Thank you to all who gave so generously to provide Christmas presents for children this holiday season.  Your selfless giving allowed Journey to deliver over $6000 worth of gifts to local elementary school children and their siblings who are in need this year.  I want to share with you two stories of giving.  I hope they will bless and encourage your spirit as they have mine.


Story One


There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into the Christmas present collection and delivery each year.  Our church has tremendous volunteers who selflessly give their time to make sure we get everything done. 


One volunteer who was helping to prepare the trees with the red tags that listed needed gifts for the children that our church adopted this Christmas season noticed one gift in particular that a child had requested—a trumpet.  Having grown children herself who are quite musical, this stood out to her.  She knew that one of her adult children had played trumpet in grade school and had in his possession a trumpet that he no longer used.  She told me she wanted to talk with him about his possibly donating his no longer used trumpet to this child in need.  Well, not only did her son give his trumpet to the child, he took it to a specialty store and paid to have the instrument professionally cleaned and repaired of any minor damage it had from use over the years.


If you aren’t familiar with the cost of musical instruments, you may not know it, but a gift of this magnitude is estimated at around $1000.  Wow!  This family chose to give generously to a child they did not know, would never meet, and would never be reimbursed or even thanked for their generosity!


Story Two


As our team delivered Christmas gifts to Burlington Elementary School, the guidance counselor shared how the gifts are tremendously meaningful for the children and their families. 


One year a family was to receive two bags of gifts for two children in the family, but when the time came for the mother to pick up the gifts, the counselor only gave her one bag.  The woman, with shock in her eyes and broken English, said, “No, no, no, this is too much.”  The counselor assured her it was okay, and all of the gifts were for her children.  The mother teared up and repeatedly expressed her thanks.


Later that day, the counselor found the additional bag of gifts and called the mother and explained the mistake and asked her to come back.  Unfortunately, due to a language barrier, the mother thought that meant she needed to return the gifts she’d already received.  She returned to the school with all the gifts, head down, and said:  “It’s okay, I knew it was too much, it’s okay” and the mother tried to give back the gifts.


The counselor explained:  “No, no.  You don’t need to give those back.  I have another bag of presents for you, as well as the gifts you’ve already received.”  Finally understanding that she need not return her gifts and that additional presents for her children were being given, the woman began to sob.


When I see or hear stories of your immense generosity, I cannot help but be reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:34-40:  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’  Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?  Or thirsty and give you something to drink?   Or a stranger and show you hospitality?  Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”


Thank you for caring for the least of these and in so doing, caring for our loving Lord and Savior, Jesus.  Thank you for your selfless giving that inspires me and others to be more generous in our giving.  Thank you for living out the gospel and being Jesus, hope, salt and light to this hurting world in need.