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October 25
by eleon

How A Trip To “Build-A-Bear” Changed My Life

The joy of fulfilling my cause is something I am privileged to experience more often than you’d probably believe. I remember the day I wanted to do something special to bless the kids of the homeless families living at the Dream Center. I called the director of our program and asked her to round up all the kids and meet me at Build-A-Bear in Hollywood.

I was expecting maybe fifteen or twenty children to be there, a good-sized gathering. I got there a few minutes after they arrived and wondered where all these children were coming from. There were about fifty kids from our homeless families. Fifty! I didn’t realize we had that many. I was thinking, oh my goodness! Let’s see, fifty children at $40 each, that’s…But it didn’t really matter to me. The wonderful thing was how many kids would be blessed by this off-the-cuff adventure.

You see, the mathematic calculations in my head ceased the minute I started to watch these kids. They saw me and suddenly it was pandemonium. They started hugging me and shouting, “We get to go to Build-A-Bear today! We get to go to Build-A-Bear today! For nearly all of them it was their first time.

My kids have been so often that it’s not even a big deal for them anymore. But for these children, it was a lifetime memory in the making.

The women from the store took over and started getting the kids to select and make their bears. Watching their faces and hearing their enthusiasm was priceless. They chose the bear and then followed the ladies’ instructions on how to put it all together. They instructed the children rub the heart of the bear to get it going…and the kids were rubbing away. Then, they did a little dance and jump. It was too good for words; I didn’t want the process to end. I was circulating among the kids, talking to them about their bears and the names they wanted to give them and generally having the time of my life.

I got to one tiny African-American girl, probably about six years old, and noticed she had a male bear. “Hey, you got a boy bear. You didn’t want to make a special princess bear? What kind of bear are you making?” She looked up at me and said, “I made this for you, Pastor. The Pastor Matthew Barnett Superhero Bear.”

Where did that come from in that little girl’s heart? Oh, man, she wiped me out! Once again, I realized that I need those people more than they need me. They had brought me a level of joy and fulfillment that I would never experience anywhere else. And what did it take? Listening to the Holy Spirit, being obedient, and simply loving these kids. How tough is that? And how can you get a better return on your investment?

I’ve received many rewards and it has been a great honor each time. However, none will ever compare to the handmade Pastor Matthew Barnett Superhero Bear.

You can experience joy through your cause when you learn that it is not about you and you learn to focus on others.


This story was told in my book: “The Cause Within You.”

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