The Esther School is blessed by a strong support group in North America. We hear stories of people praying for us, raising funds, and sharing the story of what's happening in Zambia. Sometimes, we miss the behind- the- scenes stories of how God is moving through people to make this place happen, but we can still feel the blessing of their support. We wanted to share one story of many about the support we receive. It’s about a family who wanted to help and had a dream placed on their heart. And how God made their dream a reality. I sat down with Karen Miedema to hear their story.
Brian and Karen Miedema knew about The Esther School from the beginning. Their mother had been a part of the team of women who came to Zambia for GEMS and started a school. It was a place that they knew about and prayed for, but as time went on, it grew closer to their hearts. First, Brian came to The Esther School on a work team. Then Brian's brother, Brent, and their family came to serve. With each extra exposure to The Esther School, the pull to help in a tangible way grew and grew. Brian, Karen, and their 4 boys, Caleb, Jonathan, Josh, and Ben (ages 5-11), began to pray and brainstorm of a way to give to the school.
"At first, we thought of getting individual gifts for the children," said Karen. "We knew we were visiting at Christmas, so we thought it would be a treat for the students. But after consulting some people, we felt pulled in a different direction. That's when Kathy (Miedema) suggested a playground."
The family excitedly began thinking about how they could raise funds for the playground.
"We like to run in our family, so we thought we would set aside a few hours where we would run our street and get pledges from people per lap. We chose 8:00-11:00pm, because who doesn't like to stay up late?"
And so, "Run in the Night" was born. The kids started calling family, friends, small group and church members to ask if they would be willing to make a pledge. The support and encouragement was immense. Not only were people eager to donate, they began asking if they could join them for the run! The Miedemas were blown away by the response to this event.
The night of the run came with perfect weather. About 60 people showed up on the illuminated street, ready to run. The event began with a prayer and the lighting of an "Olympic" torch Brian had built. The music switched on, and people began moving. There was running, walking, skateboarding, and rollerblading. Someone even did laps on a pogo-stick! One individual spent the four hours walking and praying for specific needs of The Esther School. By the time the night was over, Caleb Miedema, 11, had run about 20 miles! Through this event, enough money was raised for the playground.
Over the next few weeks, the family visited their favorite playgrounds and chose elements they loved most that would also fit the Zambian terrain. Brian designed the layout and parts were ordered. They were able to tell the UPS man about The Esther School because parts were arriving almost daily!
The Miedemas are now at The Esther School constructing the playground. It will be completed by the time the children return from the Christmas holiday, on January 5.
"When God puts something on your heart and you step out and obey, God will bless that in more ways than you can imagine."
During this time where we reflect on the story most worth sharing, the story of Emmanuel, God with us, we wanted to share a story of God still with us. Thanks to you all for your love, support, and encouragement! You are blessing this place in more ways than you can imagine.