Posted on Jun 01 , 2017

Derek and me in 2010

This is TOO AWESOME not to share.

A lot of you have heard me talk about “Derek, the Red Firehat Kid.” And if you have heard me talk about Derek, I was probably sobbing, because Derek had a profound impact on me. In fact, Derek was one of the ways God called me into full-time ministry back in 2010.

My very first week with OAC in 2010, we did a Kid’s Bible Club and I met a 7-year-old named Derek. After the Bible message, I sat with him and took him through a gospel booklet. He told me he wanted to follow Jesus. I gave him the booklet and told him that it was my gift to him. This tenderhearted 7-year-old boy took his fireman’s hat off his head, put it on my head, and told me that it was “his gift to me.” I tried to tell him I didn’t want to take his helmet, but Derek insisted, and said, “I really want you to have it.” How can you forget a sweet kid like that?

I’ve had his firehat on the wall of my office ever since, with his name and date marked on it.

I have often told people how God used Derek to touch my heart, and I have often cried for him, praying for him, and wondering how he was growing up and turning out.

Meeting again in 2012

Two years later, in 2012, God orchestrated it so that we met again. My team and I were running a Kid’s Bible Club in the same neighborhood, and Derek was there. And he remembered me!

I reminded him about meeting him two years earlier and that he gave me his fireman’s helmet.

He said he remembered and he remembered the gospel booklet I gave him. I told him I have been praying for him for two years, and he smiled, and said, “Really? That’s so cool.”

I brought him through the same gospel booklet again and he said he wanted to follow the narrow path to Jesus Christ!

But that was it for five years. I’ve had a Bible Club in the same spot just about every summer, but I never saw Derek again, even though I always looked for him.

Well, a week ago I had a Church Team running a Kid’s Bible Club in the same spot, and kids were coming out for it. I was chatting with one of the Moms and told her that this neighborhood is very special to me because I met the coolest kid there a number of years ago.

The Mom asked me about it, and I gave her the story about Derek and the firehat.

Derek praying after the message in 2012.

She asked me how old he was and what year? When I told her that he was 7 in 2010, the Mom thought for a sec, and said, “I think that’s DJ. He goes by ‘DJ’ now. Oh, and there he is playing basketball…”

And just like that the Mom started yelling, “Hey DJ, get over here!”

Derek, or “DJ,” came over, and I introduced myself to him. I told him about the firehat when he was 7 and showed him a photo (the one of the two of us at the top of this post.)

Derek got all excited, and said, “Hey, that’s me!”

And he remembered me again, even 7 and 5 years later.

I told DJ that I have always remembered him because of his kindness and he was clearly moved.

And even though he’s a bit old for our Kid’s Bible Club, he sat down on the mat and participated in our Bible Club again!

DJ is 14 now, and here’s the BEST part: he’s going to a good Bible Church, part of the Youth Group, and he told me that he’s still following Jesus.

Wow wow wow wow WOW WOW WOW! I’m so so so thankful to God for such a gift like this! I’m over the moon!

I just had to share.

Me and Derek (DJ) in 2017


God is still seeking and saving the lost, and sometimes, we get to see a bit of the way God is using us. And there’s NOTHING better than being used by Jesus!

We love you and thank Jesus for you!

Thank you so much for your prayers, financial support, and notes of encouragement, without which we would not be able to reach the Lost for Jesus Christ!

If you’re supporting this ministry, then God is using you to reach people with the gospel, and that’s exciting!

Please contact us anytime and let us know how we can pray for you!

And please feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be blessed by it!

For Christ and His gospel,

Mark, Shelby, Vivienne, Juliana, Caleb, and Gabriella

6 Comments → “ The Boy with the Fireman’s Helmet – 7 Years Later ”

  1. John Cutlip

    4 months ago

    Awesome story, thanks for sharing that.

  2. Mark

    4 months ago

    Thanks for the encouragement, John! You’re a terrific mentor!!! 🙂

  3. Deb Tisdale

    4 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this awesome story! God Bless You and OAC!

  4. Mark

    4 months ago

    It’s 100% my pleasure, Deb. God bless you too!

  5. sandra lombardo

    4 months ago

    Oh bless you for sharing your story of Derek with us! God is so good. xoxoxoxxo

  6. Mark

    4 months ago

    Indeed. God is so much better than we can imagine! Thanks for your prayers, Sandy.

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