This Sunday, my oldest son Matthew was able to share with our church congregation (particularly the children) something that has been near and dear to his heart for the nine months or so. It has been amazing to see what God has been doing that I thought I'd share a little of the backstory.
As I knew that he was quickly approaching the teen years, I sensed that the Lord wanted to do more with my son. My husband and I had already saw his ability to encourage and lead others on the volleyball court. He made friends easily and has been blessed with good solid friendships that have grown over the years. So last year, as part of our discipleship time, Matthew and I read the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. Through our reading together, he was able to hear stories of other young teens who did big things for God...and he wanted to see what God might do through him.
Already, Matthew had been helping to support a little boy from Honduras through World Vision, and as a part of that commitment, he would receive regular brochures and letters. One day, he came across an appeal that caught his eye. He read all the literature that was sent and then shared it with me. This then inspired him to do some research to learn more. He learned that while malaria has been completely eradicated in the United States, it was still a real issue for many in Africa.
We sat over lunch at Panera Bread one day while he shared what he learned. He then shared that he wanted to raise enough money to provide nets for the country that had the most incidences of malaria. We crunched some numbers and did some more research. In talking with other missionaries in Africa, we have learned that what is an essential to us is a luxury to many Africans. With so many living in poverty, when it comes to choosing between food and a net, it really is a no-brainer. And so malaria continues to spread.
Then came the next step: enlisting help. As we had read in Do Hard Things, we were reminded that some hard things needed the collaboration of others. Of course, he started with his best friends. This was the first hard thing he had to do. For a bunch of boys who were used to just running around shooting at each other with Nerf guns, this was serious business! I was so tickled when Matthew came home from church one day and told me, "I feel so relieved." I asked him why. He said, "I told my friends about what I want to do with this malaria project." First victory! Shortly afterwards, Team Malaria: Kids 4 Kids was born! Since then, Matthew and his team have had to pitch this idea to our church missions pastor, Sunday school superintendent, and homeschool group. With each presentation, his confidence has grown.
With the help of others in our church, Matthew and his buddies were able to put together a video, which you can view below, and shared it with the kids at our church today. Every step has stretched his faith and shown him a little more of God's amazing power, even though he is still young.
And so here we are today. The story still isn't finished yet. This is where I want to invite you to join in. Will you help continue this story? I cannot even begin to tell you what God has already done in the lives of Matthew and his friends. And your kids can get in on the excitement too!
Our world does not expect much from our youth. And so they, not surprisingly, live up to that expectation. But what if we as parents refuse to buy into this belief and challenge our children to take big steps of faith while they are still young? Left alone, many kids may be perfectly content to while away their hours in front of the TV or computer or with whatever video game gadget that is popular at the time. They need us to think bigger and dream bigger too. I know we can plead that we are too busy, but even if our kids have all the experiences in the world and yet do not have a heart for the things of God, have we really equipped them for a life of faith?
In a world where evil seems to have the upper hand, I want to raise children that will stand up for what is good and right, who have the moral strength and perseverance to keep serving Jesus despite hardships. This is really more than just raising money for mosquito nets. It is an invitation to help shape the next generation. I hope you'll join us as we seek to bless others with what God has blessed us with.
Note: We will be collecting funds through our church, Evergreen Baptist Church, SGV. Details on how to donate can be found on the Team Malaria website on the Donations page. Whether you live locally or in places distant, I encourage you to consider helping your children invest in something that will reap eternal dividends. What the boys dream of are seeing kids, not just adults, rise up and join them. We hope your kids will be one of them!
Here's a flyer that we put together to help kids start thinking about what practical things they can do to help. Hopefully, it will give you a start! Click here for I Want to Help!