“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
This Saturday at SOS Saturday, we can do just that, visit orphans and widows! We will meet to visit the care center at 9:30 a.m. and the foster home at 12:30 p.m. Reach out to a TD leader for details!
Here’s what our own Emily has to say about her experience at SOS Saturdays:
My Experience at SOS Saturdays by Emily Wang
Greetings readers of the TD blog!
To start with an introduction, my name is Emily. I am thrilled to write about my experience at the SOS Saturdays, and perhaps even encourage you to come! SOS Saturdays are volunteer opportunities that usually occur every month. However, SOS Saturdays go beyond the sphere of the school definition of volunteer work. SOS Saturdays extend to service for those in need and the spread of God’s love.
I understand there are reasons hampering some readers from coming. Personally, I was intimidated by SOS Saturdays. Even now, it would be a lie if I did not admit to my fear. With my minimal experience in interacting with people in addition to my awkwardness in social situations, SOS Saturdays that required communication with unfamiliar people was something out of my usual cup of tea. Yet through gradual workings, I came more frequently.
Truthfully, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why I decided to come to the SOS Saturdays, as there are many. One reason being the theme of metamorphosis and the renewal of a person in Christ as I learn what it means to live for God and being a Christian. Although I am aware that I am not completely transformed, SOS Saturdays give some insight regarding the topic by serving others, which we are called to do.
The second reason is the wonderful encouragement that I have received from people at TD! I am grateful to be in a pleasant atmosphere. Hence, I encourage everyone who is reading this to experience SOS Saturday for themselves if they have not already! The experience is definitely a motivation in itself. Being able to bring a sprinkle of light and love to people who might not experience it everyday is something special.
Additionally, everyone was able to engage with a variety of people. Through interactions, we learn from each other, for every individual has their own story to share. In cases in which instigation of a conversion is difficult, it is still delightful to have others for company! After all, being able to bring cheerfulness in their routine lives by being a friend or transform someone’s world is a blessing especially if the transformation is through God.
From a recent personal experience, I was able to spend time reading the Bible with a residence at the care center. At first, I was hesitant to read for the Bible was in another language. Yet when we were reading, there was a connection that broke the language barrier.
Besides the care center, a visit that had impacted me was at the Union Rescue Mission. The environment was very unfamiliar. It was a world that I had never faced, so the it created discomfort and apprehension especially with my tendency to imagine the worst outcomes for a given situation. Looking back, that day challenged my willingness in carrying out the command to serve to people in need by the necessary disposal of my horrors and uneasiness. In such ways, SOS Saturdays confronted my fears and changed me to a better person in the continual process.
Once again, I recommend every reader to come! I am grateful for your audience, and I look forward to serving together in the future! Have a lovely day, afternoon, evening, or dawn! – Emily
We will not only have SOS Saturday this weekend, but we’re having an SOS SUPER Saturday! What’s a SUPER Saturday? It’s a double-header, two opportunities to keep cultivating the all-important Downward component of our Christian lives!
Care Center Ministry – 10 a.m. – noon. Meet at my home at 9:30 a.m.
Come minister to the elderly at the So. Pasadena Care Center. They are gaining lots of momentum ever since they got re-certified and converted back to making the elderly their primary focus of care. TD has been ministering here since 1989. Our last two visits were very special.
These are folks who have been largely forgotten and who need to be valued and reminded that they are still loved by God and still have much worth.
“You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:32
Orphanage Ministry – 1 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Meet at my home at 12:30 p.m.
On the other spectrum are children who also have no one to really call their own. They don’t have parents! What would you do if you grew up without parents?
These are darling kids who face a very uncertain future and need to know they are valued. God has a heart for them, part of which they can experience by being with us.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
True Downward service is so crucial and essential to a true Christian life, so please take advantage of the opportunities to fulfill His calling for us through our SOS Saturdays.
Let your small group leaders know if you can make either ministry or both this Saturday! – Arthur
Tutu Bee (front center), the country director for Asia’s Hope Thailand, lives with 24 children in the Doi Saket 4 orphanage home, the home built with Jerod Cherry’s donation. Courtesy of Asia’s Hope
Well, tomorrow is the big game – the Super Bowl! When I read this story, I was convicted and reminded that God deserves our very best. Even if you’re not a football fan, you need to read this! It ties in well to V4V. – Arthur
How one Patriots Super Bowl ring gave new life to 24 orphans in Thailand
Jerod Cherry was attending a religious youth conference in 2008 when he ran into a staffer who had a thought about the three Super Bowl titles he won with the New England Patriots. The gathered teens had fallen $20,000 short of their fundraising goal for building an orphanage overseas, and the staffer, Courtney Cherest, wondered if Cherry might be in the mood to cover the difference.
Cherest was joking, kind of. She was a Peyton Manning fan and something of a Tom Brady hater, and when Cherry walked by her during a break, she asked, “Hey, man, are you going to give up one of those rings?”
Cherry laughed, kind of. Then he went home, went to bed and lay awake engaged in a 12-round heavyweight fight with his own thoughts.
Even if Cherest had just been messing with him, hey, everyone knows there’s an element of truth in all humor. That same day, Cherry had been touched by an underprivileged kid from West Virginia who spoke at the Momentum Youth Conference in Cedarville, Ohio.
“He didn’t have a dime to his name,” Cherry recalled, “and he was giving 25 or 50 cents, whatever he had in his pocket, toward the goal.”
Cherry was hit by this moment from the blind side. He was helping at this event only because his wife was serving as a volunteer. He had no clue he was walking into a day that would inspire him to help protect two dozen orphans in Thailand from the scourge of extreme poverty, drugs, sex trafficking and education-free childhoods.
He was meant to be in this place, at this time. “To be there,” he said, “was to see scenes of humanity at its best.” Cherry was moved by a presentation that included the image of a starving, emaciated child in a faraway land and of a nearby vulture apparently waiting for the child to die. “I’m a father with four kids, and something like that really puts you in your place,” he said. “You’re thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, someone is actually living like that.’ And here I am throwing some of my food away.”
Not that Cherry couldn’t relate, on some level, to the struggle to survive one day and advance to the next. He grew up poor around Oakland and Berkeley, California. He said his family spent some time on welfare, and he often tried to get by on a diet of french fries. Cherry tells the story of being without phone service in his home for three years because his father had given him money to compete in a high-level track meet in Texas. “We never recovered financially from that,” he said.
College recruiters couldn’t call him, but they found him anyway. Cherry said Columbia University offered him a grant to come east, and an Ivy League education in the world’s most prominent market was hard to turn down. But Cherry couldn’t consider anything but a full scholarship, no questions asked, and he settled on a political science curriculum at Cal-Berkeley, where he earned a master’s in education and enough respect as a safety to get picked in the second round of the 1996 draft by the New Orleans Saints.
He became a special-teams player for the Patriots in 2001, just in the nick of time to win three rings in four years and, ultimately, to show up at that Cedarville conference after a fitful night of sleep and declare himself ready to do something useful with one of them.
Cherry knew he had to donate the ring that meant the most to him: the one from Super Bowl XXXVI and the upset of the high-flying St. Louis Rams. That ring symbolized the first hour of the Patriots dynasty and the birth of the Patriot Way.
‘Truly transformational for these kids’
No, it wasn’t an easy choice. Cherry had three tackles in that 20-17 victory over the Rams, including one on a punt for a 1-yard loss. He poured a river of blood, sweat and tears into that journey, which he called, “something unreal, something I’d never experienced in the NFL. Just the most physically taxing season that you could put your body through.” The backup safety said coach Bill Belichick never let up during that stunning 2001 run, not even for half a day. The grind made the ring more special.
But Cherry had read about Cain and Abel, and he decided his sacrifice needed to be more like Abel’s. “No disrespect to the other two rings,” he said. “I easily could’ve given the second or third one, and nobody would’ve said anything. But my thought was, ‘If I’m going to give anything that’s sacrificial and supposed to represent my faith in God, I’d better give my best and what I care about the most.'”
Now he had to figure out what, exactly, to do with his most cherished, 14-karat piece of white gold. Cherry ended up running into Tom Brady and his family at a benefit concert, and Brady’s sister, Nancy, who has done extensive work for African causes, put the former Patriot in touch with an organizer who could maximize the value of the ring. They decided on a raffle that wouldn’t exclude the average fan, who is usually overwhelmed by the heavy corporate hitters at an auction.
Raffle tickets went for two bucks a pop, with a minimum purchase of five tickets. The winner was promised a ring from an epic Super Bowl and about $16,000 to pay for the taxes. The raffle cleared more than $180,000 for the charities of Cherry’s choosing.
Some of the proceeds went to charities such as Boston for Africa and Feed My Starving Children. Some of the money went to Asia’s Hope, a Christian organization that builds homes and provides educational opportunities, food and medical care for orphaned children in Thailand, Cambodia and India, where children are often victims of, among other things, sexual exploitation.
“No disrespect to the other two rings. I easily could’ve given the second or third one, and nobody would’ve said anything. But my thought was, ‘If I’m going to give anything that’s sacrificial and supposed to represent my faith in God, I’d better give my best and what I care about the most.'”
Jerod Cherry on why he sold his first Super Bowl ring for charity
According to Asia’s Hope, Cherry’s donation was directly responsible for the building of an orphanage that houses two dozen hill tribe children in the Doi Saket district of northern Thailand, a half-hour outside Chiang Mai. John McCollum, the organization’s executive director, said these hill tribe children are trans-nationals who are afforded virtually no rights by the government and who are often left with no hope of building substantial lives after their parents are killed while working in the drug trade. They are, effectively, refugees in their own land, some of them living near the Burmese border without electricity or basic utilities. McCollum said the high school graduation rates among these hill tribe children are estimated to be between 2 and 10 percent, and the boys and girls who end up in his organization’s homes graduate from high school at a rate of nearly 90 percent.
The orphanages, McCollum stressed, are not the institutional type defined by what he called “Dickensian squalor” and staffer-to-child ratios of 1-to-20. The homes generally have staffer-to-child ratios of 1-to-4 or 1-to-5, and they are designed to approximate family living; married couples and their biological children form the core of the extended family unit. McCollum said Asia’s Hope tries to keep orphaned siblings together and doesn’t evict or “age out” young adults who might be 19 or 20 years old but just then advancing to seventh-grade classwork.
Some of the orphans are now studying at the local university or engaging in vocational training, bettering themselves so they can impact generations to come. “I do recognize that something like a Super Bowl ring is really irreplaceable,” McCollum said. “But Jerod took what he had earned and is rightfully his, something that is priceless, and divested himself of that and did something that is truly transformational for these kids.”
Tutu Bee, who runs the 10 Asia’s Hope homes in Thailand, used to be one of those kids. She was the hill tribe daughter of an orphaned father, and she lived in a small bamboo hut until she was 14. Bee saw people from her Skaw Karen tribe acting as drug couriers in order to support their families. She knew of children who left the tribe on long, desperate walks to the city and were never seen again. She knew of teenage girls who were forced into prostitution.
Heartbroken by what she saw in her village, Bee devoted her life to changing the cycle of dysfunction and despair. Now she lives among the orphans of Doi Saket 4, the home built on a foundation of Cherry’s kindness. They eat together, play together, pray together and watch a little TV together. The girls sleep in bunk beds in one big room, the boys in another. Asked what would’ve likely become of these children if Cherry or some kindred spirit hadn’t provided them a home, Bee said, “Some kids might’ve died in prison or become drug dealers. Some girls might’ve gone to brothels because they would’ve had no choice. They had to do something for a living.
“But now they have a new life. They’re not afraid. They can find a job in the city, and they can go back to their village and develop their own tribes.”
Over the phone in Thailand, Bee said some of the children are fans of American football and occasionally watch it on TV. Bee said she is becoming a supporter of the Ohio State Buckeyes; Asia’s Hope has its home office in Columbus, Ohio. She had a couple questions about the upcoming Super Bowl between New England and the Atlanta Falcons, and of greater consequence, she had a message she wanted to pass along to the former Patriot, Cherry.
“On behalf of the children of Doi Saket 4,” she said, “please tell Mr. Cherry that his donation is very meaningful to all 24 kids and that their lives will never be the same because of him. He’s given them new life. We all appreciate him, and we would like him to come and visit us here.”
A selfless act
Once a financial analyst, Cherry is now a talk radio host in Cleveland, where he does afternoon drive and Browns pregame work for the ESPN affiliate WKNR. In some ways, he was the perfect Patriot or the perfect Belichick player. He appeared in 127 regular-season NFL games and didn’t start in a single one of them. His intelligence and special-teams hustle are what kept him in the league for nine years.
When Adam Vinatieri made his kick to win Super Bowl XXXVI, Cherry secured his first championship on any level, Pop Warner included. As ecstatic as he was, Cherry said he was suddenly struck by the thought that he hadn’t reached the pinnacle of anything. “This is not it,” the backup safety told himself. “There’s got to be more to life than this.”
He described the moment as a spiritual awakening; he described the 2008 encounter with the youth conference worker who joked with him about giving up his prized possession in the same way. Cherry doesn’t wear his Patriots rings from Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX, in part because he finds them a bit ostentatious. Besides, nothing in his football life could compare to that 2001 season.
Fifteen years later, Cherry is thrilled that his most selfless team has contributed to a most selfless cause. He looked over some pictures that Tutu Bee sent from Doi Saket 4, photos of children who are no longer forgotten souls living outside the margins of civilized society. Cherry said the images left him wanting to do more.
“It’s a priority of mine to make it to Thailand this year to celebrate, encourage, and hopefully bless these beautiful faces in the pictures!!!” he wrote in an email. “They appear very happy and content when you consider what they have faced in life.”
Why? Because a stranger from across the globe gave them a fighting chance. That’s why.
Tom Brady was the most valuable player in New England’s victory over the Rams. That much is not in dispute. But a man who made a few tackles that night, Jerod Cherry, is the Patriot who owns — or used to own — the most valuable ring in Super Bowl history.