What do most people do when they get past their 65th birthday? Don’t they tend to hit the brakes a little and cut back on their activities? How many times have you heard someone say, “I’ve done my part. Now it’s time for the young folks to do it.”? I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that! Well, I know someone who refused that stereotype. When she turned 66, Madeline Hegi decided she wanted to do something to impact the lives of children in her community. So, she started a kid’s club called “KC’s” – (“Kid’s for Christ.”) For the past three decades, twice each month during the school year, her back yard and basement has been transformed into an evangelistic tool to reach the next generation.
Felicia and I have heard about K.C.’s for years. We’ve known Madeline through our relationship with elementary camp. We’ve been a part of Elementary One-Way Camp since 1979, and she has come every year until two years ago. But we finally got to see what she had been talking about. We had the opportunity to see her year-round passion for the souls of children in action when we were holding a Dayspring in her community of Tahoka, TX.
If you added up the numbers in the first paragraph, you might have thought it was a typing error. You might be thinking, “If she started when she was 66 and has been doing it for three decades, that would mean she would have to be 96 years old!” That’s correct. She is 96 years old.
We arrived at her house around 3:30 that afternoon. The children were already beginning to gather. A couple of church van loads arrived from the school. It was like watching one of the old time comedies. The kids just kept coming out of the doors of those vans. When the dust settled, 40 children were swarming her back yard. It was a kid tornado. They were everywhere! They ran to the back porch of Madeline’s home and began to sign up on the note pads she had provided for them. After they signed in they began to migrate into the spacious back yard where there were basketballs and other yard games available. Then Madeline walked over to a table where she had prepared hot dogs, a special juice drink, and her famous homemade cinnamon rolls. The boys and girls lined up at the table, and she led in a prayer to bless the food and what was to follow. It didn’t take long for 40 children to work that table over!
After everyone finished eating, Madeline sent word that it was time to line up to go down into her basement. She stood to her full height, (which was about the same as many of the children around her) and the transformation happened! Every one of the children stopped talking and playing and pushing and squirming, and their eyes focused on this 96-year-old trainer of children. She told them to form two straight lines, which they immediately did. “When your feet touch the top step going down into my basement, what is supposed to happen?” Several children gave the reply, “not even a whisper.” She then led them in a short prayer, and they marched in two lines down into the basement. We all followed, and when we reached the bottom of the stairs there were 40 children sitting and ready for the lesson.
For about half an hour Madeline taught the boys and girls the things they would need to know to be victorious over the enemy of our souls. They listened intently. Madeline asked them all to look at her, saying, “I want your eyes. All of you, give me your eyes. If I don’t have your eyes, what happens?” The children responded, “You stop teaching.” It was amazing to see the respect and love these boys and girls had for their mentor.
When she finished she prayed for the children and their families, and everyone quietly made their way out of the basement for the trip back home. Most stopped to give their hostess a hug before they left.
Only eternity knows what this decades-long investment has meant to the lives of hundreds of boys and girls who have spent time in the basement of Madeline Hegi. At the age of 66, she refused to sit back and do nothing. She was not about to retire! There were children who needed to know that God loved them, and she took it on as her assignment to tell them.
There are pictures below of that incredible afternoon in Tahoka, TX.
Children signing in for “K.C.’s”
Ready to feed the boys and girls
Homemade cinnamon rolls
Squirmy, busy children
Ready to learn
Children were in awe of her
If you could ask Madeline what the secret is to her work with the children, she would probably point to this chair. This is where she spends an hour every morning praying and seeking God.