MEMBERS of Kells and Eskylane Presbyterian Churches were recently blessed with the opportunity to learn about Spud Bears Ministries.
This amazing local charity aims to provide a teddy bear for every child in each orphanage supported by Mission Aviation Fellowship in Africa and beyond.
Founder of Spud Bears Ministries, Colin Davis told the Ballymena Times: “Having worked for MAF for over 11 years as Ireland manager I became very aware of the plight of the children in a lot of the locations that the MAF planes would fly into when bringing in medicine, blood and supplies.
“Unlike hospitals here there were no separate wards for children and many of them just lay for weeks in adult wards, scared and alone, so I started to take some bears with me in an extra suitcase.
“Then in the summer of this year I felt that I had to do more so I started Spud Bears.“
Explaining the name choice, Colin said: “During an overseas trip I met an eight-year-old girl called Lanni. When I told her I was from a place called Ireland, she said that she knew we ate a lot of potatoes. I told her we called these spuds and so she decided to call the little bear I gave her Spud Bear.
“I was so sad to hear that Lanni died a short while after I returned home but I decided to name the ministry after her teddy bear,” said Colin who pointed out that there are two aspects to Spud Bears Ministries:
He said: “The first is to send out pre-loved donated teddies along with new teddy bears that we source from wholesalers here in N Ireland. These will be given to EVERY child that is in the hospital or orphanage that we support.
“It was such an important part of Spud Bears to make sure that there is always a bear for every child and that the bear is given to the child to keep. This means having a surplus of teddies in each location, so that as soon as a new child arrives, or leaves for fostering they get a cuddly friend.”
‘Spud Bears’ also seek to provide ‘talking bears’ for children in clinics or orphanages who cannot read or write. These Animatronic teddies are able to tell Bible stories in the child’s own language, share health information or tell a bedtime story to youngsters who have no-one to read to them.
Colin has just returned from Uganda where he was reminded what a difference this simple ‘toy’ can make.
He said: “I met one 14-year-old girl called Tesandra who had been a prostitute on the streets. She had given her life to God and the church had given her a small room in the back for her to sleep in at night, she couldn’t read and nor could any of the other girls some as young as 10 who were still working as prostitutes and she really wanted to help them.
“So I was so blessed to be able to give her a talking spud bear that she could take into the back streets and let him share God’s love and the Christian message with these young girls and boys, amazing that this little bear is in such a dark place shining God’s light.”
As result of a retiring offering, the generous folk at Kells and Eskylane gave enough money for two talking bears to be provided.
You too can support Spud Bears in a number of ways...
* Hold a teddy bear picnic: Request a pack and you will be able to hold a coffee morning with a difference, you will get a Spud Bear DVD, teddy bear buns recipes, and all your guests get to bring a teddy that will go off to one of their projects.
* Become ‘a cuddle rep.’ in your church - collect teddies! They should be short haired as not to collect bugs and dust approx. 30cm/12 inches tall. Then give the Spud Bears team a call and they will collect them.
* Become a Spud Bear Partner: If you would like to help and are able to give a donation this would make such a difference. It would enable Spud Bear Ministries help more clinics and orphanages.
* Pray: That as these teddy bears go into the hospitals that God would use them to share His love with children and their families.
For further information, call 02870 825880 or e-mail: email@example.com