HUTCHINSON, MN (May 21, 2010) – The headlines about Haiti have left the front pages of newspapers, but six-year-old Jonah Niemeyer hasn’t forgotten the children there.
Last month, he told his mother Tari, “I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in Haiti lately.” He wondered if the children were going to be all right and asked, “If I give them all of my money, will they be okay?”
“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,” Tari says. Two days later, he suddenly told her, “All my heart wants is for the children of Haiti to have what they need.”
When she asked how he would like to help them, he 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.”
Jonah dictated a letter about the idea to his pastor at Oak Heights Covenant Church, Todd Harris. Tari says she knew that Jonah’s interest was more than a passing idea when he prayed later that night, “Dear God, please help the children of Haiti. Please keep earthquakes away and help them have a great life. Amen.”
Harris responded the next day and a plan for the Sunday worship service began to develop. Harris encouraged Jonah to visit a website that recounted the story of Shilaydine, a girl in Haiti who also is six years old and who had suffered a badly broken leg in the earthquake. Harris encouraged Jonah to draw the girl a picture and give the money to Covenant World Relief.
Tari says she was nervous in church the next day before Jonah spoke because her “talkative, spirited child could say or do just about anything in front of that many people.” She reminded him that he needed to be respectful. He winked at her and said, “I’m good to go.”
Holding the picture in one hand and the blue bucket in another, he told the congregation about his idea. After the service, he and a friend stood at the back of the church and people dropped $247.08 into the bucket. As the members deposited their contributions, Jonah told each one, “Thank you. Thank you for helping the children of Haiti.”
Tari says Jonah credits God with giving him the idea. “Jonah often says, ‘God talks to my heart, and my heart talks to my mind.’ ”