Blessed to be a Blessing

Andrew Jared has grown up with parents who support a school in Niger, West Africa. We have a picture of him sitting by a golf hole flag aged eleven months during a fundraiser event for Niger.

Andrew Jared wins the Chick-Fil-A
Richmond One Mile.

He will be eleven next week but he has already caught hold of the idea of helping the children of Niger. Earlier in the fall he asked if he could do a fund-raiser event for Africa. We were pondering what he could do when we heard about the Chick-Fil-A Connect Race Series, raising money for Schools for Niger. He asked if he could run the mile race and use it to ask friends and neighbors to sponsor him towards a goal of $360 to sponsor a child’s education for a year.

The Anura School is an elementary and middle school in the suburb of Kwaara Tegui in the Niger capital of Niamey. A banquet that we hosted in Richmond in 2003 started the fund raising for the construction of the school and many events have contributed since. There are currently just over 200 children in the school, in a nation that often ranks as the world’s poorest with very low rates of literacy. In addition to receiving an education the children receive a daily hot meal.

In 2001 we organized a team from a church in the Richmond area to go and build a church in Niamey. Some of the guys on the team came back so enthusiastic to do more to help Niger that they started a group called Hearts and Hands for Africa. As the vision grew, one of the same guys who had been on the first trip invested his business into starting the LINK, a specific initiative to help grow the Kingdom of God in Niger. The LINK has sent more than sixty teams to help in various ways in Niger over the last nine years. However, a participant on the first LINK vision-building team late in 2003 was a local area Chick-Fil-A restaurant operator. [For those not familiar, Chick-Fil-A is a national chain of Chicken Restaurants with some of the best customer service out there. It’s a company owned by Christians, committed to assisting the community in many ways].

One Chick-Fil-A operator returning from Niger with a vision for the state of the nation’s education system has led to many Chick-Fil-A restaurants in the Richmond and Atlanta areas joining together to raise funds for Schools for Niger. This year is the eighth year that a charity Dodgeball tournament has run in Richmond, but it was the inaugural 5K and mile race series.

So our son Andrew went out to run today in the mile race, having raised $364 to date for the Anura School. Not only did he run, but he won the race!

In the fall of 2001 one of the very first things that the Hearts and Hands for Africa team did was host a baby shower for us. Jill was expecting Andrew. We were blessed. Eleven years later, the child who was blessed ran to raise money and be a blessing to the very same place that the team was set up for in the first place.

We are grateful to all our friends at MCC, the LINK, and Chick-Fil-A for what they have done to bless and build up Niger to the Glory of God!

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