ALEXANDRIA, Tenn. (BP)–By all accounts, she is an ordinary 4-year-old in the small town of Alexandria, Tenn., but Brooke Martin has an extraordinary concern for the welfare of the less fortunate around the world. After viewing a television commercial about hungry children, she became preoccupied with the plight of these youngsters on the other side of the globe.
Her mother, Susan Martin, recounting the genesis of her daughter’s concerns, said she was watching cartoons one Saturday morning when the commercial about hungry children came on. “She started asking questions about why the children were crying,” Susan said. “I explained to her that the children were crying because they were hungry. She began to cry and ask why Jesus didn’t feed them. That night after her bath, she knelt beside her bed and prayed and cried for the children who were hungry. She began praying for them every night as well as every Sunday morning when our pastor would issue an invitation after the sermon.”
God answered Brooke’s prayers to make hunger relief a top priority at West Main Baptist Church in Alexandria.
The church, with average worship attendance of 100, came to understand what was drawing the diminutive girl forward to pray each Sunday morning. Pastor Philip Lane said he and others knew they were to be part of the answer to Brooke’s prayers. “When I heard what was going on with her, I knew we had to do something,” Lane said. “These children are so precious. They will act in simple faith when adults won’t.”
On the first Sunday in May, the children made banks in which to save their change and begin “gleaning” gifts for the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s Steve Nelson, who serves as director of hunger concerns, delivered the morning message. He told some gripping stories of changed lives as people opened their hearts to the good news of Jesus Christ, having received ministry at the hands of believers. He also noted that 100 percent of the gifts to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund are used for hunger ministry in the United States and around the world.
Following the service, Nelson stated, “One could sense the serious determination in the heart of Brooke and the other children. Also, the adults’ hearts were sensitive to the burden these children carried.” When parents saw their children’s commitment, the church voted to match whatever money the children gave to fight world hunger on the first Sunday of every month.
On June 3, children streamed down the aisle with their banks and poured the loose change into a plastic bucket, including a 2-year-old who came down the aisle with a quarter in each hand.
The pastor then led the church in prayer, asking God to bless and multiply the gifts and use them in the lives of hungry people.
The children gave $370 that Sunday. And with the church’s matching gift, the total contribution was $740 — enough to provide 4,933 meals to homeless children in Uganda at 12 cents each, plus 302 meals for hungry people in the United States at 49 cents each.
On July 1, gifts soared to $1,671.18.
Brooke’s church will never be the same — all because God used the sensitive spirit of a young child to remind adults that age is no barrier to concern for the poor and hurting among us.
The second Sunday in October, Oct 14 this year, is when World Hunger Day is observed in many Southern Baptist churches.
For information about the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund or to make a donation, contact the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, 901 Commerce St., Suite 550, Nashville, TN 37203; phone, 1-888-375-2461; e-mail, [email protected].
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BROOKE MARTIN.