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Standing Up, Standing Out

Tracy Carpenter

There's no shortage of news--that is, good news about kids doing great things! Check out these amazing boys--and what their selfless acts can mean for your ministry.

Every day, all over the world, kids are making headlines--some for outlandish things, some for amazing things. Kids lead noteworthy efforts to save the planet, raise millions of dollars for people in need, and guide others to greatness through their exceptional creativity. They're inventing things. They're writing books. They're surviving diseases and overcoming disastrous world challenges. In fact, search YouTube and in a matter of seconds, you can find hundreds of child prodigies, little Mozarts, and even 3-year-olds solving Rubik's Cubes puzzles. Kids truly are amazing.    

As children's ministers we're around kids--a lot. That's why it's sometimes easy to forget just how remarkable and unique they really are. It's good to step back every now and then to consider some of the superstars of this emerging generation. Seeing the standouts helps us remember all the potential of the kids gathered in our ministries. Read on and you'll see kids as larger-than-life individuals with the greatest faith, strongest spirits, and most indelible hope and potential of anyone on Earth.


"YOU'RE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO CHANGE THE WORLD.."-Pat Pedraja"

My name is Pat. I'm 12 years old and I have leukemia. I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2006. This diagnosis came after a long, painful year suffering from what we thought was juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The pain and swelling in my joints got so bad that I was in a wheelchair for five months because I was unable to walk a single step. When the pain got worse and I had a fever that wouldn't go away, my doctors put me in the hospital where they found out that I really have leukemia." This is what Pat Pedraja writes on his Web site, drivingfordonors.com.

The day after Pat's diagnosis, he told his family his situation had happened for a reason. This was an important event in his life, he said, meant to teach him something. Pat immediately began asking himself what he could do to help others. He got his answer when a close friend who couldn't find a lifesaving marrow donor died. Pat felt compelled to do something so no other kids would die because they couldn't find a bone marrow donor match, so he started Driving for Donors.

Driving for Donors began in 2007 as a nationwide event. Pat's family traveled around the country in a special "Donormobile." In collaboration with other organizations, Pat and his family hosted successful donor drives in more than 30 major cities. Pat's raised more than $100,000 for tissue typing fees and driving expenses by selling advertising on his bald head. Driving for Donors has signed up more than 6,000 donors to the National Marrow Registry, and Pat's efforts have helped save four lives so far.

Pat has been interviewed, written about, and honored, yet he says his proudest moments are the times he's received phone calls telling him that his efforts have helped save a life.

How can this story shape my...

• Ministry?
Kids are just waiting to be moved to action. Move them. Expose your kids to real problems people are struggling with daily, and encourage them to think critically about how they can help, using their purpose and potential. God uses children to change the world; it's time to follow in his footsteps, don't you think? 

• Programs? Create programs that challenge kids. Encourage kids to participate in service learning projects. Challenge their ideas and give them forums to hash out their feelings within your programs. 

• Perceptions? Kids are capable, aware, smart, and innovative leaders. See your kids as powerful people who have strong feelings, passion, faith, and a calling from God to do miraculous things. Believe that kids aren't too young to save the world. "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity"

(1 Timothy 4:12).

• Actions?

Look for the silver lining.

Continue to ask, "How can I help?"

Reflect on ways God may use you to fix or relieve a problem.

Take action on your ideas.

Network with others who share your vision, passion, and goals to accomplish success.

Celebrate every child who enters into a relationship with Jesus.

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