It was the morning after our big Christmas Shoppe and outreach. I (Kimberly) had spent the past two months coordinating details, reaching out to volunteers, collecting presents, posting updates, all for the purpose of giving parents the time and space to feel their Heavenly Father’s love and provision for their families at Christmas time. But instead of the usual exhaustion plus deep sense of satisfaction, that morning there was just exhaustion plus tears.
I lay there crying.
I cried for the 15 families that didn’t show up due to sickness, hospitalization, or lack of transportation. I cried for the flustered mom that showed up at the very end and was ushered through the toy shop while I tried to wrangle her VERY active toddlers. I cried for the missed opportunity to sit down and pray with her and minister to her weary and worn out mama self. I cried for those that I knew were “out there” and STILL struggling and still desperately wondering what they were going to do for Christmas.
I had worked hard, but it didn’t look like the desired outcome had been accomplished. Had ALL those times of collective and private prayer not done anything? Where was God’s mighty display of faithfulness that I was accustomed to witnessing?
I had to just submit, and TRUST.
I pushed through the tears and prepared to host Housechurch and the 12+ kids from the extended stay hotels that come for worship and a meal.
Little did I know that while I was grieving, the Lord was multiplying my meager offerings in the labors of that Christmas event.
The night before, I had texted all the families that didn’t show up (although at least 15 unregistered families ended up getting to go shopping in their place). I had told them of Grove Park Community Church, led by Pastor St. Clare and his amazing team. That Sunday morning, they would be holding a worship service, meal and toy distribution with all the leftover toys from the night before. Well, little did I know that as my weary self was wrangling Housechurch kids, that Grove Park Community Church was simultaneously flooded with new faces and experiencing a joyous event of celebrating Christ’s birth, worship and prayer.
Not only that, but as the week went by, more and more families from the extended stay hotels here in Stone Mountain, reached out to Restore Life for help. Danny posted a quick Facebook post about the need, and toys began flooding our home, as people and neighbors dropped items off. We recruited our children plus some of their friends, set up my dining room like we set up the Christmas Shoppe and each teen “shopped” for the different families that had reached out. We filled gift bags for each child and then drove around on Christmas Eve to go distribute to over 15 more families. The look of relief, gratitude and expectation on those parent’s faces will be forever emblazoned on my memory. Those little gatherings in motel rooms and parking lots to pray for the families will be forever emblazoned on eternity.
What felt like a defeat the week before, ended up getting multiplied threefold to bless even more parents than I could have expected!
Seeming defeat, and subsequent victory.
Grief that leads to joy.
Meager offerings that are multiplied.
This is the Gospel in a nutshell. And this is the way Restore Life operates. We show up, and we give what we have and invest where we can, and we have to trust God for the increase.
This past year we have seen the increase.
It hasn’t been in abundant funds and nice new vehicles.
The increase has been far more rewarding.
The first “crew” of kids we first started mentoring and investing in are now more mature teens and young men and women.
And guess who helps make all of these events, mentorship programs and concerts possible as we seek to branch out into new areas of the city and reach the next generation of under-resourced children?
It is those teens we have poured into night and day these past 9 years. Not just at Christmas outreach events, but in life on life discipleships and community.
And they have needed our presence more than Christmas presents.
On Christmas Eve, I had a handful of people reach out to me and ask if it was too late to contribute.
Christmas may have come and gone, but the need to show up consistently in the lives of the children and families is a need that is present 365 days out of the year
What if the best Christmas present they could receive wasn’t necessarily toys, but the vehicles to transport them to all the different events. Or the meals provided to them to replace a bag of hot Cheetos. Or a trip to camp, or a structured after-school program where they can learn skills instead of getting sucked into street life.
Would you be willing to give the gift of consistency this season? Your generous donations allow us to KEEP SHOWING UP .
And keep TRUSTING that God will bring the increase.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (I Thessalonians 5:24)