“Kids need to know what God’s Word says about who they are and who God is, in order to survive and thrive in this generation. Speaking the truth as they are explained in the Scriptures helps kids deal with challenges such as identity and anxiety in the context of God’s love and care for them.”
What would happen if you could create a bridge between people who need water in Zimbabwe and children who need to know Scripture? We can all agree that it would be a transformative moment. That is the vision of Anne McCaffrey—the kind of vision that impacts lives. Providing water and Scripture are two of Anne McCaffrey’s passions, and she found a way to champion both.
McCaffrey, a hospital chaplain, put out a challenge to the 29 children in her extended family. For each set of verses they memorized, she would give them $10, and also donate $10 to ERDO towards a well on their behalf. This gave the children a chance to both earn money and be givers, because the ERDO donation was directly related to their efforts.
This summer her family came up with the idea of extending the fun to Connections Family Camp in Nanoose Bay, B.C. The offer was that each time a child or teen memorized a scripture verse (from a list of suggested verses), they received a $2 voucher to spend in the canteen. And of course, $2 was also donated to ERDO towards a well on their behalf. They used an Awana idea (see awana.org) where the grandmas and grandpas did the listening. They sat in an open place (in this case on a picnic table in the middle of the camp) and listened as they helped their grandchildren memorize the verses. Rather than having toonies in a jar to measure the number of verses learned, they used beads. Every time a child memorized a scripture verse, they put a bead in a jar. At the end of the camp when the beads were counted, McCaffrey paid the canteen at the camp and then sent the same amount of money to ERDO for the well. She says, “I can’t tell you how fulfilling it was to see excited kids lining up to say their verses, and see elderly people gaining meaning and purpose by helping the kids succeed.”
Part of the inspiration for this project came to McCaffrey long ago. She heard a well-known minister say that when he was a boy, his grandma gave him five cents for every verse he learned. Having adopted the idea herself, she agrees now that it was the best money she ever spent.
“It was so important that I had memorized Scripture as a young person. Those scriptures were a well of resource for me when life challenges seemed overwhelming. They acted as a protective anchor for my soul when I have been in the depth of grief and it seemed that I had lost all the mooring lines to anything normal,” McCaffrey reflects. She needed this anchor at six years old when her mother passed away. Her dad had raised her and her four siblings. She also needed the anchor when her husband died, leaving her and her teenaged boys behind.
During this well project, her son, Sean, became terminally ill. Many quiet hours were spent in the hospital memorizing verses with his five children. “God was with me as a little girl with no mama, my boys with no dad, and now his (Sean’s) kids with no dad,” says McCaffrey. This particular well will be named in Sean’s honour.
“Kids need to know what God’s Word says about who they are and who God is, in order to survive and thrive in this generation. Speaking the truth as they are explained in the Scriptures helps kids deal with challenges such as identity and anxiety in the context of God’s love and care for them.” Here are some of the verses McCaffrey chose for the children to memorize:
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (Jeremiah 1:5a).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
McCaffrey has found rich fulfilment in her project, Words for Water. From donating in order to provide clean water to needy communities, to planting the Word of God in children, to helping both young and old enjoy a project together, McCaffrey is living proof of what happens when you say “yes” to the Holy Spirit. “I don’t feel like a hero, but I know that listening to the Holy Spirit makes a difference—just obeying those little nudges and answering, ‘Yes.’”
Anne McCaffrey shares her story with the hope that it will inspire others to know that it is possible to make a difference. Words for Water is an idea that can be modified and used within your family or church. If you are interested, contact ERDO at 1-800-779-7262 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the January/February/March 2020 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2020 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.