Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday! Today’s topic is indeed a juicy one. You see, I am planning to participate in a Guinness World Record event. What can I do that qualifies me to be in the world record category?
On March 30 through April 1, the Mercy Project is hosting an event in which volunteers will play baseball for 49 straight hours — qualifying them for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. I will have my glove and be ready to play.
What is Mercy Project? Mercy Project is a non-profit organization with the mission to bring new life for kids in slavery. Today in Ghana, Africa, an estimated 7,000 children are in captivity on Lake Volta. They are modern-day slaves sold to fishermen, often for as little as $20. Many are as young as 5-6 years old, and they work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. They fish, mend, and scoop water out of leaky canoes. They rarely smile, they do not laugh; their childhoods have been stolen.
Mercy Project was started by Chris Field after a family mission trip in August 2009 in which he and his wife visited Ghana. Their focus is to get children out of slavery in the short-term and to start economic development projects in the villages where these children live and work for the long-term. Mercy Project teaches fishermen new and innovative ways to sustain their livelihood without using children. This allows the children to be rescued, rehabilitated, and reintegrated into their families, while assuring that the fisherman have no need to use children as slaves in the future.
Why a Guinness World Record? Mercy Project has several fundraisers each year, one of which is breaking a Guinness World Record. In 2010, they played 50 hours of kickball. In 2011, they played 24 hours of flag football — a game which was highlighted by ESPN Sports.
This year, the goal is to break the world record for the most consecutive hours of baseball. Players will rotate in and out and keep the game going for a total of 49 hours. Each player raises money to participate and general donations are accepted as well.
How did I get involved? I met Chris Field, Executive Director of Mercy Project, at church camp. He was a youth minister and I was a children’s minister at the time, coming from different churches of the same faith. I was so impressed with how he passionately practiced what he preached. Chris is the real thing — a man devoted to making our world a better place because of his faith in God.
When he started the Guinness records, my teenage son was drooling to participate. Of course, I figured he was too young. This year, however, the announcement came that the sport was baseball. Baseball is my son’s middle name. I quickly shot a message to Chris, asked about my son getting involved, and was told that the Guinness record rules required him to be older. Oh well.
Then Chris offered that if I took one of the female spots in the baseball game, my son could be the official bat boy. My son jumped at this chance! Now skill is not a factor in playing in this game. The game still counts even if I strike out every time. But I have been around baseball for much of my life, so I feel reasonably sure that I won’t completely humiliate myself. I believe in the cause, I love the people participating, and I want my son to have this experience of service, so I’m in.
Of course, the first thing I asked myself was what will I wear. I sure hope I can find some girly baseball pants to go with our team’s t-shirts which will say Strike Out Slavery.
Want to make a difference? What I love about this charity is that it helps to change the economic background that causes people to opt for slavery. It provides a long-term solution for the people in Ghana and gives these kids a chance at childhood and health. If you are moved by their story, you can donate at their website HERE.
If another story moves you, find a charity for that cause and support it. Natalie Hartford has done a great job focusing on MADD Canada and the work they do to prevent impaired driving. Amber West launched the #GoWithout campaign last year, encouraging people to find an expense they can forego and donate instead to their charity of choice. There are needs all around us — whether children in slavery in Africa or the women in a local community shelter. You don’t need to set a record to make a difference. Every little bit helps.
What story moves you? Were you aware of the child slavery problems in West Africa? Do you have a favorite charity?