Every year, in partnership with Send Relief’s ministry center, pastor Jay Watkins’ church and surrounding congregations in Valdosta, Georgia, serve foster children and their families during the holiday season by making their Christmas season memorable. Typically, 3,000 children in foster care are served through these holiday events but, because of the pandemic, they knew that would not be a possibility this year.
But after two months of intense planning and assembling an enthusiastic team of volunteers, they were able to still care for foster families over Christmas..
Local artists partnered with teams of volunteers, including Watkins’ family, to assemble a drive-through light show that incorporated festive vignettes of Dr. Seuss’ Whoville with 60-foot-long light tunnels illustrating the creation story and life of Christ.
Two hundred children and their foster families were able to engage in gospel conversations with volunteers at the end of the show and receive backpacks full of presents and necessities. Foster parents who have had their kids inside for most of the year were especially grateful for this activity they could safely do with their children.
“One foster mom approached me after the show to say that this was a non-stressful way to get her kids out of the house without worrying about safety,” says Watkins. “She left with a carload of presents, prayer being spoken over her and her children and gratitude that they were still able to celebrate Christmas during the pandemic.”
Participants enjoyed the show so much that they told their friends and, soon, Watkins was getting requests from non-foster families to come enjoy the show before it was disassembled.
What originally was supposed to be a weekend event turned into a month-long ministry to the city!
This created an opportunity to share gospel conversations and information about Send Relief’s Valdosta ministry center as well as the work being done for children in crisis, and none of it would have been possible had this community of churches not banded together in service of their neighbors.
“This could not have happened without the support of our fellow churches, and it serves as a reminder that, when the world is falling apart, Christians are stilled called to be obedient in helping our neighbors,” said Watkins. “Adopting the attitude of ‘how are we going to get this done’ rather than ‘we can’t do this’ makes all the difference.”
You can be creative in serving your community through events and projects just like this! Click here for ideas of how your church can be the hands and feet of Jesus to your city in the new year.
Published January 13, 2021