Disaster Ministry

Jim Burke sent me a letter last week in which he shared an experience he had as a ventriloquist working with school age victims of the recent tragic tornadoes in our southern states. I asked his permission to share a portion of his letter where he described his experience when called out one evening to do some "after loss" counseling at an Alabama school. Jim wrote:

"I worked with a fourth grade and a second grade class. In the first, everyone in the class knew one student who had been hurt in the tornado, and the child's mother had died in the storm. Several went to the funeral. One child (the teacher's daughter) had their house severely damaged. In the second class, one child had his home damaged, and had withdrawal problems.

"In my backpack I carried a Ventriloett, a Puppet in a Can (sold by Maher Studios years ago), a squirrel puppet, and 'Smiley', the Pocket Puppet. After a time of sharing back and forth with the students, the puppets were able to address several issues, even while entertaining. In the second grade class, the student whose house had been severely damaged, literally 'came out of his shell' through the use of the puppets.

"A call come the next day, and the gentleman calling said that I had done 'too good a job'. This State Disaster Relief Director wanted me to do similar 'counseling in two other schools this week. Unfortunately I had to decline because of a commitment to a conference in North Carolina."

I want to express appreciation to Jim for sharing this experience. Some of you reading this may be in a position and location to consider offering this type of "disaster ministry" should the need arise. Sure, we want to see people smile, but there are times when healing must take place as well, and here is one more example of how puppets could possible serve in that role. To quote Jim, "It truly is amazing what God an do when 'wood becomes alive'".


  1. Anonymous5/22/2011

    It is always great to hear of the ways a ventriloquist and his or her puppet[s]help people big and small! Many times,they won't even realize they are being,so effective. Other times, when a smile comes to the face of a sick child, or a vet, or a person in a hospital, or nursing home, or a laugh emits from their lips at the antics of some silly puppet bit, then you know how great it is to be a ventriloquist. You'll never know all the joy you give with such talent that you have practiced to achieve. I know God looks down and sees what we do and why we do it. You can't ever lose in this arena!
    Regards, Joe "Capt. Joe" Radle </:O)

  2. Hey Jim, I gotta tell you, you're richer than Terry Fator, more famous than Jeff Dunham and have more talent than Ronn Lucas. What you are doing outweighs riches, fame and talent. We all should be more like you.