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Albertville couple carry out daughter’s vision to help African children through foundationcomment (0)

September 3, 2009

By Brittany N. Howerton

Aflao, Ghana — that’s where the streets are paved with garbage and power lines stretch through the town like a case of unraveled dental floss. It’s where a large cemetery runs along both sides of one street, reminding residents of the area’s high mortality rate. It’s where homes look like rickety shacks and motorbikes are the most affluent form of transportation.

But past the town seemingly in shambles, there’s a wall surrounding a safe structure that houses 40 children, who otherwise would call that garbage-lined street home.

And in that structure is a unit dedicated to a little girl from Albertville whose vision to take the gospel to African children forever changed Solitude Baptist Church, Albertville.

Four-year-old Jesse Brooks dreamed of sharing Jesus with the world. And although a tragic car accident took her life in 2002 when she was only 10, it did not take the dreams God had planted in her.

Just five years after Jesse’s death, her parents, Chris and Tammy Brooks, found themselves doing things they never thought they would do — things Jesse had wanted to do.

“We knew she had a heart for children and for ministry, but we never knew the Lord was going to use us to carry out her dream,” Tammy Brooks said.

She searched for several years for a way to honor Jesse’s life by helping children, but it was not until 2007 that a door of opportunity was opened.

When an evangelist from Art Alive Ministries visited the Marshall Baptist Association church, sharing about the needs of the Good Shepherd Happy Children’s Home in Aflao, Pastor Joey Cannady knew it was just the kind of ministry for which both the church and the Brooks family had been looking.

So out of Solitude Baptist, the Jesse Brooks Foundation was formed, and funds were given to build the Jesse Brooks Dorm.

“In April 2008, Chris, Tammy, myself and another person from the church went to Africa and had a dedication service for the building, and that’s when Tammy agreed our foundation would fund 100 percent of the support for those kids,” Cannady said.

And that’s just what the foundation is doing now — raising funds to provide for all of the 5- to 16-year-old children at the home.

But the foundation is hoping to do even more.

Once the children turn 16, “they are let go of the orphanage, and there is nowhere for them to go,” Tammy Brooks explained.

So during a July 14–Aug. 11 trip, she and five others scouted out land to host a vocational building at which the 16-year-old children can begin learning trades for hopes of a better life.

“God showed us a [plot of land] … and it’s an absolutely perfect place to do what we had dreamed we’d be able to do,” she said.

Those dreams also include more dormitories, a missionary house and maybe even a church.

But it’s about more than just training the children to cook and farm, Tammy Brooks added. “It’s about training the children for going back out into the country to make change.”

So the team also spent time discipling local pastors and their wives and hosting Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) for area children.

“Some (of the children) had walked several hours to get there, carrying (younger) children on their backs to come to VBS, and they were just amazed at the singing and learning about Jesus,” Tammy Brooks said.

And with the recycled VBS lessons the team took over to be used as Sunday School curriculum, church leaders are equipped to teach even more children.

“You would have thought you had given them a million dollars,” Tammy Brooks said. “Certain things weren’t even in the packs and they don’t even care. For them, it was, ‘Just give me books; just give me something to be able to teach these children.’ … This curriculum to them is a way to draw other children into the churches.”

Even though she doesn’t fully understand why God has entrusted her rather than Jesse with this task, Tammy Brooks knows He makes straight the path of the faithful.

“Every day, I ask God, ‘Why in the world are you allowing me to do this?’ It wasn’t even a dream I had had. … But it’s so humbling to be a part.”

For more information, visit www.jessebrooksfoundation.org.

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