yall, emily is the REAL DEAL! I can’t even tell you how encouraged I am by her. Her faith, he willingness to SEE a need and then DO something about it. No one told her to. She just felt it in her heart. We can all learn a lesson from Emily + be inspired by her story!
Anybody can change the world: I’m just a teenager.
About 3 years ago, I spent a week of learning how to be a Kingdom Worker at a summer mission camp with my youth group. I learned that if I could use my talents to help people in need then my actions would glorify God. This idea captivated my attention; I could actually make a difference in the world no matter my age, my talent, or the amount of little time I thought I had. God was working in my heart and my head where He planted an idea during one of the last nights at camp that would change my life. I watched a documentary about a country in Africa called Zambia that is severely affected by a water crisis. The country is filled with beautiful people and nature that makes up a vibrant culture. However, it’s caught in the downward spiral of poverty without access to basic needs like clean water. This reality forces women and children to walk miles and miles multiple times a day to retrieve water from a variety of sources like ponds, ditches, and streams. But, the water they collect is contaminated with deadly pathogens. Dangerous illnesses cause parents to stay home from work, so they can’t go to work. Then, their children are not able to go to school. Worst of all, these water borne diseases are actually the cause of more deaths than guns, cancer and even war in the nation. These facts presented through the documentary shocked me, because they belonged to a young girl’s reality, while I on the other side of the world had clean water gushing through my facet 24/7. So I thought to myself if I am so blessed beyond reason in America, why couldn’t I share some of my blessings with that girl in Zambia, Africa?
God was calling me to be a Kingdom Worker to the Zambian people. I began to brainstorm with a friend of mine and came up with the idea of using my talent of sewing to create a product and raise funds. The funds raised would be sent to a non-profit organization called Active: Water who provides hand pump wells, bio-sand filters, proper hygiene/sanitation classes, and hope for a better future in Jesus Christ to the people of Zambia.
When I returned home from camp, I began sewing small fabric bird ornaments with the help of my friend. By talking with our youth pastor and church, Birds of Hope began. We sold the birds to our church family and from there the word spread through the community. An article in the local newspaper helped to launch our efforts. The Birds of Hope Facebook page became popular while a local graphic designer helped to create a logo and a t-shirt company donated t-shirts to our fundraiser. Other people helped by donated fabric for the birds and paying our booth fee for flea markets. Within a couple weeks, we passed our first goal of only $500 and were on our way to reaching $1,000. By that Christmas, we had raised $10,000 for clean water projects in Zambia, Africa! We were amazed at the response and felt so blessed as God directed us every step of the way. At the end of the first year, we celebrated with a party and I decided to continue for another year with the help of my family. The next year brought in even more funds and opportunities. Birds of Hope became an official non-profit organization while I stayed busy with monthly events and a constant flow of out-of-state orders. Birds of Hope also was also able to help fund clean water projects with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and Doma International.
Then, the summer of 2012, God surprised us all and gave me an opportunity to travel to Zambia, Africa. I was able to go with the Active: Water team, my dad, my oldest sister and a group of amazing girls who all had a passion for the clean water projects. The two week trip taught me a lot as I got to know the native Zambians, fix hand pump wells, build bio-sand filters, and spread God’s love around the country. It was an amazing experience in which I learned a hard lesson. When I was in Zambia, I saw so much need around me and I wanted to fix it all. But I had to realize that I couldn’t…it wasn’t possible for me to bring clean water to everyone in Zambia. However, the missionaries in Zambia taught me a phrase in Bemba, pinono-pinono, which means little by little. Each small step counts. I can install a bio-sand filter that saves a family’s life and gives them hope for a better future. Changing just one person’s life can make all difference because of my simple obedience. For that reason and so many more, I realized that I actually needed Zambia more than Zambia needed me. I have so much to learn from these amazing people and I’m praying for the day that I will return to the beautiful country of Zambia, Africa.
Today, Birds of Hope has reached its goal of $50,000 for clean water projects and will be completing this wonderful journey at the end of the year. Its bittersweet moving on from this amazing experience, but I have complete faith in a God who I know has wonderful plans for my future.
Now, just like I did, you probably don’t believe that you can make a difference in the world. But the truth is that we are all Kingdom Workers! God can use your life in a mighty way no matter your age, talents, or busy schedule. I’ve seen firsthand what God can do simply with your faith and obedience. I promise you’ll be amazed! It just takes that first step of saying, “yes,” to God and He will take care of the rest!
So…how will you be a Kingdom Worker?
be sure to check out Birds of Hope on facebook + watch this incredible film below of Emily telling her story!