International (MNN) ― Over the summer, thousands of American kids pooled their resources to help fight disease and dehydration in Haiti and India.
"We've had over 47 different VBS [Vacation Bible Schools] participate, and that's brought in over $46,000 this summer," notes Jill Hall, the program director for the Evangelical Free Church of America GlobalFingerprints child sponsorship program.
Some churches said kids' giving was up 50% above what it usually is over the summer as children learned about others just like them who live without access to clean water. Hall says the kids engaged in all sorts of self-led initiatives to raise money for those in need.
"Most of this money is penny, nickels, dimes and quarters. [Kids were] doing stuff, selling stuff, giving birthday money, collecting from neighbors, garage sales, lemonade stands," says Hall. All the money will go to build wells in India and Haiti, each of which will provide about 5,000 to 7,000 people in highly kid-concentrated areas with water.
At the end of the project, American kids really seemed to grasp the vision of Christ in this project, says Hall. "It's giving them a vision beyond themselves and that they can make a difference. As they continue to be exposed to stuff over the years, they're getting the heart of Christ in caring for orphans and caring for others from the time they're young. Hopefully that will continue to multiply. This is the next generation of the church."
After seeing how effective and passionate kids were to supporting kids across the globe, GlobalFingerprints is turning the tables on adults. For Orphan Sunday, a nationwide nod on November 6 toward orphans and Christ's commands to care for them, GlobalFingerprints is encouraging whole churches to get involved with sponsorship.
"With a sponsorship of $25 a month, a child can receive an education, medical care and the love of Christ," explains Hall. "What the children have done this summer is amazing, and I'm just praying that what they've done will inspire the adults to step up and take the next step to do something to care for the kids around the world. The needs are so huge, and while you can't make a difference in every child's life, you can make a difference in a child's life."
This is the first year GlobalFingerprints is involved with Orphan Sunday, but the group has already gathered great resources. GlobalFingerprints encourages churches to get involved with something as small as showing a video and having child cards available for sponsorship in the back. Other suggestions include a special offering to sponsor a child, or for Sunday school classes to sponsor a child together.
If 47 different Vacation Bible Schools could raise $46,000, surely the adults can do this as well, notes Hall. Consider taking the Orphan Sunday challenge with your church this November. Find a plethora of free resources with GlobalFingerprints here.