A Selfless Sweet Sixteen

By Kendra (Loyal’s mom)

Our birthdays have always been quiet events. For every birthday that has come along each year, we have simply chosen to celebrate as a family. But this year was Loyal’s sweet sixteen, and her friend Olivia thought we should have a big celebration. Well, that made sense to us, and so we planned. I suppose it was a typical party – good food, teens, games and laughter, with brownies and ice cream to top it off. However, this birthday still held a unique touch. Instead of presents, Loyal asked each of her guests to bring a gift for PPF’s 100 Wells Campaign.

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For about seven years, I have been following Persecution Project Foundation, receiving colorful, sometimes shocking, and informative newsletters about the persecuted of Sudan and what many were doing to stand by them. I have always read these bits of news to my children and would pray, occasionally sending whatever gift I could spare. I would even encourage my children to give if they had a little cash, and they were always very willing.

Loyal grew up hearing about Africa, knowing the difficult dynamics there, sharing with them, and even watching movies like Amazing Grace. She has always been moved by the plight of the many beautiful Africans she has heard, seen, or read about. One day I was watching a video about a church being built in an African village. There were many images of people carrying bricks to the building site and multiple lovely and bright smiling African faces. I turned and looked over my shoulder to see tears falling from Loyal’s eyes.

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These experiences decorate her memories and were foundational to her genuine and sincere interest to dedicate her birthday to the persecuted in Sudan. I had already initiated fundraising efforts with our youth group at Vashon Island Community Church, and Loyal saw her birthday as an opportunity to raise money for our group’s goal to raise $15,000 for one well. Two hundred and fifty dollars were brought in and a private donor from our church had matched it with a $250 gift. She was very happy with the results.

Truly, Loyal wasn’t sure at first if she wanted her story shared, but as we talked about inspiring others to act, she decided it was a good idea. This year she will continue to work with all of us as we mobilize our church and community to share water with Sudan’s countless oppressed people. She has already helped with so much, including personally making 160 candles to sell for our goal of building one well.

I marvel at the profound and gentle kindness of a child in comparison to the wicked rulers we sometimes find on earth. When Jesus said that out of the mouths of babes, God has ordained praise and wisdom, He sure knew what He was talking about – as He always does! Loyal is definitely one example of ordinary youth doing extraordinary things to make a difference for Christ in our world.

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