During lent our family was engaged in an unusual devotion. Not a devotional, but an act of devotion. Christ and his mission was certainly at the heart of it all, but rather than giving something up we took something on. And it ended up being much bigger than we ever imagined. This lent we were devoted to learning the flags of the world.
It all started when our six-year-old son William, decided to support the NZCMS Valentine's appeal. Rather than taking the easy way out and washing the car so he could buy a $10 Bible for the Philippines, William was dead set on raising $200 for a sewing machine to help women in South Asia. $200 is a lot of money for a six-year-old boy to find. Even I was a little daunted!
In our dining room, next to the NZCMS Mission Partner profiles, is a huge map of the world bordered by National flags. William was able to recognise about ten, so we decided that would form the basis of his fundraising efforts. He would then raise the money he needed by asking people to sponsor him for every flag he correctly identified on a Facebook live feed to be run on Easter Sunday. And so William’s 'Flag-a-thon' was born. This was a journey William drove himself. He asked us daily to practice flags with him and would also spend his own time going over the flags again and again. We started with an initial batch of around 50 flags and gradually began to add more and more in. Our final number of flags - some National, some Territories, some Protectorates - was a total of 216.
During the six weeks, we spent learning the flags William and I had some amazing conversations about the impact a sewing machine would have on the life of a woman and her family. I’m not sure it’s normal to talk about the intergenerational impact of empowering women, female social status in Islam, or the radical Christian idea that men and women are created to be complementary and equal with a boy still in his first years at primary school, but these are some of the places this journey took us.
Why this interest in mission from a boy who is usually talking non-stop about Pokémon, Beyblades and Fantastic Mr Fox? Well, we’re a family who keeps Mission Partners at the forefront of our prayer time. We aren’t as diligent as we'd like, but NZCMS Prayer Fuel is an important feature of our daily prayer. We summarise the prayer requests for our children, William and Amelia (4). They both know the names of our Mission Partners and where they're serving. We’ve been fortunate to have some of them over for meals, to hear their stories and learn more about what God is doing through them overseas. So the driver for William’s fundraising was that constant awareness of who our Mission Partners were and how they were sharing the Good News of Jesus.
On the big day, Easter Sunday, William correctly identified 214 of 216 flags, raising a total of $2701.02. That’s not a typo. Two thousand, seven hundred and one dollar and two cents!
So what have we learned on this journey? Firstly, God is gracious and works through surprising people. People from all parts of our lives were inspired and encouraged by William's heart for the women he wanted to help. Even people who don’t know Jesus got right behind his fundraising efforts.
Secondly, God blesses those who labor for him. William worked hard and saw an amazing result (Proverbs 14:23). We’re thankful for the way God has used William to teach us to trust Him more and to show how He abundantly blesses and inspires others for the work of the Gospel.
William and his family came into the NZCMS office to hand us the money he had raised in cash. Have a look at some of the photos of this visit below.