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I would love for this story to be about me, a mom who chose to encourage her child’s big dream, but it isn’t. This is a story about a little girl with a dream, and a daddy who chose to encourage her.
Each year, at Christmas, we allow the children to choose items from the Gospel for Asia’s (GFA) Christmas Catalog. They choose from gifts such as farm animals, warm blankets, gospel tracks, or even a water buffalo! Last Christmas, our daughter noticed the Jesus Well in the catalog and started asking questions. We explained to her how many people in the world don’t have access to clean water and that GFA builds wells for such people while simultaneously sharing the gospel.
She was hooked.
“I want to raise money to build a Jesus Well,” she declared. We explained that the cost for one well was one thousand dollars but encouraged her to start raising money if she was committed to the project.
“I’ll tell you what. Whatever money of your own that you donate to the Jesus Well, I will match it; dollar for dollar.” With that one statement, my husband invested in our daughter’s goal. He had given her incentive to not only raise the funds, but give of her own savings as well.
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The fundraising started out very slowly, and we were a little fearful that the project would lose its momentum, or, worse, never get off the ground. She was giving very little money of her own, and she wasn’t asking for support from others either. The turning point came in February when birthday money started coming in. First she gave ten, next two, then five more dollars. Soon after, she pulled cash from every stashed corner of her room and emptied her piggy bank at lightning speed. Our son emptied a little of his piggy bank daily at nap time and with open hand and charming smile offered, “Here, this is money for your Jesus Well.” Our daughter began to tell almost everyone we met, “I am raising money to build a Jesus Well.”
She witnessed the cash bag growing thicker and thicker and knew her dream was becoming more of a reality. My husband was matching her donations; even those that relatives gave her. However, the real motivator came when he drew a thermometer chart with increments of one-hundred marked off. He marked a line that represented the three-hundred dollars that had been collected and allowed her to color it with a red marker. Next, we posted the drawing in a prominent spot on the refrigerator. The visualization of her approaching goal became a huge motivator.
As if matching donations and drawing a chart wasn’t enough, my husband started publicizing our daughter’s goal. He took a picture of her and posted it to his Facebook page with a quick blurb about her goal. That Sunday, the children’s preschool director gave her a donation for the Jesus Well because of what she had seen on Facebook. She also encouraged our daughter to raise funds within the preschool department to help meet her goal and to raise awareness of the clean water problem throughout the world. A volunteer went so far as to build a cardboard replica of the Jesus Well to provide a visual for the children to drop their well offerings in!
One anonymous couple left a typed note and donation of one hundred dollars stating that they wanted to give to our daughter’s Jesus Well and encouraged her in her efforts. They signed it, “From your big brother and sister in Christ.”
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I wish I could have bottled the precious look of excitement on her face when she listened as the note was read and as she colored more on her donation chart. The Body of Christ was encouraging one of its younger members in the call of Jesus to give to the poor and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.
From that point on, more and more big brothers and sisters in Christ have stopped either our daughter or me on Sunday mornings and have given us cash donations. Children are telling their parents that they “want to help people in other countries get clean water.”
Both of our children’s piggy banks have primarily been emptied as they have given and then given some more to the cause.
The takeaway lesson is this: children have big, but achievable goals. We as parents and big brothers and sisters in Christ have the privilege and responsibility of encouraging and assisting them in meeting their God-given goals.
What child has God placed in your life to encourage and equip to meet the good works He has prepared in advance for them to do? (Ephesians 2:10) It may surprise you how little is required to make an everlasting difference.
Brooke Cooney is a pastor's wife, mother of two, and foster-mom of one. To capture the eternal in the everyday, she blogs about family, faith, and lessons along the journey at ThisTemporaryHome.com.