Many years ago, a sermon here at Pulpit Rock challenged us to identify our mission field. As I recall the sermon, I remember an emphasis on the idea that our mission field does not have to be across the globe. It could also be right outside our door.
As someone who has always loved going on mission trips, this was a new perspective for me. I began to think and pray about my role as a social worker at Mountain Vista Community School, a Kindergarten through 8th grade school in Harrison School District 2. Could that be my mission field?
I began to view my work in a very different light. Everything I did, I began to do with the thought “how does my work reflect the love of Jesus to those I am serving?”
Working in a public school, it can be hard to figure out how to share the gospel. Instead of being able to share the love of God verbally, I have really had to show the love of God.
4 years ago, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I decided one way to do that was by creating the Giving Tree program. I kept thinking, how do we help families and make them feel that they are working as part of a team of people who truly care about them and their children?
How do we change the narrative for some families from school being a place of discipline and meetings to discuss their children’s behavior, to school being a community where families are presented with staff who truly want to work together for the betterment of children and families?
With this in mind, as well as a new desire for my work to be my mission, I set off to gather the support of those I worked with.
The first year, we were able to provide gifts to approximately 50 children! These 50 children were students who attend Mountain Vista Community School, or were the siblings of those students. It was important to us that we provide gifts to all children in the home, not simply the child or children attending MVCS.
Students were supported primarily by staff on campus. Gifts rolled in, were screened for appropriateness (we always review what has been provided and create a list of gifts for parents) and then wrapped by our many “elves” (teachers on their plan time!).
As the years have rolled by, the program has continued to grow, each year providing support to more children and families. Our “Santas” began to expand to include staff from other schools in HSD2, as well as from the community.
We began to partner with the Seeds ministry at Pulpit Rock, allowing our preschoolers to select children their age to purchase gifts for. This year marked our 4th Giving Tree, and we were able to support more children than ever before. We provided gifts to 123 children in approximately 50 families.
Kids Min expanded their partnership this year, providing opportunities for children from nursery, preschool and elementary ages to select gifts for children their ages! Pulpit Rock Church was a vital partner, helping 20 children and families have a merry Christmas this year. And on top of that, the elementary kids in the Grove gave over $140 in their offerings!
I have been blessed to be a part of the Pulpit Rock family, and now this love and support is reaching beyond me and touching the lives of those I work with. As carts of gifts are rolled out to cars, the response from families reminds me why we do what we do, and that we are showing the love of Christ. Responses like, “Those gifts can’t all be for us!” and tears are typical. Hearing their stories and recognizing that we truly are providing a lasting impact on the lives of these families means so much to me.
I am truly grateful for the support and partnership that has been established with Pulpit Rock Church and can’t wait to see what God continues to do in the future.