Since the late 1990s I have regularly spoken to a men’s meeting of about fifty guys at a local Methodist Church. I usually talk about Christian ministry in the West African nations of Niger and Burkina Faso. The men’s group gives an annual offering in support of the Anura School in the city of Niamey, Niger.
The Anura School was established in 2003 by some Brazilian friends of mine and together we have raised a lot of financial support for it over the last few years. My ten-year-old son, Andrew, has caught the vision for supporting the school. A couple of years ago he and his younger brother held a couple of bake sales on our front lawn to raise money for the school. This fall he is running in the ChickFilA Sports Challenge one mile run. He is using this opportunity to raise sponsorship for the school. ChickFilA is a national chain of chicken restaurants. A local owner was part of a team that went to Niger in 2003 and caught the vision for supporting Christian education there. He and other local owners have facilitated an annual sports challenge over recent years to support Schools for Niger.
This week I spoke again to this particular men’s meeting. Andrew came with me, shared an update on the school, and spoke about what he is doing to raise money. He did really well in his first public speaking engagement – it is great when you see your own child speaking with passion about something which you have carried yourself for many years! The guys at the meeting sent an offering basket around and he received $134 to add to the $120 he already raised, meaning he has just $106 to go to meet his target of $360 to sponsor one child for a year!
I pray that my son would have the spirit of Josiah who ‘while he was still young he began to seek the God of his fathers’ – 2 Chr. 34
When we sat down to supper with our host a guy called Joe came and sat with us. Joe’s a retired guy who I have seen every time I have spoken but never really talked to. On one occasion he led the devotional for the meeting. Anyway I discover that Joe is actually Yusuf Mehfoud, son of a Lebanese Methodist minister who emigrated to New Jersey in the early part of the last century. Our host asked Joe to tell my son the story of the baptisms in the Rhine. So Joe starts talking about his wartime experiences and how he got to assist a military chaplain with the baptism of nine soldiers in the Rhine during the 1945 offensive into Germany that led to the fall of Hitler. I’m doing the math, and wondering how old Joe is because he looks like he is only in his 70s. Our host leans over and says – “You know he is 95 – and he’s our speaker next month!” I tell Andrew that he is listening to ‘living history’ and then I ask Joe what his topic is. “The Arab Spring and the striving for Democracy in the Middle East!” Talk about being on the ball (he gave me a quick summary!). Oh for more of the Spirit of Caleb, that God might give us these mountains into our oldest age!
Whether we are among the very young, or the very old, we are all young in our true understanding of the Lord. Yet He chooses to use us all for His will and purposes and as we make ourselves available to him.