Christmas time presents many opportunities to share the hope of Jesus Christ. People are willing to discuss holiday plans and family traditions, which opens the door to share the reason behind our celebrations.
Many churches across the Charis Fellowship utilize this season to show tangible expressions of Jesus’ love. Partnering with local organizations, donating toys and household items, providing services, and caring for others offer points of contact with people in need of hope, encouragement, and love. Below are highlights from four Charis churches who are doing just that.
Hope Project: Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, Winona Lake, Ind. (Kip Cone, lead pastor)
Winona Lake Grace Brethren church is partnering with 12 local organizations to meet needs in the community. Each organization submitted a list of small resource items, large resource items, and a service project. Items were then written on gift tags and hung up in the church lobby to be claimed.
Tags included things like pajamas for a women’s shelter, food pantry items for a neighborhood resource center, volunteering time in a homeless shelter, donating items to the Habitat for Humanity ReSale Store, a TV for the ultrasound room in a pregnancy center, and volunteering to read in an elementary school.
Dave Rank, outreach pastor, said, “We love to see our church mobilized to love our neighbors. Coming off our annual community outreach,We Care Warsaw, where the generosity of the church provided over $35,000 in goods and services to our community, the generosity spirit continued with blessing our community partners through the Hope Project. God is the perfect model of generosity. And it’s great to see our church be generous with others because of God’s generosity toward them, as it results in pointing others to God.”
Good Tidings Christmas Store: Movement Church, Hilliard, Ohio (Mark Artrip, lead pastor)
The Good Tidings Christmas Store provides parents the opportunity to purchase gifts for their kids at discounted rates. The store is a combined effort, headed up by a Hilliard church and a nonprofit that combats suburban poverty in the Hilliard area. Movement Church contributes to the store.
Gifts in the store are sold for $1, $2, or $3, allowing hundreds of kids and families the ability to shop and purchase items for loved ones.
Tryg Veker, pastor of groups and outreach, said, “It is a joy that we get to show the love of Jesus and His generosity and grace towards us through providing gifts for those that call Hilliard home.”
Grace Gives: Grace Community Church, Frederick, Md. (Dallas Greene, lead pastor)
The Christmas outreach at Grace Community Church has evolved over the years. In the past they have partnered with other organizations, but this year they chose to bless their own single moms and widows, as well as one family who will soon be moving overseas.
They placed 14 tags for women and 14 tags for the moving family on a tree. Church members picked up a tag to either shop for a woman or to make a one-time financial gift to the family.
Brenda Rota, office manager, said, “We cannot wait to assemble and deliver the packages we have gathered next week. I know some women will be blown away that they were even considered. But, God sees them and knows them. Their church family sees them too.”
Spirit of Giving: Ripon Grace Brethren Church, Ripon, Calif. (Rex Rogers, pastor)
Ripon Grace works with their local school district to provides gifts to students and their young siblings. The district provides a list indicating the age of the student and if they are a boy or girl. The list has no names, but sometimes it will include gift hints indicating a student’s favorite color or gift preference.
The church creates a tag for each student, church members claim a tag, shop and wrap the gift, and return it to the church to be given to the district for distribution. This year they are blessing 56 students from 24 different families.
Tina Fikejs, administrator, said, “It is a privilege to be able to bless families in need in our community. It is a blessing for us at Ripon Grace as whole families get involved with purchasing gifts — often children look for a tag of someone their age. It has also been a great testimony to the teachers and other employees of the school district.”