By: Donna Clark
This past Saturday, thanks to the heart of the church I attend, I was allowed to be part of the greatest Christmas outreach I’ve ever experienced. I’ve supported the causes – Operation Christmas Child, adopted an Angel from the Angel Tree, gave to Toys for Tots and even sorted and bagged Christmas gifts for the Salvation Army. I’m so thankful I had those opportunities and regret that I haven’t done more. But of all those wonderful avenues in place to help those hurting, this Saturday’s event of Giving Hope surpassed them all. For that is exactly what we did. We gave hope.
The church I call home is active in 25 campuses throughout Alabama. Each campus either sponsored or supported a fellow campus in this Giving Hope event. The campuses were transformed into a holiday shopping experience where parents could browse through a great selection of donated toys and actually select gifts they knew would make their child happy. Whether it’s a Barbie and all that makes her glamorous, or a bike and helmet, the choice was theirs. After they had completed their shopping, the selected gifts were then passed to the wrapping department. While this was taking place, we talked with the parents, listened to their story and offered the greatest gift of all – a relationship with Jesus Christ. When the wrapping was completed, the parents were notified for their pickup. The burden of providing gifts for their children was lifted and we, the volunteers, were filled with the joy that comes from helping others.
This Sunday, our pastor reported to us the stats of our Giving Hope event. All campuses combined provided approximately 50 thousands toys to help 3700 families. It’s estimated that ten thousand little children will wake up Christmas morning and find gifts, things they wished for, under their tree. All of this is possible due to the donations of people with big hearts and the help of over seven thousand volunteers.
Our pastor reminded us this Sunday, Jesus knows our lives. He sees the pain, abandonment, rejection, struggles, and disappointments that present themselves. He experienced them all, so who better to care for us than one who understands all we are going through. After sharing that hope with these adults, a hope that is only found in Jesus, one thousand accepted Him as their Savior. That is what made this event the most worthwhile.
In today’s world, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the negative news and devastation we see around us. It can become discouraging and we can feel as if we’re on a slippery slope with no return, wondering if we will ever again enjoy the land and times we once knew. That’s what drove me to share this with you. I’ve purposely not disclosed the name of my church because this is not about a denomination or an organization. It’s not to boast about an accomplishment. This is just to remind you that the love of God still exists. It was clearly displayed through a group of people coming together to meet the needs of others, offering love and hope to those who so desperately need it.
I believe this scripture in the Bible, if allowed, can search and possibly convict our soul. “If you say to that person, ‘God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,’ but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing. In the same way, faith by itself – that does nothing – is dead.” (James 2:16-17) His word repeatedly teaches us to think more of others than we do ourselves and to tell of His love and forgiveness.
If we are to be a true reflection of the person Jesus Christ, then we must strive to follow His commands. In the movie Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle said it so well, “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind!” For myself, I pray for a mindset that will be as the mind of Christ – that I will be willing to love others more than myself, to care more for those who are hurting, and to never be reluctant to share the special Hope I have in my heart, not just at Christmas, but the whole year through. May it be your prayer too.
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas
By: Donna Clark