We pray you all had a wonderful, blessed Christmas. Before we sail into the new year of 2017, we wanted to give you a peek inside the Christmas Outreach. Many volunteers from several area churches support the outreach with their finances and time.
Pastors Mike & Renee Goolsbay from Destiny Church in Broken Arrow were instrumental in making this a festive day. Renee led the “cookie brigade” in showing hospitality to the guests waiting in line and she also directed the toy distribution.
Even the littlest volunteer can be a blessing to someone in need.
Pastor Mike greeted guests while members of the Destiny worship team sang carols.
Back in the warehouse, a great group of workers assembled grocery boxes, assembly line style.
The church next door to the ministry graciously lends us their sanctuary and fellowship hall for this outreach. Below, a guest signs in and fills out an information sheet so other volunteers can bag her child’s toys while she enjoys the Christmas service.
In the fellowship hall, another group selected and bagged toys according to the information provided by parents/guardians.
Guests join in singing carols and worshiping the Lord.
Pastor Mike delivered a message of hope and God’s love.
As Pastor Mike invited people to receive the Eternal Gift, Pastor Al (Loaves & Fishes Director), prayed in the back for souls to accept this most precious gift of all.
Pastor Al then offered prayer for other needs such as loneliness or healing, and called for the volunteers to come and pray for those who raised their hands.
Then it was time for some fun! A friend of the ministry had won a television at a company party and donated it to Loaves & Fishes. We decided to give it away via a raffle. The woman pictured below won. It turns out she was also the first person in line, at 5:00 am. Her determination to provide Christmas dinner & toys for her family was certainly rewarded.
Another blessing happened early that morning…a local ministry called asking if we could use 300 frozen turkeys! A group of men hurried there with the truck to get them and every guest went home with a turkey.
As guests were dismissed, they went down the line and were loaded up with turkey, potatoes, a box of groceries, bread & pastries. Volunteers assisted in carrying it all to their cars.
Then they went to the fellowship hall to pick up their toys.
The cookie bakers were so generous, there was plenty left over for “take home treats.” This little girl carefully, and very politely, chose her cookie.
About 190 families received assistance. And that was just Saturday!
The outreach continued Monday & Wednesday. These are the regular days L&F is open for ministry, but they were extra special in the spirit of the season.
Pastor Al gave a Christmas message, followed by an altar call. Many received Jesus as their Savior.
Guests were then offered communion.
One of our faithful volunteers is a retired minister. Pastor Bob C. wrote a little booklet which the guests could take home and read for encouragement over the holidays.
Another friend of the ministry personally knitted 8 beautiful afghans. We raffled 4 each on Monday & Wednesday. People love to win things!
That Monday, 80 families enjoyed a hot lunch, Christmas hope, and communion. They shared laughs and smiles, some went home with brand new afghans, and everyone left loaded with good, healthy food and some treats. There were even toys for those who needed something for their children.
Wednesday was amazing! The picture above shows just part of the line. After a hot lunch, about 150 people lined up for the Bible Study. Somehow, we found a place for each one to sit. They heard a Christmas message and many responded when asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus or have prayer. About 130 food boxes were distributed; the last turkey and the last toy went out the door with the last person needing one.
It was an incredible three-day outreach! With the support of dozens of volunteers, donations from a number of sources, and much prayer, Loaves & Fishes was able to meet the needs of about 400 families. That means several hundred more heard the Gospel. We don’t know how many received Jesus as Savior, but we do know they couldn’t miss His outpouring of love.
We are extremely grateful for all of you who have faithfully supported the ministry this past year and we pray God’s richest blessings over you in the new year to come!
Al & Connie, Marian & Stephanie
photos/story by cp