When Jerika Owens brought the plans for the 2020 Giving Tree to me in the fall of this year, we agreed to care for 75 people. Last year, we had originally planned to care for about 50 people, but by the time the evening came to deliver gifts, we had 79 deliveries. Assuming we would see an increase from whatever number we initially planned, we chose 75.
But if you know the heart that Jerika possesses, you would not be surprised to hear that we started with nearly 100 names on our Giving Tree—and currently have over 110. :) However, after introducing the Giving Tree at the Thanksgiving Service on November 24, we had to cancel the first two church services in December due to many becoming ill with the COVID-19 virus.
Because of this, on Monday, December 14, we still had 41 names on the Giving Tree in need of being adopted. Early that day, Jerika called me crying with the exciting news that she had received an unexpected financial gift that could care for the remaining names on the Giving Tree. My heart was overwhelmed with the generosity she was displaying, but I also shared with her that God brought all these names to our church family to display His love to our community. As much as I appreciated what she was willing to do, I did not want her to assume this burden alone. Instead, we would reach out to the church one final time.
On Monday afternoon, I gathered in prayer with Jamie and Erica in our church office asking God to work a miracle throughout the hearts of our church family to care for every single one of these names—leaving none for Jerika. The call to the church went out at 2:30 on Monday afternoon. By the time the office closed on Monday at 4 p.m., 16 names had already been claimed. Throughout the evening, Jamie’s phone continued to ring with requests. At one point, I received this message from one of our members. “Go ahead and get the gifts for everyone, let me know the cost, and I’ll send a check.” I was overwhelmed again.
On Tuesday morning, calls continued until every name was claimed by noon on Tuesday—and people still continued to ask to help. Because of the generosity of this church, we have raised more money (and cared for more people) than expected! My heart continues to be overwhelmed with the way this church loves people! What a beautiful picture of the Gospel!
2 Corinthians 8:9 tells us, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” Gospel generosity says I am willing to lose what I have in order for you to gain what you don’t have. That is what Jesus did for us—and this is what appears to be a beautiful picture of what you as the Body of Christ are doing for others.It is such a humbling experience to pastor this church. I continue to amazed at the ways you teach me about Jesus. I love you, Church Family! Thank you for loving like Jesus. I cannot wait to hear about the stories of God's glory that come from The 2020 Giving Tree. God bless you!