Decorations glowing from the stained glass windows.
The holidays are tucked away in another memory book now. We've gotten through the post-holiday "catch-up" plus some surprise life zingers. Now I have a few moments to reflect on our annual Christmas Outreach.
The church next door once again loaned their facility. It's an older building with a declining congregation but they are generous, sharing a kindred spirit for helping people.
Guests started lining up at 4:00 AM - as in, way too early! I told the first people in line that this was not Black Friday! They laughed. The line went around three sides of the building. The sanctuary was packed to capacity, with people even being seated in the choir loft.
People of all ages, races, health status and various other demographics came to get a little boost in their cupboards and a little gift under the tree for their children.
A sister church partnered with us, bringing the most incredible group of volunteers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
They held a toy drive prior to the outreach. They brought talented musicians, prayer warriors, hard workers and servant's hearts. Their pastor was the guest speaker for the mini-church service and he connected so lovingly and easily with the people. I wish I could show some photos I got of many individuals who were so engaged with what he was saying. They're leaning forward, laughing, smiling, hanging on every word. I don't like to show people's faces on my blog. It seems an invasion of privacy. But oh, their faces were so beautiful.
The church was packed.
Some volunteers getting last minute instructions.
Busy elves going to & fro carefully choosing the best toy for each boy and girl.
Every year, someone will always question why we do it. Don't we know these folks are abusing the generosity of churches and community services? That they go from outreach to outreach collecting food & toys?
Have you ever wondered Who Does That? And why do they go to so much trouble? Because it's a lot of effort to get something free. Phone calls to see who is having an outreach this year. Registration. Transportation. Proof of identity. Standing in line. Waiting. Sitting through a service or meeting. Standing in line again. Waiting some more. Repeat at the next outreach. Who does that?
I'll tell you. Because I've talked to them.
They do it because they believe in their children. They will do anything for them. Just like you and me.
What about the people who put hours into preparing to serve these needy people, these "takers." Why do they give away their time, money, food, toys? And so cheerfully!
Because God believed in them. Because God was willing to do anything to save them.
And now God is working through them.
Because God believes in those they are serving.
God believes in me.
God believes in you.