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Object lesson reaps rewards for hurricane relief

GRESHAM, Ore. (BP) — A hands-on Bible lesson took on a life of its own for 10-year-old Dallas Claytor after attending Sunday services with his parents and sister.

Young Dallas heard pastor Keith Evans of Pathway Church in Gresham, Ore., preach about the parable of the talents. Evans used unmarked envelopes of money to hand out to unsuspecting volunteers during the sermon in denominations of $10, $20 and $50 each. He then asked each recipient to use the money to bless or encourage someone in coming days.

“I got the envelope with $50 in it,” Claytor said. “The pastor wanted us to multiply the money and make God proud. I was shocked.”

Pamela and Erick Claytor, the boy’s parents, realized it was the first time he had seen a $50 bill.

“We were left on our own to make a decision about what to do with the money,” Claytor said. “Our family talked about it and I knew about Hurricane Harvey and heard about people that were killed and whose houses had flooded. So we came up with the idea to raise money for that.”

The fourth grader set about his project with an entrepreneurial spirit that he had used in other fundraising efforts for school and sporting events.

“I like candy and have sold things at my school,” Claytor said. “All people like candy, so we went to Cash and Carry and spent $50 all at once on an assortment of Hershey bars. My sister Aspen and I made labels that my dad copied for me and we glued them on each candy bar.”

The labels had such monikers as “We’re praying for Texas,” and Claytor decided to sell each candy bar for $2, He and his parents first went door to door in his neighborhood, explaining at every home what he was doing and why. They found people generous, with some giving extra to the effort. The young man then encouraged fellow Pathway attenders to join his mission to help those left in the wake of the hurricane.

“I asked if I could set up a table in our church lobby and then made a poster with pictures of the hurricane damage to sell the rest of the candy,” Claytor said. “I was able to bring in $690, which much more than doubled the money I was given.”

In an effort to encourage those in the flood-torn region, Claytor wanted to write notes to accompany a case of the chocolate bars and send them to relief workers or those affected by the storm in Texas. He mentioned the effort to his school teacher, who loved the idea and incorporated the notes into a writing assignment for each of his classmates.

Because of their years at Pathway Church, the Claytor family was familiar with the North American Mission Board and the efforts of disaster relief volunteers across the nation, so they chose to send the money, notes and candy bars to NAMB offices in Alpharetta, Ga. Claytor included a letter explaining his project and the sermon that inspired it.

“Dallas actually received a phone call from a representative from NAMB, but he was at school, so didn’t get to talk to them, but they let us know they received it and would pass it on,” Pamela Claytor said.

Northwest Disaster Relief volunteer James Sanders of Springfield, Ore., was one of five northwesterners who served the residents of Vidor, Texas, for more than three weeks at a mobile kitchen set up in the parking lot of First Baptist Church, Vidor.

“The second Sunday we were there, the staff member who was preaching made the presentation to the church of the box of candy bars and the money that the 10-year-old from Pathway Church raised to invest for the cause of missions and the Gospel,” Sanders said. “It was both a proud and humble moment for us Northwest folks. God was glorified and that young man was praised for his heart and ingenuity.”

Claytor’s original goal was to raise $200 and he has been surprised that others who live thousands of miles from Oregon would hear his story.

“This has been fun to do as a family and experience missional living together,” Pamela Claytor said. “The kids could understand the concept of what we were doing, because it was physically something they could do.”

Claytor said, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up and help heal people like God does.”

“I have learned that people are very generous and care about others who are hurting,” he said. “They seem to want to help and encourage others who were affected during the hurricane.”

For more information on how you can help with disaster relief efforts, contact your state convention or go to namb.net/send-relief/disaster-relief/send-hope.

    About the Author

  • Sheila Allen/Northwest Baptist Witness

    Sheila Allen is managing editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness (GoNBW.org), newsjournal of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston contributed to this article.

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