This past Sunday morning, we asked folks to share stories of how they have seen “Emmanuel” lived out around them. We always emphasize the Sent One who has now sent us. We know that the One who came near calls us to take His love near into all of our relationships daily. Here are excerpts from those stories that were submitted Sunday morning. Hope it encourages you to not only celebrate “Emmanuel” this Christmas but to also everyday give the love of the One Who came near.
Two years ago, my mom’s mom moved in with my parents. My dad has loved and cared for my granny better than any son-in-law could, taking the burden off of my mom. But this is nothing special for my dad, because he simply loves people. He pursues and cares for the people God has put in his spheres of living. It amazes me that at times we choose to neglect those closest to us that God has directly put into our lives. May we simply love God and love people.
A woman whom I work with has shown unselfish love this advent season. Her own family has struggled over the last one or two years during the economic downturn. At times I have reached out to her and shared God’s love as well as financial support. In the past two weeks, she has adopted two families for the holidays and has encouraged her coworkers to share their blessings with these families. Her family continues to struggle to make ends meet, yet they are giving to others and spreading God’s love to those around them. She is one example of several of my co-workers in whose lives the seeds of love have been planted and are growing!!!
Only a few months have passed since the women of S.A.S.H.A. were homeless. This Thanksgiving and Christmas, these same women gave “presence” by serving dinner and fellowshipping with those who are currently homeless!!!
At Florida Virtual School, we lost a young teacher in September to an aneurysm. She knew she had the condition and put the surgery off until after our annual all-staff conference, the one event each year when we bring all of our virtual staff together in person. Susan didn’t want to take a chance on missing this special time with her colleagues. Susan went in for surgery the Monday following the event. She was on Facebook while waiting to be taken to the operating room with happy thoughts and no worries. Susan died during surgery leaving behind a loving husband and two young children. I have been overwhelmed with the love and giving to her family by our staff. They have given themselves away to her family with their money, their talents, and their time. She is greatly missed.
Every time we put our change in the jar which we call “the well,” we say, “I hear another child drinking a fresh glass of water!” Gulp, gulp, gulp. Precious one. (from those ladies with the S.A.S.H.A house as they give toward the well we are helping to build in Ethiopia)
I won four free tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and took the opportunity to invite the family of a woman I work with who wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to go. It was such a blessing!!!
One I have experienced in the last week in my life has been watching Josh Taylor and his family truly giving themselves away and going the extra mile in helping me to get to worship gathering and assisting me in a number of ways financially to help me get back on my feet. Truly I have to say they are the definition of what it is to be an ambassador for Christ, as well as also giving the perfect example of being a friend. I thank God for them. They are truly a blessing to me!!!
I am so thankful to have had the chance to give wish list gifts to a woman who stays at S.A.S.H.A.’s Haven.
I’ve got a colleague who every Christmas organizes what she calls an “Angel Drive” to provide items for elderly in need. These are often widows living at or very near poverty. The energy she throws into this is amazing, and it’s a group oft forgotten. On another note, this will be my first Christmas living at home in three years. God has been faithful even though it has been so difficult waiting for the chance to reunite with my wife and family. God is so good. I have been blessed!!!
To Westpoint Church – thank you so very much for your partnership in ministry here at Walt Disney World through your prayers and generous financial support. We are so thankful to God to be alongside you in what God is doing here. Just this past week, we got to see God bring one of our Norwegian friends into relationship with Him as we stood in line for Toy Story Mania!!! And it was even on her birthday!!! God is amazing and continues to do incredible things among us. Thank you for supporting us in what God is doing! –Kevin Dennis with Campus Crusade for Christ
Thank you Westpoint. Our family has been witness to your beautiful love. My children and I have been blessed by your teachings, your kindness, and your wonderful support. Thank you.
My mom volunteers at Matthew’s Hope. She often comes home with stories to tell about the people she sees. One was about one man who was recently hit by a car. The man received a settlement, and his very first check, totaling $5000.00, he gave right to Matthew’s Hope. Another story she told me was about another man who came up to her and asked for a hug. My mom hugged him and asked if he was okay. He said he missed his mom. “She died a few years ago, and I always miss her around this time of year.” I am so proud of my mom for giving her time and her heart to Matthew’s Hope!!!
Through the love and concern of your church family, we’ve been able to pass on the concerns about my husband’s health issues. Your prayers have been soooooo wonderful. We are feeling God-sent and are especially passing God’s love on to others we meet at his tests and treatments. The situations are all different and we are finding so many who need our love and compassion. Thank you for encouraging us to do so!
All through the Christmas season, I’ve been trying to think of gift ideas of what I really wanted this year. I even woke up at 2am on Black Friday to go out and pick stuff out. I saw so many people fighting over silly things. That day, as I was driving home, I started crying. I realized I already had so many things that I don’t even use. I called my mom crying, because all of a sudden for some reason (God!!!) I no longer wanted anything for Christmas! I told my mom to use all the money she was going to use for my presents to buy presents instead for kids who won’t get any gifts this Christmas. My heart was flipped upside down at that moment and it was a God moment. I am thankful!!!
WOW!!! So grateful for the God who came near who loved us first, who took the initiative to come near and reconcile and restore us before we even said we were sorry, and who longs with expectancy for the day He will come near again to bring us home to be near to Him forever.
Merry Christmas to all of you. May we GIVE MORE, SPEND LESS, and WORSHIP FULLY!!!