On a summer Sunday in 2014, Dale Bronson sat in the congregation at Mt. Auburn United Methodist Church in Greenwood, Indiana, asking God for direction. Suddenly, it was announced the pastor was going on a mission to India and Uganda. Dale knew what God wanted from him, and he could barely wait for the service to end to ask the pastor (that would be me) if he could go on that mission.
Nobody had ever asked to go on a mission with me. I hardly knew Dale, but pleased to have the company. On the long flights, I got to know Dale pretty well. He didn’t have a happy childhood and had no children of his own. God opened his heart when he saw the children in Africa. There, a new man with a new heart was born! He loved the children, and they loved him, especially Elizabeth, an eight or nine year old girl. Elizabeth was his mother’s name. She opened up to Dale and his heart melted!
Dale began to talk about bringing her back to Greenwood to live and be educated, and I believe her mother would have let her go. Dale was enthused, but fear gripped my heart. I said, “Dale, think about this. How are you, a man of 70, going to raise a young girl?” The next day he came to me and said, “Maybe I could get someone else to keep her, and I could visit her.” I saw improvement, but Dale still wanted to bring Elizabeth home with us. Finally, I said, “Dale, why don’t you think about doing something to help a lot of children and not just one.” That worked.
Actually, I wanted to get home without an extra passenger. I never thought about this anymore, but Dale never forgot. He met with Gene Bertolet, his friend in Greenwood. They began to dream about a project for all children in Africa. Gene showed Dale a coloring book that he had helped develop for Haiti titled “My Book about Prayer.” Although in Creole, the graphic art worked for Africa. Dale, Gene, and I met one day at McDonald’s, and final plans were made. Gene said about Dale, “We have a tiger by the tail!”
The coloring book was translated into English, and Dale told his friends and raised money. We decided on a trial run of 5,000, which cost about $5,000. Dale raised $3,000, and the Mt. Auburn Endowment Committee contributed $2,000 for the first run. I sent the money to Uganda before my last trip, they were printed, and ready to distribute when I arrived.
This was like a drop in the ocean, but in traveling to Africa, I have never seen anything targeted for children. Our dream is to translate this little book into French, Swahili, and Arabic! If we can reach the majority of African children in this generation, we can turn Africa to God! This is a dream too big for us, but not too big for our God!