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‘Samuel’s Challenge’ helps kids assist in disaster relief

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–You could see it in his eyes. A combination of concern and prayerful consideration had motivated the young boy to action.

Samuel Hall, all four feet of him, stood in the Disaster Operations Center, conviction in his gaze and a glass jar under his arm. Hall, a member of First Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga., had come to the nerve center for Southern Baptist disaster relief on a mission. The jar held the fruits of his efforts that originally had a decidedly different purpose.

“I was raising money to go to Disney World,” said Hall, his dad, Johnny, standing behind him, “I decided there were people who needed the money more than I did.”

In addition to saving money on his own, Samuel, 8, also worked in a concession stand to raise money for his family trip. Watching coverage of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts gave him a new idea for how to use the money –- a total of $91.32. Hall and his dad had come to the North American Mission Board, where Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts are coordinated on a national level.

“We were watching the news and they were showing homes that had been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Samuel turned to my wife, Tonya, and I and said, ‘I don’t think it’s fair that we’re saving money to go to Disney World when there are people in New Orleans who don’t have homes.’ It really didn’t surprise us too much. He has a compassionate heart,” said Johnny Hall, who serves as associate pastor for children at FBC Alpharetta. “To be honest, my first reaction was, ‘I’m not sure.’ But Tonya and I prayed about it, and we both came to the same conclusion. God was working on his heart and we needed to allow Samuel to follow God’s prompting.”

And now Samuel’s conviction has become Samuel’s Challenge. Children can follow Samuel’s example by helping lead in prayer for disaster victims and volunteers. They can also find creative ways to support disaster relief efforts. Much like the young boy who gave his loaves and fishes to Jesus, a small thing can be multiplied to meet the needs of many.

Samuel and his grandfather, Sam Brown, a member of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., came up with the idea to set up a concession stand at a local golf course. Samuel’s grandmother, Elaine, helped him work from 10 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. They raised money by selling snacks to golfers. Although the original goal was raising funds for a family trip, the money will now assist hurricane victims.

Like Samuel and his grandparents, children can work together to help others. Girls in Action, Royal Ambassadors, Children in Action, TeamKids, AWANA groups, and other children’s groups can follow Samuel’s example and meet his challenge. Parents and grandparents can also help their children reach out in tangible ways to help disaster victims. With the help of adults, children can raise funds through bake sales, lemonade stands, garage sales, car washes, bike-a-thons and doing neighborhood chores — any safe activity where children can be a part of raising money to aid victims.

More information about Samuel’s Challenge is available at www.namb.net/samuel.

    About the Author

  • Joe Conway