By Jessica Connor
I believe when God calls you to do a job, you’re bound to do it—and do it right.
In the last year, God called Bishop Jonathan Holston, the Rev. Ricky Howell and other leaders in this conference to the huge task of collecting one million brand-new books for children. The idea was to reach out in love, give something special to a child with very little, perhaps even take a step toward eradicating illiteracy.
Bravely and faithfully, these leaders stepped up to the challenge, enlisting help from every single United Methodist church in this state. Now, just days before Annual Conference, the hard work is paying off. Churches, district processing sites and storage rooms are crammed with colorful children’s books, the sweet smell of fresh ink and the smooth surface of the hardcover and paperback books a sensory testament to the fruition of a beautiful, divinely inspired project.
I’m sure there were doubters when the Million Book Effort first started. You know: why books and not food, why a million and not a thousand, why new books, why this age or stage, etc. But there were naysayers when Noah built the ark; can you imagine if he’d listened to them? Really—who are we to question God’s plan put into our minds and hearts?
See, when God gives you a dream, a vision, I’m of the belief that you do two things: you say yes, and then get your ego out of the way as quickly as possible, allowing Him to use you in whatever way He needs. He’s the same God who made the earth, breathed life into clay, painted the sunrise and sunset. Surely He knows what He’s doing here.
As we wrap up the final days before the culmination of the Million Book Effort, as we sign up to volunteer or purchase those books or donate those funds toward the project, I urge you to open your hearts to the children who will be receiving these books. Think about their parents and teachers. How you could help them break the cycle of poverty through reading? Could you spend a little time at their school, or advocate for better standards in the Legislature? Could you tutor some children, or help fund quality resources in the school system? Check out my related article, which notes that children in poverty hear 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their higher income peers—and that the number of prison beds for adults is tied directly to the number of words a child knows. Could you be part of the solution?
Pray on it, and see if you hear God speaking to you.
We have a unique opportunity here, South Carolina United Methodists. Open your ears and your hearts. You could be part of a miracle.