A couple of weeks ago Amy and I were sitting with our small group wondering what we can do as a group that would bring justice to someone this Christmas season. A suggestion was brought to the table of helping a family who has a deep need. Three kids, Caila 20, Marcus 17 and Michael 14 have recently had their lives interrupted by tragedy.
A couple of months ago these 3 kids lost their mom to cancer. It was a quick and sudden loss, she was only 51. Then, a few weeks later the father had a massive stroke, rendering him unable to communicate or care for the family. We are not sure of all the circumstances, but Caila moved her brothers and her into a 2 bedroom apartment in a town 30 minutes away to take care of them. The apartment was a bit run down, but the main thing is that they didn’t have anything to put into the apartment, no furniture, minimal kitchen supplies, and barely any money. Our home group decided that we should help these kids, who had basically become orphans.
Our pastor soon got interested, and being the excited visionary that he is invited the whole church to get involved in these kid’s story. So, last Sunday before church people showed up 15 minutes early with gifts in hand. People bought kitchen supplies, furniture, Christmas presents, a printer, toiletries and more. We stored the stuff in our pastors garage and this week we delivered it to the family.
Now Chris (the pastor) being the over the top man that he is thought that it would be a good idea if the family was away when we brought the gifts over to the apartment. He told the congregation, approx.. 150 people that he wanted to send them to Disneyland for the weekend while we set up the house (I think Ty from Extreme Home Makeover is his hero). We were not sure how we were going to raise the cash, but we all agreed. One girl in the church knew a girl who used to work for disney and even though it was a long shot she shared the story and asked for tickets. A few day’s later the tickets arrived, 2 day’s of disneyland fun for free.
Today, after church a handfull of us went over to the apartment. We spent 8+ hours cleaning, organizing, putting furniture together and eating our weight in KFC. The family will get home tonight from Disneyland to a brand new looking apartment. It is clean, painted, has new lights and kitchen supplies and is just a nice place to come home to. We didn’t just give them what they needed to get by, we blessed them with much, much more. They are hurt, bitter and confused as to why they have lost both of their parents in the span of 3 months. We wanted to let them know that they are not forgotten and that they are loved by and deeply embedded on the heart of Jesus.
This I believe is what James is talking about when he asks us to take care of orphans (James 1:27). This is what it means to ‘do justice.’ This is what the call of us who consider ourselves followers of Jesus is. This Christmas, a hurting family will know that through the pain they are important, prayed for and not forgotten.
picture by David Difuntorum