I had one of those unexpected heartwarming moments this week. A few days ago my friend Leslee, our Children’s Ministry Associate, stopped by my office to share something that happened during our Vacation Bible School in June. Every year we select one of our international partners to be the recipient of our VBS offering. This year we chose the Imparting Smiles orphanage in Cambodia. My key responsibility during VBS is to share a daily word about the recipient of our offering in order to motivate our kids to give to the cause. Because I knew that I would be away on sabbatical during VBS, I had pre-taped my daily talks while I was in Cambodia late last year. These short videos were a great way to help our kids understand what life is like for kids at the Imparting Smiles orphanage.
Charlize Reyes, one of the younger grade school kids in attendance at VBS, became especially concerned that kids in Cambodia do not have Bibles. So, she decided to do something practical in order to help. Charlize decided to write a Bible story every day and put it in the offering plate as her special offering to God. These stories ended up in Leslee’s office and when I returned home from India, Leslee brought the stories to me. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. In simple (and phonetically-spelled) words, Charlize had paraphrased six of her favorite Bible stories in the hope that they would make their way to the kids in Cambodia who do not have a Bible. Here is just one of her stories told in the language of a child entering third grade:
Jonah was a profit of God. A profit is something that helps pepole learn about God. Well God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah disobeyed God so he ran away on a boat. When Jonah got on that boat he was sleeping. While the storm was going on the captain said “Wack up Jonah.” And Jonah said back “If you throw me outside the sea the storm will stop.” They said “ok” so they throw him out into the sea then a few seconds “Gulp!” A big fish swolld him then Jonah prayed inside of the fish and God anserw the prayer so it threw up. Then Jonah went to Nineveh then he told about God. This is about you can run but can’t hide. Please Lord let us follow God.
I am so proud of Charlize. She learned about a need and found a way to do something to help meet that need. She did not tell her parents what she was doing, she just quietly wrote out her Bible stories (some with illustrations) and quietly placed them in the offering plate in the hope that they would help kids in Cambodia who do not have Bibles. I am headed to Cambodia in September and I am going to deliver Charlize’s stories to the kids at the Imparting Smiles orphanage. I know that the kids there will be encouraged to know that a child their age who lives in America cared enough to do something to help them.
What Charlize did reminds me of one of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” It’s so easy for us to tune out or to overlook the need around us or to talk ourselves out of doing anything to meet the needs of others or to give a dollar and walk away. Charlize did not do any of that. Instead, she chose to quietly do something to help — something that required a thoughtful investment of time. She never questioned whether her handwritten Bible stories would reach the kids in Cambodia. With the confidence of a child mailing a letter to the North Pole, Charlize placed her stories in the offering plate and, by so doing, unwittingly gave a precious gift to the kids in Cambodia. Thank you, Charlize, for your thoughtful and special offering.