On Sunday, March 18th, First UMC of Colleyville held a dual annual kickoff event for their thriving Sponsor A Child initiative, and the Run for Rescue 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk to support missioners who serve in Sierra Leone. The church members' response was especially enthusiastic, due to a beautiful Sponsor A Child display with photos of students sponsored by church members, and children who need sponsors. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the event, with special thanks to Ruth Ann Meek, SAC coordinator for First UMC, Karen Roeming, partner church representative, and Sharon Gardner and Neil McKinnon, Run for Rescue organizers. First UMC is grateful to partner church Otterbein UMC for inspiring their new SAC display.
Manchester UMC (Manchester, Missouri) has a uniquely talented and enthusiastic children’s choir, directed by Lori Borger. Every year, the choir of fourth and fifth graders, called "Music Makers," stages a musical and selects a cause to receive the love offering taken at the event. This year, Lori and her kids chose the Child Rescue Centre as beneficiaries of their musical, "Rescue in the Night."
Written by Tom Long and Alan Pote, "Rescue in the Night" is a musical retelling of the Biblical story of Daniel in the Lions' den. “The story of Daniel is one of courage and trust in God." Lori explained. "We made one of our themes this year about rising to our full potential, like Daniel did, without compromising… and also allowing others to rise to THEIR full potential, by standing up for friends who are being bullied, like Daniel was by the King’s advisors. We also rise by doing what we can to help ALL children – even those we don’t know, halfway around the world - rise to THEIR full potential. That’s what Helping Children Worldwide does every day – and we are honored to be able to support your work.”
While planning and practicing for the annual concert, Lori encourages her kids to shoot for the stars, while helping them to maintain reasonable expectations. “I always set what I believe is a realistic goal for the kids,” Lori told us, “as I want them to experience that feeling of success....and the excitement of exceeding their goal...so our goal was to fund a child's tuition for every child in our entire Children's Music program, which is 76 kids, or $3800. I'm happy to report that these kids touched hearts in a very powerful way.”
The kids blew that goal out of the water, and the offering collected at the three concerts held on March 3rd and 4th raised over $10,000 for the Child Rescue Centre. At the cast party, Borger shared the news. “Well, just as I predicted - excitement and joyful screaming ensued!” she shared.
Clearly, the musical was a smashing success, but Lori sees a much deeper purpose than simply showcasing the kids' awesome talent or raising funds. “Each time we are able to give children the experience of taking a personal role in lifting someone else up in a significant way, I can almost visibly see THEM rise as well… they sit a little taller; they understand that even as a child, they can collectively harness the powerful force of doing GOOD…and how GOOD that feels. I just love seeing the light in their eyes – and tears in some, too - when they realize that they have made the world a better, brighter place for someone.
"It has been the joy of my life to be able to do what I love: theater and music and children – and to let children experience the joy of lifting others up, and empower them to know that they can make the world a better place for someone else at any age, when we come together for a common good. AND, I love introducing them to just a small fraction of the amazing programs going on all over the world, like the Child Rescue Centre, that are dedicated to helping others….there are SO many ways to plug in and help our hurting world!"
Otterbein UMC in Harrisonburg, VA, pastored by Rev. Adam Blagg, really loves their sponsored students.
The partner church proudly displays the profiles of all the Child Rescue Centre students sponsored by church members in a prominent place, with Psalm 147:4 posted above: "He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names."
The church's strong commitment to the CRC and pride in their students, is evident in the "Otterbein's Star Scholars" display. It's like a display you might see in the hallway of an American school, although a closer look reveals that the students are 4500 miles away.
A recent sponsorship event at the church added eight more students to the total, whose pictures will soon be added to the display.
By Chris Smith, Communications Coordinator, Galilee United Methodist Church
When Jason Duley runs long distances, he’s doing what makes him feel most alive.
“My legs are pumping and it feels good. My lungs are opened up, I’m really breathing. I feel one with my surroundings, though I’m moving fast so they may be a bit of a blur,” he says. “I do feel alive!”
You might say that as pastor at Galilee UMC in Sterling, VA, Jason is in the business of feeling alive. He gets plenty of work overseeing funerals (or “celebrations of life,” as he prefers to call them), but his real passion is pouring out the living water of God’s message to his congregation—so that they feel more spiritually alive.
“God put us on the earth to live and to know that we are alive,” says Jason. “In a sense, the question of “who am I?” or “what should I be doing?” is answered by knowing what makes us feel most alive.You have to answer the question for yourself.”
“For me, there’s a charge I get from endurance exercise. God created us with bodies and the spiritual and the physical are two sides of a coin. Exercise improves not just my health, but my understanding and my compassion. And, bonus! There is something else that makes me feel alive: service. Reaching those who I can really help charges my batteries for sure. I’m blessed to have found that I can combine these two things, by running for Mercy Hospital.”
This April, Jason ran the North Face Endurance Challenge 2017—his first ever marathon. An unusual marathon, it is run through beautiful terrain on the banks of the Potomac River, where there are plenty of hills to test one’s endurance. To run it is an accomplishment, and a runner can take plenty of satisfaction in conquering those 26 miles.
For Jason, there was a higher goal.
“I’m a pastor, which means I talk to a lot of people. I also have nearly a thousand friends on social media. Using the megaphone of modern technology, I set up a funding site and asked people to chip in with small donations to help my favorite cause in the world, Mercy Hospital in Bo, Sierra Leone.”
“I asked for people to give a dollar per mile, or two dollars, or a lump sum. Whatever they could. I wasn’t expecting gazillions, nor was there any reason why I needed to have money to run this marathon. It’s just that I could do this. I could lift up Bo, grabbing people’s attention for an afternoon as I huffed and puffed with a number on my back.”
Jason set a goal of $500. He raised $708 online, and received many more donations offline, for a total of $6000. “Which is an amount—though it isn’t huge—that I know can save lives in Sierra Leone.”
Jason’s church, GalileeUMC, is one of the original partner churches of Helping Children Worldwide. But for Jason, who arrived at Galilee in 2014, the mission of saving lives in Sierra Leone is newer.
“It was when I visited Mercy Hospital for the first time this spring that I found out what a remarkable place Africa is, and Sierra Leone, and Bo, in particular. How helping women and children in the midst of serious poverty can make an impact that dwarfs much of what I accomplish at home.”
“Being with the doctors and the staff at Mercy, visiting with the patients alongside the Helping Children Worldwide team…I felt like I was in that zone. I felt truly alive, like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is where God has placed me and it is for a reason of higher significance.”
“So I made a commitment to myself. I was training to do this spiritual thing that makes me feel alive, running a marathon. How great to connect one ultimately rewarding activity to another, helping our brothers and sisters in Bo.”
“Maybe there is a better way to feel the charge of God’s positive spirit, but if there is, I don’t know what it is.”
Jason has not always been a runner. He began just three years ago. “It’s a was a conscious decision,” he says, “but a spiritual thing—not just to get healthy or lose weight. I wanted to be outdoors more, as a matter of faith, because Christ was outdoorsy! Christ made his retreats to the mountains around the Sea of Galilee, and this was an important spiritual practice for him. It’s something I like to call an “anchor habit,” a practice that makes everything else you do easier or more fulfilling. I haven’t got the Sea of Galilee (just the church of Galilee), but I do have the beautiful W&OD Trail.”
“I have always been a bicyclist. When one day I felt myself getting winded trying to keep up on a mountain bike with an older friend (older! can you imagine?), I decided to take up running to improve my stamina and endurance. Running became my anchor habit.”
“I did 5k and 10k runs, initially. I found I liked it. Then last year, I did two half marathons. I liked to joke that I could easily run 26 miles, it just took me a year. Finally, I thought the time was right for a full marathon.”
“The North Face Endurance Challenge was hard—I won’t lie. I knew for a fact that I wasn’t going to come in first. I had thought about wearing a t-shirt that said on the back, “Running for Life - Mercy Hospital, Sierra Leone,” but dismissed the idea. Very few people would be behind me to read it!”
“Still, I finished the North Face and it was a wonderful experience that did not destroy me. I was at Galilee’s Sunday service the very next day!”
Jason crossed the finish line, but he isn’t done running. Hitting the trail and pushing his endurance is now an anchor habit for him, and one that will continue to benefit Mercy Hospital and the mission of Helping Children Worldwide.
“I hope to run a race every six or twelve months. I can raise money through social media, though I won’t raise a ton of money every time. Every bit helps, and the reward for me is to help the people I love by doing the thing I love. It feels good to be alive!”
It's not too late to contribute to Pastor Jason's fundraiser - click here to make a donation to Saving Lives!