FAITH NEWS SERVICE – Bird lovers around the world have good reason for valuing these winged wonders. Birds play essential roles in the healthy functioning of the world’s ecosystems through seed dispersal, pollination, and control of insect and rodent populations.
Keirsten Weir notes that exposure to nature, including birdsong, “has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.”*
In Jay’s Tale (Redemption Press), debut author Patricia Hefti recounts a true story that demonstrates the value of caring for our feathered fellow creatures. When several children bring an injured baby bird to Patricia, she promises to try to nurse it back to health. She faces several challenges: Jay’s battle with a blue jay has weakened him. He first refuses to eat, then keeps Patricia on her toes trying to satisfy his voracious appetite.
He’s covered with stiff quills that keep him earthbound. But as Patricia patiently ministers to Jay, she sees life, strength, and hope return to the baby bird. Two adult mockingbirds begin feeding Jay insects inside his makeshift cage, assisting his development into his true identity. The combination of human and avian efforts leads to the glorious day when Jay can finally soar free as “a bright-eyed, courageous wonder of nature!”
Jay’s Tale is not merely a heartwarming nature story. As she wrote, Hefti realized that its progression “matched perfectly with the mission statement of our church, SOS Ministries.” The rescue, restoration, and eventual release of this baby mockingbird “showcases not only the Father’s passion for helping hurting people but also what SOS Ministries seeks to accomplish in the community in the name of Jesus,” Hefti says.
Founded in Texas in 1993 by J. J. Ramirez, a former drug dealer and drug addict, SOS reflects God’s radical call to rescue, restore, and release people just like him from lives filled with gang violence, drug addiction, and dysfunctional relationships. Through connection with ministry volunteers, the wounded are fed the powerful Word of God, encouraged to minister to others, and provided with the tools they need to go out into the world where they can establish healthy relationships and lifestyles, helping others who are as they once were.
Paralleling the parable of the good Samaritan, Jay’s Tale demonstrates the interrelated themes of stewardship and love in a way that will appeal to children and adults alike. Scripture verses and nature notes sprinkled throughout the story provide the reader with factual information and spiritual support, and beautiful, realistic illustrations bring home the truth of the tale.
Just like Jay, readers of his story will be gently encouraged to grow into their true, healthy, and eternally valued identities.
*Weir, Keirsten. Nurtured by Nature. American Psychological Association. 1 April 2020. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Patricia Hefti, a retired homeschooling parent, holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, a Masters of Education, and an Elementary Education teaching certificate, all from Texas A&M University. She taught elementary school children at The Lighthouse International Outreach Center church school and worked in the TAMU Biology Department and the TAMU Medical School’s Biochemistry/Biophysics Department as a laboratory technician. For twenty years, Patricia served as a children’s pastor at local churches. Mother to two grown daughters, Rebekah and Candace, and grandmother to Caroline, Patricia lives on a ranch in Bryan, Texas, with her husband Roy.