This weekend I’ll be preaching rule #5 for winning at the parenting game: Live Generously. Ginghamsburg family, one of the most tangible ways we demonstrate this principle to the next generation is through our Christmas Miracle Offering. Every year you generously give, and God supernaturally multiples those gifts to provide real solutions to the world’s problems.
This summer I began to discern forward how we would respond to God’s multiplying miracle through this year’s Christmas Eve offering. As I began to pray and gathered input from the staff and our Ginghamsburg Leadership Board, I felt a God nudge that said, “Rachel, just give it all away, and trust me to provide for you and Ginghamsburg.” But where God, where? That’s when I remembered a story about University Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. During the COVID-19 pandemic, University Church’s sanctuary was destroyed by Hurricane Laura, only to be hit by another hurricane, Delta, six weeks later. Lake Charles then experienced a terrible freeze in February. As if those three disasters weren’t devastating enough, in May the church was overwhelmed with a 100-year flood. So, I felt compelled to call University United Methodist Church, leave a voicemail for Pastor Angela Cooley Bulhof and wait for a response. Soon I had a return call from Pastor Angela. “Rachel,” Pastor Angela said, “half of my Leadership Board members are still living in mobile trailers in their driveways.” Yet, media attention that may have been given to the devastation of Lake Charles was consumed instead by COVID, a tense political season and a series of other natural disasters.
The people of St. Charles are still in deep need. Pastor Angela and the good folks of University Church aren’t worried about their church building; their hearts are broken for the most vulnerable people who still can’t get back into their homes, families who still don’t have a place to lay their heads at night. At the time of our conversation, I didn’t make Pastor Angela any promises, but I let her know I was in a discernment phase. Before the end of the call, she shared: “Pastor Rachel, you may not choose Lake Charles as the place for Ginghamsburg’s Christmas Miracle Offering, but when I heard your voicemail, I started weeping. It was a sign that God hasn’t forgotten us!”
Ginghamsburg, God leads us to spaces and places devastated and forgotten. Lake Charles is one of those places. In two weeks, I will be traveling to Lake Charles, along with communication team members Dan Bracken and Will Flora, to capture the story for this Christmas and Advent season. Here’s what I need you to do: pray. Pray for our team, and pray that God begins to move in hearts and through bank accounts to support our neighbors in Lake Charles. Second, prepare. Ready yourself and your family to give an offering of equal or greater amount to what you spend on your family this Christmas to families without a place to call home. Third, share the vision. We are not in this journey alone. You’ve got friends, family, neighbors and businesses that would love to partner with God and Ginghamsburg to be a part of the miracle that God wants to do in and through Lake Charles.
It’s awesome to witness the power of the Holy Spirit partnering people together from across the country to love Jesus and do something about it together. Ginghamsburg, we have a history of being the hands and feet of Jesus through
80-plus mission experiences to the Slidell area near New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2017 we responded with a miracle offering investment of $117,365 to help families in multiple Louisiana parishes rebuild homes and lives. We have a shared missional history with Louisiana United Methodist Bishop, Cynthia Harvey, and Louisiana Conference Communications director, Rev. Todd Rossnagel. Hear what I am saying, Ginghamsburg family: God was already opening doors before I ever made this summer’s phone call. God is on the move!
The miracle offering is only one piece of the vision. Ginghamsburg will deploy teams of men, women and students to be a part of the reconstruction work in Lake Charles. Christmas is not your birthday, so let’s partner with God to bring about a miracle of Christmas proportion!
Partnered with you,