Monday, December 16, 2013


First of all, thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU for your entries in the My Christmas List contest. You have inspired me, the judges, and my readers with your stories of helping others not only during the Christmas season, but all year long.

Another huge thanks to my panel of judges. We judges--two from B&H, author Laura L. Smith, my intern (also an Amy :), and of course, myself--all had different favorites, but in the end, we only had one $200 LifeWay gift card to give away. 

That gift card and an autographed copy of My Christmas List goes to [drumroll]:
Kevin Butler, for his submission, Keith, the Traveler. Kevin's entry was not only about reaching out to those in need, but it also helped us all to see "need" in a different light. Congratulations, Kevin! 

Coming in a close second and receiving a signed My Christmas List is Janice Pianki, who submitted Following the Call, an entry that tells how missions can work both ways, forever changing the hearts of all involved.

Third--and one of my favorites because I met this little guy's mommy--is Little Hands Make a Big Difference from Austin Richardson. His mommy had me crying right along with her after I spoke to Austin's school that day.

Mandy Mullinix also receives a signed copy of My Christmas List for honoring her son with an entry: Eagle Scout Inspires a Community. Aiden is such a positive role model for teenagers and a source of hope for the rest of us.

And one final signed copy of My Christmas List goes to Diane Stockard for A God-Sent Christmas Miracle. Although Diane's family had lost everything, she poured her heart into Christmas gifts for loved ones. Coincidentally, Diane received a miraculous Christmas surprise herself.

Thank you so much to these and every other submission for telling us what was on your Christmas lists this year. Together, you've inspired us all to think a little beyond ourselves when we pen our lists for Christmases to come.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Changing the World, One Penny at a Time!

This My Christmas List contest entry comes from a growing church in Kentucky that's teaching its kids how to be "change agents" one penny at a time.

At Vanceburg Bethesda we are missions minded, both our little people and the adults. Our little ones participate in BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge). BGMC is a program for kids that instills a heart of compassion to reach the lost through praying, giving, and going. All funds raised go to meet critical needs around the world, such as feeding programs, water wells, Bible schools, curriculum, and whatever else missionaries need in their part of the world.

All month long you can find our kids digging in couch cushions, emptying cup holders and car ashtrays of change, even doing chores to collect as much change as they can to fill their Buddy Barrels for BGMC Sunday. This is a picture of our pastor talking with the kids (and a few dads and grandpas to even out the boys' side) about what BGMC is all about. 

Every third Sunday of the month, our kids bring in their Buddy Barrels they've been collecting change in all month and dump all of the change out on the floor. After a short message from our BGMC Coordinator to remind everyone of why we support BGMC, the "change agents" (kids) race to gather it all up, boys vs. girls. 

This was our first year. Last year at this time, our church had 12 people. We now average around 70. We started BGMC with an annual goal of $250. The kids have been collecting and donating about that amount every month since this summer. 

This Sunday, December 15th, if the girls win, our pastor will shave his beard he's been growing for over a year. And if the boys win, the pastor's wife gets a pie in the face. 

So Bethesda kids are learning to be compassionate givers, one penny at a time! 

Love God, Love People!

Thanks to some great leaders, these kids are learning that no matter how little we are or how little we think we have, we can make a BIG difference in this world. Thank you, Vanceburg, Bethesda!

Following the Call

This My Christmas List contest entry comes from Janice, a mother who always wanted her children to follow God's calling. Then, God came knocking at her own door, and her family's life--not to mention the people of Honduras--was forever changed.

As a mother, I have always tried to teach my children to obey God’s calling. Based on this, I was extremely proud when my daughter began going on mission trips to Honduras every summer. However, the tables began to turn when she would ask me to go with her. For a long time, I argued that it was a medical trip and I was not in the medical field; therefore, it must not be my calling. However, one year the team needed a cook. I had cooked for Army soldiers and large church groups for over 20 years. I could go be the team cook, and this changed everything. That year, I submitted to God’s calling and decided to go on the trip. As a result, my husband and son also decided to go with us. It was a whole family adventure and we were forever changed. 

While on the trip, the team served in a remote village by hosting medical and dental clinics, having tent church services and just loving on people in need. Every day, I cooked with no electricity or running water for over 120 people. After serving the first meal to our team members, I was told to fix plates for our guards. These men volunteered to stay up all night every night to watch over us and our supplies in exchange for only a flashlight and meals! At first, we gave them what we had left after each meal, the leftovers. Plates were loaded with simple meals like hamburger and fries, but you cannot imagine their gratitude.  

Later, I went around the corner to throw out some water and saw a guard feeding his entire family of five from the single plate of food he had been given. As the tears rolled down my face, I thought about the love a parent has for their children. I have shared food from my plate with my children many times, but always because they wanted it-- never because they needed it and definitely not because that was all we had. From that point forward, I began fixing the guards huge plates of food first, every meal, not the leftovers. My heart was broken, and I couldn't eat my own food that trip because all I could see were the hungry families everywhere I looked.

Several years later on another trip, I noticed a little boy was at the gate every day eating the food we were serving, but I couldn't figure out how he was getting the food. My daughter is fluent in Spanish, so I had her ask him. He replied, “This is my daddy’s plate. He gives it to me every time.” Needless to say, that guard got two plates every meal. What a sacrifice that daddy made by giving his plate that he worked for to his son, all the while, not knowing if he himself would eat that day.

These fathers gave everything they had, their own food to their children. Yet our Father in Heaven has given us so much more by sacrificing His Son. Honduras has changed mine and my family’s perspective about anything, but more importantly it has changed our hearts. Even in the comforts of the United States, we now give more than we used to, and we cherish our blessings so much more. My son asked me one day, “Mom, why don’t we take family vacations like we used to?  I think we should go to Hawaii.” I explained to him that we couldn't afford both trips, and we would have to give up Honduras. Without hesitation, he said, “Never mind; it’s not worth it.”

We do make sacrifices to go on this trip each year and to give to missions throughout the year, but the blessings we get back far exceed what we give up. This is our offering of ourselves to God, but it is nothing compared to the sacrifice Christ made for us. During the holidays (and all year), we need to remember that baby Jesus in the manger is God the Father’s gift to us, the ultimate sacrifice given in His great love for us, his children.

It is God’s love for us that compels us to love others. As we strive to do this, I am impressed every year at the way God draws others to serve alongside us through BMDMI and the work they are doing in Honduras. My immediate family continues to go to Honduras every year, but now members of our extended family and our church family are also blessed by serving in this way. Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International (BMDMI) is carrying out the great commission and providing a path for normal people, in all different professions to be the hands and feet of Christ. In fact, Amy Parker’s mother is one of the nurses on our trip each summer.

These stories don't even begin to express the depths of how my life and so many other lives have been impacted by this ministry. Serving the people of Honduras has become my passion. It is my heart and my mission field. My Christmas wish is to have more money to help meet basic needs of people in Honduras, like feeding the hungry and providing medicine to the sick, as a means of pointing them towards Christ.   

P.S. Amy Parker’s mother is one of our nurses on this trip. Thank you, Betty, for giving for this trip.

Thank you, Janice (and MOM!), for being the hands and feet of Jesus, not only to the families of Honduras, but to your own family as well.

Eagle Scout Inspires a Community

This entry in the My Christmas List contest comes from Mandy, the mom of a prospective Eagle Scout. For his Eagle Scout project, Aiden's goal was to send thirty care packages to the troops. But his project inspired a community to do so much more.

Aiden brought the Tiger Cubs on board
to make cards for the troops
I want to share briefly what my 15-year-old son did this Christmas. He was collecting items to create 30 care packages for our troops stationed abroad this holiday season. It was a project with a lot of moving parts, and he was responsible for all parts--from the planning, collecting, sorting, packing, and then mailing.

Thanks to many others in the community, he was able to pack 40 care packages for U.S. soldiers stationed all over the world in the military. That was over 472 lbs. of holiday cheer to active duty soldiers.

I'm really proud of him for this. But here’s the biggest thing that made my heart sing. I wanted him to write up a note to put in each box explaining his project. He told me, “Mom, it’s a better blessing to do something nice, but not to get credit for it.”

Aiden with FORTY boxes,
packed and ready to go
Wow! He’s right. Still, I did tell him we needed to share a note so maybe we can hear back from them (and that helps us know they arrived). He did it, but I’m glad his first response was simple humility. 

Aiden's project even made the paper! Read more about it here. Thank you, Aiden, for being a selfless, serving teenager--a species believed to be extinct until now! 

Sister Schools Show Brotherly Love

This My Christmas List contest entry comes from Mrs. Wade, a kindergarten teacher at Providence Christian Academy. Like the little boy in My Christmas List, these students have Uganda on their Christmas lists too! Mrs. Wade tells and shows us how her "Sweets" are encouraging students on the other side of the world. 

The students made cards for children at our sister school Divine Grace Primary in Uganda, Africa, to encourage them and remind them that we pray for them and care about them. 

The students from our sister school write back usually in a journal form. 

Also, their school leaders visit the U.S. and will visit PCA. Their leaders may lead a chapel at PCA and have a special prayer time with the teachers.

A huge THANK YOU to Mrs. Wade and her students for sharing the love of God with the children of Uganda.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Little Hands Make a Big Difference

This My Christmas List contest entry, from kindergartener Austin Richardson, shows us that we're never too little to make a big difference.

Austin and his little sister
sending shoe boxes
Dear Mrs. Parker,

I am in Kindergarten at The Covenant School. I really enjoyed hearing you read the book during our school's Book Fair. With my mom's help typing, I wanted to enter the contest for the Christmas List. 

Our family helps others in need ALL year long. We help with our church's Room in the Inn program during the cold months. I liked bringing food to feed the men.
This past weekend, our family (with some other friends) helped bring food to families staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Vandy.

On Orphan Sunday and during the month of December, I help my mom and dad at church to sell the Ornaments4Orphans. I like to think about what the money goes to help the kids in Africa.

In November, we sent 2 different shoe boxes through Operation Christmas Child. We can't wait to find out where our boxes went!! Mom attached a picture of us with the boxes to this email.

At Halloween, we sold our candy to a local dentist who sent the candy to soldiers in the Middle East.

I love to give the newspaper sellers (The Contributor) money and tell them to save the newspaper to make more money!!

We always give our toys and clothes that we don't use to the GoodWill.

The lady that cuts our hair, Ms. Heather, her apartment burned down, and she lost everything. We gave her a lot of items that we didn't need any more. Her smile was huge when she saw all the things!!!

Most of all, we like to help send items to my sister's former orphanage in China. We adopted her last year, and we love to help the other kids that are still there. In fact, when my mommy heard you read your book, she started crying when you read the page about the girl in China!! Then, we went to buy your book immediately (and we bought one for our friends who are waiting to bring home a boy from India).

Thank you so much for writing the book!!!  I love the pictures in the book too!!


Austin Richardson

Wow, Austin. You and your family are setting a huge example for other kids and families everywhere. Thank YOU for already knowing what a Christmas list should be.

A God-Sent Christmas Miracle

Today's My Christmas List contest entry comes from Diane Stockard, with a God-sent Christmas miracle from her childhood.

I have several, but the one that always reminds me of Christmas is this one:

When I was around 7 years old, our house burned down to the ground a few days before Christmas. I will never forget standing out there with a blanket around me on that rainy and sleeting night.  People were running around and screaming. I was just standing there watching the flames take our house. That night was a night that I will never forget. My parents were out cleaning buildings and when they came around the corner, they had no idea that our house was the one burning. There were 5 children in that house, and we all got out. This was the first time that I saw my daddy cry.

That week, we stayed with my grandmother. I decided that God had given me the gift of art, so I painted Christmas Cards with the juice from berries or whatever I could make color from. I took old paper bags and I cut them into Christmas card size, and I took cardboard and made Christmas Cards. I took the cards around the neighborhood and sold them, so that I could get my family Christmas presents. I went to the local store on the corner with my little money, and I bought everyone in my family Christmas presents. Things like pocket knives for my brothers and father, little toy jewelry for my sisters, some cheap perfume for my momma, and I made some of the Christmas presents out of wood, because I could carve things. I wrapped them all up in whatever paper I could find and made ribbons out of newspaper. I was so proud of my presents. My Grandmother had a tiny tree, so I put the presents out at night and went to bed.

Early the next morning, I passed out all my presents and everyone loved them, but there came a knock at the door. My daddy went outside to talk to 3 tall vanilla men.  I thought, “Oh Lord, something else has happened.” Then my daddy came in and smiled.  When we looked up, those men were bringing in baskets and baskets of food and presents. There was a present with my name on it, and when I opened that present, my heart dropped. For years I had gone by the hardware store and saw this tall, beautiful plastic doll. I use to say, “I wish I could have a doll like this one day.”  Each Christmas, I would go up to that store and look at the toys and just wish! My family didn’t have much money, but on that snowy Christmas morning, I thought, “Santa sent me that doll.” 

It was the best Christmas ever. I gave to my family, and God gave back to me. . . .

Only one day left to inspire others with your story! Let us know how you're helping others this Christmas by sending your story--in words, photos, or even kid-colored pictures--to

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Children Serving Children

This entry in the My Christmas List contest comes from a school in Murfreesboro that is showing children from an early age how to quite literally impact the world, at Christmastime and all year long.

Participating in Operation Christmas Child is a long-standing tradition at Providence Christian Academy for our Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade students. We kick-off our collection each year with a special chapel service. Over the years, we've heard messages from teachers describing how Operation Christmas Child has impacted their lives, as well as hearing from actual shoe box recipients. The message is clear: the shoe boxes spread the love of Jesus Christ far around the globe and touch the hearts of those packing the boxes here at PCA.

Each year our tree overflows with boxes packed with toys, necessities, and a Bible for needy children. We have collected thousands of boxes since beginning the program over a decade ago. The boxes are distributed through the organization, Samaritan's Purse

This year we collected over 275 boxes. Before sending the boxes off, our PCA students, faculty & parents spend time praying over each box. In addition to collecting shoe boxes, our high school students served an important role in the next phase of the shoe box process. They packaged all shoe boxes for shipment at our local drop-off point. 

Operation Christmas Child is a favorite service project at PCA - and one that we will continue for many years to come! It's on our Christmas List!

Like this idea? Pack a shoebox with Uncle Si:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Keith, the Traveler

Keith the Traveler
The first entry in the My Christmas List contest comes from Kevin Butler, a pastor in Lebanon, Tennessee. But know this: he didn't intend to enter a contest. He didn't set out to help someone. He just followed his heart and something beautiful happened. 

His story . . .

A homeless man was walking down Highway 109 North. He was struggling under the weight of carrying two backpacks and a large rolled up tarp. It was cold that day and difficult to walk with no shoulder to separate him from the seventy miles-per-hour cars zooming past. You could almost see the force of the passing cars attempting to spin his backpack from off his shoulders. It was eleven in the morning and he already looked as if he would pass out at any moment. It was not for show because he didn’t know I was watching and studying him. 

Before I became a Christian, I would have probably rolled down my window and shouted, “Get a job, you bum!” 

But now that I have the God of the universe beating inside my heart, a different emotion filled my mind. I can’t label it compassion nor would I call it pity. The feeling was more like a duty. Something that I should do just because it would be the right thing to do. It’s one of those moments when you know that turning away would be a sin to you. 

He looked shocked and carried an eye of suspicion as I opened my Jeep's passenger door. I told him I was heading toward the interstate if he wanted a ride. I was expecting him to jump right in, but he studied me for a moment, nodded his head, and dropped the backpacks from off his shoulders. Before climbing into the cab, he offered his hand. “My name's, Keith.”

“Glad to meet you, Keith. I’m Kevin.”

We both smiled as he tossed his bags in the back and southbound we went. 

Along the six-mile route little was spoken except small talk about the weather and his previous locations. It didn't take long for the cab to fill with the smell of a dirty dumpster, but Keith never apologized. He would never label himself as a homeless man. Keith preferred the caption of a Traveler. He was proud of his latest find--a pair of shoes that he pulled out of a Gallatin dumpster last night before bedding down in the wet grass just behind the post office. To my surprise the shoes looked as though they had just come off a shoe store shelf. 

With no family alive anymore, save an older brother in California, Keith admitted to always having a wandering spirit ever since childhood. Always curious about what’s around the corner, Keith was well schooled in how to survive in his non-paying traveling profession. 

My stomach growled, and I asked Keith if he wanted to grab a bite to eat before we reached the interstate. My treat. I could sense a hesitation in his body language. There’s no telling how long it’s been since he’s had a full and warm meal. I asked why the caution about eating with me, but he quickly changed the subject to his hometown in Oklahoma. Odd. 

As the bustle of the I-40 exit came into view, the smell of the surrounding restaurants started to quickly leak through the canvas top of my Jeep. His hunger was visible, yet he refused a free meal. So I asked why.

Keith told me about the last man who offered to give him a ride and a warm meal. The driver picked Keith up, pulled into a gas station, and told Keith to go inside and get whatever food he wanted while the driver pumped some gas in his truck. You could see the pain in Keith’s eyes as he then told of looking out the store window and watching the driver pull off with Keith’s entire life belongings. Keith was a veteran traveler, and he was cautious of me. 

I assured him that we would sit and eat together. "Besides," I told him, "your clothes won't fit me." He didn't find that funny. 

As we pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot, Keith admitted that he wasn't dressed to eat inside. So, I looked in the back of my Jeep and found a blue Titans tee-shirt and tossed it toward him. I could see his thankfulness through his smile. 

Before we entered through the storefront doors, Keith stopped and took his hat off. Once inside he wanted me to order first, then he ordered the exact same. I didn't realize it at the time, but Keith probably had trouble reading the menu. 

When our meals came, I asked Keith if I could pray for our food and for his travels. He smiled, revealing his tarred and offset teeth. After my prayer, Keith dropped his guard and started a conversation about prayer and faith. 

“I guess because you prayed, you are a Christian?”

“Yep. I sure am.”

“So, is that why you picked me up?” 

I had to think about this one. 

“Yes and no. I picked you up because I would want to be picked up, so no. But Yes, because if it were not for Jesus changing my life I would have probably tried to see if I could run you into the ditch.” Again, Keith didn’t laugh. 

He had never had a gyro with lamb meat, and he ate like he would never have another. 

“You’re not like most Christians I’ve met.”

“How’s that, Keith?”

“Usually they will only help me out in order to witness to me or hand me a tract or try to convert me to their religion or denomination. Once they see I’m not interested, they’re done with helping a traveler like me out.”

“That’s sad.”

“Why are you different? Do you have any tracts?”


“Are you scared to share the Gospel with me?”

“I don’t think so,” I said with a smile, since I hadn't yet told Keith I was a pastor. 

“Well, aren't you going to share the Gospel with me?”

“Do I need to?” 
This question puzzled Keith. For the first time since we met, Keith laughed, allowing a small piece of meat to fall onto his untrimmed beard. His answer was priceless.

“No. I’m a Christian myself. Been saved for almost 30 years, and I do love my Lord. Was baptized in the river. One of the greatest days of my life. Of all these years of traveling nobody’s ever asked me about my faith. They just assume that I’m a sinful, lost, homeless bum.”

“Keith, I would call you more of a traveler.” We both smiled at each other as we continued sipping our Sprites. 

After the meal, I helped Keith with his bags. Still, he was very guarded over his belongings. He started to take off the shirt I loaned him earlier, but I told him he could keep it. As we shared a big man hug with each other, I told Keith how far Nashville was from where we were and told him I had one more thing for him. 

I reached into my wallet and handed Keith one of my business cards. I told him to call me if he ever needed prayer or help. He held the card just inches from his nose and studied it for a good while. You could see his mouth trying to sound out the word pastor

He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and asked, “You’re a pastor?”

“Yes. I am.”

“No,” Keith insisted, “today, you were an angel sent from God.”

I smiled in reply. “No, Keith. Today, you were the angel.”

Keith’s final words to me were, “Brother, I'll see you on the other side of this world. When you sit and think about it, Kevin, I suppose we are all travelers on this small thing called Earth.” 

With that, Keith gave me the most curious wink as if he was radiating the glow of God Himself. 

As I drove back to my office, the aroma of trash still lingered in the cab, but that didn't keep me from praising God. And to think, I almost missed a great blessing by not stopping to help a fellow traveler out. 

I wonder how many Messengers we have passed by. How many Brothers or Sisters we have missed out on having wholesome conversations? How many travelers we have tried to push our religion on without first showing them the love of Christ and getting to know them?

If you get to heaven before me and see an angel in a blue Titans shirt, please tell Keith I said hi.

What have you done to help your  fellow travelers? Join Kevin in entering the My Christmas List contest by submitting your stories to

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Enter the My Christmas List Contest!

Want to change the world? 

Want to spread the true meaning of Christmas? 

Want to win some great prizes?!

Enter the My Christmas List contest!

Following the theme of My Christmas List, we're inviting you to share your own list by telling how you and your family have helped others in need. 

1. Submit photos and/or stories of you or your family helping others in your community and around the world.* Volunteering? Sponsoring a child? Donating to a food bank? Sending letters to soldiers? Tell us about it. And don't be shy: you never know how your story will inspire others to do the same!

2. EVERY photo and/or story will be featured right here on my blog. I'm gonna post, tweet, and shout from the mountaintops what YOU'RE doing to change the world. **

3. On December 10, the contest ends, and a panel of judges, including myself, will review all entries.***

4. On December 15, FIVE winners will be notified that they have won autographed copies of My Christmas List. ONE winner will be notified that he or she has won an autographed copy of My Christmas List AND a $200 gift card from LifeWay.

But really, just by participating, you receive the greatest reward: becoming more aware of the needs of others, reaping the benefits of serving, and realizing the great abundance in our own lives. When each of us do our part, we can make a big difference by serving those on our Christmas lists. 

So come on, show us how you're making Christmas--and all year long--a time to give, serve, and love the world. Submit your stories today.

*By submitting stories and/or photos, you give permission for me to use on my blog. 
**Obviously, any photo or story content I deem questionable will not be included. Stories may be edited for length and/or content.
***Winners will be selected by the sole discretion of the judges.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Awards!

Young Adult Nonfiction
Courageous Teens
Michael Catt
with Amy Parker
Children's Fiction
Brent McCorkle
and Amy Parker
When I got the email, all I could think was, "I'm gonna need a bigger shelf." (Okay, so we watched Jaws this weekend. . . .)

As a follow-up to my previous post, both Firebird and Courageous Teens were announced as recipients of Christian Retailing's Best Awards at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) this week.

Tickled, honored, humbled doesn't even cut it. But that's the closest I can get. 

I'm tickled that these books--the first to launch from the new B&H Kids line--have done so well. (Firebird was also named a finalist for the 2013 Christian Book Award.) I'm completely honored by the opportunity to play a small part in these projects. And still, it's humbling to think that these two little books are just drops in the bucket of all of the heart-and-soul-moving Christian products out there doing their parts to expand the Kingdom. They don't all get awards, but they all should. 

Every Christian product represents an individual (actually, an entire team of individuals) who takes a risk, who forfeits family time, who subjects himself to ridicule and criticism by placing his heart on public display in an attempt to follow God's call and to further God's purposes.

So let's not just celebrate the books with the sparkly statues; let's celebrate this mission that we're on, the part that YOU play, the impact that we're having in an ever-darkening world. 

Let's celebrate the light that still dares to shine.

Thank you and you and you and you and YOU for being part of that light.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Awards for Firebird, Courageous Teens

It's been a great month for two projects that bear my name.

Really, I was just given the privilege of working on them. For Firebird, I adapted the story from the film Unconditional, brilliantly written by Brent McCorkle and based on a real person, Papa Joe,  from right here in Nashville. And on Courageous Teens, I worked with Michael Catt (executive producer of the films Fireproof and Courageous) to adapt his call to courage for a teen audience. His message has already inspired so many adults; if we can instill Christian courage at a teen level, I cannot imagine the impact we would see in our world.

Apparently, the market agrees on both accounts. Firebird was named a finalist for the 2013 Christian Book Award. They're announcing the winners on April 29 (and the ceremony just happens to be at my church :).

Courageous Teens is a finalist in Christian Retailing's Best awards, a list that also names an adorable little oriole as a finalist. The winners will be announced at the International Christian Retail Show in June.

I don't do this job for the awards. (If I did, I would've quit a long time ago. ;) But I do thank God for industry recognition; it's His way of opening a few more doors. And you'd better believe that I'm celebrating right along with the team who made these books happen.

If you have either of these books on your bookshelf or even if you've told a friend about them, you're a part of that team. Thank you.

Let's celebrate!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Blessing for a Blessing (Part 2)

Remember little Mugisha? From this photo alone, you know he's going far in the world--if only his little feet would cooperate.

So one by one, twenty by twenty, we raised enough to buy a wheelchair for Mugisha.

But that was only half of the battle. I had asked you to pray as well, pray that a child's wheelchair, a rare find in his part of the world, would find its way to Mugisha.
Mugisha in the adult wheelchair

Zachary (from the UCC) said, "We have tried our best to find those local made wheelchair that he can pedal himself, but the one we found was too big for him." 

Still, those guys at the UCC aren't the type to give up easily.

(Who needs a caption?!)

And then the miracle: "Yesterday we have got standard wheelchairs from Handicap International, and we have found one that fit Mugisha."

But you know our God, don't you? He just couldn't stop there.

Ngabo and his new set of wheels

From Zachary, "The local made one was given to another boy called Ngabo who also needed a wheelchair so much." Ngabo was hidden for over ten years in his home (as disabled children often are), until someone found him and brought him to the UCC. He's now been attending the UCC for about a year and "has started to recover and live with others without a problem." 

Thanks to you--and the UCC--Mugisha and Ngabo are gonna go far!

From Zachary, "Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to get this wheelchair."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Thank-You Note to YOU

Your 20s, changing a life
Back in November, after being completely overwhelmed by the "home visit" report from the Ubumwe Community Center, I asked for a wheelchair for Christmas.  

Among many other profiles, the report included a precious little boy named Mugisha (meaning "blessing") who was reduced to wallowing in the dirt because his legs wouldn't carry him to the opportunities waiting for him. Four hundred dollars would forever change this boy's life.

I had just returned from an unfathomably expensive (and worth every cent) trip to Rwanda. I didn't have four hundred dollars. But I had twenty. And I thought that maybe you did too.

So I did the very least I could do: I asked. And the twenties trickled in. But not enough. Then someone who had pledged to help (with twenty dollars, I assumed) wrote me a check for one hundred. But we still weren't there.

Then, on December 23, I get a Facebook message from Laura, a person I've only met through Facebook, who (unbeknownst to me) had been collecting money from her Sunday school class. A one hundred dollar check was in the mail. And I was getting a wheelchair for Christmas.

More importantly, Mugisha was getting a wheelchair . . . for life.

So thank you, thank you, thank you--for your prayers and your contributions.

But if I may ask, I still need your help. Wheelchairs, especially for children, are hard to find in Gisenyi, Rwanda. And while the financial hurdle is a huge one, it's only one. Would you please pray that a wheelchair finds its way to Mugisha?

And again, thank you. Thank you for proving that doing what you can with what you have still changes lives.