(Daraja African Children's Choir at our neighborhood 4th of July party, 2013)
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.” Psalm 33:12 (NIV)
In May of 2013, at the height of Duck Dynasty, one of the executive producers of our show sent us an email with a youtube link with the caption, “How cool is this?”
No one responded.
You have to understand that we were receiving hundreds of emails, messages and requests every week asking for our attention, involvement, donations, etc., in some way or another. We physically could not keep up with them. There were kids dressed up as us on Halloween, churches putting on Duck Commander Days, communities raising money for all kinds of projects and schools having Duck Dynasty dress-up days. There were literally thousands of requests for us to attend events, and folks all over the country were trying to let us know how much our family was impacting them personally. It was exciting, humbling, surreal and, honestly, quite overwhelming. With all the correspondence coming our way, I’m sure hundreds, if not thousands, were completely missed all together. This one, particular email would have been one of those missed opportunities if that same producer would not have tried again. A few weeks later he sent the same link encouraging us to take a look. So I did.
A few seconds in, I jumped up, ran to where Jase was in the house and asked him to watch this with me. He looked at me and said, “Well, it must be good if you have tears in your eyes.” When we finished watching, we watched again. And again. Then he said, “We need to find these kids.” Here is the link to the youtube video so you can see what drew us to them. They are precious!!! It’s only a little over a minute long, so I invite you to click the play button below.
Obviously, I went to work on finding these children! My assistant and I dug into the video and emailed the creator, hoping and praying we hadn’t missed their visit to the United States. To our delight, the director of 410 Bridge, Kurt Kandler, emailed me back and happily told me that the kids were still in the states! He also said their schedule had been completely booked since making that video, but they had a day off on July 4th. Since it was a holiday and we weren’t filming, I jumped on that quickly and invited them to our neighborhood. We celebrated with burgers, fireworks, music, dancing, and lots of hugs. July 4th meant absolutely nothing to them before that day. They had no understanding of our country’s independence and celebration of freedom. It now means the beginning of a meaningful relationship between our families, the children, our church, selfless volunteers and a wonderful organization. 410 Bridge helps enable African children and their families by teaching them new skills and partnering with local churches and their pastors to spread the simple story of Jesus and what he has done for all people on this earth.
In a few weeks, Mia, Cole and I will be heading to Africa to visit some of these sweet families and see first-hand how they live and am hoping to serve them in some way in order to help them better their lives. I may even be able to meet my sponsored child that I started sponsoring that same week in 2013. These children show so much joy when they are in America, but they also show us about their faith in Jesus. Some of these children are orphans, but most of them have families that love them but have a very difficult time caring for them. I am looking forward to seeing just exactly what a day in their life looks like and am hoping we can find ways to offer more of our help. (I’ll write about our experience when we return.)
One of the reasons I love going on mission trips is because I become more and more aware of how people live around the world and how wonderful we have it in America. It is so easy to become negative and selfish when we let ourselves become focused on ourselves. The little things we get upset about on a daily basis become so minute and, honestly, embarrassing when you come face-to-face with children who have one daily dress and one Sunday dress, no shoes, wash their rags in a bucket outside, grow in their backyard the only food they will ever eat, walk two hours to school each day, sleep on dirt floors and take care of the aging members and toddlers of their family. This is just a few examples of some of the tasks these kids, ages 8-14, face each and every day. What have I complained about already today?
We, as Americans, have been given an incredible blessing to be able to live in the greatest nation on earth. We are free to do so many things and encouraged to do so. We are even free to never travel outside of our borders if we so choose. But there are so many people out there that could use our help if we take that risk. The main risk we will face when doing so is the risk of being uncomfortable for a few days.
“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48
Your first thought may be, but I’m not rich. I can’t do much.
Do you know you can help a community in Uganda or Kenya through 410 Bridge with only $12.00 a month? This helps further the process of ensuring clean water for these families.
Sponsoring a child is $39.00 a month. This helps with school clothes, medical care and food for his/her entire family.
You can learn more about it at www.410bridge.org
Why is our nation so great? I believe because it was founded on God. When the founders of our country decided to put “In God We Trust” on our money, it was designed to be a reminder to keep Him first in our daily life and to not let selfishness and money be our foundation. Google some of the quotes that our forefathers recited about their faith in God. Were they perfect? Far from it. Thank God for his Son Jesus. Our country is in danger of losing our Godly foundation. We, as Christians, are battling it every single day. We must never lose sight of “In God We Trust” or we may lose the blessing of a great nation that we receive directly from our God. We help keep that focus when we look outside of ourselves and help those in need.
God uses His people to be His hands and feet, and He blesses us when we take on that task.
Since July 4, 2013, we have continued a close relationship with the African children of the Daraja Choir, their leaders and volunteers and have had them in our community and in our homes many times since then. If it is such a beautiful thing to be able to love, hug and mentor a child from halfway around the world in our own homes and churches, how much more beautiful is it to be able to do the same in their own communities? We may be asked to give more because we have more, but we will also be blessed more as well. The smiles you’ll receive are blessing alone.
Please pray for a successful trip for me, my children and the group I’ll be traveling with. I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: take your kids on a mission trip. Find a reputable organization or a church that is a veteran in the mission field. It will change your perspective and set your children on a path of empathy, service and gratitude.
Have a joyful and free week,
may God continue to bless America!