We had the privilege of volunteering for an Angel Tree (a part of Prison Fellowship ministry) party this past weekend; a family Advent activity where we could serve together. When discussing this opportunity we talked about Jesus’ command to visit those in prison and to not forget those that Jesus loves dearly but that we and the world can often overlook. 1.7 million kids have a parent serving time in prison and I cannot fathom what it would mean to spend the holidays without a loved one who is behind bars. We had been praying for weeks for a man in jail in a foreign country because of his desire to love people in Jesus’ name. Praying for people changes your heart and makes you think on things usually not part of the day to day.
We discussed this verse and the passage about the sheep and the goats which seriously keeps me up at night some days, not because I lack peace but because I want Jesus to count me among the sheep. I want to know I am faithful to His call even when it makes me uncomfortable, inconvienced, or exhausted. And I know I fail daily. I know my apathy numbs the people near me that Jesus wants me to see. It is one of my favourite passages and it is also a passage that I sometimes do not know what to do with. We want to be good news to people and the issues discussed here; poverty, hunger, immigration, refugees, illness, and incarceration. These issues are complex, not easily fixable especially by often well meaning outsiders. But I am also keenly aware that often it is easier to do nothing than risk that I will screw it up (and I probably will). But trusting that when God calls me to love He will provide wisdom and strength in abundance is a journey, one which requires me to step out in faith first.
I am thinking a lot on these issues as we were just paired with a refugee family arriving this week that speak Kiswahili! A crazy God situation! We are praying we are good news and a blessing to them but realize that God designed this to be in the context of relationship. Real relationship blurs the line of us and them until we realize that we are all them, those who desperately need love. We talked to the girls about how service is not an activity we check off a list but rather a lifestyle that often means associating with Christ’s sufferings, understanding more of His love for us and others, and counting others as better than ourselves. Not easy for an almost 3 year old and a 6 year old to understand. For me either! But something we want to be about and to learn how we need to practice. We want to be about loving people in Jesus’ name and were excited about this opportunity to serve at the Angel Tree Party. I think Evy and Anni spent about 30 minutes handing out gifts and candy prizes and about 45 minutes jumping in the bounce house but I was still so proud of them. Anni made these special cards to hand out to her new friends she said she would meet at the party. She held hands with a little girl in the bounce house and ran over to me announcing that her new friends likes to say “y’all.”
some of the shortest but most energetic volunteers around
watching the Christmas story and singing songs together
hula hoopin’ yo!
this was just a small part of the spread of gifts donated for the kids on behalf of their parents
These young men were not into the games and crafts but we had time to talk about their lives and what they see for the future. They received a bag of gifts on behalf of their father and a message from him.
waiting for their presents and message from their loved one.
this little girl and her Grandma stole my heart. beautiful.
Wishing you joy like this sweet little girl with candy cane braids and star cheeks who sang her heart out and made everyone around her giggle.
This day was a good reminder for our family that it is indeed better to give than to receive.
Awaiting the King and longing for His return to make all things right and until then we will heed His words to serve and love because when we do we do it to Him.