“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” John 3:16
That’s what this time of the year is about. It’s about a gift, a gift of love, and gift of joy. It’s about a gift that, when received, will transform your life for eternity!
The gift of Jesus is not meant to be kept close to the chest. It’s meant to be shared! Over the past year, Christ United Methodist Church (Christ UMC) has truly experienced the joy that comes when sharing the gift of Jesus locally, as well as on the other side of the planet! It’s been an amazing year, and Christ UMC wants to share the good news and some of the blessings they have experienced.
Christ UMC has been blessed to be able to share their facilities one week every other month with an organization for homeless families. One wing of their Annex building is set up to accommodate Family Promise of Bryan and College Station. These homeless families in crisis are provided housing, meals, transportation, job training, life coaching, encouragement, and friendship, as they embark on a new life, a life of personal and financial independence. Nine churches in the Brazos Valley host families, and the success rate of the families who are involved is remarkable. Families are able to remain intact as they work to rebuild a healthy foundation for a sustainable future. Christ UMC feels it has been such a blessing to Share the Gift with those families.
Over the summer, Christ UMC had the opportunity to provide sack lunches to a local neighborhood where children suffer a noticeable weight loss from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next. Church members were able to provide sack lunches for the children every weekday during the summer. The children who attended VBS were able to collect over 1,000 boxes of cereal to share with the families in that neighborhood. Christ UMC members said that they didn’t just share a meal, but shared the gift by spending time with the children and sharing their faith. One day over the summer, a Christ UMC youth group member was visiting with one of the children, and that child reported that he had accepted Jesus into his heart, because of a Bible verse which was included in his lunch sack a few days earlier! What a blessing, because of the gift lives are being transformed through a brown bag lunch, a visit, and a little story time on hot summer days in our community.
Perhaps you noticed the shipping container in the parking lot of Christ UMC for several months early in 2014. This container was transformed into a medical clinic and delivered to Maua, Kenya, in June. Christ UMC had three Global Outreach team members (also known as the “GO Team”) travel to East Africa to help establish a clinic in the bush about 20 miles from the city of Maua. The team expected about 200 people to attend the dedication of the medical container, now clinic. They were amazed when over 900 people arrived to dedicate the clinic and worship together. A nurse from the hospital in Maua will oversee the clinic and will coordinate treatment for those who cannot make the trip into the city. The Christ UMC team, after sharing the gift, was overwhelmed by the people’s response and felt a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation from the locals who will benefit and receive ministry from the clinic.
During the past year, Christ UMC has partnered with other organizations in the community in sharing the gift. One of those partnerships is the Project Hope Food Drop. Members of Christ UMC meet trucks from the Brazos Valley Food Bank at residential locations, where people are in need of assistance with food at some point during any given month. Their job was to deliver perishable food items to the resident’s doors; however, thankful residents often pour out of their homes and help unload the truck alongside volunteers. This not only makes the workload light, it allows everyone involved in the program to get to know one another and really build a sense of community. It has proven to Christ UMC that when sharing the gift, you oftentimes receive more than you give.
There is a special group of ladies at Christ UMC that has truly made a difference in people’s lives as they share the gift; they are known as “The Prayer Shawl Ministry Ladies.” This group meets to knit or crochet Prayer Shawls that are delivered to people in the hospital or in homes suffering from an illness. The 19th chapter in the book of Acts speaks of handkerchiefs and clothes being used for ministry to the sick and the sick being healed. These ladies meet to work on their shawls and then lovingly pray for each person who will receive them for God to heal them. Members of Christ UMC aren’t the only recipients of these gifts; they are also shared and mailed to various places around the country to minister to those who are suffering from illnesses and sickness.
Have you ever thought Christmas should last all year? Christ UMC has found the secret to making this happen: Share the gift! Help a neighbor. Pray for someone who is sick. Hug someone who is hurting. Reach out to the down and out. Share the gift! And the spirit of Christmas will never fade!
For more information about Christ UMC or upcoming events, visit Christ-UMC.org or call 979.690.4673.