“As a parent, can I raise children who understand that it is more blessed to give than to receive, while living in a self-absorbed culture?” Jerri James asked herself. “How can I instill in them the joy in serving others?
Jerri, part-time Corona del Mar resident and mother of two, explained that she wanted her son and daughter to learn compassion, empathy and selflessness, qualities that don’t come naturally to children. She also knew that the best way to learn something is by doing it.
“Every parent wants their children to be a good citizen, to be full of character and compassion, but the challenge is to train up a child that way.” Jerri said. “I prayed that God would give me wisdom in raising my kids and I exposed them to missions and different ministries. I wanted them to know that there’s a big world out there that needs help.”
Three years ago, Jerri took her teenage children to the Bahamas over Christmas vacation, and decided to try something different.
“I knew they had waterslides and that we were going to have fun, but I wanted to add a service element to it, too.” Jerri said. “So I called the hotel in advance and asked if there was an orphanage nearby. I packed up the kinds of things to take to give children at the orphanage.”
“Of course my kids had fun going down the water slides, but it was fleeting fun,” Jerri explained. “When they were serving at the orphanage though, they had amazing joy, the kind that doesn’t leave. It’s so opposite what people might think, but it truly is more blessed to give. It was life-changing, changed them forever.”
Jerri came home excited to share what they had experienced.
“I asked God to show me how I could expand that experience beyond my family, my home, and my state,” she said. “I’m just one person with a heart for orphans. I prayed that God would give me an idea that could expand and grow.”
God answered Jerri’s prayer on the flight home when she shared her story with the man next to her. He turned out to be a supporter of Buckner International, a globally oriented ministry that has responded to children’s needs since 1879.
”It was a divine encounter on the airplane,” she said. “Long story short, the CEO from Buckner called the next day, and I flew to Dallas the next week. I saw how they were helping orphans around the world and the infrastructure they had in place was amazing. “
Jerri learned that there are 148 million orphans in the world and that orphanages do not receive enough funding to support their children. One of the greatest needs is for shoes. Buckner has a ministry called Shoes For Orphan Souls, which has distributed more than 2 million pairs of shoes to needy children in the United States and to orphans in 68 countries.
“I told them I’d pray to see how I could be involved,” Jerri added.
God answered that prayer with a unique idea that is catching on across the country; creative ways to help children have fun learning service while tangibly helping orphans oversees. It is called Club GoBeDo, a name Jerri coined which stands for “Go Somewhere, Be a Voice, and Do Something.”
Club GoBeDo is a free Internet-based club designed to inspire and instill God’s principles of service in children. The mission of Club GoBeDo is for 100,000 American children to give 100,000 pairs of shoes to children in need across the world. The website, ClubGoBeDo.com, has everything needed to organize shoe collection events. There are links for downloadable music, fliers and videos about shoe parades and shoe birthday parties, where guests bring new shoes to give away, in lieu of gifts. Children are encouraged to write letters and color pictures to accompany the shoes, which are sent to the Buckner Center in Texas, where they are then distributed to orphans.
Jerri explained that the children love the fun ways to be involved in collecting shoes to give to orphans, and adults love the ideas for parties where children experience the joy of giving.
Jerri, who speaks frequently to parenting groups, has developed other creative products to help inspire and entertain children, and a portion of the proceeds goes towards Shoes for Orphans Souls.
Jerri officially launched Club GoBeDo in September and she is receiving calls, emails and requests for radio interviews from all over the country.
“The response has been amazing,” she said. “I’m in awe of what’s happening. I am a mom who loves Jesus, loves to serve God and my family, and am excited about inspiring people and helping orphans.”
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]