When the January 12, 2010 earthquake erupted in Haiti, the entire world focused on the devastation that occurred. After months of supplies, food, and prayers sent to the people of Haiti, the headlines slowly left the front pages. However, to my surprise the destruction hadn’t left the mind of my six year-old son, Jonah Niemeyer.
On April 15 Jonah said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in Haiti lately.” He wondered if the children were going to be ok and asked, “If I give them all of my money will they be ok?” I spoke briefly with Jonah about the children of Haiti and he went back to a busy day of laughter, matchbox cars, and play-dough.
Two evenings later Jonah said, “Mama, All my heart wants is for the children of Haiti to have what they need.” I said with a smile, “So, then…what will Jonah Niemeyer do to help the children of Haiti?” Jonah quickly replied, “I have a plan. I will get a blue bucket and tell people at church about Haiti. If they have extra money, they can put it in my blue bucket. I can send the money to them.” I asked, “Where did you get this idea?” Jonah said, “God told my heart and my heart told my mind.” Jonah then dictated a letter that expressed his desires for the children of Haiti.
After reading familiar bedtime stories, I tucked Jonah in bed and he prayed, “Dear God, please help the children of Haiti. Please keep earthquakes away and help them have a great life. Amen.” I then knew that God had placed Haiti on Jonah’s heart and this was not merely a passing thought.
Later that evening I emailed the letter from Jonah to our Pastor, Todd Harris from Oak Heights Covenant Church. The next morning, Jonah received a reply and the plan for Sunday service began to emerge. Pastor Todd encouraged Jonah to visit the Covenant World Relief website to view a story of Shilaydine who is girl in Haiti who is also six years and has a badly broken leg from the day of the earthquake.
Jonah was encouraged to draw Shilaydine a picture and give the money to the Covenant World Relief to help Haiti. Pastor Todd emailed Jonah and asked him if he’d stand with him and talk about Haiti. Jonah’s confident reply, “Hi Pastor Todd, I will stand by you tomorrow. I’m glad the money will go to Haiti. I will draw a picture for the little girl. I’m happy the money will go to the Christians to give to people in Haiti.”
The next morning Jonah grabbed his blue bucket and went to church. I asked him what he’d say to the congregation and he stated, “I’ll tell them Haiti needs help.” Being a very detailed person, this made me nervous as my talkative, spirited child could say or do just about anything in front of that many people. Seeing how solemn and focused Jonah was reassured me that he was truly doing God’s work.
During the service Jonah peacefully doodled on a piece of paper. As the time came closer for Jonah to walk up in front of the church, I gave him a quiet reminder that he needed to be respectful on the altar. Jonah stopped doodling and gave me the thumbs up. He then replied with a wink, “I’m good to go.”
Pastor Todd then invited Jonah to stand up with him. From the back of the church, with his blue bucket in one hand and a picture that he colored for forty-five minutes in the other, Jonah made his way to the altar. Pastor Todd then shared their email conversation and what was on Jonah’s heart. Jonah showed the congregation the picture he drew. As Jonah walked off to Children’s Church, I remember thinking how can he look so small and so big at the same time?
Following God’s perfect timeline, Pastor Todd then gave a sermon on Gideon. He stated, “Jonah reminds me of Gideon…With God’s hand on his life, Gideon was a mighty warrior for the Lord. God also has His hand on, Jonah.”
At the end of the service, I went to get Jonah and a little friend from Children’s Church so that they could collect money in the blue buckets at back doors of the church. The two of them stood proudly and collected $247.08 for the children of Haiti. I stood in amazement as Jonah said to his church family, “Thank you…Thank you for helping the children of Haiti.”
Jonah often says, “God talks to my heart and my heart talks to my mind.” If we listen to God and follow his lead we can do great things!
–Written by Jonah’s mom, Tari Niemeyer.
5 Responses to “Blue Buckets of Love”
PAstor Todd Harris Says:
May 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm
We have buckets of praise to God for Jonah at our church. Thank you God for pouring out the Holy Spirit into the hearts and minds of children like Jonah.
May 20, 2010 at 9:48 pm
Wa to go Jonah we are all so proud of you!
Janet Anderson Says:
May 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm
I am so thankful for Jonah and his mom’s response to God speaking to a little boy’s heart. What an example of obedience.
May 21, 2010 at 3:32 pm
Jonah- I’m so proud of you! I know that you are going to do many great things in your life! Keep on listening to what God is saying to your heart!
May 24, 2010 at 9:35 am
Jonah- beautiful job! What a great example of how to listen when God speaks! Way to go, little buddy!