An 8-Year-Old Leads by Example by Investing in the Young
A young member at Faith UMC Spring is perhaps the youngest fundraiser to be inspired to help orphans through ZOE’s model of empowerment.
God’s faithfulness through the faith of a child is a beautiful thing to watch unfold. This becomes apparent through the story of Carson Winter, a member of Faith UMC, Spring and ZOE’s first and youngest peer-to-peer fundraiser.
Under the direction of Rev. Gaston Warner, an elder in the Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, ZOE is a distinctive three-year program, developed initially in Africa that empowers orphans and vulnerable children around the world to overcome extreme poverty, become fully self-reliant, and learn of God’s love for them. The ministry recently added another easy way for supporters, who are passionate about empowering orphans and vulnerable children, to get involved. It is an online giving platform that makes it easy to share the story of ZOE with family and friends.
“I did a presentation about ZOE at Faith UMC,” notes Gaston, “and was able to meet Carson. Carson is a cool little guy, and came up with an idea all on his own.” Adds Gaston, “While many adults find it hard to understand how helping orphans to help themselves is more sustainable than simply giving handouts, Carson, at the age of eight, immediately understood how having an animal and a business can help children break free of the cycle of extreme poverty. How true that a little child shall lead them."
When Carson heard about the needs, he created a list of Gifts that Help that he wanted to send to orphans and set a goal of $1,305. Initially, Carson’s mom, Tina, was concerned that he had set his goal too high. She suggested he take the cow (with a price tag of $500) off of his list. Carson insisted that the cow was too important to orphans that are building new lives, and it remained on his page. Carson shared his page by email and social media and told his friends, family and church members.
Carson’s parents, Andy and Tina Winter, say they were touched by Carson’s interest in ZOE and by the generosity of those who contributed to Carson’s campaign. “We were pleased that he met his goal in less than a month’s time, but even more pleased that his vision to help ZOE orphans live a better life was going to come true. His persistence and enthusiasm to see this campaign through was inspiring. We hope that it might encourage others to do the same.”
When asked why he wanted to fundraise for orphans, he said, “After I went to a ZOE information meeting at my church, I left both sad and happy. Sad because there are kids in this world the same age as me, who don’t feel loved, but happy because ZOE is there to help them.” Adds Carson, “ZOE helps orphans to get themselves out of poverty. I learned that ZOE provides the orphans a three-year program to give them support, training, skills, and tools to learn to take care of themselves long-term by growing their own food and starting up their own businesses. When kids complete the program, they are able to take care of themselves, their family, and live a better life. That’s cool.”
Rev. Harry Vein says, “I have been extremely excited that Faith UMC has become Hope Companions for two Working Groups thru ZOE -- one in Kenya and one in India. But that excitement was equaled for me when I heard what Carson wanted to do! Having spent time with so many children that have been impacted by Zoe in Kenya, it touched me so much to have one of our children want to do something to help the children of ZOE!”
Carson’s favorite part of helping the ZOE kids help themselves was “learning about the impact animals can have in the life of an orphan.” He was excited to help orphans “get back on their feet.” Carson’s story inspires us to believe in God’s mighty power to work through those who are willing to say “yes” and act on His behalf.
Age is irrelevant when it comes to helping others. Those who are inspired by Carson can start a fundraising page or just purchase Gifts that Help as special gifts in the coming year in honor of friends and loved ones.
Youth Helping Youth
According to Gaston, ZOE has youth-friendly Lenten resources which can be leveraged by churches in the weeks ahead through youth programs of all ages. Contact him via: firstname.lastname@example.org; 919-414-4167.