Powerful Morning at Christmas in Walnut

>> Saturday, December 8, 2012

Begin with a delicious breakfast at Harvest Vineyard Church on a beautiful December 8, Saturday morning. 

Add to that 400 enthusiastic and cheerful volunteers, 2500 Christmas toys, 50 dozen cookies, 400 families who've come for some help in purchasing toys for their children and grandchildren.   What do you have?  A very powerful morning at Christmas in Walnut.

This morning was amazing and I believe, pleasing to God!  Christmas in Walnut Year 3 was a huge success in every way we could have imagined.  Great gifts, powerful prayers, every family took home a book of the true Christmas Story and again our partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and Harvest Vineyard was built even stronger.

Here are some of the parents standing in line outside the Boys and Girls Club waiting to get inside the Christmas Store.  The average wait to get inside was about 10 minutes.

These are two pictures of the Christmas Craft Workshop which gave children the opportunity to make both Christmas decorations and Christmas gifts.  I love that this project gives everyone an opportunity to be a "giver!"  The children give by making crafts, parents give by purchasing great toys at very reduced prices (the money is then invested in the neighborhood and schools), our volunteers give their service and joy, and our church and community give the gifts.  Everyone is a giver!

These two pictures show the shoppers and their personal shopper who gets to know them (a little) and helps in any way possible as they choose their toys.

We are grateful to God for this opportunity!


Christmas in Walnut Stories

>> Thursday, December 6, 2012

The stories are so powerful and good.  So many people are pulling together to make our Christmas project in Walnut Neighborhood happen and help up to 500 families have gifts for their children under their tree this Christmas.  We have so many opportunities to explain again and again the process of helping financially under-resourced families in a way that builds thheir self-respect.

Stores have given our shoppers huge discounts because of the heart and strategy of the project:  Toys R Us, Kohls, Blain's Farm Fleet, Hobby Lobby, Scheels, Walgreens and others.

Last night our high school students heard a strong talk on God's design for sexuality and then went out with small groups and purchased gifts for these families.  We calculated their investment in the project at $2500.  A huge thank you to the students (and parents who provided some of the funds.)

A family with four older children from another church just came and delivered $450 worth of gifts.  They decided this money was better spent on others than on themselves this Christmas.  What a powerful decision for them to make!

Here are some pictures of the joy we find in helping others.  Our Sunday morning Children's Ministry raised enough funds to purchase 157 books for the families we will be serving this weekend.

Here are some of the small groups returning from shopping last evening.  How cool is this that students are focused upon other students who have less this Christmas.

Please join me in praying that Saturday's Christmas In Walnut will be a huge encouragement to families as they eat breakfast together, attend the Christmas Craft Workshop and the Christmas Store.


Everyone a full participant!

>> Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In this picture, one of our youngest partners is adding her toys to the pile of toys to be distributed at our Christmas Store.  I loved this picture the moment that I saw it.  This little girl helped choose the toys and then helped deliver them to the church.  Wow.  She is actually an important part of our church.  She can be a giver at 2 or 3 years old.  I love this part of the church.  Everyone gets to be a full participant!

I see full participation everywhere in the church and I see it in the scriptures.  Jesus chose 12 very different guys upon which to build His church, and each one had the opportunity to be a full participant in his cause.  When he congratulated the 5 talent servant and the 2 talent servant with exactly the same words, in the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25), they were both full participants.  They gave according to what they had.

I saw it a couple weeks ago, when a group of high school guys, joined some others in serving communion to our church family.  Brad Hillebrand said, "It was so great for the guys.  Mayor Buck Clark went into "youth director mode"  huddling the guys up and said, 'whatever you do, don't spill the juice!"  These young guys did an inspiring job of serving communion.

Tomorrow night the high school small groups will journey to Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and buy toys for Christmas in Walnut with their own funds. If you're out shopping at 8:00 p.m. you might want to stand aside.  Last year the enthusiasm was both chaotic and filled with joy! Again, full participation!

Saturday, some of our youngest members were the entertainment and the program for our Route 55 Christmas program.  I heard it was awesome.  I heard it was like a "holy moment" with people sitting on the edge of their seats.  Again, full participation by throwing in gifts that God has given to each of us.

I hope and pray that the people of Orchard will continue to look for ways to encourage others and engage themselves as full participants.  The scripture that I cannot get out of my head this week is, "To whom much is given, much is required."

I know for sure that I've been given a lot.


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