It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the need. Where to start?
Jesus’ disciples felt this way when, after a long day of teaching a crowd of 5,000, their leader told them to feed everyone dinner. “What? How?!,” they asked. In John’s account of this event, the disciples are overwhelmed by the massive need until a child provides Jesus with 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish and, with that alone, Jesus feeds everyone.
On October 26, students of Fremont Christian School in Fremont, Michigan responded to the immense needs created by this year’s hurricanes with what they had and God multiplied their efforts. Fremont Christian’s motto, “Christ-focused learning for a life of service” was in full bloom as kindergarteners and first and second graders at the school hosted a mini Art Prize and Cake Walk to support World Renew’s hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
Modeled after the art competition in Grand Rapids that allows the public to vote for winners and with Proverbs 3:27 — “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act” — as inspiration, this “mini Art Prize” allowed partygoers to buy tickets and use them to vote for their favorite student-created art work. First grade teacher Robin Gleram hoped to “encourage students to show the love of Christ to those in need” and in the end, ticket sales and cake walk proceeds earned $2550, which the students then proudly and with great enthusiasm presented to World Renew US Director Carol Bremer-Bennett.
Ms. Bremer-Bennett then had a wonderful surprise for the students. A World Renew supporter had heard about their project and he and his wife were so inspired that they wanted to match the students’ gift. So when the children presented Ms. Bremer-Bennett with their check, she pulled out another one! Their gift had suddenly multiplied by 100% and they, like the child in the gospel of John, found that God had used their gift to even greater good.
World Renew’s response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria is ongoing. We are focussed on making sure the most vulnerable are discovered, that their needs are made known, and that they are connected with available support. We have strong partnerships with government and nonprofit first-responders like FEMA and The Red Cross, as well as community agencies and churches, ensuring that response is efficient and coordinated.
In addition, World Renew focuses on home damage, reconstruction, and rebuilding, walking with people as they try to recover, sort, or throw out belongings, assess damage, and make their houses into homes once again. And we stay until the job is done. Our Hurricane Sandy relief work on the east coast of the United States is just wrapping up this year after almost 5 years of commitment to those left in need. As Disaster Services Director Bob Laarman likes to say “We may not be the first ones there, but we’re usually the last ones to leave.”
Thank you kindergarteners and first and second graders of Fremont Christian School for your leadership and hard work in being the hands and feet of Jesus to those hurt by hurricanes this year.