The Storyteller Tells a Story of Faith…
Matthew 2: 11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” KJV
What do we give our King for His birthday? After all, He is a King who lives in heaven with His Father – what could He want from us? Sometimes we struggle with what gifts to give others for special occasions, but with Jesus, the answer is simple. He wants us – all of us! And just how do we give Jesus all of us? “My son, give me your heart…” Proverbs 23:26a NIV. The last Storyteller story gave us a glimpse of what the folks at Barnitz do to honor their King during the Christmas season, and this story is a similar story from Mt. Zion.
In 2013, the Young at Hearts’ Sunday School class was presented with a request to help some families from W.G. Rice Elementary School. The request came from two members of the class who were teachers at the South Middleton School District, Tammy Eads (MZ) and Matt Flohr (MZ). The class had held a few pot pie dinners with the thought in mind that the proceeds would be used to do some projects around the church and fund missions’ projects, but by 2013, the focus was mainly on missions. In addition to the school families, Kathy Steiner (MZ) also had a request from the American Legion to care for a family they knew who needed help. But it didn’t stop there, those requests were followed by a request to help another family (five in all) known by class members. These requests included 23 children who needed food, clothes and toys. Jake Wilson (MZ), teacher of the class, posed the question to the class, “Who do you want to help?” Jake says, “My thought was to take one family for a start, but the class had a different idea. They said they wanted to take all of them (the families).”
Immediately, the class got to work organizing a food drive and an angel tree that covered clothes and toys for the children. Church members got involved bringing food, toys and clothes that had been indicated on the angel tree that held gift tags for each child. Food was donated by the American Legion that was left over from the holiday baskets they made for some other needy families. Members of the class also shopped for items for the families. Several of the children received bicycles which were refurbished and donated by Brian Galbraith (MZ). What an awesome Christmas for these children who were used to receiving very little.
Jake says, “I have always struggled with the term ‘community’ in regards to a church. Mt. Zion being a rural church with no immediate community around us made it hard for me to grasp the concept of what the community of Mt. Zion is. One of the first families (we helped) that first year had traveled from Iraq to Egypt to the United States finally settling in the Carlisle area. The community for any church is the world that God has given to us and leads us into. Our goal is to reach as many people that God will bless us with and calls us to serve. God will set the limits of growth, and we need to be willing to respond.”
Like Barnitz, Mt. Zion has helped a countless number of children and their families who live among us over the years. At this point, the school counselors, nurses and principals reach out to us when they recognize a need that is greater than their ability to cover. We have made it known that we are here to help any time of year. We may not be able to deliver exactly what is requested, but in God’s name, we will do our best. Most of the time we don’t see the children or their parents receive their gifts, but it is enough to know they have the food and clothes they need. As one 12 year-old child stated in a thank you letter, “I wasn’t expecting much for Christmas, but what means more than all of this is that you have filled my heart full of love. You don’t even know me but you still do it. Thank you for the food and school supplies as well, we were struggling with them.”
“Over the years, many children have had their basic needs and wishes fulfilled by generous, compassionate people. No one knows where this project will go, but prayerfully, God will lead us,” adds Jake.
Acts 20:36 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”