jerrod and Melissa decided to make a commitment to help a child in need. Did it make a difference in Narantuya’s life? “Absolutely,” Jerrod says. “And we’ve had the blessing to be able to go to Mongolia to hold her in our arms. The children we sponsor are real.”
Robin Munro | Managing Editor