There’s something special about birthday parties, whether our own or the ones we’ve planned for our children. We smile when we remember the cakes, games, balloons, friends and gifts, when the focus was on us or our child and that special day. But 10-year-old Ayden Moore’s last two birthdays have been very different.
Ayden, the daughter of Ron and Renee Moore, is a rising fifth grader at Oakbrook Preparatory School. She, her parents and 16-year-old brother Tristan have been Mill members for the last four years. Ayden is the goalie for her CFC soccer team. She swims, enjoys arts and crafts, and loves baking and painting with her grandmothers.
When she was eight years old, Ayden walked by herself around missions fair at The Mill’s Global Missions Conference. She talked to missionaries and learned about their areas of service. It was there that she discovered Set Free Alliance, an organization committed to rescuing enslaved children forced to work in rock quarries in India. There was something about this project that drew Ayden in. She will tell you that she “felt called to it.”
With her ninth birthday coming up, Ayden decided to collect money for Set Free Alliance by asking her third grade class to come to her birthday party and bring money instead of gifts. Set Free Alliance donated stickers and small rocks to give to her friends as a reminder of the children in India. Ayden and her friends raised $600 for the support of children released from bondage. Throughout the year, Ayden has treasured the cards and pictures she’s received from the children rescued by Set Free Alliance.
Service for others has been woven into the fabric of this family’s life. The Moores are veterans of two Nicaragua mission trips and have plans to go on this summer’s Montana trip. They also visit Ayden’s grandparents in Mexico once a year and participate local service projects there. On one of those trips, in addition to taking food to homes, Ayden decided that she wanted to do a craft with the children in one of her grandparents’ service neighborhoods. The children painted small rocks with glitter and glow-in-the-dark paint. Ayden says that it was not only fun but gave the children “something shining in case they woke up in the middle of the night.”
This year, Ayden again cruised around the CLC during the missions conference. As Renee said, Ayden was “looking for something that God wanted her to do.” When she came out of the room, she said, “There’s nothing there for me.” However, on their usual route home, Ayden saw something that was for her. She felt God drawing her attention to a trailer park near Target and decided that serving there was going to be her birthday party’s theme.
Ayden’s birthday project was on! They sent invitations with the request for money or bags containing toilet paper, dish soap, paper towels and laundry detergent in lieu of gifts. Moms shopped with their daughters, and others donated money. When all the donations were in, they assembled 50 bags. Each bag contained a Bible verse chosen by Ayden and her dad.
On the day before Easter, a group of 10, including family members, friends and Spanish teacher, began knocking on doors. Since Ayden’s purpose was to pray with people and invite them to church, she decided bags would only be given to those answering their doors. Ayden said that she was scared at the beginning; after the first home, however, she loved it – especially when she saw how appreciative and sweet the people were.
The group then visited a few of the small houses adjoining the trailer park, meeting people in need and praying with them. One woman they met had just lost her mother and told the group she was so grateful for their visit and prayers. By the end of the day, they distributed 30 bags. Ayden said that “it feels great to do things for people.” Her mom added that she feels her daughter “has a heart for mercy.”
This is Ayden’s heart’s desire: “I hope lots of people see my story and decide to go to the neighborhood behind Target to tell the people about Jesus.”
So what’s up for her 11th birthday? Ayden said that she’s not sure where God will draw her next; but then she grinned and said, “I can’t wait!”