The late President George H.W. Bush had a secret few people knew about: At the age of 77, he felt moved by compassion to support a child overseas who never suspected at the time that the elderly man he was sending letters back and forth to was the former President of the United States.
The heartwarming story of their correspondence was shared by Compassion International, a Christian organization that partners with churches in other countries to match kids in need to people who want to financially support them as well as build a penpal friendship with them through letters and photos.
Bush was moved by a presentation by Compassion at a Christmas concert in D.C. back in 2001, CNN reported. Much to the surprise of his security personnel, the 77-year-old raised his hand at the concert in order to receive a pamphlet about Compassion’s sponsorship program.
For ten years, Bush supported a Filipino boy, helping feed and educate him. Bush’s security team always had to caution the former president about revealing too much about his identity in his letters to the boy lest he inadvertently make the boy a target, former Compassion president Wess Stafford explained to CNN. Bush signed his letters “George Walker.”
"His letters were the most sweet, spirited letters I have read from any sponsor, but he kept giving hints as to who he could be. He was really pushing the envelope," Stafford explained.
Bush would tell the boy about his visits to the White House and about knowing famous people.
"Here is a picture of our dog," he wrote in one letter. "Her name is Sadie. She has met a lot of famous people. She is a very good dog she was born in England. She catches mice and chipmunks, and she runs like the wind. G. Walker."
"Dear Timothy, I love that picture of you holding that 'World Time' gadget,” he wrote another time. “I also have learned that you play the guitar — terrific! Timothy, have you ever heard of the White House? That's where the president of the USA lives. I got to go to the White House at Christmas time. Here is a little booklet that I got at the White House in Washington."
In response, Stafford said, "Timothy would send him hand drawings and told the President how much he liked art, so he sent over color pencils, sketch pads, and paint. I waited for my staff to go to the Philippines and send it with them. They would then bring it to the church Timothy was a part of, so he could collect his gifts."
Timothy was gracious and appreciative in his correspondence with the former president, too, writing in one letter, "Dear Mr. & Mrs. Walker, How are you? I hope you're in good condition. I would like to thank you for not forgetting me. You're so nice and good. God is so good to us. He gives us the body & will to get to where we want to go. Thank you so much for the book, I like it very much."
Bush’s identity was revealed when Timothy graduated from the program. A Compassion representative told the 17-year-old in person who’d he’d been communicating with.
The news was shocking and life-changing for Timothy.
It’s been several years since then, and Timothy’s whereabouts are unknown, but Stafford is confidence that “we know he's now living a successful life. Sponsoring a child, even if they are still in the womb, can encourage them and guide them to become great human beings."
Watch former President George W. Bush's touching eulogy of his father: