Part 9 in our "12 Days of Christmas" series
RURAL RETREAT, Va. (Jan. 2, 2015) -- It began two years ago when I suggested adopting a mission project for Advent and Christmas. Folks at Rural Retreat United Methodist Church decided they wanted to reach out to Holston Home for Children in Greeneville, Tenn.
After some conversations with Holston Home, we decided to adopt 10-12 youth for Christmas that year. We spent $100-$150 per child and tried to fulfill as much of their Christmas wishes as we could. We suggested that our families adopt a child as another member of their family. Or – if they couldn’t adopt a child on their own – split the responsibility with someone else.
The response was overwhelming! We had to call Holston Home back that first year to double the number of children on our list. In 2013, we adopted 30 youth. This Christmas, we adopted 34.
We have created Santa shoppers for those with money but no time. Those with children have offered to decipher those cryptic lists for members who haven’t had kids for a while. For some parents it is quite a sacrifice as the Holston Home kids get gifts their own children do not. They tell me their own children have a home and family for the holidays, whereas the Holston Home kids do not. If we can’t give them a family for Christmas, the least we can do is fulfill some other wishes. It is a small sacrifice for kids who have been through so much.
Of course, Christmas doesn’t end there.
Our kids packed Christmas cards and small gifts for a combat group of U.S. soldiers in Africa. We also helped the Department of Social Services buy a used car for a man who moved up here this month to take care of his dying mother. We put up $300 toward a car, and other area churches paid the remainder.
So, if you were to total the dollar amounts, it would be somewhere between $3,500 for Holston Home, $150 for Christmas gifts to the combat group, and another $300 for the car.
All of this is happening in a church with 120 in average worship attendance. This congregation has a spiritual conviction to help their neighbors. It is linked into their place in this world and trying to make it reflect the image of Jesus Christ at every turn.
The Rev. Donald Smith is pastor of Rural Retreat United Methodist Church in the Wytheville District.