Garrison Keillor got it right about children

My wife has an acrylic paperweight which was given to her some years ago. Etched into it is the quote popularized by Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame that says, “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.”

I have been thinking about that quote a lot lately. I brought it into my office for a few days to ponder it. Here are a few experiences that impacted my thinking.


This summer my wife and I continued a family tradition started by her parents. We took our oldest grandchild—Nolan, age 11—on a special trip just for him. We took him to Washington, DC.

It was a great trip. You could see his excitement about many things we experienced. It was not all about historic things. We actually began the week at a Washington Nationals baseball game. The days did include many significant historic things like the Capitol, the Library of Congress, various presidential memorials, and several Smithsonian buildings.

We sure stayed a lot longer at the National Air and Space Museum than I thought we would. He wanted to take pictures of everything. It was a hit.

The tough one was the Holocaust Museum. He wanted to go there. He asked about it every day. He had studied it in fifth grade and had read a book about it he showed us in the museum store. A part of the exhibit was the story of a boy named David who was taken to a concentration camp, but survived. This museum was the most emotional one we visited.

John Quincy

At one historic site I came across a new biography of John Quincy Adams who was the first son of a president to also serve as president. I ordered it online and it was waiting for me when we returned home. The next day I had a long flight to California. I began reading the book.

I had forgotten that his father, John Adams, took him many places during his growing up years. Young John Quincy spent many years before he was an adult living and traveling in Europe with his father and on his own. He had an amazing exposure to late 18th century Europe that benefitted him for the remainder of his life.

What John Adams did for young John was to develop him as a statesperson before he was even old enough to serve in any elected capacity. It was amazing.


Bernie is my friend of many years through Texas Baptists, Dallas Baptist University, and the Baptist World Alliance. He and his wife bring one of their grandchildren to annual BWA gatherings. They had a grandson with them this summer in Izmir, Turkey. What a wonderful experience for these young people. In appreciation for what I see in Bernie and his wife I spoke to his grandson this year and applauded his grandparents and the value of the experience.

I have great memories of my early years attending Baptist meetings and learning so much about the work of congregations and denominations through these experiences with my parents. I learned so much that I did not realize at the time I was learning that have served we well in my adulthood of ministerial service.

The Power to Bless Children Fleeing their Homelands

All of these are great experiences for children. It is part of what brings to mind the quote of “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” As great as this experiences this summer and the memory of others experiences have been, they pale in comparison to a radical opportunity to bless.

The United States has a great opportunity to extend the power to bless to thousands of children who have been driven, sent, or fled their home country with the dream that in the USA is a hope they are not realizing in a life, culture, and national setting that may destroy their dreams and even their lives.

Yes it is complicated. Yes there are legal issues. Yes there are economic issues. Yes there are political issues. Yes there are security issues. Yes there are humanitarian issues. Yes there are missional issues. Yes there are spiritual issues. Yes there is the opportunity to express our power to bless. Yes many organizations are expressing their Christian compassion.

What will we do with this opportunity? Remember, “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” Garrison Keillor got it right. Will we?

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40 KJV

George Bullard

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About the Author
George is President of The Columbia Partnership at, This is a Christian ministry organization that seeks to transform the North American Church for vital and vibrant ministry. It primarily does this through the FaithSoaring Churches Learning Community. See George is the author of three books: Pursuing the Full Kingdom Potential of Your Congregation, Every Congregation Needs a Little Conflict, and FaithSoaring Churches. George is also General Secretary [executive coordinator] of the North American Baptist Fellowship at This is one of the six regions of the Baptist World Alliance. George holds is Senior Editor of TCP Books at More than 30 books have been published on congregational leadership issues.

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