USA (MNN) — The Barnabas Bear is a stuffed animal that’s meant to remind kids of the Gospel and how loved they are by Jesus. And for kids who are battling cancer, the bear is a gift with the potential to brighten their days and uplift their hearts.
Giving Your Prize Away
To help spread the message and love, Family Christian recently held a social media contest where the winner would have the opportunity to donate 120 Barnabas Bears to a charity of his or her choice.
Family Christian’s Daniel Warren explains, “It was one of those things when we first started looking at different ways to bless the communities that we’re involved with, and what we really wanted to do was reach out to our Facebook fans and say, ‘Here’s an opportunity.’ It’s kind of an unusual contest that, when I was thinking about it, usually when you win a contest you win something for yourself.”
Family Christian’s social contest winner was an Indiana schoolteacher, Jennifer Ellingwood.
“One of her students, a young lady by the name of Kennedy, has been battling cancer nearly her entire life. And this child had such a deep impact on the teacher that when she won the contest, she knew immediately how she wanted to use it.”
Ellingwood chose to donate the 120 Barnabas Bears to Riley Children’s Health at Indiana University Health, where her student Kennedy receives treatment. Kennedy is now five-years-old, but she has been battling a brain tumor since she was 19-months-old. Now, not only Kennedy has a Barnabas Bear to remember Christ’s love her, but so do 120 other children as well.
Warren says pictures from when the Barnabas Bears were handed out at Riley’s show how excited the kids were to get their bears. Since 2003, the Barnabas Bear is meant to make the abstract idea of Christ’s love concrete. Also, the bear’s name tag has a prayer the child can pray to accept Jesus into their hearts.
About the Barnabas Bear
However, before worrying that the Barnabas Bear is just a regular teddy bear, know that it’s not. Each bear’s foot comes with an inscription that reads, “Jesus Loves You”.
Furthermore, Warren says the entire corporation gets involved when prepping the bear for production.
Family Christian staff vote on bears from numerous different locations until they find the one that is just right.
Warren takes it a step further in the bear’s design by having his children come in and give the different bears “hug tests” in order to find which one is the most ‘huggable’.
Want to donate a bear?
Barnabas Bears can be purchased online or in-store for only $5 a piece. At the time of purchase, guests can choose to give the bear away through Family Christian, or to take it with them and give the bear to a child they know who could use some extra love and the reminder that Christ is with them. Furthermore, Barnabas bears donated online are given to Back2Back Ministries.
Also, would you pray? Pray for these bears to continue to impact children and be a tangible way of experiencing Christ’s love and the Gospel. Pray also for these bears to continue to be put into children’s hands during those moments when these kids need the hope of a Savior and love of a Heavenly Father.